Jane Seymour

Jane Seymour

Jane Seymour was Queen of England from 1536
to 1537 as the third wife of King Henry VIII. She succeeded Anne Boleyn as queen consort
following the latter’s execution for high treason, incest and adultery in May 1536. She died of postnatal complications less than
two weeks after the birth of her only child, a son who reigned as Edward VI. She was the only one of Henry’s wives to receive
a queen’s funeral, and his only consort to be buried beside him in St. George’s Chapel,
Windsor Castle. She was the only wife of Henry VIII whose
son survived infancy. Early life Jane Seymour was likely born at Wulfhall,
Savernake Forest, Wiltshire, the daughter of Sir John Seymour and Margery Wentworth. Through her maternal grandfather, she was
a descendant of King Edward III of England through Lionel of Antwerp, 1st Duke of Clarence. Because of this, she and King Henry VIII were
fifth cousins. She was a half-second cousin to her predecessor
Anne Boleyn, sharing a great-grandmother, Elizabeth Cheney. She was not educated as highly as King Henry’s
previous wives, Catherine of Aragon and Anne Boleyn. She could read and write a little, but was
much better at needlework and household management, which were considered much more necessary
for women. Jane’s needlework was reported to be beautiful
and elaborate; some of her work survived as late as 1652, when it is recorded to have
been given to the Seymour family. After her death, it was noted that Henry was
an “enthusiastic embroiderer”. She became a maid-of-honour in 1532 to Queen
Catherine, but may have served her as early as 1527, and went on to serve Queen Anne. The first report of Henry VIII’s interest
in Jane Seymour was in early 1536, sometime before Catherine’s death. Jane was noted to have a childlike face, as
well as a modest personality. According to the Imperial Ambassador Eustace
Chapuys, Jane was of middling stature and very pale; he also commented that she was
not of much beauty. However, John Russell stated that Jane was
“the fairest of all the King’s wives” Polydore Vergil commented that she was “a woman of
the utmost charm in both character and appearance.” Marriage and birth of heir
King Henry VIII was betrothed to Jane on 20 May 1536, just one day after Anne Boleyn’s
execution. The couple married at the Palace of Whitehall,
Whitehall, London, in the Queen’s closet by Bishop Gardiner on 30 May 1536. As a wedding gift the King made her a grant
of 104 manors in four counties as well as a number of forests and hunting chases for
her jointure, the income to support her during their marriage. She was publicly proclaimed as queen consort
on 4 June. Jane’s well-publicized sympathy for the
late Queen Catherine and the Lady Mary showed her to be compassionate and made her a popular
figure with the common people and most of the courtiers. She was never crowned because of plague in
London, where the coronation was to take place. Henry may have been reluctant to crown Jane
before she had fulfilled her duty as a queen consort by bearing him a son and a male heir. As queen, Jane Seymour was said to be strict
and formal. Her motto was “Bound to obey and serve.” She was close to her female relations, Anne
Stanhope and her sister, Elizabeth. Jane was also close to the Lady Lisle along
with her sister-in-law the Lady Beauchamp. Jane considered Lisle’s daughters as maids-of-honour,
and she left many of her possessions to Beauchamp. Jane would form a very close relationship
with Mary Tudor. The lavish entertainments, gaiety, and extravagance
of the Queen’s household, which had reached its peak during the time of Anne Boleyn, was
replaced by a strict enforcement of decorum. For example, she banned the French fashions
that Anne Boleyn had introduced. Politically, Seymour appears to have been
conservative. Her only reported involvement in national
affairs, in 1536, was when she asked for pardons for participants in the Pilgrimage of Grace. Henry is said to have rejected this, reminding
her of the fate her predecessor met with when she “meddled in his affairs”. Jane put forth much effort to restore Henry’s
first child, Princess Mary, to court and to the royal succession, behind any children
that Jane might have with Henry. Jane brought up the issue of Mary’s restoration
both before and after she became Queen. While Jane was unable to restore Mary to the
line of succession, she was able to reconcile her with Henry. Eustace Chapuys wrote to Charles V of Jane’s
compassion and efforts on behalf of Mary’s return to favour. A letter from Mary to Jane shows that Mary
was grateful to Jane. While it was Jane who first pushed for the
restoration, Mary and Elizabeth were not reinstated to the succession until Henry’s sixth wife,
Queen Catherine Parr, convinced him to do so. In early 1537, Jane became pregnant. During her pregnancy, she developed a craving
for quail, which Henry ordered for her from Calais and Flanders. During the summer, she took no public engagements
and led a relatively quiet life, being attended by the royal physicians and the best midwives
in the kingdom. She went into confinement in September 1537
and gave birth to the coveted male heir, the future King Edward VI, at two o’clock in the
morning on 12 October 1537 at Hampton Court Palace. Edward was christened on 15 October 1537,
without his mother in attendance, as was the custom. Both of the King’s daughters, Mary and Elizabeth,
were present and carried the infant’s train during the ceremony. Death and funeral
Jane Seymour’s labour had been difficult, lasting two nights and three days, probably
because the baby was not well positioned. After the christening, it became clear that
she was seriously ill. Jane Seymour died on 24 October 1537 at Hampton
Court Palace at Kingston upon Thames. Within a few weeks of the death of Queen Jane
there existed conflicting testimonies concerning the cause of her demise. According to King Edward’s biographer, Jennifer
Loach, Jane Seymour’s death may have been due to an infection from a retained placenta. According to Alison Weir, death could have
also been caused by puerperal fever due to a bacterial infection contracted during the
