5 Easy Ways to Remember the Order of King Henry VIII's Wives
King Henry the Eighth of England has to this day held the record of the English king with the most wives. While his royal European cousins were busy accumulating mistresses, Henry was occupied with changing the ladies sitting on the throne next to him. He had six wives which meant England had six queens during his reign, and this figure has been infamously deemed too many. So it is not uncommon to hear many remarked that it's so easy to forget the order of Henry's wives, especially when there are three Katherines and two Annes. Here are five manners that can be used to easily remember the sequence of Henry's wives. Read on and pick the one that works best for you.
One of the most popular and employed manner of organizing data is to order them alphabetically. It works with the last names of these ladies with A for Aragon, B for Boleyn, and so on, with the exception of Jane Seymour's 'S' in the third slot. However, by simply remembering this exception the alphabetical sequence is a fairly easy aid.
Another way to aid remembrance is to employ a mnemonic. A mnemonic is a phrase or a verse which is intended to help the memory. Recall the phase used in music to remember the order of the circle-of-fifths? It goes like this - Father Charles Goes Down And Ends Battle - using the first letter of each word to do the trick. For this mnemonic concerning Henry's wives, I'll employ the similar method of applying first letters and create a sentence with words and ambient fitting to the subject - A Big Secret Concealing Her Past - as the Tudor court is famously known for its fair share of rival factions, mistrusts, scandals and betrayals, while two of Henry's wives and many in the royal household had a past or a life they needed to conceal, secrets bouncing off the walls at every corner was aplenty.
There is a certain satisfaction triggered in us when we hear words that rhyme. This method is in fact another version of a mnemonic which uses words that rhyme closely with the six wives' respective names and that pertains to the matter as well.
The first word arrogant rhymes almost perfectly with Aragon. For Anne Boleyn I used Anne even though there are two Annes in the picture as Anne Boleyn is the more famous, controversial, and carries the larger baggage of the two.
Seemed more goes well with Seymour while clever will certainly evoke Cleves due to the almost identical spelling of replacing the 's' with a 'r'. I am aware that the comparison adjective for clever is cleverer, but as grammar does not hold weight in this area, I say it's alright to ignore the rules of English composition solely for this matter.
As can be seen from the image above, the parts in bold extracted from the name Katherine Howard are used. At for Kat, as the shortened form of the name Katherine is Kat, while how is palpably a great reminder of Howard.
For the six wife, Catherine Parr, the words catch the ring represent Catherine. In many articles and books, though not all, on the Tudors, the Katherines of Aragon and Howard begin with a 'K' whilst the first letter of Catherine Parr's first name begins with a 'C' and that is how I've been spelling their names all this while. My initial intention was that the 'c' in catch the ring would distinguished Catherine Parr from the other two Katherines, but for those who do not conform to this rule concerning the spelling it does not matter as after naming Katherine of Aragon and Katherine Howard, Catherine Parr is the only Catherine left.
The context of this mnemonic aptly reflects on Anne Boleyn as she was the one who wanted the ring so badly among the six wives and was devious in procuring it by telling Henry 'the crown or no love'.
This method actually functions both ways.
The first works for those who have knowledge about the fates of each of these six ladies and are just a little confused about the sequence. All there is to remember then is the pattern - divorced, beheaded, died - with the second repetition substituting died with the opposite, survived. As mentioned, this manner would only operate for those who know the destinies of Henry's wives well.
The second way works for those who know the sequence of these queens by heart but just cannot recall how each of them ended up. Then, again, by remembering the pattern of divorced, beheaded and died, coming up with the fate of each will be a piece of cake.
Katherine of Aragon
Anne of Cleves
This is my favorite way of the five and the one that I've been using since the day I created it on day 1 when I discovered the Tudors. This fun concept is based on the structure of the earth, taking into account the crust, mantel, and core.
Leaving Catherine Parr aside in the beginning, the crust, as can be seen from the graphic above, is filled with Katherines - Katherine of Aragon above with a reflection of Katherine Howard below. In the inner ring, the mantel, are the two Annes - Anne Boleyn on top mirroring Anne of Cleves beneath. Then for the core, it's Jane Seymour, as it is a universally known fact that gravity is pulled towards the earth's center, so Jane is the core being compressed by the mantel and the crust; that's the reason she died naturally, from the forces of nature, which was in reality due to childbirth.
Bringing Catherine Parr into the picture now, I have her standing on the earth's crust as she was the one who outlived King Henry with a crown still on her head.
Which of the ways above do you find the most useful?
© 2012 Carmen Beth