Meet the Queens of SIX

Ordway 9/17/19

Divorced, beheaded, died; divorced, beheaded, survived. Maybe you know the famous mnemonic for the wives of King Henry VIII—but as audiences of new musical SIX quickly find out, these queens are much more than one word in a rhyme. Do you know which famous figure published her own books? How about which character takes her song inspiration from Rihanna? Read on to meet the queens of SIX!


ONE: Catherine of Aragon

SIX Queen Catherine of Aragon“My name’s Catherine of Aragon
Was married 24 years, I’m a paragon
Of royalty, my loyalty is to the Vatican
So if you try to dump me you won’t try that again…”

Birth and Death: December 15, 1485 – January 7, 1536

Place of Birth: Palace of Alcalá de Henares, near Madrid, Spain

Parents: Isabella of Castile and Ferdinand of Aragon, joint monarchs of Spain

Education: Embroidery, dancing, history, poetry, religion, law, Latin, French. Not English.

Marriage: First, to Arthur (Henry’s older brother), on November 14, 1501 (aged 15); second, to Henry VIII, on June 11, 1509 (aged 23)

Children: Mary, born February 18, 1516 (later Queen Mary I); 3 stillborn children; 2 died as babies; further miscarriages

Interests: Religion, sewing, dancing, a bit more religion

Cause of death: Probably a type of cancer

Remembered for: Her refusal to accept that her marriage was invalid; her faith; her dramatic speech to Henry at the court to judge the annulment of their marriage

Did you know? Catherine was Regent (whilst Henry fought in France in 1513) during the Battle of Flodden; when James IV of Scotland was killed in the battle, she wanted to send his body to Henry as a present.

Queenspiration: Beyoncé and Shakira

Signature song: “No Way”


TWO: Anne Boleyn

SIX Queen Anne Boleyn“I’m that Boleyn girl, and I’m up next
See, I broke England from the Church, yeah I’m that sexy
Why did I lose my head?
Well my sleeves may be green, but my lipstick’s red…”

Birth and Death: Probably 1501 – May 19, 1536

Place of Birth: Blickling Hall, Norfolk, England

Parents: Elizabeth, daughter of the Duke of Norfolk, and Sir Thomas Boleyn, newly knighted courtier

Education: In the Netherlands and also France; Reformation thinking and debate, French

Marriage: On January 25, 1533 (aged 31)

Children: Elizabeth, born September 7, 1533 (later Queen Elizabeth I); and at least two miscarriages

Interests: Fashion, dancing, flirtation, collecting evangelical works

Others Queens: Lady in waiting to Catherine of Aragon

Cause of death: Executed on Tower Green, London

Remembered for: Headlessness; bringing about the break with the Pope; having a sixth fingernail

Did you know? Anne was fluent in French, and would have acted as a translator during the visit of Emperor Charles V to court in 1522.

Queenspiration: Lily Allen and Avril Lavigne

Signature song: “Don’t Lose Ur Head”


THREE: Jane Seymour

SIX Queen Jane Seymour“Jane Seymour, the only one he truly loved
When my son was newly born
I died, but I’m not what I seem
Or am I? Stick around, and you’ll suddenly see more…”

Birth and Death: 1507 or 1508 – October 24, 1537

Place of Birth: Wulf Hall, Wiltshire, England

Parents: Margery Wentworth and Sir John Seymour, minor gentry

Education: Very conventional; running a household, needlework

Marriage: On May 30, 1536 (aged 28/9)

Children: Edward, born October 12, 1537 (later King Edward VI)

Interests: Religious faith, being obedient

Other Queens: Lady-in-waiting to Anne Boleyn

Cause of death: Hemorrhage after the birth of Prince Edward

Remembered for: Being the “only one he ever loved;” having two troublesome brothers who fought over the regency of the young prince after King Henry’s death

Did you know? While Anne was still alive, Henry sent Jane a gift of money, which she refused, apparently saying there “was no treasure in this world that she valued so much as her honor.”

Queenspiration: Adele and Sia

Signature song: “Heart of Stone”


FOUR: Anna of Cleves

SIX Queen Anna of Cleves“Ich bin Anna of Cleves, Ja
When he saw my portrait, he was like “Ja!”
But I didn’t look as good as I did in my pic
Funny how we all discuss that, but never Henry’s little pr-…”

Birth and Death: 1515 – July 16, 1557

Place of Birth: Schloss Berg, near Solingen, Germany

Parents: Maria, Duchess of Julich-Berg and John III, Duke of Cleves

Education: Minimal, raised to become a minor Duchess; only spoke German

Marriage: On January 6, 1540 (aged 24)

Children: None

Other Queens: Visited Katherine Howard once she became queen and bowed down to her

Cause of death: Probably cancer

Interests: Staying alive

Remembered for: Staying alive

Did you know? When Henry first met Anna of Cleves, he disguised himself, possibly imagining some sort of romantic reaction. When he kissed her, she is said to have turned away coldly at this hideous stranger molesting her; according to a witness, Lord Russell, he “never saw his highness so marvelously astonished…”

Queenspiration: Nicki Minaj and Rihanna

Signature song: “Get Down”


FIVE: Katherine Howard

SIX Queen Katherine Howard“Prick up your ears, I’m the Katherine who lost her head
For my promiscuity outside of wed-
Lock up your husbands, lock up your sons
K-Howard is here and the fun’s begun…”

Birth and Death: Probably 1523 – February 13, 1542

Place of Birth: Norfolk House, Lambeth, London

Parents: Joyce Culpeper and Edmund Howard, son of the Duke of Norfolk

Education: Brought up in Sussex as part of a large group of aristocratic young girls

Marriage: On July 18, 1540 (aged 17)

Children: None

Other Queens: Lady-in-waiting to Anna of Cleves; cousin to Anne Boleyn

Cause of death: Executed on Tower Green, London

Interests: Dancing, music, animals

Remembered for: Being completely used (and abused) by those with more power

Did you know? From her arrest on November 8, 1541 to her execution three months later, Catherine stayed under house arrest at Syon House; in late January 1542, an Act was passed in Parliament that made it treason for a woman to become the king’s wife without “plain declaration before of her unchaste life,” meaning Henry could have her killed.

Queenspiration: Ariana Grande and Britney Spears

Signature song: “All You Wanna Do”


SIX: Catherine Parr

SIX Queen Catherine Parr“Five down, I’m the final wife
I saw him to the end of his life
I’m the survivor – Catherine Parr
And I bet you wanna know how I got this far…”

Birth and Death: Probably 1512 – September 5, 1548

Place of Birth: Blackfriars, London

Parents: Maud Green and Sir Thomas Parr, both distantly related to the royal family

Education: Traditional “female” accomplishments; French, Italian, Latin

Marriage: First, to Sir Edward Burgh, a courtier, 1529–1533; second, to John Neville, Lord Latimer, 1534–1543; third, to Henry VIII, 12 July 1543; fourth, to Thomas Seymour, May 1547, in secret

Children: A daughter (with Thomas Seymour) who died as a baby

Other Queens: Her mother was a lady-in-waiting to Catherine of Aragon; friendly with her daughter Princess Mary

Cause of death: Childbirth

Interests: Writing books, encouraging education, Reformation

Remembered for: Surviving

Did you know? Catherine was the first woman in England to publish books under her own name and in English

Queenspiration: Alicia Keys and Emeli Sandé

Signature song: “I Don’t Need Your Love”


SIX will perform November 29–December 22 in the Ordway Music Theater. Tickets are available online or by phone at 651.224.4222.

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