Jane Seymour: The Meek and Mild One?

Posted By on February 3, 2011

Jane Seymour has been rather neglected by authors and historians, apart from Elizabeth Norton who has written a biography on her, probably because her relationship with Henry was rather short, seeing as Jane died around 17 months after her marriage to Henry, and many see her as a rather boring character. However, she is an interesting character and like all of Henry’s wives she has been misrepresented and stereotyped.

Here are some of the labels, myths, opinions and stereotypes which surround Jane Seymour:-

  • Jane was uneducated
  • She was a ‘plain Jane’
  • Jane was meek, mild and demure
  • Jane the virtuous and kind
  • Jane the Peacemaker
  • That Jane and Henry were betrothed at Wolf Hall and got married there
  • Jane was much younger than Anne Boleyn
  • That Jane was worse than Anne, in that she really did set out to trap Henry
  • That Jane danced on Anne Boleyn’s grave
  • Jane came from a family of Catholic Conservatives
  • Jane brought Henry’s family together
  • Jane was Henry’s true love
  • Jane died in childbirth
  • Jane died as a result of an emergency caesarean and that Henry had to choose between her and the baby
  • That Henry never planned to crown Jane
  • Jane was pregnant when Henry married her and subsequently miscarried.

The Uneducated Wife?

Although Jane may not have received the same standard of education as her predecessors, Catherine of Aragon and Anne Boleyn, she received a traditional Tudor girl’s education – needlework, music and other “traditional feminine accomplishments”1. She would also have learned the ‘art’ of hunting. Eustace Chapuys, an enemy of Jane’s predecessor, Anne Boleyn, described Jane as “not a woman of great wit, but she may have good understanding”, so she may not have had the sharp mind of Anne Boleyn but she was far from thick and seems to have been blessed with common sense and an even temperament.

Jane’s Appearance

Chapuys described Jane as “of middle stature and no great beauty, so fair that one would call her rather pale than otherwise”2 and Alison Weir points out that “it was not Jane’s face that had attracted the King so much as the fact that she was Anne Boleyn’s opposite in every way. Jane showed herself entirely subservient to Henry’s will; where Anne had, in the King’s view, been a wanton, Jane had shown herself to be inviolably chaste. And where Anne had been ruthless, he believed Jane to be naturally compassionate. He would in years to come remember her as the fairest, the most discreet, and the most meritorious of all his wives.”3 Perhaps she reminded him of his mother, Elizabeth of York?

Holbein’s portrait of Jane is far from flattering but we, today, have a very different idea about beauty, and it is possible that the fair haired, pale skinned Jane was much closer to the Tudor idea of beauty, the English Rose, than the sallow-skinned, dark haired Anne Boleyn. To us, Jane looks dumpy, plain and rather chinless, to Henry she may have been a goddess!

Bound to Obey and Serve – Jane the Meek and Mild?

It is clear from Jane’s motto that she wanted to be the submissive wife and queen, in contrast to the “Most Happy” Anne Boleyn who had a “sunshine and showers” relationship with Henry, one of passion and rages. Antonia Fraser describes her as “naturally sweet-natured” and writes of her main characteristics being “virtue and common good sense”4. Fraser goes on to say that “Jane was exactly the kind of female praised by the contemporary handbooks to correct conduct; just as Anne Boleyn had been the sort they warned against,”5. However, Alison Weir points out that “Beneath her outward show of humility, there was steel, even though it was confined to the domestic sphere only”6 – she may have been mild-mannered but she was capable of being strict with her household and also capable of standing up to her husband at times, although her common sense told her when to shut up, i.e. she listened to Henry when he threatened her, by reminding her of what had happened to wife number two, and learned to be submissive to her husband and master. Where Anne would have told Henry just what she thought, Jane curbed her tongue and accepted her place as the dutiful wife, but then she did have the benefit of knowing what Henry was capable of! Henry was bad-tempered and had mood swings and Jane was sensible enough to realise that he needed humouring and needed his ego massaging – where Anne could be impatient, Jane was soothing.

Jane the Virtuous and Kind

Although, when he first heard of Henry VIII’s relationship with Jane, Chapuys wondered if she could really have reached the age of 25 at the English Court and have remained a virgin, it does seem that Jane was a truly chaste and virtuous woman. She has managed to reach her mid 20s without any scandal being attached to her name and when she was queen she carefully controlled her ladies and made sure that her household was known for its virtue.

Jane also seems to have been a kind woman and a woman who brought Henry happiness. In June 1536, Sir John Russell wrote to Lord Lisle saying:-

“The King came in his great boat to Greenwich that day with his privy chamber, and the Queen and the ladies in the great barge. I assure you she is as gentle a lady as ever I knew, and as fair a Queen as any in Christendom. “The King hath come out of hell into heaven for the gentleness in this and the cursedness and the unhappiness in the other.” You would do well to write to the King again that you rejoice he is so well matched with so gracious a woman as is reported.”7

Jane the Peacemaker

Although the Imperial Ambassador, Eustace Chapuys, had originally been rather scathing in regards to Henry’s new love, describing her as “proud and haughty” and “not a woman of great wit”, he soon changed his mind when he realised that she was sympathetic to the plight of the Lady Mary, daughter of Catherine of Aragon and Henry VIII. He then described Jane as a “pacific”8, a peacemaker”, and also praised her for her good sense and the way that she would not be drawn into discussions on religion and politics.

Wolf Hall

Wolf Hall may have been the Seymour family home and Jane may have retreated there after Anne Boleyn’s execution9, but we know that Jane and Henry got betrothed at Hampton Court Palace and that their wedding took place in the Queen’s closet at Whitehall.

Jane’s Age

Jane’s exact birthdate is not known, but Elizabeth Norton points out that Jane had 29 ladies in her funeral procession in 1537, “a common way of marking the age of the deceased”10, so Norton concludes that Jane was most likely born between October 1507 and October 1508. Jane was therefore around 28 when she married Henry VIII, and Chapuys describes her as “over 25 years old”11. Obviously, there is controversy over Anne Boleyn’s date of birth, with some historians saying 1501 and others 1507, but even if we take the 1501 birthdate for Anne then Jane was only six or seven years younger, although her family were known for their fertility.

Jane the Plotter and Seductress

Here we have the belief that Jane was not who she was cracked up to be, that she was coached, by Nicholas Carewe12, in how to behave so that she attracted the King and kept his interest, that she was encouraged to poison the King’s mind against Anne Boleyn, while showing herself as an attractive alternative13, and that her behaviour was all a well choreographed act.

Antonia Fraser14 writes of how Jane refused to accept a gift of gold sovereigns from the king, flinging herself on her knees and begging the messenger to tell the king that she was “a gentlewoman of fair and honourable lineage without reproach” and that she had “nothing in the world but her honour, which for a thousand deaths she would not wound” and therefore she must return the gift and “If the King deigned to make her a present of money, she prayed that it might be when she made an honourable marriage.” This “blushing reticence” inflamed the King’s “ardour”, Henry loved the thrill of the chase. Was it part of a game, Jane’s plan to ensnare the King? Had she learned from what had happened with Anne Boleyn? After all, Anne’s rebuffing of the King had led to him pursuing her relentlessly and not taking no for an answer. Did Jane know what she was doing? Had she been coached on how to play the King by Carew and her brothers? Who knows, but Antonia Fraser does point out that it would have been characteristic for Jane to have acted in this way anyway:-

“It is not necessary to believe that the girl herself was playing a role – an uncharacteristic one – just because the results of her withdrawal were so successful. Jane Seymour was the perfect bait just because she represented without artifice that purity a sentimental older man – and Henry was certainly sentimental at the start of his love affairs – was likely to admire.”15

It is easy for Anne Boleyn fans to accuse Jane of acting, of copying what Anne did, knowing how it had worked on Henry, but Jane is described by her contempories as being a genuinely humble, virtuous and chaste young woman; to refuse Henry’s advances would have been natural for her to do. We cannot praise Anne for rebuffing Henry and challenge those who question Anne’s motivations when, at the same time, we villify Jane.

Did Jane Dance on Anne’s Grave?

As I have said, there are those who believe that Jane was took an active part in Anne’s downfall by poisoning Henry’s mind against his wife and historian Agnes Strickland saw Jane as someone who coldly and mercilessly stood by while her behaviour with Anne’s husband led to Anne’s miscarriage and ultimately Anne’s death. Some imagine Jane as delighting in planning her marriage to Henry while Anne was imprisoned in the Tower waiting for the hour of her death, but just as Anne had no choice in marrying Henry, and we can’t blame Anne for what happened to Catherine of Aragon, Jane had no choice in what happened either. Jane had loved and respected Catherine of Aragon and so probably did not have much respect for Anne Boleyn, but that does not mean that she took delight in what happened to Anne.

Jane the Catholic Queen

Although Jane’s brother’s, Edward and Thomas Seymour, later became staunch Protestants, and Edward as Lord Protector in the reign of Edward VI, Jane’s son, brought in many Protestant reforms, Jane was a conservative Catholic and Martin Luther described her as an “enemy of the gospel”16.

Jane the Reconciler

Chapuys reported to Charles V how Jane, putting her characteristic meekness to one side, once pleaded with Henry VIII to restore the Lady Mary to the succession:-

“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 conceived she was seeking the rest and tranquillity of the King, herself, her future children, and for the whole realm for without that, neither your Majesty nor his people would ever be content.”17.