birth or a tear in her perineum which became infected. Jane Seymour was buried on 12 November 1537
in St. George’s Chapel at Windsor Castle after the funeral in which her stepdaughter, Mary,
acted as chief mourner. A procession of 29 mourners followed Lady
Mary, one for every year of Queen Jane’s life. Jane was the only one of Henry’s wives to
receive a queen’s funeral. The following inscription was above her grave
for a time: After her death, Henry wore black for the
next three months and did not remarry for three years, although marriage negotiations
were tentatively begun soon after her death. Moreover, he put on weight during his long
widowerhood, becoming obese and swollen and developing diabetes and gout. Historians have speculated she was Henry’s
favourite wife because she gave birth to a male heir. When he died in 1547, Henry was buried beside
her, on his request, in the grave he had made for her. Legacy
Jane gave the king the son he so desperately needed, helped to restore Lady Mary to the
succession and her father’s affections, and used her influence to bring about the
advancement of her family. Two of Jane’s brothers, Thomas and Edward,
used her memory to improve their own fortunes. Thomas was rumoured to have been pursuing
the future Elizabeth I, but married the queen dowager Catherine Parr instead. In the reign of the young King Edward VI,
Edward Seymour set himself up as Lord Protector and de facto ruler of the kingdom. Both brothers eventually fell from power,
and were executed. In popular culture
In film In 1933, Wendy Barrie played Seymour opposite
Charles Laughton’s Henry VIII in Alexander Korda’s highly acclaimed film The Private
Life of Henry VIII. As part of the 1970 BBC series The Six Wives
of Henry VIII, the episode entitled “Jane Seymour” presented her as a shy but honest
introvert, devoted to her husband. Henry was played by Keith Michell, and Seymour
by Anne Stallybrass. The previous episode “Anne Boleyn” displayed
Jane as fully knowing the damage her relationship with King Henry was doing. In 1972, this interpretation was repeated
in the film Henry VIII and his Six Wives, adapted from the BBC series, in which Keith
Michell reprised his role as Henry; on this occasion Seymour was played by Jane Asher. Seymour was played by Charlotte Roach in David
Starkey’s documentary series on Henry’s Queens in 2001. Seymour is a supporting character in the 2003
BBC television drama The Other Boleyn Girl, played by Naomi Benson opposite Jared Harris
as Henry VIII and Jodhi May as Anne Boleyn. In October 2003, in the two-part ITV drama
Henry VIII, Ray Winstone starred as the King. Jane Seymour was played by Emilia Fox. In The Simpsons 2004 episode “Margical History
Tour,” Seymour is portrayed by the shrill Miss Springfield during Marge’s retelling
of Henry’s reign. Henry quickly orders Seymour’s beheading after
hearing her annoying voice. Anita Briem portrayed Seymour as lady-in-waiting
to Anne Boleyn in the second season of the television series The Tudors, produced for
Showtime. In the third season of the same series, when
Jane Seymour becomes Queen and later dies, the part is played by Annabelle Wallis. Seymour was played by actress Corinne Galloway
in the 2008 film The Other Boleyn Girl. In books
Is the main character in Carolly Erickson’s novel The Favoured Queen, which follows her
from her appointment as lady-in-waiting to Catherine of Aragon right up to the time she
herself becomes Henry’s consort. Is the subject of the novel Plain Jane: A
Novel of Jane Seymour by Laurien Gardner. Appears as a lady serving both Catherine of
Aragon and Anne Boleyn in Wolf Hall by Hilary Mantel, which ends with hints of her coming
prominence. The second novel in Mantel’s series, Bring
Up the Bodies focuses on the machinations that led to the execution of Anne Boleyn,
Henry VIII’s growing determination to replace her with Jane Seymour and the Seymour family’s
strategems to gain from the King’s attraction to Jane. A planned third volume, The Mirror and the
Light, is expected to tell Jane Seymour’s story. The book ” I,Jane,” by Diane Heager, tells
of her growing up and, before catching the eye of King Henry, meeting a young man whose
parents are well placed in court and look down on Jane and her family. Despite this, Jane and the son become close,
and over the years she never forgets him. In music
As Giovanna Seymour, she appears in Gaetano Donizetti’s opera Anna Bolena. Rick Wakeman recorded the piece “Jane Seymour”
for his 1973 album The Six Wives of Henry VIII. The English ballad “The Death of Queen Jane”
is about the death of Jane Seymour following the birth of Prince Edward. The story as related in the ballad is historically
inaccurate, but apparently reflects the popular view at the time of the events surrounding
her death. The historical fact is that Prince Edward
was born naturally, and that his mother succumbed to infection and died 12 days later. Most versions of the song end with the contrast
between the joy of the birth of the Prince and the grief of the death of the Queen. A setting of the ballad to a tune by Irish
musician Dáithí Sproule was included on the Bothy Band’s 1979 album After Hours and
their 2008 album Best of the Bothy Band. The song also appears on Loreena McKennitt’s
2010 album Barley, and on Sproul’s 2011 album Lost River: Vol. 1; and it was featured in
the Coen brothers’ 2013 film Inside Llewyn Davis. The song “Lady Jane” by The Rolling Stones
is rumoured to be about Jane Seymour and her relationship with Henry VIII. Lineage
Footnotes Sources External links
Jane Seymour, Queen of England Family tree “Jane Seymour”. Find A Grave.  A quick over-view of Jane’s life, with a good
portrait gallery as well A more in-depth historical look at Jane’s
life and times A geo-biography tour of the Six Wives of Henry
VIII on Google Earth The text of the ballad The Death of Queen
Jane Photo of Seymour waxwork Flickr
A 1996 interview with Anne Boleyn’s most respected academic biographer, E.W. Ives in which he
offers his interpretations of Anne Boleyn but also speculates on the role Jane played
in Anne’s downfall

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