The birth dates of many historical figures have become lost over time. We know that King Henry VIII was born on the 28th of June 1491. We know that his first wife Catherine of Aragon was born around the 15th or 16th December 1485, and his short-loved fourth wife Anne of Cleves was born 22nd September 1515. What about the rest of Henry VIII’s wives?
For Anne Boleyn, Jane Seymour, Catherine Howard and Catherine Parr, all we have is a rough idea of what year they were born in. This article will go slightly off the beaten track, and, using a mixture of what we do know about the four wives and the study of Horoscopes, I will attempt to roughly pin-point when I believe that they may have possibly been born. Of course, though this is down to interpretation as not everyone believes in Horoscopes – and it doesn’t take into account the study of the Chinese calendar – but it’s worth a try!
Henry VIII – Cancer
According to the signs of the Zodiac, Henry VIII’s birth date would mean that he was born under the star sign of Cancer. Traditionally Cancerians have powerful emotions, making them loyal friends and romantic lovers. They are also over-sensitive and take offence easily. Their excellent powers of recall have both positive and negative ramifications, so watch out for their mean and moody sides. One of the most important things for a Cancerian is to be needed, loved and security – those that provide these qualities will get on well with this sign.
This certainly sounds like Henry VIII. When he fell in love with Anne Boleyn, he wrote her love letters, even though he hated writing, and continued to pursue her, even when he fell out with the Pope. However, in 1536, the love he had for her suddenly turned to hate and after trumped-up charges of treason, she was executed on the 19th May. A similar fate was met by three of Henry’s other loyal servants – Cardinal Wolsey, Thomas Cromwell and Thomas More. Despite their loyalty, he eventually turned on all three, and was responsible for their deaths.
Cancerians allegedly will get on well with other water signs, such as Pisces and Scorpio, and air signs, such as Gemini, Libra, and Aquarius. Air will help water signs balance their feelings and thoughts. These are points to consider which we will need to come back to later after analysing the wives.
Catherine of Aragon – Sagittarius
Catherine of Aragon’s birth date means that she was born under the star sign of Sagittarius. The common characteristics of a person born under this sign include a need for freedom. Freedom is very important to them, and those around them must not put them in a claustrophobic situation. Though they have an open mind and can be trusted, there can be issues with their no-nonsense approach to expressing themselves. They can even be a bit reckless out of boredom.
This describes Catherine to an extent. We saw evidence of this in the account of Catherine’s behaviour at Blackfriars in June 1529. Henry wanted to divorce her, forcing her into a situation where she would have had to admit that their marriage was wrong in the eyes of God. Catherine, being the stubborn Spaniard that she was, was not having any of it. She approached the King herself, knelt before him and the public in submission, and gave the speech of her life:
Sir, I beseech you for all the love that hath been between us and for the love of God, let me have justice. Take of me some pity and compassion, for I am a poor woman, and a stranger, born out of your dominion. I have here no assured friends, and much less impartial counsel.
I have been to you a true, humble and obedient wife, ever comfortable to your will and pleasure, that never said or did anything to the contrary thereof, being always well pleased and contented with all things wherein you had any delight or dalliance, whether it were in little or much. I never grudged in word or countenance, or showed a visage or spark of discontent. I loved all those whom ye loved, only for your sake, whether I had cause or no, and whether they were my friends or enemies.
This twenty years or more I have been your true wife and by me ye have had divers children, although it hath pleased God to call them from this world, which hath been no default in me. When ye had me at the first, I take God to my judge, I was a true maid, without touch of man. And whether it be true or no, I put it to your conscience. Therefore, I most humbly require you to spare me the extremity of this new court. And if ye will not, to God I commit my cause.
The only authority Catherine recognised was that of the Pope. She continued the fight beyond the walls of Blackfriars for years afterwards, even after Henry married Anne Boleyn, forcing Catherine into poverty and neglect and separation from her daughter Mary. She still acknowledged herself as Henry’s true wife, signing her last letter to him on her deathbed as “Catherine the Queen”. Catherine definitely had a no-nonsense approach to things.
It comes as no surprise, then, that a Sagittarian like Catherine is not the perfect match for a Cancerian such as Henry. Instead, her matches would have actually have been with the other fire signs of Aries and Leo, and the air signs of Gemini, Libra, and Aquarius. Not even her first husband, Henry’s elder brother Prince Arthur, who was born on the 20th September 1486 – making him a Virgo – would have been considered compatible. If only Catherine’s parents, Isabella I of Castille and Ferdinand II of Aragon, had taken this into account!
