Thursday, September 17, 2009

Question from Lindsey - Cousins of Anne of Cleves

I have a question regarding the cousins of Anne of Cleves, Henry VIII's fourth wife. I recently read John Guy's Queen of Scots: the True Story of Mary Stuart (entitled "My Heart is My Own" in Britain) which in turn led me to Leonie Frieda's very fine bio Catherine de Medici: Renaissance Queen of France. Interestingly enough, I discovered in the Catherine de Medici bio that Henri, Duke of Guise (Mary Stuart's cousin) was married to Catherine of Cleves and that Catherine's sister, Marie of Cleves, was married to the Bourbon prince Henry, Prince de Conde.

Now Catherine and Marie must have been cousins to Anne, but how? Was Anne of Cleves' father the brother to the grandfather or even the great-grandfather of the aforementioned Cleves sisters? Biography and genealogy, whether royal or of the nobility, holds a great fascination for me and I read everything I can on these subjects like a crazy man! Any enlightenment will be welcome.


  1. I must confess that I'd never actually heard of Catherine and Marie of Cleves until your post, Lindsey, so I did a bit of internet research about them and they seem fascinating! However, I am completely unable to find any website linking them with Anne of Cleves at all, which is puzzling me quite a bit. I mean, you would have thought that there would be some sort of a connection with them all living at roughly the same time and all being of the House of Cleves. I'm just as intrigued now as you are! I'm going to do some more research about them now, and if I find anything that links either Cleves sister to Anne then I will let you know.

  2. I really appreciate your taking an interest in my question, Tudor Fanatic! I am hoping that you will locate some information as to how the Cleves sisters were related to Anne of Cleves (surely they must be!). I really wish that Leonie Frieda in her bio of Catherine de Medici had made a comment or two on the Cleves sisters' genealogy -- if I didn't know better, I'd say the author was trying to drive her Tudor fanatic readers into a frenzy!

  3. catherine and Marie of cleves were two of three sisters.Catherine being the eldest,Henriette being second eldest and Marie being the youngest of the three.Thees three sisters I am thinking must be distant cousins of Anne of Cleves.If you look at there portraits you can see the resemblance between all three sisters and Anne.
    Catherine,Henriette and Marie were all daughters of Francois I of Cleves.All three were married and all three had children.It was known as the House of Cleves/Cleves Dynasty but their surname was Julich.

  4. The common ancestor is John I (d. 1481), ruling Duke of Julich-Cleves-Berg, a Dutch-German territory that was then part of the Holy Roman Empire.

    John I had two sons by his French wife, Elizabeth of Nevers. The first became John II of Julich-Cleves-Berg. John II’s son, John III, was the father of Anne of Julich-Cleves-Berg, commonly called simply “Anne of Cleves”.

    John I’s second son (and thus Anne’s great-uncle) was Engelbert, who married the French noblewoman Charlotte de Bourbon-Vendome in 1489. Engelbert of Cleves then became the Count of Nevers, a French territory located south of Paris and Orleans, in 1491 upon the death of the previous count, his maternal grandfather. Engelbert and Charlotte had a son, Charles, who married Marie of Albret. Charles and Marie then had a son, Francois of Cleves, later 1st Duke of Nevers, who in turn fathered Henriette (1542-1601), Catherine (1548-1633), and Marie (1553-1574) de Cleves-Nevers.

    Anne of Julich-Cleves-Berg was thus a somewhat distant cousin (second cousin once removed? third cousin?) of Catherine and Marie de Cleves-Nevers. Anne was 33 years old and already annulled from Henry VIII when her cousin Catherine was born, and Anne died when her cousin Marie was just 4 years old. Since Anne did not leave England after 1540, she never met young Catherine or Marie.

    Henriette de Cleves-Nevers married Louis, son of the Italian Duke of Mantua, in 1565. Their youngest son Charles became Duke of Manuta himself in 1627. Catherine de Cleves-Nevers married Henri, Duke of Guise in 1570. And Marie de Cleves-Nevers married Henri de Bourbon, prince de Conde, in 1572.

    Lastly, the Cleves "surname" was not "Julich." Julich was instead a town and part of the territory ruled by the Dukes of Julich-Cleves-Berg, commonly called simply "Dukes of Cleves." As has been discussed in other threads, the family known by the dynastic name "House of Cleves" did not have surname, as such.

  5. PhD - Thank you!! Can I ask where you go to for info like that? I have good sources for English and Scottish royal/noble genealogy but don't have as much for Continental families, especially outside of France and Spain.

  6. Well, Lara, I'm afraid there is no one simple source, that I know of anyway. I had to piece together my response by cross-referencing several databases and making a few mental connections. It took over an hour. But that what I like about being a historian ... the research process and solving the puzzle.

  7. Hehe.. yeah, I understand. That's what I was going to try to do for this question this weekend if no one else solved it first, but you saved me the trouble!

  8. Oh, I am so grateful to PhD Historian for the detailed information he submitted in regard to Anne of Cleves and her cousins (2nd cousins once removed, I believe). I am also sincerely grateful to other respondents as well! To me, royal/noble genealogy is sometimes much like piecing together the parts of a quilt -- each part must fit in the proper place so that one can make sense of the whole.

    A note to Lara: I have been immersed in Tudor England (and the 16th century, in general) for over 30 years and all I can say is thank goodness for the Internet and your most splendid site! Lindsey

  9. You are very welcome. I'm glad I was able to offer something useful.

  10. There is a well-known historical novel by Mme de la Fayette called "La Princesse de Cleves" written in 1678. It is about the wife of the Prince of Cleves who lives in the court of Henri II of France. I always wondered how there was a French Prince of Cleves. So now I know - I guess it is Francois the father of Catherine.


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