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The Six Wives of Henry VIII: Home

This is a guide to the six wives of King Henry VIII of England and is created for those in the Medieval and Renaissance Studies (MERS) minor at Brandeis University. It follows the learning objectives of the minor.

Welcome to Medieval and Renaissance Studies (MERS)!

What is Medieval and Renaissance Studies?

The Medieval and Renaissance Studies (MERS) minor at Brandeis University draws upon different disciplines such as history, philosophy, religion, and literature in order to gain a deeper understanding of the Medieval and Renaissance periods of European history. Students can customize their focus of study based on their major(s) and other academic interests. For more on the MERS minor and learning objectives, check out the University's provisional bulletin.

The 3,600 or so undergraduates in other programs at Brandeis (history, women's and gender studies, etc.) or at other universities could make use of this guide as well, but on the whole it is created with undergraduates in the MERS minor in mind.

How to Use this LibGuide

In this LibGuide, you'll find biographical and historical resources about Henry VIII's wives. There is a timeline and brief introduction to each wife to help keep track of who is who. Next are a series of biographies about each wife. There are also tabs about sixteenth century womanhood, religion, and court customs to complement the main biographies. The further reading tab shows select fictional portrayals of Henry VIII's wives as well as some documentaries and upcoming publications about them.

To navigate the LibGuide, click on the tabs at the top of the page OR click the next and previous buttons at the bottom of this page.

Brandeis Library Sources

Not sure where to start?

The Brandeis Library has a list of databases, journals, and the OneSearch book catalog for you to use to begin your research. You can access all of those from their website. Most of these require you to login with your Brandeis ID and password to access them so make sure you know yours.

Why the Six Wives?

What do Henry VIII's wives have to do with MERS?

From Spanish infanta (princess) Catherine of Aragon to English noblewoman and published author Catherine Parr, the lives of Henry VIII's wives illustrate the tensions and emerging trends within Renaissance Europe. A survey of these women's lives is a great way to explore and understand sixteenth century European politics, religion, gender relations, court customs, and more. This LibGuide will discuss Henry VIII's wives as a way to learn more about this period in history.


The following databases are good places to continue your research on Henry VIII's wives and the medieval and Renaissance period in general. All of these databases are accessible through your Brandeis UNet login.

Oxford Bibliographies has thousands of brief encyclopedic articles about topics in the Medieval and Renaissance periods. This source is good to glean a cursory understanding of topics. Also included are annotated bibliographies for sources with more specific information.

JSTOR is a database for history and the humanities. This is a good first or last step in researching any topic you could think of, though you'll find the most success for English or European topics. 

Iter is a bibliography database specifically for secondary sources for MERS.