It is clear from this exchange that Jane felt strongly about this issue as she continued pleading after Henry called her a fool. Alison Weir points out that however much Jane cared about reconciling Mary with her father, she showed no interest in Elizabeth, and that it was actually Mary’s intercession which made Henry invite the little Elizabeth for the Christmas season of 1536/1537. Fraser contradicts this, saying that Jane fulfilled the role of a benevolent mother to both girls, although she points out that Jane could not have reconciled the King with his daughters if Henry really did not want to be:-

“One can hardly believe that the new insecure Queen would have single-handedly secured a reversal of policy against her husband’s real wishes”, although her “quasi-maternal desire to reconcile father and daughter was obviously quite genuine.”18

Henry’s True Love

Henry VIII called Jane his true love and true wife, he chose Jane’s image to be portrayed as his wife and queen in the Whitehall Family Portrait, even though he was married to Catherine Parr at the time, and he chose to be laid to rest next to Jane, so it is hard to argue with that and say that she was not Henry’s true love. However, he was only involved with Jane for around 18 months, if that, so the relationship cannot be compared with his marriage to Catherine of Aragon, which lasted for nearly 24 years, and his relationship with Anne Boleyn, which lasted about 10 years. Henry did not have time to get tired of Jane and the fact that she died after giving him the precious gift of a son probably made Henry look back on their relationship with rather rose tinted spectacles! There is no doubt, however, that he loved and respected her and his behaviour after her death, locking himself away from the world, shows that he really was grief-stricken.

The Birth of Edward VI, Jane’s son

Jane Seymour went into labour on the 9th October 1537 and her labour lasted for three days and three nights. Alison Weir writes of how there were rumours that “her limbs were stretched to ease delivery”, that Henry was asked whether he wanted to save Jane or the baby and that he chose the child because he could easily find another wife and that a caesarean (C-section) was then performed. There is absolutely no evidence that any of that happened and there is no way that Jane would have survived the ordeal had she undergone a caesarean section.

The new prince was finally born at 2am on the 12th Oct 1537. Jane was well enough to receive the Christening guests in her apartments on the 15th October but suffered an attack of diarrhoea on the afternoon of the 16th and started to be sick that night. She rapidly went downhill and was given the last rites on the 17th. However, she then seemed to improve, so much so that Henry continued the christening celebrations. The puerperal fever was not gone though and on Friday 19th Jane became feverish once more and slipped into delirium. Contrary to popular opinion, Henry was very worried about his wife. Alison Weir writes that he had intended to return to Esher for the beginning of the hunting season but he put this off because he wanted to be near Jane. On the evening of the 23rd, Henry was summoned to Jane’s bedside as it was obvious that she was dying. Weir writes of how he remained with her that night and that she died in the early hours of the 24th October. Henry was devastated and hid himself away at Windsor, refusing to see anyone. He wallowed for 3 weeks and wore full mourning for 3 months after Jane’s death. His happiness at the birth of his much longed for son had been eclipsed by the death of his wife and queen. It was a few months before Henry could bring himself to do his duty and look for another wife.

Jane as Queen

Jane was only queen for a short time but she “had clearly defined ideas of what she hoped to achieve as queen”19:-

“First and foremost, she hoped to remain queen, and to this end she modelled her behaviour from the first upon Katherine of Aragon, whom she had greatly admired. Her other aims were threefold: to give the King a male heir, to work for the re-instatement of the Lady Mary, and to advance her family.”

And, according to Weir, Jane achieved pretty much everything that she had set out to do:-

  • She provided the King with a son and heir
  • She helped reconcile Mary and Henry and helped to restore the Lady Mary to the succession
  • She advanced her family
  • She provided the King with a stable family life
  • She submitted to the King, obeyed him and did not meddle with things like religion and politics which did not concern her, after being reprimanded when she did speak to Henry about the monasteries.

Was Jane pregnant before her marriage to Henry?

Although in one fictional account of Anne Boleyn’s downfall (I think it was Jean Plaidy’s “Murder Most Royal”), Jane becomes pregnant and it is one of the reasons why Henry wanted to get rid of Anne so quickly, however, there is no evidence that this happened in real life. It seems that Jane was a virgin until her wedding night.

Jane’s Planned Coronation

Although Henry may have been once bitten and twice shy (or actually twice bitten!), as in he had forked out for two coronations already, he did plan to have Jane crowned queen and payments for preparations for her coronation are recorded in the royal accounts. Her coronation was originally planned for September/October 1536 and was only postponed due to an outbreak of the plague. In 1537, Jane became pregnant and I suspect that Henry then held off crowning her due to that, planning to go ahead with the ceremony after she had recovered from the birth.

Conclusion

Having researched Jane Seymour and having read contemporary accounts of her behaviour as Henry’s wife and queen, I have to take her at face value and believe that she really was the sweet, virtuous, kind woman that she made herself out to be, either that or she was an incredibly good actress! I do believe that she was coached by Carew and her brothers but I don’t think that she had to act, I think her behaviour was natural. As much as I’d love to believe that she had a dark side, I don’t believe she had one, she really was a virtuous woman through and through and cannot be held accountable for what happened to Anne Boleyn, just as Anne cannot be held accountable for what happened to Catherine of Aragon. Jane made Henry happy, she gave him the gift of a son, she was a peacemaker, she was popular with the people and she was a humble, kind woman, it’s just a shame that her time as queen was so short-lived.

What do you think of Jane Seymour?

Notes and Sources

  1. Jane Seymour: Henry VIII’s True Love, Elizabeth Norton, p12
  2. LP x.901
  3. The Six Wives of Henry VIII, Alison Weir
  4. The Six Wives of Henry VIII, Antonia Fraser, p290
  5. Ibid.
  6. Alison Weir
  7. LP x.1047
  8. LP x.1069
  9. Fraser, p317
  10. Norton, p11
  11. LP x.901
  12. Calendar of State Papers, Spain, Volume 5 Part 2: 1536-1538, 1888, pp. 104-118.
  13. The Life and Death of Anne Boleyn, Eric Ives, p304
  14. Fraser, p295
  15. Ibid., p296
  16. Ibid., p334
  17. LP x.908
  18. Fraser, p331-332
  19. Alison Weir

Read more about Jane Seymour in “Jane Seymour: Redefining the Myth”.

Comments on
"Jane Seymour: The Meek and Mild One?"

76 Responses to “Jane Seymour: The Meek and Mild One?”

  1. burcu says:

    I don’t think that she was the true love of Henry. I think, after living with a passionate and quick temper beauty like -Anne- he just wanted to live a peaceful relationship with a mild woman who also could give him a son. And,if Henry really told that Jane was her true love, it was just because she gave birth to a son. I mean, what if Jane would have died without giving a son or gave birth to a girl? I don’t think that Henry would have called her as his true love!!! Also,she was not so innocent as some writers told us. I guess that she knew the game well and played her cards carefully.

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    pookiesmama Reply:

    I believe she was in face very sneaky. I also believe she poisoned Henry’s mind against Anne and later on because of Henry’s famous conscious he was led to make the remark to Jane “Don’t meddle in my affairs remember what happened to the last queen’ IF he actually said that. I believe she may have heard (or her brothers) heard that Henry was tired of a wife like Anne or he may have made the comment he wished for a meeker wife which led the Seymour family to conspire to get rid of Anne

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    shift Reply:

    I think you have a very good argument, and I totally agree with you. After all, she did marry a man a week after he had murdered the love of his life…Jane was virtuous, but she was as ruthless and headstrong as Anne Boleyn, she just learnt from Anne’s mistakes

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  2. DuchessofBrittany says:

    Great article, Claire. I’ve always felt that Jane got the poor end of the stick. Jane is always overshadowed by Catherine of Aragon and Anne Boleyn. I bought Elizabeth Norton’s biography on Jane because I do not know much about her, and am glad that someone took the time to research her life.
    There is more to Jane Seymour than the meek and mild Tudor wife. She survived Tudor politics to become Henry’s wife. That was not for the weak of heart, and she used her position with intelligence and consideration. I am sure she was a naturally kind person, but everything she did must have been calculated and thought out. Like Catherine and Anne, she used her place as Queen to look after those that mattered to her.
    I am sad that her life was cut so short. Edward never got to know his mother and that must have been hard on him. Perhaps that’s why he and Elizabeth were so close: too young when their mother’s were sadly taken from them.

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  3. Great post Claire. I’m still not fond of Jane Seymour but I do agree that Henry had no time to get bored with her, so he looked back on their brief life together with great fondness. Plus she managed to have the longed for son, for that alone she gets an A+. Henry clearly was longing for some peace after Catherine of Aragon and Anne Boleyn, and Jane seemed to anticipate his needs. If she had lived, no doubt, she would have kept her mouth shut if he cheated on her, and she would have been a peaceful companion while he became a sick old man. Plus history and he would have been spared Catherine Howard!

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  4. While Henry VIII chose to be buried by Jane Seymour, I don’t think he had the capacity to truly love someone. He was more obsessive than loving and would have eventually grown tired of Jane as well. Henry’s true love was himself and his dynasty. Everything else was secondary.

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    Claire Reply:

    I think we all have a capacity to love and I think Henry did love Jane. He did have a big ego but I think he was a real romantic and his major fault was that he had such high and unrealistic expectations of his wives and friends.

    [Reply]

    shift Reply:

    Same as he loved Anne, who he pursued for a decade and then executed? I’m sorry, I cannot agree with that statement. He ‘loved’ Katherine of Aragon and Anne B until they gave him daughters….

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    FabNayNay Reply:

    I don’t think Henry would’ve fallen in love with Jane, had Anne given birth to a son. He may have chased her, and/or had an affaire with Jane, but, I doubt ‘falling in love’ would even have occured to him.

  5. Fiz says:

    It’s no good, Claire – I still don’t like her!

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    Kate Reply:

    Same with me!

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  6. Sylwia says:

    I enjoyed this article very much, Claire! Recently on my Anne Boleyn website forum we have been discussing Jane Seymour’s role in Anne’s downfall and we have been wondering if she was really so sweet or just acting. Most people said that Jane was meek and not interesting, but I actually think that she did not had the chance to show her real face. I think she was brave by facing Henry about Mary – when he called Jane stupid, she sttill didn’t gave up. And she faced Henry also about Pilgrimage of Grace. I think that if she would sruvived the labour, she would probably be more confident and she would be in position to demand and even make political decisions with Henry. But she died, leaving Henry very sad. He remembered her as a saint almost, but she did what he had expected from her – she gave him a son, she was submissive and pure.

