Books, Portraiture

Anna, Duchess of Cleves: The King’s Beloved Sister

Some years ago I was asked to mentor a new researcher into Tudor history, Heather Darsie, who was researching a new biography of Anna, Duchess of Cleves – Henry VIII’s fourth wife.  You would have thought that over the years the various historians specialising in Tudor history had drained this particular pot dry.

However, this is definitely not the case.  Ms Darsie’s research will make you reconsider everything you previously thought you knew about Henry VIII’s fourth wife. In order not to give too much away, I quote the entry on Amazon:

Anna, Duchess of Cleves: The King’s ‘Beloved Sister’ looks at Anna from a new perspective, as a woman from the Holy Roman Empire and not as a woman living almost by accident in England. Starting with what Anna’s life as a child and young woman was like, the author describes the climate of the Cleves court, and the achievements of Anna’s siblings. It looks at the political issues on the Continent that transformed Anna’s native land of Cleves ‒ notably the court of Anna’s brother-in-law, and its influence on Lutheranism ‒ and Anna’s blighted marriage. Finally, Heather Darsie explores ways in which Anna influenced her step-daughters Elizabeth and Mary, and the evidence of their good relationships with her.

Was the Duchess Anna in fact a political refugee, supported by Henry VIII? Was she a role model for Elizabeth I? Why was the marriage doomed from the outset? By returning to the primary sources and visiting archives and museums all over Europe (the author is fluent in German, and proficient in French and Spanish) a very different figure emerges to the ‘Flanders Mare‘.”

Ms Darsie is to be congratulated for bringing us a new aspect of this woman on which to ponder, who has in English eyes at least, been a figure that has at best been ignored, or dismissed as ugly and stupid.

As an art historian, the front cover intrigues me.  We have before us a portrait of Anna that, for a modern audience, is completely new and I look forward to hearing more about how and where Heather found it.  Well done Amberley Publishing for producing a beautiful, eye catching cover for this new insight into Anna: Duchess of Cleves.

This biography is released in the UK on 15th April and in the US on 1st July.  You can pre-order your copy on UK – pre- order Anna, Duchess of Cleves: The King’s Beloved Sister  or in the US – pre-order Anna, Duchess of Cleves: The King’s Beloved Sister 

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