The Six Wives of Henry VIII Collection - Dead Queens

The Six Wives of Henry VIII Live at Dead Queens

The Six Wives of Henry VIII Art - Dead Queens

Divorced, beheaded, died, divorced, beheaded, survived!

The six wives of Henry VIII. Who doesn't love this rhyme and sad tumultuous Tudor story? Most British school children learn that rhyme to help them remember the fate of each Henry's wives and the song of the same name from the Horrible Histories TV show. The Six really rocked Tudor history in style!

And now the musical 'Six' that has been playing and touring the world about the six wives of King Henry VIII. Six The Musical is a fun show to see as it brings this history to the forefront in a modern way. I went with my daughter in London. Through music there is education of all ages happening. But alas....I want to discuss this more in-depth though because these women are each quite fascinating in their own right.

Let's take a look at the 'Six' with a more feminist eye instead of as mere victims. Henry VIII's wives were six extraordinary women who married the King of England and were just trying to survive in a treacherous Tudor England. 

Catherine of Aragon - Portrait

1. Divorced. Catherine of Aragon

Let's unravel the Tudor tale of Catherine of Aragon, or as she stylishly signed herself, Katherine with a regal 'K'. Bagging the leading role as Henry VIII's first wife was no easy feat, especially when it was originally reserved for his little bro, Prince Arthur. But alas, fate had different plans, and Catherine found herself donning the crown as the Queen of England.

Catherine didn't just lounge around the castle, sipping tea. She faced the harsh reality of numerous pregnancies, some ending in tragedy. Her surviving daughter, Mary, would later earn the ominous nickname Bloody Mary—but we'll save that tale for another day.

The plot thickens as Henry, hungry for a male heir like a kid in a candy store, turns to extramarital affairs. Catherine, gets confined to the lavish Windsor Castle, and puts up a royal fight against Henry's divorce crusade.

The Pope refuses to give Henry the green light for an annulment. So, Henry pulls a power move and sends in Thomas Cranmer, Archbishop of Canterbury, to declare the marriage null and void. Boom! Divorced and ready to mingle with wife number two.

Now, the drama peaks. After enduring the highs and lows of 24 years with Henry, the longest of all his marriages, Catherine isn't one to fade quietly into history. She's a warrior, fuelled by her Spanish roots.

But wait, there's a twist in this royal saga. As Catherine battles on, clinging to the throne and defying the odds, a somber note strikes. In 1536, she bows out, not at the hands of political drama or royal intrigue, but due to an adversary far beyond the reach of any king—cancer. Catherine dies of cancer on January 7, 1536

So here's to you, Katherine—with a regal 'K,' a legacy that reigns on, and a courage that faced even the most formidable foe. Cheers to the queen who fought until the end. The strength of an incredible woman. 

Catherine of Aragon's Royal House Stamp 

Above: Catherine of Aragon's Royal Pomegranate Badge


 Anne Boleyn - Portrait

2. Beheaded. Anne Boleyn. 

Now, let's dive into the juicy drama of Henry's second wife, who happened to be one of Catherine's ladies-in-waiting—Anne Boleyn! Talk about an audacious move—Anne positioned herself as the solution to Henry's succession troubles. Now, that's a royal power play that would tick anyone off!

Skipping the whole Pope approval scene, Henry and Anne went rogue, exchanging vows in a secret church rendezvous on Easter in May 1533. (You can read about that story in our other blog post: A Wild Easter with Anne Boleyn. for the deets on this undercover affair. With the Pope giving a thumbs-down to Henry's divorce plan, Henry decided it was time to break up with the Roman Catholic Church. Cue the English Reformation!

Hold onto your corsets—Anne, already pregnant with her first child, Elizabeth, 3-4 months after their official marriage. But alas, several miscarriages later, and Henry still didn't have his coveted son. So, what's a king to do? Look for a new mistress, of course. Enter Thomas Cromwell, the wingman who helped Henry hatch a plan to bid adieu to Anne. Henry was turning elimination into an art form!

The plot thickens—Henry accused Anne of some seriously scandalous stuff, including alleged romps with her own brother and other men. Ah, the things men could say and get away with in those days. Henry swiftly annulled his marriage to Anne, bypassing the Pope entirely. Two days later, Anne faced the axe—literally.

In a rather 'gentlemanly' move, Henry opted for a skilled swordsman over a regular executioner. A Queen's first, Anne's beheading went down within the Tower of London's walls instead of the usual public spectacle. On May 19, 1536, Anne Boleyn met her end for charges of adultery, incest, and high treason, leaving behind her infant daughter, Elizabeth—the future Queen of England.