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    Debra Fortin Gross Reply:

    My opinion as to Henry’s true love is this. I believe that no man could love someone so much as Henry loved Anne Boleyn. As we all know love is the closest emotion to hate. Jane Seymour wasn’t a true love she was a solution to the problem of getting a legitimate heir. Had she not given Henry a male heir she would definitely had gone the way of her predecessors. She may not have had her head chopped off but she would have been discarded in some way. Henry was bipolar and very narcissistic. It had to be his way or the highway no in between for him

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    charlotte Reply:

    I don’t think Henry loved Anne at all. He was obsessed with her, he was in lust with her… she had a way about her that attracted men to her, and Henry was no exception. If you really love someone, you don’t have their head cut off. That’s pretty simple logic.
    Sure, there is a thin line between love and hate, so I’ve heard. But I’ll be honest, I don’t feel like that kind of love is real love at all. Real love is giving of yourself and sacrifice and sharing your life with another person, and loving that person as yourself. Given that definition, I”m not sure Henry loved any of his wives.

    I will be forthcoming and admit that I’m not crazy about Anne Boleyn, and as mean as this sounds, she got what she deserved. Someone wrote something about how Anne couldn’t be blamed for what happened to Katherine of Aragon, because she had no choice but to marry Henry…. Um, what? That’s complete b.s. It’s not like Henry forced her to marry him… he didn’t even get the idea that he wanted to marry her until she manipulated him into the opinion. Anne knew Henry was married and with a child when she met him… I don’t care what anyone else thinks, when a woman goes after a man who is married (and especially one with a child, just my opinion), that woman is a homebreaker, plain and simple. Sure, that sort of thing doesn’t deserve the death penalty. But listen, if you manipulate the sort of man like Henry into treating his first wife of 20 years the way he treated Katherine… HOW can you be shocked when he ends up treating you just as badly? Karma is a bitch. Anne was no child, she was a grown woman and she made her bed. She was only in that situation because she put herself there.
    I also firmly believe that although Anne may not have been guilty of adultery, Henry believed she was. Henry was a bad guy, sure.. but he did have a conscience, and I don’t believe that he could have knowingly murdered his 2nd wife in cold blood. Anyone who studies Henry at length would tell you the same. Think of how easily he could have killed Katherine of Aragon, and instead he waited 6 years for her to die slowly, all the while burning to marry Anne? Sure, Katherine had family in high places (Charles I, for one), but still. And that reminds me, does no one else remember that Anne herself had threatened to poison Katherine and her “brat” daughter Mary? I don’t think Anne had many flattering traits, that is, unless you were an attractive or rich man of the time.

    as far as Jane, he was only married to her for a short time, and she gave him a son.
    Both of which endeared her to Henry. I think Henry did care for Jane. Honestly I feel like Jane was probably among the smartest of his wives. She knew how to deal with him. Henry was not a man to be pushed around. Any woman who thought they could dominate him was kidding herself. Henry was every bit a King and yeah, narcissistic. But remember, he was raised from the youngest age as the son of a king… not the eldest son, but still… I think that actually afforded him more leniency than his brother Arthur, because after all, he was not heir to the throne. He was spoiled, in my opinion.
    But, I digress. I don’t think Henry was evil, I think he had some personality disorders, and power corrupted him.
    I think that of all his wives, Jane seymour and Katherine Parr were the closest to his perfect match. He could have lived with either of them for his whole life and been happy (of course, given that he had heirs. Let’s not forget his obsession with sons).

    [Reply]

    Claire Reply:

    You say “I don’t think Henry loved Anne at all. He was obsessed with her, he was in lust with her… she had a way about her that attracted men to her, and Henry was no exception. If you really love someone, you don’t have their head cut off. That’s pretty simple logic”, but their relationship lasted approximately seven years so there could well have been love until 1536. What we don’t know is what really happened in 1536. I believe that Henry started to believe that his marriage was contrary to God’s wishes and so he looked for a way out. Anne’s fall was brutal, but it may have been seen as the only way out and it may have been a case of Henry putting his country, and what he thought was God’s will, first. Of course, it may be that he was led to believe that Anne was really guilty. One can see how a spouse betraying you in such a way could lead to hate. There is no way we can understand Henry’s feelings and what was going on, we are too far removed and therefore cannot judge whether Henry really loved Anne. From the way he pursued her for so long, from his own words in letters and by his actions during their relationship, it certainly appears that he did love her at one point.

    You say “I will be forthcoming and admit that I’m not crazy about Anne Boleyn, and as mean as this sounds, she got what she deserved. Someone wrote something about how Anne couldn’t be blamed for what happened to Katherine of Aragon, because she had no choice but to marry Henry…. Um, what? That’s complete b.s. It’s not like Henry forced her to marry him… he didn’t even get the idea that he wanted to marry her until she manipulated him into the opinion. Anne knew Henry was married and with a child when she met him… I don’t care what anyone else thinks, when a woman goes after a man who is married (and especially one with a child, just my opinion), that woman is a homebreaker, plain and simple. Sure, that sort of thing doesn’t deserve the death penalty. But listen, if you manipulate the sort of man like Henry into treating his first wife of 20 years the way he treated Katherine… HOW can you be shocked when he ends up treating you just as badly? Karma is a bitch. Anne was no child, she was a grown woman and she made her bed. She was only in that situation because she put herself there.”

    You’re looking at it from a 21st century perspective, where women have incredible choice, freedom and opportunities. We know that Anne refused Henry, that she left court to get away from him and that he pursued her relentlessly. She was not a willing participant at the start until she was persuaded by Henry, who was her King and God’s anointed sovereign. Anne would have believed that he knew best and she would have believed that it was her duty to obey him. I expect that she believed that it was God’s will and Henry was convinced that his marriage to Catherine was against Biblical law and therefore invalid. Neither Anne nor Henry would have seen their relationship as bad or as homewrecking, they would have seen it as moral and God’s will. There is no evidence that Anne manipulated Henry and he would have been a weak king if he had allowed himself to be. he was in control every step of the way.

    Lily Fenderson Reply:

    I don’t think that it is true to what you say, Debra!!!
    As everyone knows love is very important thing and maybe even that wasn’t Henry’s true love but she did give Henry a son, and that is very important thing as it.I also think that, it was just son why Henry loved Jane and if she would actually give him a daughter maybe it would be different but it wasn’t and if Henry did love her so much than that was he’s choice and don’t blame Jane because i don’t think that there was anything of Jane’s fault!

    [Reply]

    Lily Fenderson Reply:

    Why should Jane be so bad and ”Poisoned” king to be the queen?
    And article about Jane dancing to Anne’s grave is just funny.

    DeAnn Reply:

    Here are my thoughts on Jane’s role in Anne’s downfall and what’s the big difference between Anne and Jane.

    Anne may not have liked Catherine and/or Mary (although goodness knows she tried with Mary more than most would have) but neither Catherine or Mary died so that Anne could be queen. Catherine was treated as the Princess Dowager.

    Anne died so that Jane could be queen. Jane may have had no choice at being queen but a decent woman would have delayed her bethrodal oh say beyond the day after Anne was killed!

    Before Anne no queen had ever been killed. Henry’s grandfather did not have Margaret of Anjou killed after the Battle of Tewkesbury. She was locked in the Tower of London for several years and treated as a prisoner but not killed. And she was helping lead an army against Edward IV who wasn’t actually known for being merciful to his enemies. Did Elizabeth Woodville plead for mercy or was it even needed? Who knows. But the point is she wasn’t killed. Queens are famous for falling to their feet and begging their husband for mercy for whatever enemy. (i.e their lives be spared). See Richard II’s Queen Anne of Bohemaia. Most infamously, see Edward III ignored his own nobles wishes to save the burghers of Calais but did so when his wife fled to her knees in front of him and begged for their lives. Margaret of Anjou herself sent help to Elizabeth Woodville when she was delivering the future Edward V in sanctuary at Westminster Abbey.

    Anne Boleyn Tudor had hoped that she and Elizabeth would be sent away to France or a nunnery. She wanted to live. She wasn’t begging to be put to death in front of the White Tower.

    Jane Seymour could have pleaded for Anne’s life. She could have asked that Anne be locked away in the Tower ala Margaret of Anjou. She could asked that she be sent away in exile. She could have been like Queen Phillipa.

    Jane Seymour obviously didn’t. That is a choice she could have made and certainly didn’t. She could have asked that her reign not begin with the bloodshed that Catherine’s life in England did (Earl of Warsick), Anne’s did (Moore, Fisher et al) Anne Neville’s did (Edward V and his brother) etc. She looked the other way as Henry had Anne executed.

    I didn’t live in 1536 so I don’t know whether she had a choice of being queen or not. I’d like to think she could have run to a nunnery if Jane had so desired. Maybe that’s unrealistic. But she did have a choice. She could have been like any number of English and other queens and pleaded for mercy….for Anne’s life. She didn’t. That speaks volumes to her character imo.

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    Lucy Reply:

    ooh! I like your angle – and lots of references to read up about :>) cheers

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    DeAnn Reply:

    Thank you Lucy. And I love your name!

    I was typing fast yesterday (very passionate topic to me!) and that should have been Earl of Warwick killed at behest of Catherine of Aragaon’s parents (or at least her father).

    One other thought occurred to me. Eleanor committed treason against her husband, Henry II. She pushed her sons into rebelling against their father. And she probably cheated on him. If any queen by Henry VIII’s standards deserved the ax it would be Eleanor (my second favorite queen after Anne Boleyn although I have a huge soft spot for Anna of Cleves, the least understood queen). Eleanor was imprisoned by Henry II who also wasn’t known for his mercy either but not killed.

    There’s actual some good articles and books on the role of queens particularly medieval queens in asking for mercy and pardons. Princesses were trained in this quality so they were prepared when they became queen according to some historians.

    If Elizabeth Woodville wasn’t calling for Margaret of Anjou’s head, then Jane Seymour certainly could have thrown herself at Henry and Cromwell’s feet and asked for Anne to be sent to a nunnery or exiled to Calais, France or wherever. I cannot believe that Margaret, Francois’ sister, would have turned Anne away if given the opportunity to take her in.

