Queen, lover, mother, outcast, victim and survivor - this is how historian and series narrator David Starkey assigns the roles of the six wives of Britain's most famous monarch Henry VIII in the sexual intrigue and cut-throat power politics of his long reign from 1509 to 1547. The series The Six Wives of Henry VIII takes a fresh approach and presents each wife's story from her perspective.
Through the women's own words and powerful dramatizations, we learn that the wives were not pitiful victims or pawns but rather knowing players in a high-stakes game and remarkable individuals who managed to show great dignity even when facing exile and death.
Catherine of Aragon. The daughter of Spain's King Ferdinand and Isabella, Catherine was just 16 when she married Henry's older brother Arthur in 1501. When Arthur died shortly thereafter, Catherine was left stranded. It wasn't until seven years later that she was able to marry Henry, who had become king.
Anne Boleyn. Raised by aristocratic parents and schooled in the Netherlands in the court of Archduchess Margaret, Anne long aspired to play a significant role in the English court. Chic and flirtatious, Anne became a lady-in-waiting to Queen Catherine, where she quickly caught the attention of the king.
Jane Seymour. Waiting in the wings when Anne died was Jane Seymour, a submissive woman of noble birth who seemed the perfect Tudor wife. Moreover, she was a devout Catholic, and the king's advisors hoped her religious beliefs would bring Henry back to his original religion.
Anne of Cleves. Henry's advisor Thomas Cromwell thought the West German princess Anne of Cleves was an excellent candidate because of her religious connections and prestigious family.
Catherine Howard. A promiscuous niece of the Duke of Norfolk, and a cousin of Anne Boleyn, Catherine caught the king's attention while serving as lady-in-waiting for Queen Anne.
Catherine Parr. The widow Catherine Parr was in love with Sir Thomas Seymour, brother of the late Queen Jane, when Henry became smitten with her. To eradicate the competition, the king assigned Seymour to a diplomatic post in Brussels, and proposed to Catherine.