If only Anne could have known that her little neck joke would be tragically ironic. Just eleven days later, Henry was exchanging vows again, marking his union with his third wife. Talk about speedy recoveries in the court of Henry VIII!

Anne Boleyn's Falcon Badge

Anne Boleyn's Royal Falcon Badge


 Jane Seymour - portrait

3. Died. Jane Seymour. 

Let's spill the Tudor tea on Jane, the ultimate lady-in-waiting multitasker—serving both Catherine of Aragon and Anne Boleyn! Talk about a wild Tudor court love triangle. While Henry was busy plotting his way out of wife number 2, he was also penning love letters and sending gifts to Jane. Now, that's multitasking on a royal level.

Jane, savvy as she was, didn't dive headfirst into the King's advances like her predecessors. Smart move, considering the danger that came with playing Henry's game. However, as the court whispers go, she might have caved in at some point—maybe for status or under family pressure.

Fast forward, and just 11 days after Anne's dramatic beheading, Jane walks down the aisle with Henry. Talk about a whirlwind romance—or was it already in full swing before the executioner did his thing? Henry's roving eye has a reputation, after all.

Word on the street? Jane wasn't exactly a slouch in the bedroom chamber. And voila, the King finally gets what he's been chasing—a son, the one and only Prince Edward VI. Sadly, Jane's triumph is short-lived, as she passes away two weeks later due to birth complications.

Now, historians love a good debate. Was Jane Henry's favorite wife because she delivered the elusive male heir? Or was it her prowess in the boudoir? Maybe she just played her cards right, learning from the missteps of Henry's previous wives. Jane exits the stage, leaving the perfect Queen image—an unwavering, devout Jane Seymour. Mission accomplished: she did her job, leaving behind a male heir, the future King of England. Talk about leaving a Tudor legacy!

Jane Seymour's Royal Phoenix Badge
Jane Seymour's Royal Phoenix Badge


 Anne of Cleves - portrait

4. Divorced. Anne of Cleves. 

Let's dive into the Tudor drama starring Anne, handpicked by Henry to be his fourth wife based on a portrait, because, well, alliances and the need for a 'mother' for his son—talk about a royal checklist. Hailing from Dusseldorf, Anne and Henry didn't exactly hit it off from the start. A language barrier, a culture gap, and the fact that they were total strangers made the initial meetup a bit awkward.

Adding to the mix, Henry surprised Anne in disguise on her way to London—a traditional move to show true love. However, Anne, unaware of this custom, wasn't exactly thrilled and pushed Henry away. Awkward, much? To make matters more complicated, by the time Anne arrived, Henry didn't really need that European alliance anymore.

Trying to hit the brakes on the wedding train, Henry attempted to send Anne back. Spoiler alert: that plan didn't pan out, and they ended up saying 'I do.' However, their marriage remained unconsummated—whether due to Henry's bedroom struggles or Anne just not feeling it remains a Tudor mystery.

After six months of royal relationship woes, Henry dropped the bomb, blaming the annulment on Anne's supposed lack of attractiveness. Fast forward to the 1700s, and suddenly it's trendy to trash everything about Anne—her wardrobe, her looks, even her hygiene. They even gave her the charming nickname 'Flanders Mare.' Seriously, people?

Despite the annulment drama, Anne took it all in stride, scoring a property in Kent and a generous settlement. Lucky break, right? Surprisingly, she and Henry remained on good terms, with Anne even getting cozy with the future Queen Elizabeth. Rumor has it she even twirled on the dance floor with Henry's next wife at a Christmas shindig. Now that's a Tudor twist we didn't see coming!

Anne of Cleves Royal Badge

Anne of Cleves Royal Badge


 Catherine Howard - portrait

5. Beheaded. Catherine Howard or Katherine Howard.

Alright, let's unravel the Tudor tangle with that signature 'K' flair. Brace yourselves, because Catherine Howard's story takes a wild turn. Catherine, the first cousin of Anne Boleyn and second cousin to Jane Seymour. Grandmothers were sisters, but Catherine's mom left the scene early, leaving her in the care of her father's stepmother, the Dowager Duchess of Norfolk. Fast forward to Catherine, age twelve, caught in a not-so-innocent embrace with her music teacher. Blame the Dowager Duchess for that one—supposedly she was in charge of taking care of Catherine!

