Searching the real story behind the "Flander's Mare" incident has taken me to the town of Kleve in Germany, to their Castle and meeting up with their present day Queen Anna. Mystery solved.
By Henry Tudor
As recipes go, this story is a mixture of ingredients not accessible by the ordinary people in the street, it could be said to be unique because repeatability is not in the equation either. What you get is a one-off, a story so different that it could cause eruptions in the History community as they have written the story from a distant point of view whilst this is a direct story from inside. Having whetted your appetite for more and not of the persuasion to keep you dangling, I the author, the insider and half the theme will dive straight in and relieve your misery.
I must say that before planning this project I believed all I had read about my co-star’s historical record, Queen Anne of Cleves, the fourth wife of King Henry VIII. I always did doubt the truth as preached by these historical books and wondered that if she was so ugly why did King Henry marry her in the first place, when breaking a promise would be little in his mind when you consider the promise he tried to renag on with his beloved sister Mary and her marriages. No I did not believe the accepted events and this story is my explanation to the actual events formulated from all the facts and interviews taken and allowed to rise in my oven of a mind.
I decided six months ago to go to Kleve in Germany and research their daughter, Anne. Ideally I wanted to go as King Henry VIII and the present township hopefully would have their own re-enactor as Ann. Too much to hope for, or so I thought. Then I wanted to have the help of the township itself to give the project status and information which together with special access to forbidden areas would complete a comprehensive collection of facts and pictures. Let me now tell you that I managed to get all, and because of this I certainly was not going to spoil it with the seldom use of a point and shoot camera, I decided to take a professional photographer with me. So let me outline my target for the project and then see how I went about it.
Target 1: To get to the Town where Ann of Cleves came from and find new information to enable the real story to be told.
Target 2: To collect as many true background pictures with King Henry VIII and Queen Anne of Cleves as possible. I will not use her correct name yet until it becomes factual.
Target 3: To write the story and get it published, to use the story and pictures to uplift my website.
I gathered together all the requirements, that is the services of a world champion photographer, Maurice Jones of the famous Wigan10 club. I contacted the township of Kleve in Germany and I contacted the newspapers, BBC radio and even their Kleve twinning town of Worcester whom I might add did not bother to reply. Having a website, www.HenryTudor.co.uk which attracts 70,000 visitors I decided to explain my plan openly to see if other established Historical companies would show an interest. This brought in Rennaisance Times magazine from the USA and hopefully a Pan American publication of a version of this story. I am already a professional King Henry VIII and regarded by major purveyors of historical story telling, BBC and HRP as the most accurate King Henry reenactor the have ever come across. My manic purchasing over the past three years of four handmade costumes has given me the resources to be King Henry in any setting and mood.
My purchase of a large Motor-home, converted inside to an office, changing room has made the delivery of Henry possible anywhere in Europe with all his clothing and accessories. So now al I have to do is mix the ingredients and turn on the oven.
One slight mistake, I booked the ferry to the Hook of Holland from the port of Harwich in Essex which is so far to travel when rest is needed, I should have spent a little more money and left via Hull on an overnight in a cabin asleep. Driving down the whole of England overnight to Harwich after a full day’s re-enacting at Samlesbury Hall in Lancashire is not clever and puts one’s condition of edge for the crossing of six hours in a low backed economy seat. Must say that the food was very good and the sea very calm, the only distraction being four Essex boys drinking heavily from about 08.30am and becoming boisterous in both actions and bad language causing us to move to a less comfortable place but with less distraction. The drive of 106 miles from the Hook of Holland to Kleve just over the German Border was uneventful though scary. Come on, how many of you lot out there have driven a huge right=hand drive Motor-home on the opposite side of the English roads for the first time without staying behind the slow traffic for 50 miles. Eventually the confidence and courage levels rose and I a started to overtake thus shortening this journey and leaving the tankers and milk floats behind.
We arrived in Kleve at 9.00pm and found the offices of their Town Marketing department this allowed me to call it “home2 on my SatNav so the vehicle would always find it’s way back over the next few days. We found an overnight Motor-home park in the town itself which was free except for the 0.5Euros for the electricity. Free! Why cannot the Englsih do this, the German’s told me it attracted many thousands of overnight tourists who frequented their cafes and restaurants as well as shops and tours.
That night Maurice and I made plans for the following day. We had thought about going into the project and hoping for the best, but decided to extend the trip one day to have a reconauture day timed the same as the actual shoot day so all light and shadows were the same, producing a shoot list and setting descriptive planner. We went over to the Office in the morning and met their staff, all was good with our relationship and the third day was planned for a series of photo-shoots and TV, Radio, Newspaper interviews with coverage across Germany.
