Cromwell and the king discover a capabilities way out. It turns out that in the mid-1530s, Anne had briefly been engaged to Francis, the son of the duke of Lorraine. The English have now not explored the difficulty too much, only asking the government of Cleves if negotiations have ended. Now they regarded more closely, with the king ready impatiently for the proper response. They instantly realize there is no dispensation from the precontract; Anne continues to be formally betrothed to Francis. Which means that Henry’s marriage to Anne of Cleves is legally invalid from the begin.

 

This is without doubt one of the more ironic moments in Henry’s chequered marital career. For once, his want to end a marriage is legally valid and proper to all and but he feels unable to stop it from taking place as he fears the Duke of Cleves becoming an ally of the Emperor.