Jane Seymour, the third wife of King Henry VIII, was married to him on 30th May 1536, just eleven days after his second wife Anne Boleyn had been executed on Tower Green, in the grounds of the Tower of London.
She was publicly proclaimed queen consort, but was never crowned. This was due in part to Henry's reluctance to have her crowned before she had carried out her duty as queen consort, as he saw it, by providing him with a son and heir and partly due to the plague in London.
Jane Seymour was born between 1507 and 1509, more than likely it was 1508 at Wolf Hall in Wiltshire, into a very old and established family, of respectable lineage.
Her mother, was Margery Wentworth, who could claim descent from King Edward III of England through her father's line. Jane's own father was Sir John Seymour of Wiltshire, who was a distant descendant of Sir William Marshall, renowned for being the greatest and most chivalrous knight that ever lived.
Sir William Marshall is one of the Knights buried in the Temple Church in London. His effigy and those of two of his sons are amongst the effigies now displayed on the floor in the Church.
It was Sir William's daughter, Eva's marriage to William de Braose, who later became Lord Abergavenny, which produced the line leading to Jane Seymour, as it also did to Anne Boleyn.
Eva's maternal grandparents were Richard de Clare, immortalized in history as Strongbow, and his wife Aoife of Leinster, who was the daughter of Dermot MacMurrough, King of Leinster and his wife Mor O'Toole.
When he died, Strongbow was buried in Christ Church Cathedral, Dublin, where an effigy, rightly or wrongly attributed to him, can be viewed.
ABOVE:A PORTRAIT OF JANE SEYMOUR BY HANS HOLBEIN THE YOUNGER 1536-1537
Within a few generations, their descendants were numbered among most of the Royal families in northern Europe, Robert the Bruce of Scotland being one of them.
Jane was not very highly educated, she could barely read or write, but she was very adept at needlework and managing the household.
This situation was common with women of her standing in those days and deemed to be much more important than a good academic education.
From contemporary reports, Jane Seymour was considered to be a very modest and gentle lady, quite the opposite to Anne Boleyn, who was sharp tongued and well known for her short temper.
By the year 1532, Jane was established as one of the Maids of Honour to the Queen, Katherine of Aragon, the first wife of Henry VIII of England and carried on to serve Henry's second wife, Queen Anne Boleyn, after she had displaced Katherine as the Queen Consort.
It is not absolutely certain how Jane entered into the service of King Henry VIII's first two wives, but there are certainly many factors which point to an ulterior motive, in her having been placed there.
Jane Seymour and her family were just as ambitious politically, as Anne Boleyn and her family were. Jane's two brothers Edward and Thomas, took a personal interest in coaching their sister on how to gain the King's attention. Both of them willing to sacrifice her for their own personal gain.
It does appear that the main aim of her introduction to court, was expressly to become King Henry VIII's mistress.
There were many events which took place which would confirm that this was indeed the case. It is known that she willingly accepted the King's approaches when he flirted with her.
One story is told, that shortly after Jane entered into Anne's service, the queen spotted an impressive jewel around Jane's neck. When Anne asked if she could take a look at it, Jane became flustered and embarrassed, drawing back, away from the queen.
Anne immediately tore it from around her neck, to discover it contained a miniature of the King, which he himself had presented to her. When, just a few days after the funeral of Katherine of Aragon, Anne accidently interrupted Jane, sitting on King Henry's knee, and succumbing to his caresses, she became overcome with both anger and jealousy.
She privately blamed this incident on her subsequent miscarriage, while publicly claiming that it was the accident Henry had suffered whilst taking part in a jousting tournament at Greenwich Palace, which had resulted in her child being stillborn.
The Imperial Ambassador to England, Eustace Chapuys, who is best known for his extensive and detailed correspondence, had an intense dislike for Anne Boleyn, who in turn had an intense dislike for him.
The reason for their mutual dislike for each other, was the fact that he was the chif adviser to Henry VIII's first wife, Katherine of Aragon.
He made no attempt to disguise the fact that he did not recognize Anne's marriage to Henry, constantly referring to her as a whore and concubine in his correspondence.
It is in one of his letters to Charles V, the Holy Roman Emperor in February 1536, that we first find a reference to King Henry VIII being romantically involved with Jane Seymour.
He wrote: I hear that, even before the arrest of the concubine, the king, speaking with Mistress Jane Seymour of their future marriage, the latter suggested that the princess should be replaced in her former position; and the king told her she was a fool, and ought to solicit the advancement of the children they would have between them, and not any others.
She replied that in asking for the restoration of the princess she was seeking the rest and tranquility of the king, herself, her future children, and the whole realm; for, without that, neither your majesty nor this people would ever be content.
In the time Henry had been married to Anne, she had repeatedly, as he put it, interfered in the affairs of state, which were matters that did not concern her.
In regard to the Dissolution of the Monasteries, she had repeatedly voiced her opposition to it, and her opposition to the wealth of the Church finding its way into the royal coffers, instead of it being used to help the poor and needy. Anne had become a total nuisance to King Henry and had made powerful enemies in the process.
