|Jane Seymour, portrait by Hans Holbein, Kunsthistorisches Museum, Vienna|
|Tenure||30 May 1536 – 24 October 1537|
|Proclamation||4 June 1536|
|Spouse||Henry VIII of England|
|Edward VI of England|
|House||House of Tudor (by marriage)|
|Died||24 October 1537 (aged 28–29)
Hampton Court Palace
Jane Seymour (c. 1508 – 24 October 1537) 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, as she was the only consort to have a male heir to survive infancy.
Jane Seymour was likely born at Wolf Hall, 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.1 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.2
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.3 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".4
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.5 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." meaning that about her personality6 Polydore Vergil commented that she was "a woman of the utmost charm in both character and appearance."7
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 Gardiner8 on 30 May 1536. As a wedding gift the King made her a grant of 104 manors in four countries as well as a number of forests and hunting chases, for her jointure, the income to support her during their marriage.8 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.9 She was never crowned, due to a 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.10 As queen, Jane Seymour was said to be strict and formal. Her motto was "Bound to obey and serve." 10
|The Six Wives of
|Catherine of Aragon|
|Anne of Cleves|
She was close to her female relations, Anne Stanhope (her brother's wife) 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 ladies-in-waiting 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.11 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".12
Jane put forth much effort to restore Henry's first child, Princess Mary, to court and heir to the throne behind any children that Jane would 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.10 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 in the succession until Henry's sixth wife, Queen Catherine Parr, convinced him to do so.13
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.14 She went into confinement in September 1537 and gave birth to the coveted male heir, the future King Edward VI of England, at two o'clock in the morning15 on 12 October 1537 at Hampton Court Palace.16
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.17 After the christening, it became clear that Jane Seymour was seriously ill.18
Jane Seymour's labour had been difficult, lasting two nights and three days, probably because the baby was not well positioned.19 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. Within a few weeks of the death of Queen Jane there existed conflicting testimonies concerning the cause of her demise. Jane Seymour died on 24 October 1537 at Hampton Court Palace at Kingston upon Thames.11
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.21 Jane was the only one of Henry's wives to receive a Queen's funeral.11
The following inscription was above her grave for a time:
Here lieth a Phoenix, by whose death
Another Phoenix life gave breath:
It is to be lamented much
The world at once ne'er knew two such.
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 in the grave he had made for her, on his request.11
Jane had achieved everything she set out to do: she had given the king the son he so desperately needed, she had helped to restore Lady Mary to the succession and her father’s affections, and she had used her influence to bring about the advancement of her family.22 Two of Jane's brothers, Thomas and Edward, used her memory to improve their own fortunes.11 Thomas was rumoured to have been pursuing Lady Elizabeth, but married the Dowager Queen Catherine Parr instead after the King's death. 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.11
People believe that Henry VIII actually loved Jane Seymour because he asked if he could be buried next to her before he died.
- 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.
- Seymour is a minor character in Hal B. Wallis' 1969 Oscar-winning Anne of the Thousand Days. She was played by Lesley Paterson, opposite Richard Burton as 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 Henry VIII and his Six Wives, in which Keith Michell reprised his role from the BBC drama; 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 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 episode "Margical History Tour," Seymour is portrayed by the shrill-tongued Miss Springfield during Marge's retelling of Henry's reign. Henry (portrayed by Homer) 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.
- 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.
- Appears in a background role in The Dark Rose, Volume 2 of The Morland Dynasty, a series of historical novels by author Cynthia Harrod-Eagles.
- A minor character in Philippa Gregory's popular novel The Other Boleyn Girl. Jane is a devout girl seen by the Boleyns as their rival family at court.
- Appears in Alison Weir's debut novel Innocent Traitor and her second The Lady Elizabeth.
- Is the subject of the novel Plain Jane: A Novel of Jane Seymour (Tudor Women Series) by Laurien Gardner (Sarah Hoyt).
- 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.23
- In the book " I,Jane" by Diane Heager, it explores how she grew up and how before she caught the eye of king henry she meets a young man whose parents are high up in court and looks down on Jane and her family. Despite this they become close and over the years she never forgot.
- 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" (Child #170) 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.
From version 170A:
The baby was christened with joy and much mirth,
Whilst poor Queen Jane's body lay cold under earth:
There was ringing and singing and mourning all day,
The Princess Elizabeth went weeping away
- The ballad is included in Loreena McKennitt's Barley album.
