Mastodon The Writing Desk: Book Review: Children of the House of Cleves: Anna and Her Siblings, by Heather R. Darsie

8 June 2023

Book Review: Children of the House of Cleves: Anna and Her Siblings, by Heather R. Darsie

Available from Amazon UK and Amazon US

I enjoyed reading Heather R. Darsie's previous book Anna, Duchess of Cleves: The King's 'Beloved Sister', and have since had a very different view of Anna. Children of the House of Cleves is a detailed study of the lives of her sisters, Sybylla, and Amalia, and brother, Wilhelm von der Mark, providing a rich context for understanding the children of Johann III, Duke of Cleves, 

Wilhelm, as the heir, had the best education as preparation for life as a duke,  but the girls were were not well prepared what was to face them. Brought up in the 'Frauenzimmer', a strict, women only court, they were taught to run a noble household. 

The eldest, Sybylla, found herself defending the siege of Wittenberg against the formidable army of Charles V, and Amalia was the first choice as the fourth wife of King Henry VIII - until he was persuaded to marry Anna.

Heather Darsie was unable to visit many of the locations in the book due to the global pandemic, but has more than compensated for this through her forensic study of primary sources.

I knew how the royal families of Europe were interconnected in complex ways, but I'd not realised how this led to the Thirty Years War in Germany, and so much religious and political conflict.

Tony Riches

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About the Author

Heather R. Darsie lives in the United States. She has a Bachelor of Arts in German Languages and Literature, and a Juris Doctorate. During her time at university, she studied in Costa Rica and France, with visits to Germany and other countries. She is currently studying for an MA in Early Modern History. Find out more at  and follow her on Facebook and Twitter @HRDarsieHistory

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