We walked the route, worked out the shoot places and sets and we ended the day believing we had the project mastered. The only possible, uncontrolled area would be the weather but the forecast was good. We lest Kleve and drove the 8 miles to a full equipped campsite which was very easy to rest in and access to Kleve simply turn on the SatNav and follow the instructions.
Wednesday 5th September 2007, the day of the shoot. All went as planned, the light was identical to the previous day and the people turned up like clockwork. The Cathedral, Castle, Township and finally Tier Garden gave us great backdrops with over 400 pictures taken, lots of contacts made and great publicity for the town and our companies involved. Now need to describe how to pose for a picture nor any reported funny things to describe, it was Germanic efficiency at its best.
Now comes the treat, did I learn something new? The obvious one being that even in Kleve, they call this magnificent lady Ann of Cleves, and Anna von Kleve too. Not because their town is called Cleves but because History books spelt it that way. How dishonourable for a history book mistake to be transferred so many times that it actually changes the history. So from now on in this story, it is Anna Von Kleve.
Did I learn something new? Yes. Not what I expected to learn but definitely new and historic in nature. I also found out that the German residents of Kleve do not know who Anne of Cleves is, or even her correct name, Anna Von Kleve. They are not taught about her in their National curricula and only glanced at, in passing in most school History lessons. I found out that this lady was brought up in real poverty in a Dukedom with financial problems led by the duke who also led Germany’s Protestant faith and who was looking to increase his position financially so he could court a Hapsburg girl. The poor lady Anna Von Kleve was taught the woman’s education of Germany, that is sewing, cooking, and looking after a husband. She had no actual scientific, political, Mathematical and “manly” knowledge that King Henry VIII desired in a wife after the demise of his much adored grandmother Margaret Beaufort. The Flander’s Mare comment is not mentioned in the German Town of her birth and upbringing, the reason for the marriage ending according to the local History records was because he, Henry, wanted a conversation and an intellectual equal not a domesticated subservient wife.
Anna's life was horrible before her engagement to Henry; she was the cook, cleaner, bed chamber maid to her Brother Wilhelm, their sister Amelia and her widowed Mother. Now the story is moving towards the Cinderella theme.
Amelia Von Kleve
So what about their older sister, Sybellia?
Well the fact she was eldest, took her out of the Henry equation.
Take a journey on horseback for a gruelling six weeks from Kleve through Germany, Belgium and France only to have to cross the channel in a small wooden craft to England’s shores and her Husband to be. Six weeks of riding, she would have been exhausted, bow legged, and smelling of horse sweat, she would have been wearing her riding outfit, a hand me down from Amelia and her hair tied back in Germanic plaits. Upon arriving in England she would have expected to be allowed to rest, have been cleaned up and dressed for the English Court of a King but was she allowed to? No. Henry being that person with low patience levels and fed up of waiting the six weeks for his new wife to appear before him in the Court, He decided to ride to the place she was resting and surprise her. He gathered his trusty friends and rode off into the night as Knights about to save the Princess from the Tower, a Camelot event in anybody’s book. An as we know Camelot was definitely in Henry’s book. Arriving in the entrance chamber, poor old Anna, dirty, dishevelled, smelly, tired was confronted by six Knights in armour she did not recognise and never having seen an accurate picture of Henry asked the worst question one could think of to an egotistical man like her husband to be, “Which one of you is my Henry?” Take away this English translation, change it with a strong German accent, with V’s instead of W’s and now add Heinrick instead of Henry and what have you got? A shocked and bewildered Henry VIII with no other way out of this situation other than to criticise this lady with the Flemish Mare comment. Not a good start to a marriage?
This lady with domesticated skills soon picked up new knowledge because she was actually a very intelligent woman and Henry now committed to a quickie divorce after only six months of wedded bliss, actually liked her and they both became good friends. Henry even created Anna to be his court Sister with great responsibilities for his Children’s welfare and the way the women conducted themselves in court. After careful consideration I believe Anna Von Kleve to not have been ugly, not have been smelly and not to have been stupid, all are wrong interpretations of historical facts with Germany’s own history missed out completely.
And finally, do I believe that the Anna Von Kleve story is the basis of the Cinderella story, well yes I do, or a clone of the story. There are too many common factors, the rags to riches, the ugly sister, the Duke and the Prince charming. But who was Buttons? Well I have suspected the guy for a while, I also suspected that he fell in love with Amelia Von Kleve and so made sure Henry picked Anna by reducing Amelia and increasing Anna’s features. He also was the prime mover in promoting Anna to the King. This guy who never gets a mention is Hans Holbein.
