Posted By Claire on October 24, 2014
Jane Seymour by Lucas Horenbout
On 24th October 1537 Jane Seymour, third wife of Henry VIII and mother of Edward VI, succombed to childbed fever and died at Hampton Court Palace.
Jane had initially recovered well from her long and arduous labour, but started to go downhill in the days following Edward’s christening, suffering with a fever and delirium. On 17th October, her fever reached crisis point, and it looked like Jane would recover, but then it struck again. On the 24th October her condition worsened, and she died that night.
Here are some primary source accounts of her illness and death:
“Today the King intended to remove to Asher, and, because the Queen was very sick this night and today, he tarried, but he will be there tomorrow. “If she amend he will go and if she amend not he told me this day he could not find in his heart to tarry.” She was in great danger yesternight and to day but, if she sleep this night, the physicians hope that she is past danger. Hampton Court, xxiiiiith (sic) day of October.” Sir John Russell to Thomas Cromwell, 24th October 1537
Posted By Claire on October 21, 2014
Thank you so much to author and historian Amy Licence for visiting The Anne Boleyn Files on her blog tour for her new book The Six Wives and Many Mistresses of Henry VIII and sharing this extract from her book. See the end of the article for giveaway details.
Over to Amy…
The watchwords for Mary’s relationship with the King were secrecy and discretion. Yet history has tarnished her with scandal and rumour, insults and aspersions, leaving her with a reputation worthiest of the greatest whore at Henry’s court. Just like so many of the facts of Mary’s life, her real personality and appearance elude us. Historians and novelists have deduced various things from the known dates of her service in France, particularly her comparative lack of education and the circumstances of her marriage, yet these have often raised more questions than they have answered. Mary is illuminated in history by the light that fell upon her sister and she has suffered from the comparison ever since. Sadly her light will always be dimmer, her biography more nebulous.
Without a surviving authenticated portrait of Mary, it is impossible to draw any satisfactory conclusion about her appearance, beyond the fact that she was sufficiently attractive to engage the attention of the King. She may well have had the same colouring and proportions as her sister, but the two main candidates for her portrait, by Lucas Horenbout and the anonymous image held at Hever Castle, both depict women with rounder, softer faces and perhaps, lighter colouring. In fiction and on the screen, Mary has been played as alternately dark and fair, silly and serious, usually as a foil to Anne, but the only contemporary indication of any personal characteristic attributed to her is her role as Kindness and, for all we know, that may have been allocated on a chance basis. Whilst the parts of Kindness and Perseverance seem apt to the modern reader, enjoying the dancing of 1522 with a dash of hindsight, we could equally picture Mary and Anne drawing pieces of paper out of a velvet cap and laughing at their unsuitability. Perhaps these roles were even ascribed as a joke, a further disguise, with Mary refusing to be “kind” to the King and Anne known for her impatience. We will never know.
On 21st October 1532, Henry VIII left Anne Boleyn in Calais to spend four days with Francis I, “his beloved brother”, at the French court in Bolougne. When Henry and Anne’s trip to Calais had first been planned, Anne had wanted to attend the meeting at the French court in Boulogne as Henry’s consort. She […]
On the 19th October 1536, Henry VIII got tough on the Pilgrimage of Grace rebels. In a letter to Charles Brandon, Duke of Suffolk, Henry wrote: “You are to use all dexterity in getting the harness and weapons of the said rebels brought in to Lincoln or other sure places, and cause all the boats […]
On 18th October 1541, fifty-two year old Margaret Tudor, sister of Henry VIII, former Queen of Scotland and mother of James V, died of a stroke at Methven Castle, Perthshire, Scotland. Margaret was laid to rest at the Carthusian Priory of St John in Perth, which was later destroyed and nothing remains of it today. […]
On 16th October, while Anne Boleyn and Henry VIII were lodged in Calais, the Duke of Norfolk, Earl of Derby and a group of gentleman met with “the great mayster of Fraunce” Anne, duc de Montmorency, and his men at the English Pale, six miles outside of Calais. This meeting was to plan where Henry […]
Today was the day in 1537 when three day-old Prince Edward, the future Edward VI, was christened in the Chapel Royal of Hampton Court Palace. Edward’s eldest half-sister Mary stood as his godmother and his godfathers were Thomas Howard, Duke of Norfolk, Charles Brandon, Duke of Suffolk, and Archbishop Thomas Cranmer. You can read a […]
Historian Gareth Russell, who is also the author of the The Emperors: How Europe’s Greatest Rulers Were Destroyed by World War I and upcoming books A History of the English Monarchy: From Boadicea to Elizabeth I and An Illustrated Introduction to The Tudors, is giving Tudor Society members a treat this month with his talk […]