    Esther Sorkin Reply:

    One other famous incident of a queen begging for mercy … Catherine of Aragon pleading for the lives of apprentices after the “Evil May Day” riots. I’m not sure if Jane’s pleading for Anne would have had any effect, since Henry even threatened Mary with that fate. However, it would not have harmed Jane to try it. (I think the reason why Catherine of Aragon wasn’t executed was due more to fear of her nephew, rather than any regard for her or her own status)

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    Jeffrey Reply:

    would be very much interested in finding Sylwia’s website. anyone know how?

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    shift Reply:

    Awesome argument :) No disagreeing with that

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  7. Suzanne says:

    I think Henry’s own mercurial nature drove him to to seek with each successive wife, one that was different than the wife from which he had just departed. He was content with Catherine’s royal blood, queenly bearing, and her fair good looks until she failed to provide him with the longed-for son. Suddently the age difference between them began to tell and he sought younger, more exciting company in Anne. She had acquired presence while at the court of Francois and her French manners, intellect, and beauty captured Henry. Her inaccessability kept him attentive for years. Once her intellect and spiritedness started challenging Henry, his attention turned back to Jane, a woman who was more submissive. As has been said in other posts, Jane was more like Catherine. Because of Jane’s death so soon after Edward’s birth, I, too, think Henry viewed Jane through a fog of idealism. I’m not implying he didn’t love her, but time could have, pardon the pun, taken the bloom off the rose. Poor Anne of Cleves seemed like she may be like the mild, submissive wife Jane had been, but Henry’s instant dislike of her immediately stopped that fantasy. With Katherine Howard, he found a passionate, carefree child who had grown up in very unchildlike circumstances. Again, that didn’t last long and he returned again to Katherine Parr, the calm, more serious-type wife with which he had begun. .

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  8. DeAnn says:

    Claire, thank you for the article. I do agree with Fiz, I still find nothing to like/admire about Jane Seymour.

    As far as there being no evidence she miscarried, there’s also no evidence that she was a virgin on her wedding night. There’s also no evidence she wasn’t. It certainly would have been appropriate for the time for the two to bed after the bethrodal and before the wedding night.

    I also think Henry began looking for wife number four fairly quickly. But that’s not a reflection on his love for Jane. It’s a reflection of the time and the need for a Duke of York.

    Retha Warnicke in the Marrying of Anne of Cleves says the duke of Norfolk, Henry’s uncle by marriage to his first wife, had told Henry by Nov. 4, 1537, he needed to remarry to beget more children (Norfolk told Cromwell about this in a letter dated Nov. 4). Imperial diplomats offered a suggested bride before the end of the year and Henry himself told Chapuys before the end of the year that he was “getting already too advanced in years to wait much longer” for marriage, according to Warnicke. As Warnicke says herself, “To consider a spouse’s replacement immediately upon her death was a prevailing practice,” and sometimes it occurred before the predecessor had even died.

    Cromwell notified English ambassadors in foreign courts by December (could have occurred in November) that Henry was on looking for wife number four and asked for suitable brides to be identified. The ambassador in Netherlands replied in December.

    I think the historic record is clear that Henry at the urging of his councillors agreed to a search for a new bride within weeks of Jane’s death, not months, but again that was because it was expected of a king. I do think it’s a common myth that people think Henry waited months or years before looking for bride number four after Jane died. The marriage with Anna of Cleves was agreed to 23 months after Jane died, which was lightning fast for most royal marriage negotiations (see Catherine of Aragaon’s lengthy courtship).

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  9. Wendy says:

    I often wonder how much poison the Seymours dripped into Henry’s ears about Anne, before thrusting their meek and submissive daughter under his nose. Did she love him, or was she unable to say ‘no’, and terrified of going the same way as Anne? In any event, she died before she was able to put a foot wrong.

    Henry believed his first two marriages were invalid so God punished him by not giving him Sons. Jane, being his first ‘true Wife’ in the eyes of God was therefore able to give him the Son he so longed for. His marriage to Anne of Cleves was anulled, Katherine Howard made him look a fool, and Catherine Parr outlived him. When Henry looked back on his wives, there was just one who didn’t disappoint him. No wonder he regarded Jane so highly and asked to be buried next to her.

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  10. Jennifer says:

    This article actually makes me want to read more about her. So I am definitely adding Elizabeth Norton’s book to my list. I do believe that she was a kind person and that she couldn’t help but be sweet. But I do agree that she was coached in being even more so. After all, she was a woman living in the Tudor age. Women didn’t have much say in anything and I’m sure her family wanted the political advantage—of course, who wouldn’t!! You have to look at it though that every woman that Henry married was different. Each one with their own personality; and honestly going from feisty Anne to meek Jane…I can kind of see how Henry might feel a sigh of relief. I respect Anne because of her passionate relationship with Henry and her opinions. But I feel for Henry and how he might have been up one minute with her and normal the next. I can see how that might be exhausting–especially when he’s supposed to be Supreme Ruler and didn’t like that Anne was trying to insert her own opinions on political topics. I agree also, though, that although Henry was happy with Jane, if she had miscarried or given him another girl–things would have been different. I think he would have given his “true love” title to any one of his wives who first gave him a son. I think he was just relieved to finally have a son. She fulfilled her duty and in that aspect, she was the perfect Queen and wife. I give her props for playing the game right and keeping the “submissive” title—however, what’s the fun in that!?!!? :) I always loved thinking that Henry saw Anne as his equal—someone who he could talk to openly about everything. I love that kind of relationship and it always makes me sad that once married, Henry tried to beat her into submission even though he had fallen in love with her and married her because he respected that outspokenness and even welcomed it! I am sad for both Anne and Jane, who never really got to know their children. And even for Catherine who didn’t even get to see Mary before dying. It wasn’t fair for any of them, but of course we can’t change History. It’d be neat though to go back and change things to see different outcomes. Of course then we wouldn’t have this intense story of a soft, sweet King turned tyrant and his six wives. Oh well…definitely enjoyed the article. It gave me lots to think about and I look forward to possibly getting the book and reading more about Jane.

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  11. miladyblue says:

    There was a discussion in Divorced, Beheaded, Survived by Karen Lindsey, talking about the similarities in Henry’s early courtships of both Anne Boleyn and Jane Seymour.

    Both were unmarried women, serving a Queen Consort as ladies in waiting. Both caught the eye of the King, who was married to the lady in waiting’s mistress. Both had ambitious families that used the good luck of their catching the King’s eye to raise their family’s fortunes.

    However, there are two major differences in Jane’s case, and neither is to her credit. The first being that Anne was still young enough to conceive again when Henry threw her over, and at some point, it was made clear to Jane that Anne was not merely to be discarded, but killed. How else do you explain the order for the swordsman from Calais, before there was even any accusation of treason/adultery, or even rumors of an accusation of treason/adultery against Anne Boleyn?

    Jane Seymour was Henry’s willing accomplice in the murder of Anne Boleyn.

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    shift Reply:

    Yeah, I agree

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  12. Rian says:

    I honestly don’t believe that Jane was Henry’s true love. I think their relationship and marriage was too short and Henry had yet to tire of her as the other wives before she died. Also, i think Jane’s birth of a son cemented Henry’s claim that she was his one, true wife even after he married again. I think if Jane would have lived after Edward’s birth Henry would have eventually tired of her too.

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    DeAnn Reply:

    I think if Jane had lived that Henry might have tired of her and cheated on her like he did initially with Catherine of Aragon and Edward IV did with Elizabeth Woodville. It was expected and accepted that a king would cheat on his doting wife. I don’t think he would have cast Jane aside anymore than he would have cast aside Catherine of Aragon if their New Year’s Day boy had lived and succeeded Henry.

    To me, that’s one of the interesting things about history. I think if that New Year’s Day son had lived there would have been no Queen Anne Boleyn etc. Henry might have tired of Catherine but he wouldn’t have discarded her. He would have cheated on her like his grandfather did, like Francois did. I think the same of Anne. I feel if with my heart and soul.

    If Anne Boleyn had delivered a healthy boy in May 1536, she would have lived. He would perhaps have tired of his first three wives and cheated on them but all would have died as his loving queen.

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  13. Ceri C says:

    Oh dear, I do struggle to find anything likeable or interesting about Jane Seymour! The one thing I have always wondered about was why she had remained unmarried for so long, in an age when most wealthy girls were betrothed and married at an early age. For that reason, I doubt whether she could have been considered a beauty, even though her behaviour might be exemplary. Is there any hint of an earlier betrothal or marriage plans which never worked out, Claire?
    Henry had known her for years before he suddenly decided to take her up, so that’s always seemed odd too.
    I suppose her early death will always leave her unknowable. I do think Henry looked back on her with rose-tinted glasses though, just because she gave him a son.

    [Reply]

    Sherri Reply:

    Ceri

    There was an actual betrothal and pre contract with a nobleman of similar rank to her father and brothers. Can’t remember where I read it. The family of the man deemed Jane as “unsuitable.” I’m not sure why Jane was “unsuitable’ because of herself or the fact that her family – especially her father (he had an affair with one of his sons wives and fathered children with her) had loose morals. It didn’t really say.

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    epiphany Reply:

    The betrothal story is a compete fabrication. There is an apocryphal story regarding Jane’s relationship with Will Dormer, and how they were almost betrothed; the story is repeated in Laurien Gardner’s fictional novel, Plain Jane. The story is competely false – Jane never had any serious inquiries regarding marriage, prior to Henry. Yes, her father did have an affair with his son’s first wife, and there was a good deal of scandal, but this didn’t keep Jane’s younger, prettier sisters from being courted and eventually marrying. Standards of beauty were certainly different then, but it’s obvious from Jane’s portrait that she was, well, homely. Henry was exhausted from KoA and Anne; he wasn’t concerned with beauty, he wanted someone meek and quiet that he could marry then forget about, who wouldn’t attract every man in the room the way Anne did. While I obviously have no proof, I also suspect Jane was a bitter girl, who watched first her younger sisters, then the prettier ladies at court get all the attention from the men, so when her family hatched the plot to turn Jane into the anti-Anne Boleyn, if you will, she jumped at the chance.