Anne of Cleves – Virgo
This is where our study gets interesting! Anne was born under the star sign of Virgo. Virgos can be very shy, modest and can be too conservative, and are often mistaken for introverts. Virgos are weighed down by details. This does, to an extent, describe the same Anne who caused concern over her lack of awareness of the Birds and Bees. When Jane Boleyn, Lady Rochford and the ladies-in-waiting joked with Anne about the possibility of a new Prince, Jane remarked that she believed that Anne was “still maid indeed”. Anne disagreed with her, saying that since the King kissed her at night and in the morning, she believed that she could be no virgin. Anne appeared to be astonished when the Countess of Rutland suggested that more than this was needed before there could be a Duke of York on the way.
According to the study of the Zodiac, Virgo is compatible with Cancer. As mentioned earlier, one of the most important things for a Cancerian is to be needed, loved and secure. Those that provide these qualities will get on well with this sign, and this includes Virgo, who is well-known for having a trustworthy nature. As we know, in real life, Henry’s marriage to Anne was a total disaster, so this is a revelation.
Out of all of the wives, Anne lived the longest, had an amicable divorce where she gained lots of property, including Hever Castle, and was thereafter referred to as the “King’s Sister”. Is it possible that studying the Zodiac has helped to explain Anne of Cleves’ happy ending? Anne and Henry may not have been compatible as husband and wife, but they certainly seemed to get on better as Royal brother and sister.
As we have seen, Cancerians allegedly will get on well with other water signs, such as Pisces and Scorpio, and air signs, such as Gemini, Libra, and Aquarius. Is it possible that his other wives fit into one of these categories? I have reason to believe they do and this helps to predict what I believe may have been their birthdays.
Anne Boleyn – Scorpio. Possible birth date – 24th October to 22nd November 1501
Despite the way that Henry’s marriage to Anne Boleyn ended, there is no doubt that they were compatible. To have been compatible with Henry, Anne would have to have been either a Pisces, Scorpio, Gemini, Libra, or Aquarius. Therefore, I would suggest that Anne was a Scorpio.
Despite the outward appearance of calm, Scorpios store emotional energy internally, ready to explode at any moment, or channel into obsessions. On the flipside, this internal energy is also what is behind their determined and forceful approach to life. Scorpios are also known for their sexual magnetism, and compatibility in a physical relationship is high on their priority list.
This certainly describes Anne. By 1536 Anne had made many enemies, including her own uncle, Thomas Howard, Duke of Norfolk. This faction eventually helped to bring Anne down, being accused of a whole array of trumped-up charges, including multiple charges of adultery, incest and plotting against the King’s life.
Anne was also known for having a temper. When she discovered a locket given to her lady-in-waiting, Jane Seymour, by the King, Anne became so angry that she ripped the locket away from Jane’s neck with such a force it cut her own hand!
Even though Anne was not a typical image of the Tudor’s idea of beauty – her sister, Mary, was believed to have been the more beautiful out of the two sisters – she more than made up for it in wit, charm and intelligence, and this was very attractive to Henry. However, as we know, the physical side of their relationship suffered. It is a well-known fact that Anne confided in her sister-in-law, Jane and her brother George, of Henry’s impotence. Anne told Jane that “le Roy n’estoit habile en cas de soy copuler avec femme et qu’il n’avoit ne vertu ne puissance” – “The King does not have the strength and the vigour”.
If the physical side to a relationship is important to someone born under this sign, does this help to explain why Anne may have appeared to have been flirtatious with other men, fuelling rumours of her alleged serial adultery?
Jane Seymour – Libra. Possible birth date – 23rd September to 23rd October 1508.
Of all the signs compatible with Cancer, I would suggest that Jane was born under the sign of Libra. A person born under this sign feels a need for balance and peace. As a result, Librans don’t like conflict and will avoid taking sides and causing offence. This also makes them great listeners and problem solvers. These qualities can be seen in Jane Seymour.
Jane Seymour played a major part in reconciling Henry with his daughter Mary. Jane quietly encouraged Henry to bring Mary back to court in the autumn of 1536, making sure at the same time that she didn’t put too much pressure on the King.
