Throughout history there have been so many incredible women from whom much can be learned. This is also true of characters from books, movies, and even television (thank you Rory). Some are notable for their leadership, some for their compassion, and some for other qualities which they possessed that make them stand out from the crowd. I’ll add to this list as I go along, and if any catch your interest you should definitely look them up online. I’ll try to post some interesting links here too.
The Six Wives of Henry VIII
Now, while they are not necessarily good role models as a whole, each of the wives of Henry VIII had some distinct characteristics that are excellent examples of traits that could be emulated. I have been researching Tudor England for some time, and the more I learn about each of them, the more I realize what amazing women each of them were.
- Catherine of Aragon – Catherine was the daughter of Ferdinand and Isabella of Spain (the same king and queen who financed the voyage of Christopher Columbus). She was married to Prince Arthur, son of Henry VII, at the age of 16 and was next in line to become the Queen of England. When Arthur died only a few months later, she stayed in England with limited connections to her homeland, and later married Arthur’s younger brother Henry, who was to become King Henry VIII upon the death of his father in 1509. Catherine quickly became beloved by the people of England, and served as the first female ambassador in history when she was named ambassador to the Spanish Court in England. She well known for her intelligence, noble presence, and most of all, her dignity. When Henry tried to have their marriage annulled in order to marry his mistress, Anne Boleyn, Catherine refused to step down for her title, maintaining that she was his true and loyal wife and thus the rightful Queen of England. This she held until her death, and became further known for her faith, perseverance, and her constant devotion to her only daughter, who later became Queen Mary I.
- Anne Boleyn – Henry first began pursuing Anne in 1525 while she was serving as a lady-in-waiting to Catherine of Aragon. She was known for her beauty, wit, and dancing ability. But most of all, she was both intelligent and ambitious. She refused to become Henry’s true mistress, and instead sought a legal marriage. She become one of Henry’s closest confidants, and was often allowed to speak freely of foreign policy and relations in the early years. Anne and Henry were married in 1533, and she was her coronation as Queen of England was held only a few days later. Anne is most intriguing due to her strong-willed attitude at a time in which this was uncommon for a woman, even of her position. When she was found guilty of treason and sentenced to be beheaded in 1536, she maintained her innocence and love for both her husband and her daughter. She pledged that Elizabeth would become the Queen of England someday, and Elizabeth I become one of the most famous and powerful queens in English history.
- Jane Seymour – Henry married Jane shortly after the death of Anne, as he had been quickly besotted by her quiet and good nature. She was also known to be fair, charming, and attractive by most accounts. Although new to the role of Queen, she made an utmost effort to reconcile the king with his two daughters, who had formerly been exiled due to Henry’s anger with their respective mothers. She became quickly known around Spain and the Holy Roman Empire for her compassion towards the Lady Mary, who was considered by most to be the rightful heir to the throne of England. Jane was known to keep a disciplined household, and kept herself out of foreign affairs. In 1537, Jane gave birth to the long awaited Prince Edward, who was later to become King Edward VI after the death of his father. Unfortunately, Jane died soon after due to complications from childbirth.
- Anne of Cleves – Anne’s marriage to Henry was mostly one of political contrivance, and they did not meet until several days before their marriage. She had not received much formal education, and she moved to England knowing very little English, and mostly German. However, she was known to be very quiet, docile, virtuous, and gentle, which is why Henry agreed to marry her. However, many English customs were very foreign to her, and she struggled to adjust to her life at the English court. Henry sought to have the marriage annulled after only a few months, and she agreed. She thus became known as the “beloved sister” of the King, and formed close relationships with Mary and Elizabeth, who visited her often. She was also invited back to Court on holidays.
- Katherine Howard – Although Katherine’s is not the best example to follow by far, she did have several admirable qualities. She was married to Henry at an age somewhere between 16-22, while he was nearing 50. She was known to be beautiful, sweet, and constantly devoted to Henry’s happiness. She was known to him as his “rose without a thorn”. She loved to dance and was close with her ladies. Unfortunately, she was found guilty of adultery and sentenced to be beheaded after two years of marriage, on claims that, unlike her cousin Anne’s, were indeed true.
- Catherine Parr – Catherine Parr was Henry’s sixth and final wife. She, very much like Jane Seymour, was known for her caring and compassion for both the King and his children. She worked to have Henry’s two daughters reinstated to the line of succession, and was successful in her endeavors. She was well respected for her knowledge of political affairs at the time and her dignified manner, and she was trusted by Henry to serve as Regent during his campaign in France. Had he died during the battle, Catherine would have ruled England as Regent until Prince Edward came of age. She cared for Henry during his final years of ailments until his death in 1547.
This famous journalist has been a CNN international correspondent since the 1980′s. She worked her way up the ranks of the news network, starting with her time in the news department at WBRU-FM and as an electronic graphics designer, both in Providence, Rhode Island. She attended school at the University of Rhode Island and graduated summa cum laude with a bachelor of journalism degree in 1983. She was then hired by CNN on the foreign desk in Atlanta, GA as an entry-level desk assistant. Since then she has covered the Iran-Iraq War, the fall of European communism, democratic revolutions in Eastern Europe, the Persian Gulf War, and the Bosnian War. She has also reported from Iraq, Afghanistan, Palestinian territories, Israel, Pakistan, Somalia, and Rwanda. She has filed numerous in-depth international reports and has conducted interviews with some of the world’s most powerful leaders.
She is known for her passionate and dedicated journalistic efforts. Although she has been questioned about the objectivity of her reports, she stands by her belief that there is a right and a wrong to a situation and that it is her duty to report it as truth. During the Gulf and Bosnian wars, she gained a reputation for being fearless when she often parachuted into conflict areas. On top of all of this, she was given several anchor positions and was able to raise a family while traveling the word.
(Check out the post “Who Is Your Role Model?” for more info!)