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  14. Kim Kloes says:

    Great piece of research as usual Claire! I truly enjoy all of your work.

    Somehow I don’t find Jane’s qualities admirable at all. She was a lady in waiting to Anne — who put her in that position? I do realize that had it not been Jane it would have been someone else on Henry’s arm. He has to be held accountable for all of that. It’s hard to think in the mindset of those times that’s for sure. She seems calculating to me with all that niceness. She wanted something out of the deal and for a while she got it. Power for her family seems right on target for some of her motivations to be Queen. Wouldn’t it be fun to go back in time and see how it all went down? Wish we had some of her journals or the musings of people who knew her when she was a young girl. There must not have been much to her though because unlike Anne, her early years seem to be a blot. Nope, Ms. Seymour doesn’t quite cut it in my book but hey, at least she has gone down in history and is remembered!

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  15. Kari says:

    Claire, do you have any thoughts on why Jane was still single in her mid- to late-20s? I would have thought that made her an “old maid” by Tudor standards, and it rather surprises me that her ambitious family hadn’t arranged an advantageous marriage for her long since!

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  16. Anyanka says:

    I keep seeing this as a source for the ” traditional” bethrothal at Wulfhall
    Lancelott, Francis. “Jane Seymour.”

    The Queens of England and Their Times. Vol I.

    New York: D. Appleton & Co., 1858. 400-403.

    It appears in several C&P history sites which is rather worrying.

    [Reply]

    Anyanka Reply:

    These sites also claim that JS was educated in France either alone or along side Anne Boleyn.

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    epiphany Reply:

    Also not true. Jane could read English, and sign her name, that’s it. Had she been educated at the glittering French court, she would have been schooled in witty conversation, manners, music – her plain looks wouldn’t have mattered so much, as she would have been able to attract plenty of men with her personality.

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  17. Kara says:

    I think poor little innocent Jane was not poor little innocent Jane. She knew what to do and how to do it, the fact she wanted only Mary to become back in line to the throne only proves how malicious she was. If she was so sweet and innocent than she would of reconciled both Mary and Elizabeth. I’m sorry I just can’t or won’t believe she was this sweet little docile lady. I of course don’t think she went as far as dancing on Anne’s grave but I do feel she attributed to Anne’s irrational behavior due to her flaunting herself to be noticed by Henry. She didn’t have to be seen if she didn’t want to. Henry only saw woman that secretly wanted to
    Be seen, as Anne Boleyn at one point did do even if she said differently. Anne is by far no saint and she didn’t try to be or hide her true feelings. Jane might of been a little more malicious at that.
    True love, NO! I agree with some above arguments in the fact the relationship was to new (the honeymoon effect) for him to say she was his true love was because she gave him the gift of a male heir!
    I believe that in the end, Henry, MaryI, and any others against Anne got the karma so deserving because it was Elizabeth that was the true monarch. Anne said her blood would be well spent and knew it deep down and she was right!

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  18. lisaannejane says:

    I really liked your article, Claire, and I agree with your conclusions. I also liked the post you had that Jonathan Rhys-Myers said that at that time, Jane was the perfect wife for him to come home to after a hard day’s work at the office beheading people.

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  19. Anne Barnhill says:

    Whew! Lots of great discussion on this topic! Thanks, Claire, for another great articl–I don’t like Jane Seymour but I’m not sure she sought out the King. Unluckily, his eye fell on her, maybe at Wolf Hall, maybe hearing something her brothers might have said–they were certainly ambitious enough to set up their sister. I think Jane was a virgin–she didn’t seem to get much male attention, probably because she was haughty and not as pretty as some. I don’t think she gave Anne Boleyn a second thought as she was a supporter of Catherine’s and probably thought Anne deserved what she got. It was poor form to become engaged so quickly and married so soon. I am sorry she diedfor I have always felt sorry for Edward, growing up without his mother. Of course, Elizabeth grew up without hers, too. I do’nt think we’ll ever know enough about Jane to really get a sense of her–she doesn’t spark the imagination as much as Anne or even Cahterine. I think Henry always saw her through those rose colored glasses and never had time t ire of her–plus she gave him the magical son!! That set her place in his mind forever, if not his heart. I believe Anne was the love of his life and he never really got over what he did to her.

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  20. Eliza M. L. says:

    My opinion of Henry VIII’s wives is that there was no true love. He…I don’t know how to word this, but I always thought that he loved them all–yes, including Anna of Cleves–in six unique ways. I think his relationship with Anne was the most passionate, turbulant one of all, but I do believe he was in love with Jane Seymour. Their marriage has been looked upon with scrutiny because of Anne, their mere 18-month time together, and the fact that she died after having a boy. I am a huge Anne fan, and I hate that Henry jilted her for Jane (all this being said, Jane’s my least favorite), but I do think he loved her. There’s just no way for me to even guess with whom his heart truly lay. Was it with Catherine, a steady companion for nearly two decades? Anne, the fiery woman who drove him to fight heaven and hell for her? Jane, the quieter lady who succeeded in ripping her Queen from Henry’s clutches in mere months? Anna, the most cooperative of all of them? Kathryn, the lively young thing who made him feel alive? Or Katharine, the loyal wife who stayed by his side through his dying days? In the end, I just can’t tell with him. He could treat women like angels or dirt.

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  21. Gena says:

    Not that this makes her any more likeable in my mind but if Jane were a more old line Catholic and felt that Catherine was Henry’s true wife and that Anne’s marriage to Henry wasn’t a real marriage than after Catherine’s death in Jane’s mind Henry would be a widower and free to marry again. I keep thinking that she had spent time in a convent, is there any truth to that?

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  22. Marie says:

    Sometimes the best way to judge a person is not how they treat their friends or supporters but on how they treat their enemies and in Jane Seymour’s eye’s Queen Anne Boleyn was most definitely her enemy.

    Jane Seymour had been around Court long enough to not know fickle Henry could be and how he did love Anne Boleyn with an unhealthy obsession. There was also the scandal of her own family to contend with which had previously upset her marital plans, leaving her still unmarried at 27 years of age. I wonder if Jane was a little insecure about Henry’s so called affection for her. She had witnessed the tumultuous relationship between Henry and Anne and saw how passionate it was with the entwined elements of love and hate. And there was quiet Jane, who was no great beauty and no great wit according to those who ‘knew her.’ If Anne had been sent to a nunnery, what was there to stop Henry wanting her back? If a pre-contract had been established (with Percy), again what if Henry wanted Anne back? But if Queen Anne was dead, she couldn’t come back.

    I also wonder at the speed of Anne’s trial and execution? Though it took 7 long years for Henry to finally divorce Katherine at the end it was speeded up because we now know that Anne Boleyn was pregnant with what the king hoped was his longed for son and heir.

    Why was Henry in such a tearing hurry to have Anne executed? And in such a shocking and vile way? There were many people at the time who thought the trial a set up and without knowing the verdict Henry had ordered a swordsman from Calais to sever her head(how thoughtful of him!).

    I think like many people of that Era, Jane Seymour was as ruthless as anyone else in pursuit of what she wanted and she didn’t allow conscience to bother her too much.
    I also agree very much with the opinion shared by DeAnn and found her comments very interesting. Great article.

    BTW: What in your opinion Claire is the best book on Henry’s younger years and his relationship with his mother, Elizabeth of York and his powerful Grandmother, Margaret Beaufort?

    Thanks

    marie

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  23. Edie says:

    The problem with looking at the Tudor period is that we tend to view it through modern eyes and not with the mindset of Tudor times. I have to say that I too think Jane was neither bad nor good but a product of her times. We have to realize that the vast majority of the female population were under the control of men. Daughters/sisters did what they were told. We may have a tough time understanding it, but that is how it was for them. Whether Jane wanted to marry the king or not is hard to say but I agree she probably didn’t have a choice. And being single at the age of 27-ish and the KING wants to marry you after living under the control of her father and older brothers…well who knows…we ALL might have decided to marry the king in order to have our own household to run. If in those times you were taught to believe what your father tells you and of course your husband…and the KING tells you that Anne Boleyn was evil and deserved to die…why wouldn’t she believe him? That’s how she was raised. She could have reasoned that she would be bringing a welcome change to the people of England by being a good and virtuous wife after the years of discord with the “evil” Queen Anne. In which case…why wait?! The sooner she can cleanse the nation and the king…the better for all.

    I think too that this would be the case even more so if she was fairly nondescript in looks and a very vanilla personality. To be 27 and not being courted by men or have marriage offerings right and left and then a king pursues you…it had to have been a breath of fresh air for her.

    So that’s how I’ve seen her. Nondescript, vanilla, blending in the background…until Henry, feeling he’s living in a windstorm, somehow sees Jane as a safe harbor.

    Just my humble opinion…and no, I can’t say she’s my favorite wife either!!!

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  24. Noelle7 says:

    When it comes to Jane, I have such a hard time with her. There’s nothing about her that makes me want to get to know her better. I don’t think it could be easily ascribed to Team Anne vs Team Jane because I deeply respect and admire Katherine of Aragon.

    I think Henry called her his “true wife” simply because she gave him a legitimate living son. Had she lived, I think it would only have been a matter of time before he found another mistress. I don’t think he would have divorced her or worse necessarily…unless Edward died in infancy. I am inclined to believe that had happened, Henry would have sought another bride.

