Anna of Cleves with Heather Dairsie on Clubhouse

Heather Darsie works as an attorney in the US. Along with her Juris Doctorate she has a BA in German. She is currently studying for her Master’s in Early Modern History through Northern Illinois University. She runs the website MaidensAndManuscripts.com. Heather has been researching the Von der Mark (Cleves) Dynasty for roughly ten years.

Using German sources for her first book, Anna, Duchess of Cleves: The King’s Beloved Sister (Amberley 2019) looked into the political reasons for Anna’s marriage and swift annulment with Henry VIII of England.

Her second book, Children of the House of Cleves: Anna and Her Siblings (Amberley 2022) looks at the lives of Anna’s sisters and brother, and the impact the Von der Mark Dynasty had during the 16th century.

You can find Heather on Twitter under @HRDarsieHistory, Instagram under @HDarsieHistory, and on Facebook under, “Heather R Darsie, Historian”. She is most active on Twitter and Instagram. You can also visit Heather’s website and connect with her there: https://maidensandmanuscripts.com/

About Anna, Duchess of Cleves: The King’s Beloved Sister:

Anna was the ‘last woman standing’ of Henry VIII’s wives ‒ and the only one buried in Westminster Abbey. How did she manage it?

Anna, Duchess of Cleves: The King’s ‘Beloved Sister’ looks at Anna from a new perspective, as a woman from the Holy Roman Empire and not as a woman living almost by accident in England. Starting with what Anna’s life as a child and young woman was like, the author describes the climate of the Cleves court, and the achievements of Anna’s siblings. It looks at the political issues on the Continent that transformed Anna’s native land of Cleves ‒ notably the court of Anna’s brother-in-law, and its influence on Lutheranism ‒ and Anna’s blighted marriage. Finally, Heather Darsie explores ways in which Anna influenced her step-daughters Elizabeth and Mary, and the evidence of their good relationships with her.

Was the Duchess Anna in fact a political refugee, supported by Henry VIII? Was she a role model for Elizabeth I? Why was the marriage doomed from the outset? By returning to the primary sources and visiting archives and museums all over Europe (the author is fluent in German, and proficient in French and Spanish) a very different figure emerges to the ‘Flanders Mare’.

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Do We REALLY Know These Women?

One woman surprised her contemporaries by managing one of the most favorable annulment settlements of her time. She also remained in favor with her ex, was a fixture at his court, and was buried in Westminster Abbey. The other is the most-married Queen of England, was held captive at Snape castle, and was the first English Queen to publish a book.

Who are they?

They are the wives who survived marriage to Henry VIII: Anne of Cleves and Katherine Parr.


Join Royal Oak and historian and educator Carol Ann Lloyd to meet the only two wives of Henry VIII who had lives after their marriages to the King (technically, Katherine of Aragon lived after the annulment, but she claimed she was still married until she died).

We know these women as wives of Henry VIII, but there is much more to their story. They navigated the politics of 16th century court life, in England and abroad, to leave their mark on English history. Both women, in their own way, had a considerable impact not only on Henry VIII, but on his royal children as well.

Find registration and other information available on the website of speaker Carol Ann Lloyd (www.carolannlloyd.com/events) or the Royal Oak Foundation (www.royal-oak.org/events).

Carol Ann Lloyd

Carol Ann Lloyd is a popular speaker who shares the stories of Shakespeare and English history. She is the former Manager of Visitor Education at Folger Shakespeare Library, where she gave workshops and tours about Shakespeare and Early Modern England.Carol Ann has presented programs at the Smithsonian, Folger Shakespeare Library, Agecroft Hall, and TEDx, among other venues. Ms. Lloyd is a member of the National Speakers Association