Friday, August 21, 2009

Question from Jacque - Amelia of Cleves

Does anyone know anything about Amelia of Cleves (Anne's older sister)? I know she also sat for Holbein and that she never married, but is anything else known about her? It seems strange to me that she never married because on Wikipedia (I am well aware that Wikipedia should not be taken at its word) it says she was 68 when she died, so if that's true she would have had plenty of time to get married, and being a Duke's daughter, it seems strange that she didn't.


Laura said...

Amelia was the younger sister of Anne...Sybilla was the older. Sybilla was already married to Friedrich of Saxony at the time of Anne's wedding to Henry.

I don't remember where in my source material I read this, as Anne of Cleves isn't my particular area of interest. It is possible I am misinformed, but I believe that Amelia went on to marry the brother of Sybilla's husband.

PhD Historian said...

According to Retha Warnicke in her article on Anne of Cleves in the Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, Sybilla was indeed the elder sister, born in 1512. Anne was the middle of the three girls, born in 1515, and the youngest, Amelia, was born in 1517. Brother William was born in July 1516.

Warnicke states that Amelia "remained unmarried."

I have searched several of the research databases that I commonly use without finding any mention of Amelia, except in connection to Anne and her portraiture. In that regard, there seems to be some confusion. While Anne sat for Holbein, it appears that Amelia may not have done so. There have been several portraits from the court of Cleves that have been variously identified over the years as either Anne or Amelia, the best known one attributed to Bruyn. But the current consensus seems to be that they all depict Anne, not Amelia.

The Holbein confusion seems to originate from an ambassadorial letter stating that the writer had seen portraits of both women, but he was unable to attest to their reliability because he had not seen the women themselves. This was in the very early stage of the negotiations. Holbein was then despatched to paint Anne, the leading contender of the two. I find no reliable evidence that Holbein ever painted both sisters, and no portrait by him of Amelia is known to exist, apparently.

Unfortunatley, I am not able to find any further information about Amelia in the reliable databases, not even the year of her death.

TudorRose said...

Amelia of Cleves (1517-1586)
Amelia was the third and youngest daugter born to the Duke of Cleves but was not the youngest child to be born to the Duke.Amelia had two elder sisters.
The first eldest being Sybilla then the second being Anne who would be the future king of Englands fourth wife.Amelia also had a brother who was the youngest of the four children.Amelia was sixty-eight when she died.There is a sketch that Holbein did that is supposed to be of Amelia but it cannot be proven one way or another.I personally think that it is because if you study the sketch and the portraits of Anne and Sybilla then you can see the likeness.At the time that Henry VIII was about to take a new bride who would become his fourth wife.Holbein was sent to cleves to paint Anne and Amelia of cleves and also aswell as Anne,Amelia too had been a chosen bride for the king!Amelia's portrait was said to have amiss somewhere.

PhD Historian said...

Tudor Rose, what is your source for the year of Amelia's death?

Diane said...

In her book, "Anne of Cleves - Fourth Wife of Henry VIII" Mary Saaler writes that in her will Anne left her sister Amelia "who had remained unmarried in Cleves" a diamond ring.

Anne wrote her will in July, 1557. (Her older sister, Sybilla of Saxony, had died in 1554). Amelia would have been 40 years old in 1557. I would guess that the reason she never married was because of the political and religious problems of her brother, William.

Concerning the date of Amelia's death, there is a family tree for Anne of Cleves at
It gives Amelia's name, with no husband, and the dates 1517-1586.

I tried to look up Anne's family in the Almanach de Gotha online but couldn't find it. I'm sure someone with more research experience could find some information there, however.