The party kicks off when the family moves to London, and Catherine dives headfirst into a steamy affair with relative Frances Dereham. Rumour has it she boasted about her bedroom skills, earning her a queue of suitors. Sadly, no confirmed paintings of Catherine Howard exist, but there's a tantalizing portrait in the National Portrait Gallery dated 1540 that is suspected to be her.

Now, Catherine's uncle, Thomas Howard, Duke of Norfolk, gets her a gig in Anne of Cleves' household. Fate takes a twist when Henry, aiming to meet Anne, surprises her in 1539, and Anne pushes him away. Fast forward to 1540, and the royal court knows Henry has set his sights on Catherine.

Marriage bells ring in July 1540, same day Thomas Cromwell meets his end. Catherine, a gracious Queen to Anne of Cleves but not so warm to her stepchildren, especially Mary. Things are smoother with Elizabeth, perhaps because of their Anne Boleyn connection. No royal offspring for Catherine and Henry due to health issues and, well, the impotence thing.

Cue Catherine's not-so-pristine past haunting her: affairs with Frances Dereham and the unsavoury Thomas Culpeper, one of Henry's top dudes. Gossip reaches the King, Catherine confesses to all her escapades, and Henry sinks into a royal-sized depression.

In 1542, a rule emerges: Future queens must spill the beans on their past. Catherine, possibly just 18, meets the Tower of London's axe. But wait, there's more! Catherine's Lady-In-Waiting, Lady Rochford (yes, Anne Boleyn's cousin Jane), gets the chop hours after Catherine.

Heads roll, literally. There's even a tale of Catherine's ghost haunting Hampton Palace. Troubled past aside, Catherine, in a way, was a modern woman for her time. Now, onwards to wife number 6—because the Tudor drama never sleeps.

Catherine Howard's Royal Badge

Catherine Howards' Royal Badge


 Catherine Parr - portrait

6. Survived. Katherine Parr. 

Let's glam up Katherine's Tudor tale in style! Katherine lands a gig in Princess Mary's posh household in late 1542, and come 1543, she's strutting her stuff as Henry's grand finale wife at the 'haunted' Hampton Court Palace. Talk about making an entrance!

Now, let's spill the Tudor tea again—Katherine's already clocked in two marriages and had her eyes set on the charming Thomas Seymour. But, she ditches him to waltz down the aisle with Henry. Why? Well, money talks, Queens! Or maybe she figured, he's practically on his way out, might as well secure the bag. Regardless, Katherine's not just a pretty face—she's got brains, too. A scholar, an arts patron, and the first woman in England to publish her own works under her own name. Iconic!

Katherine's all about that English Reformation life, but trouble brews when she finds out some religious frenemies are plotting against her. Cue the arrest plans! She pleads with Henry, and he forgives her. Talk about dodging a royal bullet. Katherine's the only wife to outlive the mad King by a year and a few months. Post-Henry, she brings back some royal normalcy and love to the kiddos. Oh, and guess what? Katherine pulls a power move and adopts fourteen-year-old Elizabeth after Henry kicks the royal bucket.

But here's the twist in the tale: Katherine, after outliving the wild King, finally ties the knot with her true love, Thomas Seymour. They exchange vows, and months later, Katherine's rocking a baby bump. Tragically, she catches puerperal fever after giving birth to a healthy daughter and dies on September 5, 1548. And, as if the Tudor drama wasn't enough, Thomas Seymour gets the axe for treason a year later. In the end, Katherine rocked four marriages, proving she was the queen of love, even if tragedy followed her every move.

Katherine Parr's Royal Badge

Katherine Parr's Royal Badge


Anne Boleyn Art - Dead Queens The Six Wives of Henry VIII Collection Art

Dead Queens x Yawn Temiseva Anne Boleyn Art 

Dead Queens X Yawn Temiseva 'The Six' Collection

 In 2021 Dead Queens collaborated with artist Yawn Temiseva to create our two pieces of art. Check out both fabulously fun collections above.


Dead Queens X Yawn Temiseva 

Check out the Anne Boleyn Collection and 'The Six Wives' Collection
Here's a royal taste :)


Spread Tudor Queen history like a stylish historian and don your Anne Boleyn or 'Six' T-shirt, and complete the ensemble with the

Anne Boleyn Weekender Tote Bag

for an incredibly enjoyable experience!


To get you into the mood, have a listen to our

Playlist for The Six Wives of Henry VIII

Drop me a line. Who's your favourite of the Six?

Royally Yours, 




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