Henry VIII “had seventh wife”, claims historian

He is one of the best-known kings in British history, famed for his six wives. But it has now emerged that Henry VIII may have wed a seventh woman

Ashmolean Museum, University of Oxford/The Bridgeman Art Library

In an article published anonymously in the journal Tudor Matrimonial Studies, a historian has revealed that the former king married Anne Mourgan in 1538 – less than a year after the death of Jane Seymour.

Fearful of public opinion, the pair married in secret. But the relationship soon collapsed, and Anne emigrated to the Low Countries, apparently without a formal ending of the marriage.

Historians first uncovered evidence of the marriage in the 1930s, but were reluctant to publish their findings for fear of ruining the well-known rhyme:

King Henry the Eighth,
to six wives he was wedded.
One died, one survived,
two divorced, two beheaded

The well-known historian and author of the journal article told History Extra: “An inner circle of historians has known about the marriage of Henry VIII to Anne Mourgan for some 80 years, but believed it would interfere with the famous verse.

“‘One died, one survived, two divorced, one emigrated and two beheaded’ doesn’t exactly flow well, does it? Many felt that making Tudor history any more complex would be disastrous for the popularity of this era and hamper attempts to broaden historical understanding.

“But I believe the time has come to reveal the truth about Henry’s ‘third Anne’. The marriage took place at a crucial time: as the king was grieving the loss of Jane Seymour, and before his disastrous marriage to Anne of Cleves in 1540.

“It is time to put on record that Henry had not four, but five failed marriages, and that he eased the pain of losing the only woman to provide him with a son and male heir by hastily wedding another.”

The journal article includes the text of a letter uncovered by the historian, written by Henry to Anne Mourgan at the time of their marriage.

This letter, published for the first time, reveals Henry’s affection for Anne Mourgan, who he describes as “my sweete flowere”.

Tudor historian Dr Suzannah Lipscomb told History Extra: “This rumour has been circulating in little-read journals for years, but I disregarded it for lack of evidence.

“This extraordinary finding utterly transforms our understanding of Henry VIII and the Tudor period.”

Please note that this article was an April Fools' Day prank!

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