Thursday, January 24, 2008

Question from Paige - Hair color etc. of Henry's wives

hi there,
i modify dolls and have decided to make all six of henry's wives. from what i can gather with descriptions and pictures is that anne boleyn had dark brown hair and eyebrows with big black eyes. common sense and science tells me jane seymour was a red head, as her son edward had red hair, as did henry. had she had dark hair, that would have been the prominent gene.
unfortunately in all the pictures of the other wives, they are wearing lovely headdresses (which i will also include in the costumes of my dolls) but i cannot tell their hair and eye colors.
if anyone can help me, id be very grateful :)



Anonymous said...

KATHERINE OF ARAGON is described as small, with reddish hair which had turned a dull brown colour by her mid-thirties.She was considered attractive as a young woman, but quickly lost this and by the time she was in her early thirties, the King of France considered her 'old and deformed [ugly]'. As a young woman she was famed for her hair, which was very long and unlike Henry's other wives she wore loose the majority of the time. She was apparently plump.

ANNE BOLEYN was indeed described as having long dark brown hair - long enough to sit on - and large 'black' eyes. She is also described as having sallow skin. Ignore the portraits showing a reddish tinge; this was a popular attribute to add to portraits in the 16th century, as was pale skin.

JANE SEYMOUR - her portrait gives no indication of her hair colour. The descriptions we have show her as a plain woman, with very pale skin. I always imagined her to have light brown hair, though I don't know why. Red hair was considerd very attractive; I don't think she would have insisted on all wearing the gable hood, which covered all the hair, if her hair was one of her best features.

ANNE OF CLEVES - tall, 'of middling beauty' and with smallpox scars on her face. Her portrait shows a woman with brown, wide-set eyes and a round face. We have no indication of her hair colour.

CATHERINE HOWARD - we have no portrait that we can be sure is her; the two thought to be her show a woman with blonde-brown hair. She was said to be very short and quite plump. She died as a teenager. Some sources describe her as beautiful, others as average.

KATHERINE PARR - Her skeleton, when examined in the 19th century, showed her to be 5'2" with auburn, curly hair.

As to eye colours, I think you'll have to scrutunise the portraits; the ones on Google images weren't clear enough for me to be sure.

Anonymous said...

Also, of course, you can go by the eyebrows in the portraits: Anne of Cleves had dark brown eyebrows, so probably had dark brown hair.

too cute to puke. said...

thankyou so much :) gives me more of an idea. maybe i could cheat a little and make one blonde to break up the colours so they dont look too similar ;)
thankyou again!

Anonymous said...

Katherine of Aragon had strawberry blonde hair, was of average height, and was slim, until her late 30's. Pregnancies and miscarriages had taken its toll on her.

Anne Boleyn had long dark hair, almost black. Her eyes were almost black too and she had olive skin. She apparently had moles on her too. She was petite in stature and physique.

Jane Seymour was a blonde. Not brunette or a redhead. She was slim, and had pale skin and "mouse" like features.

Anne of Cleves was believed to be a little "chubby" compared to Henry's previous wives, one of the reasons he quickly divorced her. She was small and apparently her hair was brunette.

Katherine Howard had auburn hair. She is the cousin of Anne Boleyn. She wasn't slim but not chubby either. She was only a slip of a girl when Henry found out she had another lover and had her beheaded.

Katherine Parr had brown hair. Blue eyes I believe too. She was of average height as well.

Anonymous said...

Katherine Of Aragon - Had brown hair with a lot of red highlights and it was said she had extremely light eyes. Her family house (Trastamara)was fair.

Jane Seymour - Had a receding chin and her hair was almost white blonde.

Anne Boleyn had black hair and black eyes (as you mentioned).

Anne Of Cleves- Anne had copper-red-brown hair and being that she was from Germany she probably had blue eyes. She not overweight, she was just big boned.

Katherine Howard- Had brown and dark eyes, she was considered (by Henry) as the most beautiful.

Catherine Parr- Had Dark brown hair and blue eyes. She had somewhat Asian eyes and high cheekbones.

Anonymous said...

Katherine of Aragon - she was described as having reddish/browny hair, and from what I can see had blue eyes. - This would make sense, since she was concidered a beauty in her youth, and the idea of 'beauty' at the time went along the lines of blue-eyes.

Anne Boleyn - famous for her very dark brown hair! She is probably the easiest to spot, since she was fond of the French hood, which made her hair visible at the top. Her eyes were a similar peircing brown/black - famously given to her daughter Elizabeth.

