How to Remember Henry VIII's Wives

Three Methods:Remembering through RhymeRemembering through Initials and NamesGetting to Know the Six Queens

Henry VIII (1491-1547) ruled England from 1509 until his death in 1547. Despite many achievements in foreign policy, religion, and the arts, he is best remembered for having an unusually large number of wives: six in total.[1] All that annulling, death, and remarriage was historically significant, too: in the process of annulling his first marriage, Henry VIII brought the Protestant Reformation to England.[2] Luckily, there are several tricks for keeping all of Henry’s queens straight.

Method 1
Remembering through Rhyme

  1. Image titled Remember Henry VIII's Wives Step 1
    Learn the rhyme that tells the queens’ fates.Divorced, beheaded, died; Divorced, beheaded, survived.” This ditty has been memorized by generations of British schoolchildren.[3]
    • It is not strictly accurate. The marriages to Catherine of Aragon and Anne of Cleves legally ended in annulment, not divorce. And both Anne of Cleves and Katherine Parr survived the king, in the sense of outliving him.
  2. Image titled Remember Henry VIII's Wives Step 2
    Rhyme “wedded” with “beheaded.” Another poem runs: “King Henry VIII, to six wives he was wedded. One died, one survived, two divorced, two beheaded.[4]
    • This version is inaccurate in the use of the term divorced, which should really be annulled. It also doesn’t tell you the order of the queens. However, it has a catchy meter and is easy to remember.
  3. Image titled Remember Henry VIII's Wives Step 3
    Rhyme the queens’ first names.Kate and Anne and Jane, and Anne and Kate (again, again!)[5] For this poem, it helps to adopt an English accent, so that Jane rhymes with again. Note that “again, again” is a reminder that there are two “Kates” at the end of the list: Catherine Howard followed by Katherine Parr.

Method 2
Remembering through Initials and Names

  1. Image titled Remember Henry VIII's Wives Step 4
    Remember the queens’ names through their last initials. The most widely cited version runs: All Boys Should Come Home Please. If you remember this, you can remember: Aragon Boleyn Seymour Cleves Howard Parr.
  2. Image titled Remember Henry VIII's Wives Step 5
    Remember the initials by connecting them with history. This version runs: A Big Secret Concealing Her Past. It is easy to remember because of all the drama connected with the lives – and deaths – of Henry’s wives. Think about Anne Boleyn scheming to rise the ranks in the palace and get close to the king. Or imagine Catherine Howard, cousin to the dead Anne, carrying on her affair behind the king’s back.
  3. Image titled Remember Henry VIII's Wives Step 6
    Use a phrase that sounds like the queens’ names. This is a rarer mnemonic but a good one: Arrogant Anne Seemed More Clever at How to Catch the Ring. Arrogant sounds like Aragon; Anne is Anne Boleyn; Seemed More sounds like Seymour; Clever is like Cleves; How to sounds like Howard; and Catch is like Katherine Parr. It has the benefit, too, of being historically accurate. Anne Boleyn was certainly arrogant and interested in catching the wedding ring.

Method 3
Getting to Know the Six Queens

  1. Image titled Remember Henry VIII's Wives Step 7
    Learn something about each queen. It’s much easier to remember the order and fates of Henry VIII’s wives if you know a little bit about their lives. That way, they’re real people, not just a list of names.
  2. Image titled Remember Henry VIII's Wives Step 8
    Catherine of Aragon came from Spain to marry Henry’s brother, Arthur.[6] Arthur soon died, however. Henry and Catherine married in 1509.
    • Catherine of Aragon had one child, a daughter, who would reign as Mary I (also known as “Bloody Mary”).
    • Henry’s first marriage was also his longest, lasting from 1509 until 1533.
    • Desperate for a son, Henry sought an annulment, claiming that the marriage was invalid because Catherine had been married to Arthur. When the pope refused, Henry broke with the Catholic Church, declared himself head of the church in England, and arranged for his own annulment.
  3. Image titled Remember Henry VIII's Wives Step 9
    Anne Boleyn, already pregnant, married Henry in 1533. They had been having an affair while she served as one of Queen Catherine’s ladies in waiting.[7]
    • Anne, too, had just one child, another daughter, who would become the famous queen Elizabeth I.
    • After several miscarriages, Henry decided to end this marriage, too, on the pretext that Anne was having an affair with another man.
    • Anne was tried for treason and beheaded in 1536.
  4. Image titled Remember Henry VIII's Wives Step 10
    Jane Seymour finally gave Henry a son. Like Anne, she had been a lady-in-waiting who caught the king’s eye.[8]
    • In 1537, she gave birth to Edward, who would reign only briefly before his early death.
    • Jane Seymour died just days after giving birth, plunging the king into grief.
  5. Image titled Remember Henry VIII's Wives Step 11
    Anne of Cleves came from Germany to enter into a brokered diplomatic marriage in 1540. Henry found her unattractive. What was even worse, the diplomatic situation shifted and made the marriage less advantageous.[9]
    • Anne of Cleves co-operated in arranging the annulment of the marriage. She outlived Henry by a decade, dying at her castle in 1557.
  6. Image titled Remember Henry VIII's Wives Step 12
    Catherine Howard was yet another doomed lady-in-waiting. At the age of just nineteen, she married Henry only days after his previous marriage was annulled in 1540.[10]
    • Catherine Howard was Anne Boleyn’s first cousin, and she shared her fate. She was caught having an affair with Thomas Culpepper and was beheaded for treason in 1542.
  7. Image titled Remember Henry VIII's Wives Step 13
    Katherine Parr was Henry VIII’s last wife but only the second to outlive him. They married in 1543, just four years before the king’s death.[11]
    • Learned and pious, Katherine sought to lessen religious persecution. She served as caretaker to the aging king.
    • She remarried after his death, but died in 1548 in childbirth.

Article Info

Categories: Historic Figures | Memorization Skills