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  25. lisaannejane says:

    I think Edie has a very valid point about judging people. It is easy to forget how different Tudor times were from our own. And then I remember that in the US women were the last group of people given the right to vote. So I am more inclined to see the men in Tudor times as the ones more responsible for what happened than the women. Henry was in charge and all his close personal advisors were men. None of the women he married could say “F— that idea, I am going to college and earn my own way and scr– you!” I do not think any woman in a male dominated world would have had an easy time, from the richest to the poorest. After reading Eric Ive’s book on Anne Boleyn, I am much more inclined to see Henry, Cromwell, and the nature of political factions as the cause of Anne’s demise. I do not think Jane was a major player in this power game. The Seymours saw a chance to grab power and had a sister to further their cause. I doubt Jane could have told her family to f— off and leave me alone anymore than Anne could. I would not like to be told who to marry and when to marry but that was the way it was back then. I see no reason to dislike Jane Seymour. I also think it a bit mean spirited to compare her to vanilla pudding and all that bland sounding stuff. I keep wanting to point my finger at Henry and say forget the whole Anne versus Jane scenario because it was really whatever Henry wanted, Henry got. What amazes me still is how swiftly Anne fell out of favor and how quickly Henry turned on her, I see the makings of a plot by Cromwell more than anything else. But even then, I wonder at how someone could turn so quickly and how the whole Boleyn faction was pretty much gone in a few months. Talk about a hostile takeover! And then the same thing happens to Cromwell and there is another power shift. And later on in the power games between the Seymour boys, as I like to call them, you really see an ugly side to Tudor politics. I think that to get to the truth about Anne and her life the answers will not lie with Jane but much more with understanding the nuances of Tudor politics and the frame of mind that Henry was in.

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  26. Christine says:

    I have tried to be more understanding towards Jane, but I have made peace with the fact that I just can’t stand her. Any time I see her portrait I grimace and glare. However, aside from my deep dislike for her I have to say I feel that it is naive to believe that she was as sweet and virtuous as she looked.
    I agree that it is wrong to look at Tudor times with modern eyes, but has human nature really changed all that much in 500 years? Any woman including Jane has the potential to be a she-devil. “Hell hath no fury like a woman scorned” was written not long after Jane’s time. Jane was very loyal to Katherine of Aragon and probably took a great deal of joy in replacing Anne Boleyn. Jane and Anne served Katherine together and moved in the same circles and like in modern times there were rivalries back then. Jane probably felt that in replacing Anne she would be putting things back to rights so to speak. Women within their nature do take a sick joy in one-upping another women or sadly in stealing another women’s man, and Henry was the greatest catch in the land. Jane also may have felt that she was doing good in avenging her wronged mistress. And as to her virtue, would any women that was really so sweet and such a gem be caught sitting on the lap of a pregnant women’s husband? That’s shady even in modern times.

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    margaret Reply:

    i am sort of agreeing with above here in saying it is shady to be caught sitting on knee of pregnant womans husband ,not a nice thing to witness if you were anne ,i would have thought maybe henry pulled jane onto his knee and jane in utter fright complied but also think that there are and always were women who will get a huge ego boost from behavior like this ,and do it solely for the reaction they get from the poor wife and of course the stupid husband who falls for it in the first place.nine times out of ten these she devils are not even that taken with the man in question ,they just do it for a bit of sick fun and to hurt another woman and believe you me they do exist.

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  27. Christine says:

    On a side note, there is an infomercial for a product called MaxClarity that is on all the time, and in that there is a woman that looks exactly like Jane Seymour’s portrait. It is really weird. Has anyone seen it or am I way out in left feild? ;)

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  28. Lori s. says:

    Thank you Clair for your information on Jane! I have read the book “plain Jane” and she is portayed exactly as you described her. As for her wanting to marry the king, I don’t think she had any such aspirations. I think she more or less felt she had to marry Henry. After all, what the king wanted he got.

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  29. Sherri says:

    Great article! I still dislike Jane and will never change my mind about her. We don’t have enough information about Jane Seymour to come to any conclusions about her personality and behavior. Was she cold hearted, deceptive and ruthless hiding behind a mask, playing a part? Or was she innocent, sweet, gentle and honest? Was as she seemed – the perfect Tudor woman who would be the perfect Tudor wife?

    Was she pressured to announce her betrothal to Henry? Did she feel threatened and insecure by the fact that Henry might have allowed Anne to go into a nunnery or go abroad with Elizabeth? Was Jane the catalyst behind Anne being executed and so swiftly. Take the competition out before Henry could compare and maybe change his mind? Anne and Henry had a strong connection and bond as well as Anne’ strong personality I would certainly have felt threatened.

    Can we blame Jane and the Seymour’s for Anne’s and the Boleyn’s downfall or was this all Henry’s doing? I think that we are missing this as not only Anne’s downfall but her whole family’s except for her uncle, Duke of Norfolk.

    Henry was the mastermind behind many of the court downfalls and deceptions. He used people to ensure that his will was carried out. Then he could put the responsibility and blame on them. Henry was a narcissist – cruel, evil, unrepentant, lacking any kind of personal responsibility and emotion.

    I do disagree with you Claire that everyone has a capacity to love. There are just some people who don’t and I think Henry was one of them.

    He turned on his Queens one by one and his children when they didn’t perform as expected. Henry put his Queens on pedestals then when they became real women not the idolized woman that he imagined; he got rid of them. Jane was the one that took that idolization, perception and image to the grave. There wasn’t enough time for Henry to take off the rose colored glasses. Would he have eventually? Who knows?

    Do we as fans of the Tudor history think that Anne was the catalyst for KOA’s downfall, do we think that Jane was the catalyst for Anne’s downfall? Two separate scenarios.

    In my heart, I would say that it was Henry’s treatment of his Queens and his wish to be rid of them. It was Henry’s addiction to love, chaos, drama, ego etc that reigned. Henry’s need to be constantly in love with someone and his need to make the woman before out to be a whore in order to discard her and the present one to be a Madonna.

    I still think that there are many secrets that Jane took to her grave with her. I can’t get the impression of Jane sneaking around corners, being sly, deceptive and manipulative.

    For all we know, Jane was the person in Anne’s retinue that went back to Henry or her brothers and told what went on in Anne’s rooms interpreting the interactions to be less than pure.

    The one thing that does stick in my mind and make me believe that Jane was not all pureness, light and innocence was the fact that Jane was caught sitting on Henry’s lap while Anne was pregnant. The only women that would do that in my mind is the ones who sneak around and practice deception to achieve the ends that was wanted. Or maybe I’m looking at Jane with 21st century ideals, morals and ethics.

    Nothing was what it seemed in Henry VIII’s Tudor court.

    There is more to Jane than meets the eye. I still think that there are many secrets that Jane took to her grave with her. Sometimes the person that looks the most innocent is actually the opposite.

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  30. Carolyn says:

    I don’t think we can blame Jane for somehow encouraging Henry to kill Anne. That’s all on Henry, and probably Cromwell, too. I think Henry was NOT going to go through another prolonged divorce. He wasn’t getting any younger and he didn’t like his actions being questioned. An Anne in exile could still stir up trouble. But I think the biggest catalyst to Anne being killed instead of being exiled or sent to a convent was Katharine dying. Henry saw an opportunity to wipe his marital slate clean and embark on a marriage that none could question the legality of, no matter what their religious beliefs.

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  31. lisaannejane says:

    Okay, I am just going to come out and say that I like Jane Seymour. She was living in a man’s world and I think she did the best that she could. I see no reason to dislike her because I do not think she could sue for sexual harassment and neither could any other woman at the time. If the king wanted you to sit in his lap and you know he has the power to make your life and your family’s life miserable, then I think the outcome is obvious. I have to say and do things that I do not want to do at my job because I have to be very careful to make sure I keep my job. I will be 50 on April 29 and can’t start a new career. I know what it feels like to walk on pins and needles around someone who could ruin your career. Furthermore, I find it disturbing that women in today’s world talk of “stealing” men as if they were property. I do not buy that notion at all. I would never consider even going on a coffee date with a man who had a girlfriend. I would be beyond mad if a man lied to me and was married even if it was just a coffee date. Why would I take any joy in knowing that another person is suffering? I do not think women are like this and it is a stereotype which should be no more than an urban legend. If your enjoy seeing anyone suffer, you need help.

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  32. lisaannejane says:

    PS I find that a lot of quotes about women, “Hell hath no fury like a woman scorned” are things that men have wrote down. Even a famous one can be wrong. The idea of a “she devil” is just to mean spirited. I know my mom wanted me to have an education more than anything so I could earn a living. While this has turned out to be harder than I ever dreamed it would be, I can at least support myself (even if that standard of living may go down). My mom knew that her mom stayed in a bad marriage because she could not support herself. This was in the 1930′s. Women have had to wait a long time for equal treatment with men and in some countries they are still waiting. I would just ask people to keep an open mind on how any woman has been portrayed by historians or the media. I like to think the best of people until proven otherwise and I have never liked gossip. I am amazed at what I hear but will not repeat because to me saying things about anyone without any facts is wrong. This site has really shown why myths about Anne continue and who has been the cause of a lot of slander. Perhaps Jane should be given the benefit of the doubt because we know so little about her and her time as queen was so short. Maybe more evidence will show up about her, like the recently found mural of Henry.

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  33. Elle says:

    Jane is the one wife that does not provoke any kind of emotion in me. I don’t love her, I don’t hate her. She’s just sort of I don’t know- blah. When I think that this seemingly blah person was the love of Henry’s life I can’t understand it. I think that publicly she had to be the love of his life. He pretty much got rid of everyone else. Catherine, Anne, the other Anne, the other Katherine and the last Katherine was seen as just his nurse that he decided to marry for the sake of marrying. Who knows privately though who he thought of as his true love.

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  34. Elle says:

    Jane is the one wife that does not provoke any kind of emotion in me. I don’t love her, I don’t hate her. She’s just sort of I don’t know- blah. When I think that this seemingly blah person was the love of Henry’s life I can’t understand it. I think that publicly she had to be the love of his life. He pretty much got rid of everyone else. Catherine, Anne, the other Anne, the other Katherine and the last Catherine who he probably would have gotten rid of had he not died before he had the chance to. Who knows privately though who he thought of as his true love.