Jane Seymour - Although the only contempory portrait we have of her shows the gable hood being worn, from which we can't see any hair, she was described as being very pale in appearance - either a blonde or light brown hair colour. From what I can see in the same famous painting, her eyes look blue or light brown. Many historians say that one of the reasons Henry was attracted to her was the fact that she looked nothing like Anne Boleyn, so this description makes sense.

Anne of Cleves - I don't think that there was ever any description of Anne of Cleves' hair colour, but her eye brows are dark so that may couple with darker hair. Most people seem to ashume that she was blonde, due to the yellow/gold headdress she wears in the famous painting of her. Her eyes look brown, from the same painting.

Catherine Howard - The portraits done of her picture brown hair and brown eyes. It is not known if she really was the 'Rose without a thorn' as Henry called her, though, since all the descriptions vary from average looking to pretty, but no more. Being a teenager she was probably shorter than some other women.

Katherine Parr - Having more than one famous painting done of her, we can plainly see that she had brown hair and greyish eyes. One of these pictures her wearing a cap, so your doll would be more easily recognisable as Katherine if she wears one too.

Anonymous said...

From her portrait she seems to have blonde or red hair and possibly blue eyes. She was very beautiful when she was younger.
She was famous for her dark hair and eyes. Her skin was quite pale, as this was fashionable at the time.
She apparently had very pale skin, light blue eyes and (white) blonde hair. She was probably a bit prettier than her portrait seems to suggest.

Anonymous said...

Despite the Holbein portrait with dark eyebrows, the written evidence suggests blonde:
"apparelled in a gown of rich cloth of gold ...her hair hanging down, which was fair, yellow and long".
~ Hall's 'Chronicles' describing Anne at her wedding. ~

I myself have almost black eyebrows and naturally blonde hair, so I know for a fact that they don´t always match :)

Shaestel said...

Anne of Cleves had blonde hair.

A note on Katherine Howard's colouring: nobody said she was average - Marillac simply implied that she was not as beautiful as he had been lead to believe. She was probably rather pretty. And if she was pretty enough to have been described as "the rose without a thorn" and "the jewel of womanhood" then we can expect that she fit Tudor ideals of beauty - i.e. she was fair. Rather than brunette, she was more likely to be auburn haired: the portraits identified as possibly being her all have reddish tinges to the hair.

Her eye colour depends on what portraits you believe are her: I'm leaning towards hazel/dark green, personally, but please don't think that historic fact! That's just my estimation based on the portraits I believe to be her, predominantly the miniature.

As for her skin, it's been reported that she was like her cousin, with olive skin, and it's also been said that she was pale: it is most likely that if she was "the rose without a thorn" she'd be pale, but perhaps she was not as fair as the Tudor age liked: after all, Marillac wasn't as impressed with her appearance as he expected to be. So, really, it's impossible to tell.

The rest of her description of correct. She was described as tiny, and if Anne B was of average height, and her skeleton measured to be around 5'3", then tiny Katherine could have been somewhere under 4'11". It's understandable then that she looked rather curvy.

Unknown said...

Thin women were not considered attractive in those days so whoever said ann of cleves being chubby had to do with henry VIII not wanting her is most likely incorrect. The clothes of those days would swallow extremely thin women up making them appear shapeless. Catherine of aragon did become overweight they say but their version of overweight would be over a size 16 today. Being around a size 8-12 was prized, pale skin, golden-reddish hair (considered the color of royalty at the time), and blue eyes, and small mouths were considered beautiful. Anne boleyn was not fashionable though her eyes were considered her best feature. You can find portraits of jane seymour as a child and she did indeed have blonde hair, but whether it darkened over time or not is hard to say. King Henry's sister Mary the duchess of suffolk was considered the epitome of beauty at the time so you can see what was considered beautiful at that time by looking her up. Hair color is a polygenic trait much like skin so it is not as simple as figuring out the recessive vs dominant traits to conclude the hair color of offspring.

Anonymous said...

Jane Seymour had blonde hair almost white

Anonymous said...

Or maybe Jane had golden blonde

Anonymous said...

Jane is my fave , her hair colour was medium-light blonde , I've got that hair colour , her hair WAS NOT brown or red!!!

Anonymous said...

Your so right about Jane

Anonymous said...

Actually nobody knows what hair color Jane had, it's thought it might be blonde but really historians don't know.
And actually Anne hair color is never described, she probably had red hair though, given the earliest known portraits of her (The Elizabeth I ring and the Holbein Sketch) both have her with red hair. Anne's only ever described as having dark skin and eyes, her hair color is never mentioned.

Anonymous said...

You can see in her portraits that she had blonde eyebrows so she had blonde hair!����

Anonymous said...

