Alternate History: What If Anne of Cleves Had a Child with Henry VIII?

by AlexandriaIngham

Anne of Cleves was put aside after just six months of unconsummated marriage. But what if it was consummated? And what if Anne of Cleves had a child with Henry VIII?

Anne of Cleves is often referred to as the Flanders Mare. She was the fourth wife of Henry VIII, and it is believed that their marriage was never consummated. It made for a very easy annulment after just six months of marriage.

But what if during those six months they did consummate their marriage? What if Anne of Cleves had a child with Henry VIII?

It Would Have Depended on the Gender

The future for Anne of Cleves would have all depending on the gender of the child she gave birth to.

What would have happened if Anne of Cleves had a child with Henry VIII?In truth, it would have depended on the gender. Henry VIII would have waited for Anne of give birth. If it was a boy, then there are high chances that he would have remained married to his bride. He would have just gritted his teeth because he really did need that spare heir.

If it was a girl, he would have used his reasoning for annulling the marriage. After all, Anne had been contracted to marry someone else. It was a good enough reason at that time to make Henry VIII’s marriage to her invalid. He would have likely recognised the child, and offered everything he promised Catherine of Aragon for Mary. And Anne would have likely taken it. She was not a stupid woman; or maybe her advisors weren’t stupid!

If Anne of Cleves Had a Boy

A boy could have changed everything for Anne, and the future wives of Henry VIII.

If it was the spare heir, things would have turned out very differently for England. This boy would have been raised with Protestants beliefs, and would have been placed second-in-line to the throne after his older half-brother Edward. That would have pushed Mary and Elizabeth further down the line of succession.

In fact, at the time of Henry VIII’s marriage to Anne of Cleves, Mary and Elizabeth were just illegitimate daughters who could not hold the crown. It would have been up to Anne to do everything that Katherine Parr had managed years later. Would she have done that?

With her own son in line of succession, possibly not. At least, she may not have helped Henry see that his daughters were rightful queens. She would have likely helped reconcile Henry with his daughters, though.

The Son Would Have Been King

That boy would have gone onto be King of England after Edward VI

Edward VI died just five years into his reign, and the crown would have passed onto his half-brotherThis child between Henry and Anne would have eventually become King of England. This wouldn’t have changed Edward’s death, but it would have prevented Edward naming Jane Grey as his successor. Why name a woman successor when there was a male heir? It wouldn’t have made sense, and there is no way the council would have supported the idea. The country would have backed this second son all the way.

In an ideal world, the boy would have gone on to marry and have children of his own. The marriage would have likely been a Protestant one, and may have even been to Lady Jane Grey. It would have depended on the political situation at the time. His own children would have had Protestant marriages arrange for them, with daughters possibly moving to German and the Netherlands.

If the marriage was not to Lady Jane Grey, there is a possibility that a marriage to Mary, Queen of Scots may have been arranged. It would have been an important and advantageous marriage for an heir of Henry VIII. The question is whether Scotland would have agreed to this. At the time of Mary’s marriage to Francis of Valois, the country was still a Catholic one. Her councilmen would have wanted a Catholic marriage.

Mary may have still married Francis, but he died in 1560. That would have been when the English king was in his late teens/early 20s. It is possible that he was not married by this point and he would have become Mary’s second husband instead of Henry Stuart.

Anne Would Have Had More Children

There are high chances that Henry VIII would have wanted more children from Anne of Cleves

It is highly likely that Henry VIII would have used Anne to his advantage right now, especially if she had given birth to a boy. She had proven her worth, and he would have wanted more children. However, the question is whether Henry VIII could have had more children by this point.

If so, Anne would have certainly had at least one more. Would she had died from childbed fever? I’m don’t see that one happening, at least not at first. There may have been a couple of miscarriages though.


I often love delving into the what ifs in history. This is a post dedicated to the what ifs surrounding Anne Boleyn had she had a boy.
It's fun to have fun with alternate history. Here I considered what could have happened if Jane Seymour never died after the birth of Edward.
Anne of Cleves agreed to the annulment from Henry VIII relatively easily. But what if she put up a fight like Catherine of Aragon?

With Henry VIII aging though, I don’t think she would have been at too much risk. She has proven with her decisions in history to give into Henry’s will. She knew the risks being his queen, and wasn’t going to let anyone find a reason to have her executed, even if she did not manage to have any more children.

What about Katherine Parr?
What about Katherine Parr?

What About Kathryn Howard and Katherine Parr?

Could the lives of Kathryn Howard and Katherine Parr have turned out differently?

The final two of Henry VIII’s six wives would have certainly not married Henry VIII had Anne had a boy. However, if she had a girl, their fates would have still likely been very similar. It would be interesting to see how different their lives would have been had Henry VIII never married them!


I hope you enjoyed the latest alternate history series, this time looking into Anne of Cleves again. There are many what ifs throughout history, and the idea of Anne having a son with Henry VIII would have certainly changed a lot that happened.

Updated: 10/04/2014, AlexandriaIngham
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