So just what kind of relationship did King Henry VIII have with his fourth wife, Anna Von Kleve? I will answer this difficult question from the perspective of being Henry and being with Anna in her native Germany, both of us historians with an avid interest in each other’s pseudo other self. Not easy to piece together, but after studying most books, visiting all the Henrician locations and talking to the actual people who know, people who run the Castles and Palaces.
Henry, broken hearted for two years since the loss of his beloved Jane Seymour was in search of someone to talk to, more than that of course he was looking for a soul mate and a replacement for his grandmothers company. Margaret Beaufort the strong, political astute Duchess of Lancaster who died, robbing Henry of the one woman he always respected and feared. Thomas Cromwell of course was after the formula for Alum Flour and the power it would yield in an aristocratic society hungry for fixed-coloured clothing. The fact that on the other side of the North Sea, an equally power hungry Duke of Kleves, Wilhelm was trying to rid himself of land rich but money poor status so he could marry high, hopefully into the Hapsburg gene pool. He having two sisters and the formula for the Alum flour became a target for Cromwell. Cromwell’s notion of course was perfectly valid because not only would he provide the Mourning King a new love interest, he could also provide the King a diversion from the political vacuum caused my Jane’s death and the absence of Henry in his duties. The possibility that maybe another son might be born must also have been in the equation as well as the fact that the Duke was the Protestant leader in Germany and the Flemish lowlands of Holland. Such a marriage of convenience would bring Cromwell’s position from tenable to highly secure, he must have been planning ahead thus expecting that he would outlive his master and serve the new King Edward with probable Protestant views. The problem of the aforementioned choice and time to meeting each other caused the biggest upset in Royal history, the King was not taken with his intended bride and insulted her upon the first meeting.
Not good eh, especially for Cromwell who died a traitorous death as a commoner and Holbein being shunned after the affair, losing direct access to his most affluent customer the King. Anna of course was divorced and accepted very good terms for her new life in England as the ex-Queen. She did not return to the German town of her birth and past hardship, she enjoyed considerable luxury in Ann Boleyn’s family Castle at Hever and the additional housing in Lewes where she rented out and produced an extra income. She became one of the wealthiest women in England and quite revered by the people to whom she was quite benevolent. The story however was not the same within the ranks of the rich, nobility who saw the ex-Queen as a threat to their position because she had kept the ear to the king and was indeed his council for all matters of secrecy. Henry had at last replaced his grandmother with a younger version, nurtured by himself and a lady too, to satisfy his nature of being comfortable with women. Ex-Queen Anna Von Kleve was the luckiest of all the Tudor Royal wives, she lived ten years longer than Henry and even beat Catherine Parr in the lifetime stakes, which makes a mockery of the verse still used today in school’s “Divorced, beheaded, died, divorced, beheaded , survived” It should read “Annulled, Beheaded, Died, Divorved and survived, Beheaded, survived”. She never married again, not wanting to lose the “Queen” title in her new lifestyle. She never returned to be with her family, her brother Wilhelm succeeded in marrying the Hapsburg line and was never poor again. Did Henry love Anna? No not in the romantic sense but definitely she was one of his closest confidant’s and I believe she regarded her as a near equal and a sister but especially with her obvious high intelligence she was the long sought after person he could really talk to, his lost Margaret Beaufort his Grandmother.
The Alum Flour industry was started in Yorkshire and continued for another 250 years until someone invented another colour fixer extracted from all the excess tar the Victorians were pouring out of the industrial revolution.
Did my visit to Kleve as King Henry VIII stir up a new History for the people? Maybe for only a few minutes. I was on their TV News desk for a 30 second video, three newspapers ran the story and the Radio added it to their end bit which is supposed to cheer you up after the normal amount of daily bad news. I did enjoy our meeting which had brought me nearly 530 miles by road and sea, had me sleeping in camp sites and eating in pavement cafes’ in the glorious sunshine. It was nearly a holiday, nearly a new beginning for the Kleve history and definitely worth the effort for my own understanding of the Ann of Cleves story which must now be called the Queen Anna Von Kleve story.
I cannot leave you like this without adding some poetry, written on the trip and my way of describing the things that happened on the outside of the actual project.
This is the view of the white line caused by a large ship on the calmed waters of the North Sea.