Catherine of Aragon had dark brown to black hair
Anne Boleyn had medium brown hair
Jane Seymour had medium to light blonde hair
Anne of cleaves had light brown hair
Catherine Howard had reddish hair
Catherine parr had light brown hair

These are all just guesses from the portrait and the TV show the Tudors.

Anonymous said...

Catherine of Aragon: She probably had strawberry blonde hair if you look at the portraits, as for eyes, they were probably blue or hazel. If you look at the portraits of her you can tell she was pale.

Anne Boleyn: Dark brown hair (could have been almost black, like my hair) and the famous almost-black brown eyes. Olive skin tone. If you can't tell some of her features, look at her daughter Queen Elizabeth I portraits.

Jane Seymour: This one's tough. Her gable hood covers her hair in her portraits and you can't really make out Jane's eye color. But if I had to guess, she probably had blonde or red hair (or something in between), and blue or hazel eyes. I really wish they had color photography back then.

Anne of Cleves: Once again, this is tough. If you look at her portrait, she had brown eyes, but then, we have this strange anomaly. We can't figure out her hair color! She could have brown hair because of eyebrows, but, it's pretty weak because of my best friend's has brown eyebrows, but she has blonde hair. You could believe she was a blonde (based on one contemporary description) but you could believe she was a red head because one of her sisters has red hair. Best advice, just cover where her hair would be with a gable hood.

Catherine Howard: A little bit easier. What I can tell she looks nothing like Tazmin Merchant (actress who played her on the Tudors) She probably had auburn hair and brown eyes. Once again, pale.

Catherine Parr: Probably the second most easy one to determine (after Anne Boleyn) A hair sample taken from her corpse shows she had blonde hair (could be strawberry blonde, sense the hair sample has faded) and brown eyes. In same fashion (except for Anne Boleyn) pale.

I hope this helps,
P.S. Not my actual name. I'm an idiot!

Stephanie said...

Thnxxxx so much. gave lots of help with history homework!!!!

Anonymous said...

Anne of Cleves was notably not very good looking which is why Henry Divorced her pretty Quickly. she had light brown hair blue eyes and a fairly wide brow she was best described by Henry man like feature's haha.

Katherine of Aragon has Reddish hair
she has blue /hazel eyes.

Anna Boleyn has black hair she has dark
brown eye's and olive skin.

Jane Seymour has pale skin she has white blonde strawberry hair and pale blue eye's Jane's beauty was fair and considered average looking she is the most desirable and the most favorite by king Henry's it's said to believe because she gave birth to
his son she was the only wife who's child ever lived during infancy and he was the
only biological heir to the English thrown.

Catherine Howard she is considered to be the prettiest out of all king Henry's wives she has medium brown hair and brown eye's.

Catherine Parr she has auburn reddish brown hair and she has blue/gray eye's.

there are wax live figure's and death
mask for display at the European wax museum that you can check them out (:

i hope that i helped you (:

Anonymous said...

Anne of Cleves was notably not very good looking which is why Henry Divorced her pretty Quickly. she had light brown hair blue eyes and a fairly wide brow she was best described by Henry man like feature's haha.

Katherine of Aragon has Reddish hair
she has blue /hazel eyes.

Anna Boleyn has black hair she has dark
brown eye's and olive skin.

Jane Seymour has pale skin she has white blonde strawberry hair and pale blue eye's Jane's beauty was fair and considered average looking she is the most desirable and the most favorite by king Henry's it's said to believe because she gave birth to
his son she was the only wife who's child ever lived during infancy and he was the
only biological heir to the English thrown.

Catherine Howard she is considered to be the prettiest out of all king Henry's wives she has medium brown hair and brown eye's.

Catherine Parr she has auburn reddish brown hair and she has blue/gray eye's.

Anonymous said...

Jane is best described having a pale like porcelain skin white blonde hair and pale blue eye's and she has a fair average face like beauty not very pretty but not ugly either
my honest opinion she is pretty even though she is fair she is still the prettiest ☺️.

Anonymous said...

madame tussauds wax figure warwick castle

here's the link

Anonymous said...

Very unfortunate when people use HBO's The Tudors as a reference. That show was very far from was a soap opera in period clothing. With some research, one can find contemporary accounts to go along with portraits from the time. There is an amazing wealth of info found in books by historians....go to Amazon or eBay and such books don't cost that much should you want to start a collection (I love mine!). Or, heck, visit the library. Sometimes it is helpful to actually read a book rather than Google, amazingly enough. Yeah, we have to make some of our own conclusions but at least doing that gives us more basis in truth than...omg...Hollywood fancy or wishful thinking.

IrishSkye said...

