George Boleyn (1503-1536) and Jane Parker (1505-1542) – House of Boleyn – Lord and Lady Rochford

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George Boleyn and Jane Rochford

George Boleyn, was the brother of Queen Consort of England, Anne Boleyn, the 2nd wife and queen of Henry VIII. It is believed that George was the eldest sibling of Anne and Mary Boleyn, and eldest surviving child/son of Thomas Boleyn 1st Earl of Wiltshire and Lady Elizabeth Howard. The Boleyn family was at the very head of the reformation of the Catholic Church in England. With the rise of Anne Boleyn from royal mistress to wife, the Boleyns all enjoyed favors from their King. George Boleyn was particularly favored, gaining many titles and a wife from a wealthy family. The King himself had a hand in setting up George’s marriage to Jane Parker.

Jane Parker, was the daughter of lesser nobility, Henry Parker, 10th Baron of Morley, but of an old and wealthy family. It was common for new and upcoming men at court, given great titles by the King, to take very wealthy brides from old, but less noble families (and vice versa). Many times one party held the great title, the other great wealth and ancient lineage. George and Jane’s greatest favor bestowed by the King was the title of Viscount and Viscountess of Rochford. George was said to be one “loveth and trustith” by the king.

The marriage between George and Jane was a match made to further family interest (on both sides) and had nothing to with love. Also, by the way Jane slandered her husband and Queen during a later investigation, gives credit to the rumors that she was not fond of her husband, and probably not very fond of her sister-in-law.

George Boleyn was one of the King’s greatest supporters during his “Great Matter,” when the king was seeking an annulment from Catherine of Aragon in order to marry Anne Boleyn. George was an intelligent and politically astute young man, wise beyond his years. He was also, like his sister, a Lutheran sympathizer. In fact is was through very careful and delicate political influence over the king, that Anne and George planted the seeds of the possibility of a break with the Roman Church, making the king the supreme authority in his country.

George, a skilled diplomat like his father, was sent on several assignments abroad to negotiate with the French, and to gain support for the English King’s annulment. George also had the reputation of being proud to a fault and a womanizer. Later writers suggested that George Boleyn also had a thing for seducing men too. There are no historical accounts of these rumors, and if any one of George’s peers thought so, it could be assured that these kind of rumors would have spread like wildfire. Historians believe this is just a liberty taken by novelist and historical drama screen play writers.

George and Jane Parker had no children, and many believed that the couple did not like each other for the most part. Either one, or both parties, did not care for the arranged marriage. It was most likely Jane, as men tended to not care whom they married so much as long as the marriage benefited them and their family legacy. Men of this era could easily obtain mistresses to amuse themselves with. Women did not have that option, unless they wanted to suffer great consequences.

When George’s sister Anne was raised high to queen consort, it did not take long for her to fall from grace. Anne, no longer the reluctant and coy mistress that the king was chasing, was now his wife. Her first duty was to have babies and secure the throne of England with sons. Her opinionated and sharp tongue (whether witty or cutting) was no longer cute and endearing. In fact, her lack of regal grace and humbleness was becoming tiresome to the king. She even went so far as to berate him and argue with him in front of the whole court. On top of that, Anne gave birth to one healthy daughter, and suffered two (possibly three) miscarriages of male children afterwards.

The king ordered an investigation upon Queen Anne. He also implied that they were to investigate until some fault be found in the Queen (who he accused of using sorcery to seduce him) in order to get him free of her. Many of those close to Queen were taken for questioning. We know that two ladies in particular, Madge Shelton (Anne’s cousin and former mistress to the king), and Lady Rochford (Jane Parker, George’s wife) were questioned. What questions that were asked are not known. It is also not known if any threats were made if they did not comply. It was written though that Jane gave evidence of an improper relationship between Anne and some male members of her court, including her own brother (and Jane’s husband) George.

Five men were arrested along with the Queen. Four noblemen, Sir Francis Weston, William Brereton, Henry Norris, including Anne’s own brother George were among them. One commoner, Anne’s private musician, Mark Smeaton, was also arrested. The charge was carnal knowledge of the Queen (incest in George’s case) and treason. Only Mark Smeaton confessed to the charges, but it is also common knowledge that he would have been extensively tortured since he was a commoner. Anne was also arrested, charged, and put on trial along with these men. All were found guilty, as was the king’s pleasure, and all were sentenced to death and executed.

It is seen that Jane played a major role in the death of her husband, for which she was labeled a most evil and wicked wife. Jane would go on to serve three more Queens of Henry VIII. It was ironically while she was serving Henry VIII’s 5th wife and cousin of Anne, Kathryn Howard, that she got her just deserts. She acted as a liaison between Queen Kathryn and her lover. Covering for them and helping to arrange their meetings so they could carry on with an affair behind the king’s back. It is interesting that Henry VIII had the cousin falsely accused of adultery and treason, then executed, when his seemingly perfect wife really was guilty. When the affair was discovered, Jane and the Queen were arrested, charged and executed along with the implicated men. In Jane Parker’s case, blood was repaid with blood.

Jane Parker, Lady Rochford never remarried after George Boleyn. Perhaps other men were horrified by what she had done. She had no children.

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