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  35. lana norris says:

    I don’t think we can say with any certainty whether Jane Seymore was “meek and mild” or “sly and calculating”. There simply is not the written record to back either description. There is even less written about her than about Anne Boleyn. If we apply the same standards to Jane that we hold for Anne, we should bristle at either dogmatic expression of Jane’s character.
    What we do know is that she supplanted Anne’s affections in Henry’s heart and for that we automatically dislike her because we are members of an Anne Boleyn fan club! It cheapens our affection for Anne and weakens our defense of her when we snipe at Jane. Anne was all that Jane was not and for that we love her. But Jane was all that Anne was not and for that Henry was drawn to her.
    We know from her existing portraits that she was fair to the point of pale. That she tended toward plumpness. That she favored a more traditional English style of dress. She reminds me of the American First Ladies of the 20th century, appropriately conservative, appropriately feminine, slightly dowdy (sorry to be unkind, but more Mamie Eisenhower than Jackie Kennedy).
    That being said, it would take a willfully blind person to miss that she was the total opposite of Anne. More interesting, there is a definite resemblance to Katherine of Aragon and even back to Elizabeth of York in her fair English-ness. Henry is tired of being pushed and pulled between Spain and France at this point…good old English meat and pudding for him now. No more sparkling repartee, no more being pushed to realize the limits of his kingship; now just to enjoy his expanded kingship with a womanly woman, a motherly, matronly woman who would not get his ire up.
    I think it is unfair to accuse Jane of being cowardly or spineless simply because she obeyed her husband’s demand to be quiet regarding the Pilgrimage of Grace. The fact that she spoke up at all shows commitment and a modicum of self-assurance. The fact that she obeyed the man who was her husband and her king merely shows that she was a product of her times. Women who did not submit to the will of their husbands could be beaten or locked away indefinitely. Henry, being a king with an increasingly dangerous track record had even more frightening options than did most husbands. To her credit she simply knew when to shut up and lay low. No more, no less.
    Also to her credit, she did bring about the reconciliation of Henry to Princess Mary. If a woman knows her man at all she knows how to ask for favors that are a “sure thing”. I think she was shrewd enough to realize that Henry must still love his daughter, and that to ask for her return to the family circle would enable Henry to give her a favour that he could himself enjoy. Henry had an almost child-like love of presents and gifts and he wanted Mary to come back but needed someone to help him save face, considering all the years of bad blood between them. In speaking up for Mary, Jane increases her image of motherly kindness in his eyes and makes him feel magnanimous at the same time. A win-win situation all the way round.
    We do know that she had reached the age of 28-ish and was still unmarried. This could be due to the fact that her philandering father and social-climbing brothers were too preoccupied to arrange a proper marriage for her. It could indicate that she was indeed so plain and self-effacing that there had thus far been no takers for her hand. Perhaps she was so damaged from the loss of her mother and her father’s scandalous behavior, that she just wanted to be left alone.
    Whatever the reason I feel quite sure, given Jane’s tenure at court as maid to both Katherine and Anne she did not expect to be noticed at this point. After all she had been under Henry’s nose for the better part of ten years and he had not paid her any attention. He had flirted with and courted other ladies-in-waiting, overlooking her for so long, that I am sure she was surprised when he began to pay court to her. To single her out for his attention. To bestow smiles and gifts. A woman, so plain that she was still unspoken for after so long at court, would naturally be flustered and bewildered when the King, who was arguably the best catch around, noticed her. Now, what she did with that attention is what determines her character. And we simply do not know. It is unfair to either elevate her to saint or impugn her as sinner when she was trying to do what everyone at Henry’s court was trying to do. Survive.

    [Reply]

  36. Christine says:

    “Steal” by definition is “to take or appropriate without right or leave and with intent to keep or make use of wrongfully.” This definition to me is right on the money for what women do with other women’s husbands. Marriage is a contract between two people and as distasteful as it sounds in my book that makes my husband mine.
    Jane Seymour knew that Anne was pregnant and moreover attended upon her and still felt no qualms about sitting on Henry VIII’s lap. Some women may have a problem with doing things of this nature but apparently Jane did not. Now before anyone argues that Jane didn’t have a choice because Henry was the king, Henry treated Jane with a great deal of respect and no doubt would have done nothing without her consent. Henry wasn’t one to physically force himself on a woman as we can see by the fact that he waited for Anne for so many years.

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  37. lisaannejane says:

    I still do not think you can “steal” a husband. You may think you own your husband but he still has free will and a mind of his own. I know from my family that my mom’s second husband left his first marriage emotionally 20 years before the divorce. My mom did not steal him. He felt no real love for a woman until he met her. My mom is much more like Anne Boleyn and is both intelligent and able to hold her own in any argument. She and my step dad have now been married 20 years and it is a fire/ice relationship. My point is that her husband left his first wife who just did not understand how much he had changed in 30 years, He left her but did not pursue a divorce until much later. I think she did not want to admit that having your husband work 2 jobs and staying away from home most of the time was a sign that something was wrong. The idea of someone belonging to you makes for good songs and poetry but slavery is over so no one can own a person,

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  38. Juanita says:

    I don’t know what to think of Jane but she did sign an oath as lady to the queen that she would be decent, upright etc. And then accepted the king’s attentions. I know how I would have felt if my predecessor was in the tower about to be executed on trumped up charges…terrified – and would have run for my life from this tyrant.

    [Reply]

    margaret Reply:

    i cant understand why she didnt run for her life either

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  39. Kim says:

    I find this discussion quite interesting. But also full of fanwanking. I like AB as much as any of you,but I feel we must be honest here.

    Did Anne Boleyn go down on her knees and beg for Queen Catherine? She stepped over a broken home,family,and a woman’s spirit and heart to become Queen. Queen Catherine died a broken and sad woman and neither Anne nor Henry cared. Jane Seymour comes along and what she put out came back to her. That’s the way of life,sometimes. I am amazed at how women that helped to tear down another woman’s home are STUNNED when it happens to them.Yes,Jane probably knew that Anne was going to die. Was she supposed to do? Plead for her and risk angering the King? Again,I ask,did Anne ask for mercy towards Queen Catherine? Given her enormous influence over King Henry,she could have done something. But she didn’t,did she? So I ask why is Jane expected to have done something for Anne?

    So Anne died and neither Jane nor Henry cared. Take away Anne’s fairytale like elevation,her charisma, and the grand passion that King Henry had for and apply modern terms to it. AB was a homewrecker,plain and simple. King Henry VIII was one as well. Jane Seymour was one too.

    The Tudors paints Anne as a pawn of her family to soften a very ugly image. Sure,her family wanted advancement. But it was NOT all on them. Anne herself displayed many times that she wanted that as well.

    But we are dealing with another era and so must use their ways. Jane Seymour was in the same position that many of you use to defend Anne Boleyn. IF she turned the king down,he could wreak havoc on her family. So she used the game plan of the woman who came before her. We must remember that AB wasn’t liked at court OR by the English people. Jane most likely didn’t care for her,either. So she didn’t care. Just as Anne didn’t care about Queen Catherine. If Anne isn’t to blame for what happened to Queen Catherine as many of you have repeatedly said,then Jane isn’t to blame for what happened to Anne. You cannot apply excuses for one queen and then vilify another for almost the same situation because you like the former more than the latter.

    What goes round,comes round. King Henry VIII got rid of Anne because she was a international AND national liability.He was also tired of her and she hadn’t done what he married her MOST for and that was produce a son. As cold as that sounds,it’s the truth. Jane Seymour is no villain. Some just see her as the evil harlot who destroyed the grand love affair and self-insertion via Anne Boleyn that they so cherish. IBut just as AB’ers say Queen Catherine and King Henry’s marriage was already broken and no one can “take’ a man,the same applies to Jane Seymour. King Henry and Anne’s marriage was already broken and King Henry was more than willing to leave.

    [Reply]

    margaret Reply:

    well said ,this makes a lot of sense.

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    Luisette Reply:

    The main difference is that Catherine of Aragon wasnt to be executed. You cannot say its the same if someone leaves you alone to live by your own (as catherine of Aragon), and if someone manage to kill you..moreover the affair between Jane and Henry started when Anne was pregnant, which is very different to the Catherine’s case. Obviously the marriage was not so broken, considering the fact that Ann was still pregnant in January (and executed on May)..

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  40. elizabeth says:

    era una mosca muerta, eso es lo que creo…no le llega ni a los tobillos a Ana Bolena porque no supera a Ana B. en belleza y elegancia ni a Catalina A. ni siquiera creo que supere a Ana de Cleveris

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  41. Lauren says:

    There seems to be some confusion regarding Henry “cheating”. As in, Henry would have “tired” of Jane and started cheating on her. Mistresses were the norm for Kings. Henry would have taken a mistress while Jane was pregnant, and had she lived would have continued to do so, as he did with other wives. But this is by no means a good way of measuring his love for her. There was also an accusation that Jane should have delayed the wedding out of decency, or pleaded for Anne’s life. Firstly, it was not up to Jane when she wed Henry, Henry decided that. He should have delayed the wedding, not her. And considering Henry’s black mood against Anne and her fellow accused, I agree with Kim, why would anyone in their right mind put their hand in the lion’s mouth so to speak?

    It might be that Jane was aware of the deeper political machinations surrounding Anne’s execution, and knew very well there was nothing to be done.

    Finally, it is impossible to determine which of Henry’s wives was his “true love” They all were for a time in a sense. I cannot say that Jane was his only true love, and there is certainly evidence to suggest that Anne was not either. In the end, why does it matter? why do we have to have such a judgement?

    [Reply]

    margaret Reply:

    well said ,this makes a lot of sense. also we are talking about 500 years ago in a royal court where there were rules and codes of conduct to follow ,anne did not follow these rules and i dont believe that she was equal to henry ,no one was in his eyes ,it was simply lust for a start ,and seemed to turn very clinical later on with trying ti beget the royal son and heir which anne promised and did not deliver ,even if she had had a son i dont think they would have lasted ,henry was simply out of love or whatever it was .with anne and moved on to jane .jane did have the son so longed for by henry but died ,but i think henry would have stayed with jane because she knew when to stay quiet and behave where as anne did not and thought nothing could topple her ,marriage back then was really just an arrangement and kings were expected and did take mistresses and sometimes it suited the wives in question having no real love in the first place for the husband ,people do change as they get older i.e henry did and possibly jane had the temperament to suit him then at that time .jane did reconcile henry with mary where as anne did approach mary but insisted on mary recognising her as queen, terms and conditions there,in preference to her own mother catherine well that was never going to happen ,at the end of the day henry decided and signed death warrants ,not anyone else ,he had the final say so one had to be very careful of actions ,thoughts or deeds which could ultimately lead to their downfall.