- The song "Lady Jane" by The Rolling Stones is rumoured to be about Jane Seymour and her relationship with Henry VIII.
|This section does not cite any references or sources. (May 2011)|
Books solely on Jane Seymour are scarce, but two biographies of the Queen have recently been published. The first is a scholarly biography by Pamela Gross, while the second, by Elizabeth Norton, is more accessible to the average reader. A third book, William Seymour's Ordeal by Ambition, is in part a biography of Jane.
Jane was widely praised as "the fairest, the most discreet, and the most meritous of all Henry VIII's wives" in the centuries after her death. One historian, however, took serious umbrage at this view in the 19th century. Victorian author Agnes Strickland, who wrote multi-volume anthologies of French, Scottish, and English royal women, said that the story of Anne Boleyn's last agonised hours and Henry VIII's swift remarriage to Jane Seymour "is repulsive enough, but it becomes tenfold more abhorrent when the woman who caused the whole tragedy is loaded with panegyric." Hester W. Chapman and Eric Ives resurrected Strickland's view of Jane Seymour, and believe she played a crucial and conscious role in the cold-blooded plot to bring Anne Boleyn to the executioner's block. Joanna Denny, Marie Louise Bruce and Carolly Erickson have also refrained from giving overly sympathetic accounts of Jane's life and career. It should be noted that Ives, Bruce, and Denny are biographers of Anne Boleyn as opposed to Jane Seymour.
On the other hand, historical writers like Alison Weir and Antonia Fraser paint a favourable portrait of a woman of discretion and good sense – "a strong-minded matriarch in the making," says Weir. David Starkey and Karen Lindsey are relatively dismissive of Jane's importance in comparison to that of Henry's other major queens (Catherine of Aragon, Anne Boleyn and Catherine Parr), though they refrain from claiming that she was the cause of the unfair trial. They further state that it was unlikely Jane could accomplish as much as her predecessors or her successors because her reign had been relatively short and spent mainly pregnant or unwell.
|Ancestors of Jane Seymour|
- Elizabeth Norton. Jane Seymour: Henry VIII's True Love, Amberley Publishing, May 15, 2009. p. 8. Google eBook
- Ancestors of Jane Seymour (see bottom of page).
- Brown, Meg Lota and Kari Boyd McBride. Women's roles in the Renaissance. Greenwood Publishing. p. 244
- "Henry VIII — the Embroiderer King". Royal School of Needlework. Retrieved 2009-10-19.
- Portrait of Jane Seymour c. 1537, a painting by Hans, the Younger Holbein
- Norton, Elizabeth (2009). Jane Seymour. Amberley. p. 65. ISBN 978-1-84868-102-6
- Vergil, Polydore (1950). The Anglica historia of Polydore Vergil, A.D. 1485-1537. Royal Historical Society. p. 337
- Weir, Alison (1991). The Six Wives of Henry VIII. Grove Weidenfeld. p. 344.
- Weir, Alison (1991). The Six Wives of Henry VIII. Grove Weidenfeld. p. 340.
- Wagner, John A. (2011). Encyclopedia of Tudor England. ABC-CLIO. p. 1000. ISBN 978-1598842982.
- JANE SEYMOUR:THIRD WIFE OF HENRY VIII OF ENGLAND
- "The Six Wives of Henry VIII". PBS. Retrieved 2010-10-22.
- Farquhar, Michael (2001). A Treasure of Royal Scandals, p. 72. Penguin Books, New York. ISBN 0-7394-2025-9.
- Weir, Alison (1991). The Six Wives of Henry VIII. Grove Weidenfeld. p. 362.
- Weir, Alison (1991). The Six Wives of Henry VIII. Grove Weidendfeld. p. 367.
- Seal, Graham (2001). Encyclopedia of Folk Heroes. p. 129. ISBN 978-1576072165.
- All Color Book of Henry VIII, by John Walder, Octopus Books Limited ©1973 p. 47.
- Lancelot, Francis. Jane Seymour, Third Wife of Henry the Eighth. Shamrock Publishing (reprint 2011). p. 93/
- "The death of Jane Seymour – a Midwife’s view". Tudorstuff. 2009-03-21. Retrieved 2010-10-24.
- Boutell, Charles (1863). A Manual of Heraldry, Historical and Popular. London: Winsor & Newton. p. 278
- Weir, Alison (1991). The Six Wives of Henry VIII. Grove Weidenfeld. p. 372.
- Weir, Alison (1991). The Six Wives of Henry VIII. p. 373.
- The Book Show, Transcript of Interview with Hilary Mantel.
- or Sir Robert Coker of Lydeard St Lawrence
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Jane Seymour.|
- "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
Title last held byAnne Boleyn
|Queen consort of England
Lady of Ireland
30 May 1536 – 24 October 1537
Title next held byAnne of Cleves