The Truth About Henry VIII's Longest-Surviving Wife

Any gambler who knows the secrets of casinos will tell you that there are wagers out there made exclusively for chumps: Dropping chips on a tie in baccarat, buying insurance on a blackjack dealer's ace, and declaring that the next Marvel movie will be the one that finally sinks the franchise, are all great examples.

A scant few hundred years back, one of the biggest sucker bets a person could make was marrying Henry VIII, the Tudor king of England, known for having both a fiery disposition and a personal assistant with pretty gross duties. If you know one thing about Henry VIII, it's probably that he ran into a disproportionate number of issues with his home life, beheading a hefty one third of all of his six wives. Somehow, though, the revolving door on Hank's love life never stopped spinning, and the fella kept toeing the line on "til death do us part" until death did part him. But which one of these lucky ladies survived the longest? On a race track littered with executioners and childbirth-related infections, who proved to be the long distance runner?


The title goes to Anne of Cleves, Henry's fourth-time-lucky ball and chain. According to Historic UK, she managed to outlive every one of the king's other wives, thanks in large part to the fact that the king thought she looked just terrible.

The story goes that Henry was engaged to Anne before the two had met — it was one of those politically driven marriages that you just don't get anymore. Henry had sent a portrait artist to capture Anne's likeness, and based his final decision on the result. Anne, as it turned out, didn't look anything like her profile picture, and Henry, being a class act, announced that she was too unattractive for him to consummate the marriage. The whole thing lasted six months.

Throughout the ordeal, Anne pretty much kept her head down, and apparently didn't raise much of a fuss when Hank started moving forward with an annulment. In the end, she outlived every other wife of Henry VIII, living comfortably on a postnup living allowance and staying in touch with the family. In short, Anne of Cleves knew what average folks spent most of high school figuring out: If you're quiet and unattractive enough, people just leave you alone.