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The suggestions seem to center on Henry VIII, Charles II, and Edward IV.


The most philandering monarch of Britain has to be Henry VIII. Let us first consider his upbringing and possibly the reasons for being such a philanderer. Being the second son to Henry VII and younger brother to Arthur, young Henry lived in the shadow of his more famous and important elder brother and was consequently shoved into the background. Finding himself away from court he was shielded by his mother and our young Henry grew close attachment to his mother and had a deep and very genuine love. When she died unexpectedly in 1500 Henry was left alone and (possibly) afraid, destined to search for that very true love he had felt for his mother Elizabeth.

Arthur married Catherine of Aragon (Nov 1501) and then died soon after (Feb 1502) and it became the dying wish of Henry VII for the Heir apparent to marry Catherine of Aragon. It is doubtful though, that Henry VII was a virgin when he became King at the age of 17 in 1509 and married Catherine, relationships with The Lady Elizabeth Kinder and the common wench Joanna Holly have been mentioned but it is more likely that Henry had a longer string of lovers before he married. Henry's sporting prowess and physical frame coupled with his power and status were quite the aphrodisiac to the women of court. After his marriage the fun didn't stop and Henry racked up an impressive amount of illegitimate children - many of them boys, which proved to Henry that there was nothing wrong with his troops, during the time of his first marriage known lovers included Joan Dobson, Mary Berkely, Elizabeth Blout, Elizabeth Stafford and the very French maiden Marie-Claudia.

Henry's desperation to produce a male heir and the heat of his loins helped both the break with Rome the end of his marriage. His passion and desire for Anne Boleyn, mainly fuelled by her refusal to become his mistress (and thus replacing her elder sister Mary) meant that the King married for love (maybe) and passions (definitely). When Anne failed to produce a male heir Henry went looking again and an affair with the daughter of the camp jester (James Varah) was just one of many. Anne's head came and then went and Henry found himself again marrying due to the call of his heart rather than for the more traditional diplomatic reasons. Jane Seymour slipped into the (still warm) marital bed and was to finally give Henry what he most desired, a male heir - this ensured that Jane got his love and loyalty but unfortunately she snuffed it and poor old Henry was back to square one. Affairs with Adinna Reed (of Norfolk blood) and Daniela Gee have been mooted but these women of court had a reputation and it is unlikely that the King would have wasted his time.

After the death of Jane, Henry finally married for diplomatic reasons and settled on Anne of Cleeves - falling for her when looking at a favourable painting of the 'flanders mare'. Henry VIII went to his wedding with Anne of Cleves saying `If it were not to satisfy the world and my realm, I would not do that I must do this day for none earthly thing'. This is one time when a physical desire never got the better of Henry and it is more than likely that the marriage was never consummated probably partly due to the fact that Katherine Howard was very much on the go. The change of would-be mistress to consort was seamless . Henry was in full pursuit within weeks of seeing her -- not without a degree of encouragement on her part which should have indicated to him that she was more experienced than was claimed. They were married three weeks after the Cleves divorce and by then Katherine probably had already begun sleeping with Henry. Bearing in mind the experience of Katherine and her playfulness around court, especially with the men, it is no wonder that Henry gave her the literal chop. Henry's philandering ways were coming to an end, one last marriage to Katherine Parr ensured that he had a wife to look after him in his dying months and Hnery could die happy knowing that he had left a legacy in the form of male heir but unfufilled in the finding of the true love he had with his mother almost half a century before.


Aside from Henry VIII and his six wives, I'd say Charles II probably had the highest recorded number of mistresses (and a number of unrecorded prostitutes). Many of his mistresses were granted titles (Barbara, Duchess of Cleveland being one example) and he publicly acknowledged some of his children (James, Duke of Monmouth an important one). Henry by comparison had relatively few mistresses.


I'd personally have said Edward IV. It was rumoured that no man in London deemed his wife or daughter safe from him. Michael Hicks claims that Edward IV's promiscuity was part of the reason why his son Edward V could not be secure in his inheritance - nobody could prove that he wasn't illigitimate as a result of an existing precontract to another lady, because there had been so many! Edward IV would also pass his mistresses on to his courtiers when he had finished with them...


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12y ago
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7y ago
King Henry VIII of England married six times.

King Henry VIII.
Henry VIII had 6 wives, but only ever one at once! Here they are:

  1. Catherine of Aragon, who was divorced by Henry because she couldn't give him a son. She only had a daughter, Mary.
  2. Anne Boleyn, who was executed on charges of adultery, but really because she had a daughter, Elizabeth, when he wanted a son.
  3. Jane Seymour, who got ill and died after giving birth to a son, Edward.
  4. Anne of Cleves, who was divorced. Henry famously said that she looked like a horse! No children.
  5. Kathryn Howard, executed. No children.
  6. Katherine Parr, who outlived Henry but didn't have any children.
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14y ago

It was Henry VIII that had the most wives

Catherine of Aragon

Anne Boleyn

Jane Seymour

Anne of Cleaves

Catherine Howard

Katherine Parr

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9y ago

Gieva de Tracy, Catherine Pegge, and Edith Forne are three examples of women who were mistresses of English kings. Another example is Alice Perrers, who was the mistress of Edward III.

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