Her interfering in the Dissolution of the Monasteries by her continual protestations, had infuriated King Henry's chief minister, Thomas Cromwell, who Henry had delegated to carry out the Dissolution and who now began to plot the downfall of Anne in earnest.
All Cromwell required was the King to tell him to take action and he would be ready. This, it appears is what the King readily did. The miscarriage, had been the final straw for Henry.
He was still desperate for a son and heir and was convinced that Jane Seymour was the woman who could give him what he most desired.
However, Henry could not risk a second divorce. He had broken away from the Roman Catholic Church because the Pope would not grant him an anullment of his marriage to Katherine of Aragon, in order that he could marry Anne.
Breaking away from Rome had been very unpopular among his subjects, but the Dissolution of the Monasteries had completely outraged them. Anger and resentment had been fomenting, with confrontations taking place and the Uprising known as the Pilgrimage of Grace being tricked into disbanding.
Once disbanded, Henry had callously gone back on his word and had hundreds of them executed.
Katherine of Aragon, had been regarded as King Henry VIII's lawful wife, by most of England and Europe, whilst Anne Boleyn was looked upon as his concubine, being called by many of her subjects, "the kings whore" or a "naughty paike," which meant prostitute.
After Katherine's death on 7th January 1536, Henry suddenly realised, that in the eyes of the world, he no longer had a lawful wife. So when Anne miscarried a son on 29th January, he declared he would have no more children by her.
He could now free himself of Anne and legitimately marry Jane, a new marriage that would be recognised by everyone and another chance of a son and heir.
Anne's fate had been sealed. The King started to publicly mention that Anne had bewitched him into marrying her.
Scapegoats were found, who were summarily accused of coresponding with Anne. These accusations had all the hallmarks of Thomas Cromwell, the King's chief minister, stamped all over them.
Another powerful enemy Anne Boleyn had made, was her uncle, the Duke of Norfolk, who she found to be very selfish and untrustworthy.
He in turn had once complained that his niece had used words to him "that one would not use to a dog." Their relationship deteriorated rapidly in 1535 and 1536, especially when it became obvious to him, that King Henry had tired of his niece.
With the hatred the Duke of Norfolk felt towards his niece, he did not find it too difficult putting his own safety first, ahead of family loyalties, to preside over the farcicle trial of Queen Anne Boleyn in 1536, condemning her, his own niece and her brother, his own nephew, both to death, despite their almost certain innocence.
After this farce of a trial in which the verdict had been predetermined, Anne Boleyn was condemned to death. On 19th May 1536, she was executed.
The many crimes she and her co-defenders had been accused of were almost certainly false and equally almost certainly the brainchild of Thomas Cromwell. They had included trying to poison King Henry, witchcraft, adultery and incest.
The day after the execution, the king and Jane Seymour were betrothed, ten days later, on 30th May they were married. She was publicly declared Queen on 4th June 1536.
She was described as being strict and formal. As the Queen consort, she replaced all the glitz of Queen Anne's household with the strictly enforced requirement of correct behaviour in polite society. French fashions which had been introduced at court by Anne Boleyn were now banned.
Unlike Anne, she kept a clear distance away from political matters, her only known involvement was in 1536, when she asked the King to pardon rebels who had taken part in the Pilgrimage of Grace rebellion.
It is said that Henry put her firmly in her place, by reminding her of the fate her predecessor met with when she "meddled in his affairs."
Jane Seymour had always liked Katherine of Aragon and constantly tried to persuade Henry to restore his eldest daughter, Mary by Katherine, to her rightful place in the line of succession, behind any children she and Henry would have.
The Imperial Ambassador, Eustace Chapuys, wrote to the Holy Roman Emperor, Charles V informing him of Janes efforts in that matter. There is also a letter from Mary to Jane thanking her and expressing her gratitude for all her efforts.
Jane Seymour became pregnant early on in the year 1537, went into confinement in September and gave birth to a male heir on 12th October 1537 at Hampton Court Palace. The future King Edward VI had been born.
As was the custom, children were baptised quickly in case they died. As a result the young Prince Edward was Christened three days later on 15th October 1537. Both of the King's daughters, Princess Mary and Princess Elizabeth were present.
After the Christening ceremony was over, it became very clear that Jane Seymour was very seriously ill. It had been a very difficult birth, lasting two days and three nights.
Rumours circulated that King Henry had ordered the baby to be cut from her to prevent a stillbirth, but this is just speculation and probably did not happen. Jane Seymour died at Hampton Court Palace on 24th October 1537.
After a funeral in which her stepdaughter, Princess Mary, the future Queen Mary I of England acted as chief mourner, Jane Seymour was interred in St. George's Chapel, Windsor Castle, the only one of Henry VIII's wives to be given a Queen's funeral.
Henry wore black for a considerable time after her death and did not remarry for three years after. Historians are commonly agreed that she was Henry's favourite wife, because she presented him with a male heir.
When he died in 1547, King Henry VIII was buried beside her.
Jane Seymour's two brothers, did indeed improve their fortunes. Thomas married King Henry's wealthy widow Catherine Parr, who was the last of Henry's six wives and Edward Seymour set himself up as protector and de facto ruler of the kingdom.
However, they both fell from power and yes, you have guessed it, they were both executed.
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