By Henry Tudor
Distance gone, but remembered well
The ship crease the sea, to a swell
Forward look to random waves
Cut it straight into un-played octaves.
Not a reply of mistaken paths
Just a record, a cenotaph.
Never will it live for long
The waters recovery is strong.
The mixing of blade to wave
Creates a line that’s not concave
The white paint of air is bright and free
Follow it well to get to me.
Shake up the wake with powered thrust
Push the ship with muted lust.
White lining the sea with heaving mass
Guided by the blind compass.
Nearly there to Holland’s Hook
Land so flat, stare to look.
We go abroad to entwine
Over the brine with our white line.
Picture to come
This is about a Cat asleep on a car bonnet at a Castle, it woul’d not move even with a flash camera up to its face. It seemed to own the place which is the way a cat lives domestically with people.
Cat on a hot tin roof
By Henry Tudor
I may let you live in my house
But don’t expect to share my mouse.
My chair is mine so keep clear
So is the fire, and cushions, beware!
This child of yours is my toy
Next time, please a boy.
I want differing food today
As I am planning to go away.
Out for the night near the bins
Will not need to eat from the tins.
Will sleep all day and not stir
And expect you to stoke my fur.
Keep your dogs away from my bed
Stupid mutts, enough said.
Clean my collar for me to wear well
Wipe the floor to remove dog smell.
Let the car run for a while
As I like to sleep on it in style.
Its warm and easy to sleep
Mind you, it is a bit of a heap.
Maybe one day you will try
A car more fitting, to buy.
Don’t bother to disturb my snooze
This sleep is too good to lose.
This is our humorous picture, of King Henry VIII taking his bride away from her Germanic roots upon his trusty steed.
By Henry Tudor
I have come to wisk you away my dear
To my country far from your frontier.
To become my fourth wife and Queen
Not falling for buying unseen.
A painting can tell many lies
And I am intrigued by your dark eyes.
I’ve come to choose my bride this place
So I needed to view your sweet face.
So I come with my trusted steed
To capture your heart and not mislead.
To carry you back to my land
Where I hope you will accept my hand.
In marriage to become a Royal wife
To help me recover my life.
I have had much in the way of sorrow
And look forward now to the morrow.
When Queen Anna sits by my side
One with whome I can confide.
Who likes to ride the wheels two
A blue Vespa for me and for you.
Lots of people may make jest
But I’ve come over here for the best.
With your hand upon my white sleeve
My fouth wife, Anna Von Kleve.
Now why did Henry Call her the Flander’s Mare when she came from Germany? The answer is so simple that it did not strike a clue for a while but then the Mayor told me the answer. The German township of Kleve is just 10 Km from the Dutch border and half the population are in fact Dutch. All people speak the two languages and in fact their languages have merged to a Flemish style heavily accented in Dutch. The rest of Germany find their accent amusing as do the Dutch.
Here is a collage of pictures which cover the project quite well. If you want to find out real history read a book before you visit the place for yourself and then make up your own mind.
Here is the Letter from Anna to her Husband the King.
"Pleaseth your most excellent majesty to understand that, whereas, at sundry times heretofore, I have been informed and perceived by certain lords and others your grace's council, of the doubts and questions which have been moved and found in our marriage; and how hath petition thereupon been made to your highness by your nobles and commons, that the same might be examined and determined by the holy clergy of this realm; to testify to your highness by my writing, that which I have before promised by my word and will, that is to say, that the matter should be examined and determined by the said clergy; it may please your majesty to know that, though this case must needs be most hard and sorrowful unto me, for the great love which I bear to your most noble person, yet, having more regard to God and his truth than to any worldly affection, as it beseemed me, at the beginning, to submit me to such examination and determination of the said clergy, whom I have and do accept for judges competent in that behalf. So now being ascertained how the same clergy hath therein given their judgment and sentence, I acknowledge myself hereby to accept and approve the same, wholly and entirely putting myself, for my state and condition, to your highness' goodness and pleasure; most humbly beseeching your majesty that, though it be determined that the pretended matrimony between us is void and of none effect, whereby I neither can nor will repute myself for your grace's wife, considering this sentence (whereunto I stand) and your majesty's clean and pure living with me, yet it will please you to take me for one of your humble servants, and so determine of me, as I may sometimes have the fruition of your most noble presence; which as I shall esteem for a great benefit, so, my lords and others of your majesty's council, now being with me, have put me in comfort thereof; and that your highness will take me for your sister; for the which I most humbly thank you accordingly.