As well as playing peacemaker with Henry and Mary, Jane also tried to intervene in the Pilgrimage of Grace. The rebellion of October 1536 was in response to the Dissolution of the Monasteries and other religious changes made by the King. The rebellion was the most serious crisis Henry had ever had to face, but Jane sympathised with the rebel’s demands and tried to speak to the King. However, Henry’s response was full of anger, warning Jane not to meddle with his affairs and then, to Jane’s horror, referred to Anne Boleyn and how Anne’s fate was linked to meddling. Jane, unsurprisingly and very wisely, decided not to push the matter any further.
Catherine Howard – Gemini. Possible birth date – 22nd May to 21st June 1525.
According to the Zodiac, those born under the sign of Gemini like to talk and socialise. They are lively and restless. Gemini loves adventure, change, and new experiences. However, they can also become easily bored.
This describes Catherine Howard down to a T. Historian David Starkey described Catherine as “a good time girl”. It would appear Catherine was indeed a good time girl, enjoying everything that court life had to offer her, from the music, dancing, masques, banquets, pretty gowns, jewels and gifts. However, Catherine did indeed become bored. Her glamorous life and position wasn’t enough – she also wanted Thomas Culpepper. This dalliance eventually cost her life and Catherine was executed on the 13th February 1542.
Catherine Parr – Pisces. Possible birth date – 19th February to 20th March 1512.
According to the Zodiac, those born under the Pisces sign are very emotive, sensitive, generous, kind, have great empathy and often help others. Pisceans are also very creative and have an idealistic, escapist view of life. This description certainly suits Catherine Parr.
In 1543, Catherine had to choose between the man she loved, Thomas Seymour, or becoming Henry VIII’s six wife. After the death of her second husband John Neville, Lord Latimer, Catherine experienced some freedom, escaping from the country to live a life at court. However, as soon as Catherine began to notice the King’s interest in her, she had to give up the idea of happiness with Thomas Seymour and marry an old man whose health was progressively worsening. Not only would Catherine be Henry’s wife and queen, but also his Nurse.
Catherine was also very creative. She collected books such as a 1542 English translation of “A Sermon of St Chrysostome” by the Oxford Scholar John Lupset. As well as collecting books, Catherine also wrote them for her ladies and friends. They were books of prayers, beautifully bound in gilt and leather, sold at 16 shillings, or £250 a copy in today’s money. Catherine was particularly in awe of the Great Bible, printed in Paris, which emerged in England in April 1540. The Great Bible showed the word of God in the English language – it spoke directly to the people, including Catherine, without additional interpretations from Priests. This encouraged Catherine to become more involved in the great religious debates of her day, such as how Henry VIII had freed England from the clutches of Rome.
In 1545, Catherine went on to write the “Lamentation of a Sinner”. Based on St. Paul’s teachings and the epistles, it was the first work of its kind written by a woman. However, Catherine’s involvement in religious discussions and the views she expressed in her writing began to raise Henry’s suspicions and gave ammunition to the conservative faction at court. The King may have embraced the break with Rome, but he was not a Lutheran and still very much believed in the presence of the body and blood of Christ in the bread and wine at mass. Events escalated and in 1546, Catherine narrowly escaped a plot to have her put in the Tower and meet the same fate as Anne Boleyn and Catherine Howard before her.
We will probably never know when the other four wives were born. However, with a mixture of what we do know about the four wives and the study of Zodiac, it is possible to roughly pin-point when they may have possibly been born. Of course though, this is all down to interpretation.
Sources and suggested further reading:
Jane Boleyn: The Infamous Lady Rochford – Julia Fox, 2007, Orion Books Ltd. Anne Boleyn: Fatal Attractions – G.W. Bernard, 2010, Yale University Press. The Life and Death of Anne Boleyn – Eric Ives, Blackwell Publishing, 2005. Catherine of Aragon – Henry’s Spanish Queen – Giles Tremlett, Faber and Faber Ltd, 2011. Jane Seymour: Henry VIII’s True Love – Elizabeth Norton, Amberley Publishing, 2009. Anne Boleyn – Henry VIII’s Obsession – Elizabeth Norton, Amberley Publishing Plc, 2008. Katherine Howard – A Tudor Conspiracy – Joanna Denny, Piatkus Books Ltd, 2008. Katherine the Queen – Linda Porter, Macmillan, 2010. Six Wives: The Queens of Henry VIII – David Starkey, Vintage, 2003.
I am an Independent Author from London, UK. I published my first historical novella “The Lady Rochford Saga Part 1: Into the Ranks of the Deceived” in October 2013. “The Lady Rochford Saga Part 2: Tourmens de Mariage” is out now.