You can't go by that since the show's producers were shocked when Natalie Dormer showed up for filming as a brunette Anne Boleyn. They hired her when she was her natural blonde color and had expected that she would play Anne as a blonde. She had to talk them into letting her play the role as a brunette. So don't think for a second that the creators of The Tudors were casting these roles with any specific historical accuracy as a guide.

sydnisan said...

Cite your sources, I'm begging y'all. You can't just say "Jane Seymour had really light blonde hair" and give no indication of how you know that. That's not how history works.

Anonymous said...

Everyone says Anne Boleyn is a brunette. There are two things you need to know. The first is that when Jane Seymour died she had not posed for more than one or artists.
So it was decided to use the very many portraits that Anne had posed for. Changes like turning the B hanging from her choker into another piece of jewellery and making slight changes to her headdress.

Anne had auburn hair although a long hot summer could lighten it. She loathed the gable headdress that the Queen liked her ladies in waiting to wear. Anne refused to wear it, preferring a headdress that nestled further back on her head and showed off her hair. In private with family and friends she wore her hair loose down her back.

The other thing you need to know concerns genetics. In order to pass your ginger gene to your children You need both parents to possess this gene in order for your children to have red hair. All of Henry's children have red hair. Thus first second and third wives had red hair. Catherine Parr you say had red hair, which I didn't know. Nobody knows about Catherine Howard, as nobody can find descriptions or portraits of her. But as she is of the same family as Anne and Jane, I cannot dismiss the possibility..

Descriptions of someone being dark was more to do with their character. For example it might pertain to being evil, mysterious or someone in a bad temper.

Mary Boleyn is easy to tell apart from her sister. She is usually blonde though I have seen one portrait as a redhead. She always has a sensuous mouth and well formed eyebrows and often wears the gable headdress that Anne loathed.

Anne had a very small thin lipped mouth. Her eyebrows look thin as though they have been plucked. There is a portrait of her daughter Elizabeth in 1547, when she was 13 or 14. If you want to see what Anne looked like, take a look at that portrait. It is Anne to a T. Her hair is just a darker red.


Alex said...

Lmao I ended up here because I was googling to see if there were any sources for Anne of Cleves' eye color and here's just comment after comment with absolutely no sources. I didn't read every comment, but did anyone address the first comment saying Jane Seymour must've had red hair because her son did? Even though the same comment also asserts Anne Boleyn had brown hair even though her daughter famously had red hair?? I hope first commenter took some more science classes after they left that comment.

To be very clear, the colors in paintings cannot be said to be 100% accurate, because frankly we have no idea what these people looked like. We have no photos to compare them to. Colors in paintings can fade over time, and sometimes an inaccurate color is used to begin with. And we can never be entirely sure of someone's description just based on letters and such, because of how words change in meaning. I recall on wikipedia, there's a linked source that says Anne of Cleves was described as having fair hair, which would suggest blonde by our modern standards, but could potentially mean she had light brown hair, or just NICE hair (like how a "fair complexion" means smooth-skinned rather than light-skinned).

I believe Catherine of Aragon is the only one of the wives who has a very clear physical description that is independent of her portraits but does match up with portraits, but I can't recall ever seeing anyone's EYE COLOR mentioned in anything I've looked at, other than Anne Boleyn's being described as "dark". Alas, I have no sources myself. But "dark eyes" could mean brown, or dark blue, or just that she had a certain look about her without that describing her actual eye color.

One thing we should remember with the red hair thing, all 7 of these people actually share an ancestor. So obviously Catherine, Anne, and Jane must've at least carried a red hair gene - and Elizabeth Blount as well, since Henry Fitzroy seems to have been a redhead just as much as Mary, Elizabeth, and Edward were - but it's entirely possible that the other 3 wives also had the red hair gene, and it's possible that all 7 of them were carrying the same red hair gene all this time from their common ancestor (Edward I, I think?)

I don't understand why people poopoo The Tudors as a source but then completely ignore people using wax figures as a source?? It's not like the wax figures were made when everyone was still alive. They usually don't even look like the portraits commonly believed to be of those people.

But I've obviously not looked at every possible source in existence, but I've never seen any scholarly source give any concrete description of the hair and eye color of the 6 wives other than that Catherine of Aragon was supposedly pale and red-headed or had auburn hair (which is a distinction that could be down to what light she was in when observed, or just personal descriptions... like if were looking at the same sky I might call it aquamarine but you might call it turquoise)

Katie B. said...

@Anonymous one does not need to have red hair themselves in order to possess the redhead gene.
My mom has dark brown hair and yet one of my two younger siblings is a a redhead while the other one has blond hair.
I'm the only one out of her three children to inherit her hair color- although mine is a few shades lighter than hers.

As for our father, while he was bald at the time of my birth, my mom says that he also had brown hair, albeit a couple shades lighter than mine.