Thus, most gracious prince, I beseech our Lord God to send your majesty long life and good health, to God's glory, your own honor, and the wealth of this noble realm.
From Richmond, the 11th day of July, the 32nd year of your majesty's most noble reign.
Your majesty's most humble sister and servant, Anne the daughter of Cleves."
Notice Cleves not Kleves as it is today! She even Anglified her own wording to please Henry.
Many thanks to Candida for this following tale of the origins of the Castle of Swannenburg's name.
"The Legend of the Knight of the Swan is the legend of the origins of the Cleve
family. There are many versions of this legend, one was the basis for the opera
Lohengrin. The story goes like this:
Beatrix, the only child of the Lord of Cleve (c. 732 AD) was alone in her
castle(near the Rhine River) while her Father was away on business. He died while
away. She was besieged in her castle by a neighboring Lord who was trying to force
her to marry him. In her distress, while at her prayers, the bell on her chaplet
rang. This bell only rang when the owner was in great distress. The sound of the
Chaplet bell was heard by Parsifal, guardian of the Holy Grail, at Monsalvasch.
Parsifal sent his son, Lohengrin to help Beatrix. Lohengrin left Monsalvasch and
when he arrived at the Rhine River there was a boat pulled by two swans waiting for
him. He entered the boat and the swans took him to the Castle of Cleves. He
defeated the Lord who was besieging Beatrix.
He tells Beatrix that they may marry providing that she does not ask him where he is
from. For if she does, he will have to leave. They are married and have three
sons. When the sons are nearly full grown, Beatrix asks the fateful question of
Lohengrin. He takes it as the sign that he must depart. He gathers his family,
tells them that his Father is Parsifal and that he was sent by the Holy Grail. He
gives his sword and his shield to his sons, his ring to his wife and departs.
Lohengrin was known as The Knight of the Swan while he was with Beatrix. The castle
is called Schwanenberg - the Castle of the Swan. The story of the knight of the
swan shows up in many versions in many languages (German, French, Italian...)
Wagner pick one that linked it to the House of Brabant."
Wow! Such a fine tale.
Now for the final say in the name Kleve.
It has been a burning issue for me to help you all understand the Kleve family, but finding good accessible facts is not easy so far out on a limb from the main character of Ann of Cleves. Now at last on my second visit to the castled city of Kleve and time to wander without working as Henry I can give you a synopsis to help you get to grip with names and places.
First of all the name of the City, even the railway station there has two spellings, both Kleve and Cleve, next to each other just in case a visitor misses the point. But the fact is that the original name was Cleves and it came from the placement of the township on the side of a ridge, a Cliffside. But German history changed the name to Kleve as time went by, now the official name is Kleve’s but sometimes Cleve’s. Is that clear? No well, join the club.
So when King Henry VIII married Anna she was from Kleve’s and so was formally called Duchess Anna Von Kleves, but even this is wrong! There should be no “s” on the end as the town is not a plural. It is much like saying “Henry of Londons”. Son the correct way is Anna Von Kleve.
But wait for it, this was where she came from, her actual title was the family of the Schwanenburg Castle, The House of the Swan, though her actual family tree name was Herzog.
Anna could have been addressed as:
1. Duchess Anna Von Kleve
2. Duchess Anna Von Cleve
3. Duchess Anna Von Schwanenburg
4. Anna Herzog, Von Schwanenburg-Kleve
Now, next problem to clear up, what is left of the original castle now in 2010? 1945 saw the end of the castle as an allied bomber flattened it. It was rebuilt from plans and similar historical castles of the period but only the bits underground were left intact(ish). I knew I was going to get a red line then.
Here is a picture showing a then and now approach to answering this difficult question.
Last but not at all the least. Anna’s brother, the negotiator for the wedding of Anna to King Henry VIII. What did he actually look like? What happened to his family tree? And where is he buried?
Brother Willhelm actually called Johann Willhelm Herzog, took the King’s dowry money and married into the Hapsburg’s, but no children came his way so when he died in 1609 the Schwanenburg line came to an end. Hapsburg extended family took the land and titles and Kleves/Cleves ended up in the hands of one famous name, Brandenburg.
Here are the Herzog’s and I’ve pointed out who I think was Willhelm, not just counting them off, but his clothing is definitely 1500’s style.
He ended up with his wife in the family tomb in Kleve’s Cathedral.
There you go, 1,000 miles, lots of money and a whole day of searching the City Here’s a picture I had to take to make the point, it is the Kleve railway station with both spellings next to each other!
The Castle of Kleve then and now.
Where the name came from.