I am delighted to host a stop on the virtual blog tour to celebrate the publication of ‘Anna, Duchess of Cleves: The King’s Beloved Sister’ by Heather Darsie.
Thank you to Heather for this interview.
Why did you choose this subject for your book?
I felt that Anna’s life was always glossed over and that there had to be more to her than simply being an undesirable woman who was removed from her queenship after only six months of being in her new kindgom. I thought about her age when she moved to England and believed it would be valuable to bring more knowledge about the court culture and politics of her homeland to the fore. I did not expect to find anything remarkable. Once I started digging, it seemed as though the floodgates open.
What does your book add to existing works about Anne?
I believe that my book fleshes out her life and adds more to the story about her marriage and why it ended. In a general sense, I believe it also brings more knowledge about what was happening in France and the Holy Roman Empire during the latter part of Henry VIII’s reign.
What surprised you most researching this book?
Her date of birth likely being 28 June 1515 and not 22 September 1515, what really caused her marriage to end. I was delighted to find the portrait of Anna which serves as the cover image of my book, and it was a wonderful experience to view the portrait in person.
Was the main reason behind the annulment of Anne’s marriage to Henry political or personal?
I believe the main reason was political, and that she stayed in England for political reasons. Once it may have been safe for her to return to Cleves, there was no reason for her to go back.
Do you think that Edward VI was serious when he suggested Anne marry Thomas Seymour and what was the reason behind it?
I think Edward VI could have been serious about it. Anna was the highest ranking woman in England behind the king’s family. Anna was also becoming an unnecessary burden to Edward VI’s purse, so Edward may have wished to marry off Anna so he didn’t have to take care of her any longer. It could have been for religious reasons, too. Anna was Catholic, even if she wasn’t very loud about it. Ultimately, I think further research is needed to determine whether Edward VI, a boy, had any serious thoughts about his uncle Thomas marrying Anna versus the idea being placed in Edward’s head that he should bring it up. Edward VI and the Seymours are a fascinating family!
Do we know anything of Anne’s whereabouts during Queen Jane’s brief reign in July 1553? Do you think she would have supported Jane or Mary?
Anna was away from court during Jane Grey’s time on the throne. I cannot say with certitude that Anna supported Mary, though I would not find that surprising. Mary and Anna had opportunities to bond and were of the same age. I do not know what contact, if any, Anna had with Jane Grey. Mary and Anna were both Catholics, with Mary being much more devout than Anna. Anna and Elizabeth rode in the chariot behind Mary’s during Mary’s coronation, and sat at the high table with Mary. I do wonder if Anna would have supported Mary because of the injustice which Mary suffered as a result of a lawful decree being discarded for convenience of the king, which is similar to the fate Anna suffered with her marriage.
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Other stops on the tour