The Truth About Henry VIII's Confirmed Mistresses

Henry VIII of England was a busy guy. Starting his own church, fighting wars, being all kingly. Even in those much simpler times, there was a lot to do, what with running the country and trying to run other countries to boot. Yet affairs of state still left time for affairs of the heart. Six wives had Henry. So that must have satisfied him, eh?

Not in the least.

Bear in mind that while we often picture Henry in his later years, a convincing stunt double for the Stay-Puft Marshmallow Man, he wasn't always bloated and bulgy and ... disgusting. In his salad days he was often described as handsome, athletic, and charming. Maybe that accounts for his wandering ways. Maybe he just looked in the mirror and said, "I have got to share this with the world." And maybe he just had no sense of romantic fidelity.

So six wives — but how many others on the road to marital misery?

A beeline for Anne Boleyn

There are different tallies out there, sometimes drawing the line between "rumored" and "strongly rumored" and "you bet we can prove it."

Bear in mind that Wife 2, Anne Boleyn, was in his sights while he was still married to Wife 1, Catherine of Aragon; he took up with Jane Seymour while still married to the Boleyn woman; and with Katherine Howard while still hitched to Anne of Cleves.

Those bits of naughtiness aside, we also know that he was involved with at least three other women: Elizabeth (Bessie) Blount, the mother of his illegitimate son, Henry Fitzroy; Mary (or Margaret) Shelton, cousin of Anne Boleyn; and Mary Boleyn, sister of (wait for it) Anne Boleyn.

In addition, he's widely rumored to have taken at least four other women as lovers: Anne Poppincourt, one of his sister's tutors; Anne Bassett, his uncle's stepdaughter; Elizabeth Carew, the wife of his friend, Nicholas; and Anne Hastings, the sister of the Third Duke of Buckingham.

And who knows who else? After all — he was the king.