After yesterday's post on Britain's longest-serving royal consorts, it seemed only fair to include the top ten shortest serving. Unsurprisingly, five of Henry VIII's six unlucky wives made the list.
his execution was posted on this blog in February.
3. Jane Seymour (17 months) Henry VIII married his third wife in controversial circles, becoming engaged to her less than twenty-four hours after executing his second. She died as a result of post-natal complications in October 1537, after giving birth to the future King Edward VI.
5. Catherine Howard (19 months) The fatally clueless teenage aristocrat became Henry VIII's fifth wife after he divorced Anne of Cleves. Devoted to a life of partying and pleasure, Catherine was young enough to be her husband's granddaughter by contemporary standards. Allegations about her private life resulted in an enquiry, which unearthed a love letter written by the young queen to a handsome young courtier. Both were later executed for their crimes, as were Catherine's secretary and one of her ladies-in-waiting.
8. Isabelle de Valois (2 years, 10 months) (Picture at the top of the article) Sister of the above, she was married at the age of six to the twenty-nine year old King Richard II of England, who had recently been left a widower thanks to the death of his beloved wife, Anne of Bohemia. Still grieving for Anne, Richard had no intention of rushing into a full marriage again so soon, but he could not ignore requests that he re-marry. A marriage to the infant French princess therefore seemed to offer the perfect solution. Isabelle lived in great luxury and seclusion and she was treated with great kindness by Richard, despite his mounting political and mental problems. She was sent back to France when Richard was deposed and murdered, where she subsequently married her cousin, the Duc d'Orléans.
9. Anne Boleyn (3 years) The tragic brevity of Anne's time of queenship was famously immortalised in the nickname, "Anne of the Thousand Days." Enormously politically influential during the six years of her betrothal to Henry VIII, Anne polarised opinion in her lifetime and has continued to do so ever since. She gave birth to the future Elizabeth I in 1533, but struggled to carry a pregnancy to term after that. She was arrested and executed on false charges of adultery, incest and treason in May 1536.
10. Katherine Parr (3 years, 6 months) Henry's sixth and final wife was already two times a widow when he married her in 1543. Gracious, elegant, charming and devoutly Protestant, she healed many of the rifts in the royal family caused by her husband's previous matrimonial endeavours. Following his death in 1547, she re-married for love to the Lord High Admiral, Thomas Seymour, but died in childbirth eighteen months later.