Jane Seymour (1508-1537) – House of Seymour – Plain Jane

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Jane Seymour

Jane Seymour, Queen Consort of England, was the third wife of infamous King Henry Tudor VIII of England. Jane was raised to throne as soon as the King’s second wife, Anne Boleyn was thrown off. The King proposed marriage to her the day after Anne Boleyn was executed for treason, on trumped up charges of adultery and incest, and then married her ten days later. He wasted no time. It has been documented that the King and Jane had a romance while Jane was Lady in Waiting to Queen Ann. When Ann also failed to deliver the promised heir and prince (like the King’s first wife, whom he divorced), it is clear that the King called on his men to get rid of her, so he could take a new wife. This time, he did not want a long drawn out process of a divorce. The King’s men were swift and thorough, and several men, along with Queen Ann and her brother, the Viscount of Rochford, were put to death. All victims were innocent of all charges brought against them. One can say, that Jane’s marriage began with blood and would end with blood.

Plain Jane was not known as a great beauty, but she was very fair and demure, which were ideal qualities in women of this era (Renaissance). Jane was also the daughter of a simple knight, Sir John Seymour, and Lady Margery Wentworth. Jane’s common birth and upbringing in the countryside shaped her into the woman she was. Unlike Catherine of Aragon, (a Spanish Princess born to be Queen someday), or Anne Boleyn, daughter of a minor nobleman and niece of a Duke- she was not as educated as Henry VIII’s first two wives. In fact, plain Jane was the polar opposite of her predecessor, the witty, sharp tongued, dark beauty, Anne Boleyn. Anne was opinionated and demanding. Jane was quiet and submissive. She was not of the temperament to debate and contradict the King, especially in front of his court, like Anne was remembered for. She was the perfect wife for the volatile, arrogant, and impetuous Henry VIII. Also, she had a frailness about her that appealed to Henry’s tough, over protective, chivalrous side.

Like all women of this era, Jane was a tool to be used by her family to further their social standing at court. Surely when the King took interest in her, her mother, father, and two older brothers were right beside her, pushing her and pressuring her to welcome the King’s attentions. It made no difference that the King was married or not. Gifts and titles were to be given to the family of any King’s mistress. However, it was because that Queen Anne had not provided the desperately desired son, that Jane’s family no doubt instructed her to wait for a possible marriage with the King. Since the court watched in shock as the Catholic King divorced and set aside his first Queen and wife to marry his second, and also broke with the Catholic Church in order to do so- Many young ladies knew it was possible to be the next Queen. Anne Boleyn did not only set fashion trends at court. She also gave common ladies hope that they too can wear a crown. All they must do is make the King notice them and then remain moral and virtuous ladies, patiently awaiting a respectable marriage.

Henry VIII would declare openly on several occasions that Queen Jane was his favorite wife. Historians note that Jane was the only one to give him the son he most desperately needed, and she had the good grace to die before she became annoying or boring. Yes, Jane Seymour, gave birth to her prince Edward Tudor, who would later become Edward VI of England. Sadly though, childbirth was very dangerous at the time. Queen Jane most likely caught an infection after she gave birth and she succumbed to childbirth fever nine days later.

Henry VIII was publicly and privately mournful of her death. It was said that after her death is when Henry VIII began to put on some serious weight, becoming grotesquely obese. He did not remarry for three years, which is considerable, since Kings were supposed to stay married if possible and keep providing heirs for the Kingdom. No expense was spared for Jane’s funeral. Also, when Henry VIII commissioned a family portrait, he was married to his sixth and final wife Katherine Parr, but instead of her painted by his side, Jane was painted instead. Henry VIII decreed that he would be buried next to Jane upon his death, and he was.

Jane had two older brothers, Edward Seymour, 1st Duke of Somerset, and Thomas Seymour, 1st Baron of Sudeley. Both men were key figures during the Tudor era. I plan to do a piece on each of them in the future.

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