The worst husband in history would be Henry VIII of England. He was married six times during his reign, expelled two of them, and framed other two and executed them by beheading. The woman in the painting is Anne of Cleves, who survived Henry and was the last of his queens to die. How did she escape the marriage with her head intact?
After the death of the third queen, Henry VIII, a womanizer, sought a fourth queen. Although it was a political marriage, Henry made it clear that he wanted a beautiful wife. Princess Anne, a German Protestant princess, was recommended as a suitable candidate for Henry. The king sent his court painter to draw her portrait. After seeing Holbein’s portrait of Anne of Cleves, Henry decided to marry her without hesitation, mesmerized by her elegance and grace. After seeing Anne in person upon her arrival in England, however, Henry was infuriated because she was ugly and looked different from the portrait. Henry called the 25-year-old Anne the “Flanders Mare” and refused to consummate their union. At the time, Henry was 49 years old, fat, and had a foul smell coming from the pus from his injury. He blamed Anne’s appearance instead of looking back on himself. Moreover, Anne had no literary or artistic knowledge since she was not formally educated and could not speak English. Eventually, Henry declared the marriage invalid and married to a 19-year-old woman.
Fortunately, Anne was smart. Unlike her predecessors, she was not obsessed with justification, fame, or power. Instead, she was granted the title of king’s sister for accepting a divorce. She got along well with her stepchildren and was polite to Kathryn Howard, who turned from her maid of honor to the queen. She received generous divorce settlement of property and income. Although her short marriage was unhappy, Anne’s life after divorce was peaceful and happy. She did not have the beauty or talent to satisfy the temperamental King, she had the wisdom and skills to protect herself and her country.