    [Reply]

    margaret Reply:

    and i honestly cant imagine what either anne ,jane ,or any of henrys wives were thinking about getting tied up with this mad man ,surely any kind of a life would have been better than what they had to go through with him ,or did each one of them think they could change him for the better,i dont think so.

    [Reply]

    epiphany Reply:

    Just to clarify, Kings didn’y take mistresses because it was expected of them – most of these men were sincerely religious, and they understood the Commandments applied to them just as they applied to anyone. Kings married out of political necessity; they frequently married women they didn’t even know, let alone love. Sometimes, King and Queen actively hated each other. Nevertheless, they were expected to be fruitful and multiply. Imagine if your only sexual activity was with someone you detested? Kings had mistresses for the same reason men (and women) do now – because their primary relationship was profoundly unfulfilling. Henry caused a scandal in Europe because he kept executing or divorcing his wives in an attempt to find that one completely satisfying relationship. Other kings looked at him askance and wondered, ‘why doesn’t he just take a mistress?’ Beacause these men were rulers, their adultery was overlooked. Queen consorts (as opposed to Queen regnants) had no concrete power. I”m sure they hated that their husbands were unfaithful, but had to no recourse. Queens were not given the option of seeking (physical) happiness outside of marriage, as it would never be certain as to whom was the father of her children, thus a pretender might ascend to the throne. However, some queens, after producing a number of legitmate heirs were known to take lovers – not Henry’s wives, of course!

    [Reply]

  42. Nadia says:

    Well..theres something about Jane I hate. She was not the meek and mild one she appeared to be. She was a snake in the grass who knew how to play her cards right. Yes my theory is weird but…Henry was suffering from syphilis around that time and…Anne would have probably had a boy if it was not for that. What If Jane desperate to secure herself, willingly had sex with her brother Edward and had Edward VI. I dont know, that just sparks my mind – like something isn’t right.

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  43. H. Elizabeth says:

    Jane Seymour, my opinions about her are quite strong. Do I hate her? No I don’t, in fact she is one of my favorites. I relate to her almost. Jane was a quiet girl who no one noticed. People saw her as innocent, kind, and payed absolutely no attention to her. That’s basically my life. I feel that Jane had a fire in her heart, something waiting to burst out, and it did when she stood up to Henry for Mary. I just hope that I can show every one that I too am not someone to be looked over. Being shy is tough, especially if you are in high school.

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  44. shift says:

    Do remember that at first, Henry did not take Jane seriously and only wanted her as a mistress. He sent her money and she refused it, saying that Henry should only give her money when she got a husband…player much? And her brother knew how to play Henry because he watched Anne Boleyn woo Henry. So Jane learnt from Anne, their situations were the same. But I don’t think Henry would have chased Jane for 10 or so years. On the other hand, Anne would not have flinched if Katherine had been executed.

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  45. BanditQueen says:

    Of course Jane was Henry’s one true love: her son lived! Not that Henry was not capable of lasting true love and affection; the question is: was he capable of remaining in love with someone for an entire life time or a long period of time?

    Henry was married to Catherine of Aragon for 24/26 years! He did nothing to end that marriage until 1527 and so was reasonably content to remain her husband until an alternative came along in Anne Boleyn. Although the question of validity and divorce had been floated around and muted by a secret court hearing: Henry shelved the move until he was certain Catherine could have no more children and he had someone else in mind as a fertile and viable replacement. He may not have thought of Anne as Queen at first, but as he became fonder of her he was not dull to the idea. Did he truly love either Catherine or Anne?

    Henry stated again and again, even on oath in open court with the risk of perjury, that he would be content to remain married to Catherine had his marriage been shown to be valid. That and the fact that he remained with her shows that some form of love and true bond between them. With Anne he had a growing and passionate love affair that deepened their bond later on.

    Anne and Henry had seven years to get to know each other, and yet on some levels, she never really knew him. She did not trust him enough to allow him to breathe and he slept with other women from the moment they were married. People who love each other do not behave in that way. Passion is not equated with love: it is equated with lust and this is what Anne and Henry shared. I think for a time Henry loved and desired Anne, but somehow along the way that love grew cold. Anne still loved him after Henry no longer loved her and that was the fact that pulled them apart, in addition to the final loss of their son, the child who would have saved her.

    Jane found something in Henry that had been dead for a long time: tenderness. When Henry found himself attracted to Jane Seymour I think that for the first and last time in his life he fell in love. There is no evidence that he was unfaithful to Jane for one thing and that may just be that he was much more mature; but he was still powerful and women are attracted to power even today. Jane was not attractive by modern standards but what is beauty anyhow, but skin deep. Henry saw something akin to a tender and honest heart in Jane and he felt at peace in her home. It is possible that the peaceful feeling that he felt was what made him feel at home and loved by her. It is clear that Jane was virtuous, a quality that Henry obviously found very beautiful and it made him want her more. She was also kind and she loved his children. She must have just been a good person and I also think that she felt that she was partly responsible for Anne’s downfall. She felt guilty but she loved Henry enough to go through with the marriage; and could do nothing to have saved Anne even had she refused to marry Henry.

    There is no evidence that Jane was not educated, she had the same education as any high born lady of her day, not intellectual, but practical. She was also known to have common sense. She was pliable and she allowed herself to be coached into how to behave around Henry and the Court. She was intelligent enough to return the money that he sent her and to refuse his sexual advances. However, there are no evidence that Henry actually made sexual advances to Jane. In fact it seems that recognising her virtue from the start, and out of some old fashioned sense of loyalty and respect to her family, he paid her court; he saw her with her family present and he did not press her for more than kisses and tenderness. Henry behaved like a romantic gentleman with Jane, he wanted this courtship to go smooth and when he decided it may lead to Jane being Queen, as he had with Anne he protected her honour and reputation as best as he could. I think this proved that Henry had fallen in love with Jane.

    How did he treat Jane as Queen? Actually, remarkably well considering that she took several risks around him and became caught up with the worst political threat to his throne and his person: the Pilgrimage of Grace. Henry listened to and finally gave in to the pleas of Jane to restore Mary to the affection of her father, even though Mary had to give into his demands to do so. She showed concern to Elizabeth as well and provided money for clothes for the child of her previous rival. Jane must have worked behind the scenes to reconcile father and daughter and we simply do not know what that entailed. Jane took a risk to plead for the monastic houses and showed bravery in doing so. This back fired as she tried twice to save them and the rebels condemned to death. Henry is reported to have shouted at Jane or at least to have warned her severely not to interfere in his business as King and to keep quiet as she should remember what happened to Anne and Catherine. However, that may just have been his anger and he is unlikely to have done anything to Jane just because she contradicted him. Henry showed her concern and kindness through her pregnancy and he made sure that she was well cared for. Jane had enough sense not to meddle again, but there is some evidence that favours were asked of her as Queen and granted by the King. Negotiations took place in her chambers to save a small nunnery during the Pilgrimage of Grace and succeeded.

    When Jane died Henry was devastated and it was three months in mourning that he showed this grief by withdrawing from the court. He wore black for a long time and he had the full ceremonial funeral rites performed for her. The Duke of Norfolk had to make these as Henry was still upset. It was three years before he married again, the longest break between wives and for a long time he did not want to hear of a new wife. It was political need and the demands for a second son, these persuaded him of the need to re-marry. Henry chose his last resting place with Jane: the one and only woman that he truly loved, in every sense of the word.

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  46. Mimico says:

    True love is a very hard word to define. Although i am a huge Anne Boleyn fan i think the title for true love when Hnery was young belongs to Catherine of Aragon. Sounds a bit weird doesnt it? The barren wife he ditched and ridiculed 7 years before his actual divorce, and reportedly danced and wore yellow for her death. I think that Catherine was the love of his younger years, when he was content with a mature older women who could also provide an heir. What really drove the wedge between the relationship is not Anne Bolyen as many people seem to believe but when Catherine become menopausal. After that Henry seems to care for her instead of be in love with her. Henry recognising Henry Fitzroy as his son seems to be the time the transition of true love to a cared for women happened. When Anne came onto the scene in 1526 Henry had already emotionally left his marriage for 8 years.

    I believe Anne Boleyn was the true love of his middle-aged years. This charismatic sophisticated stunning young women ripe for bearing those sons he craved most was definitely a great catch in his eyes. He sent her dozens of letters and lots of expensive gifts, he flattered her and they believed that their marriage was God’s will while Catherine’s marriage was unlawful. He moved Heaven and Hell for her and impatiently waited 7 years for her. It was said that during this time he took no mistress and the thought of Anne sustained him. He loved Anne’s wit and sharp tongue and i suspect he liked that quality of her during the first few months of their marriage. I think Elizabeths birth shocked Henry and he must have been secretly been thinking whether this marraige was God’s will either. I’ve also read somewhere that Anne had trouble in her second trimester of pregnancy and that Henry wished for a miscarriage if it could save Anne’s life. I think this is a sign of true love, a wife would be replacable but a baby could not be guarenteed to be replacable. Eventually Henry must have been feeling unsure of Anne’s ability to produce children but even after Anne’s January miscarriage she was treated reasonably well by Henry. Just a mere two weeks before Anne’s arrest, Henry and Anne tricked Eustace Chapuys into bowing down to Anne. I think Henry stlll loved her right before her arrest but that is just my opinion.

    Jane Seymour is harder to place. Was she truly Henry’s true love? I think the main reason Jane got chosen as wife number 3 was because she was the total opposite of both Anne and Catherine. Henry was desperate to settle down after the fiery sunshine and storm relationship he had with Anne. Was Jane just a harbour where Henry could finally get some peace in the form of a docile submissive wife? Yes i believe so. They had known each other for less than two years and before Henry could find any serious faults in Jane, she went and died while giving birth to Henry’s dream; a living heir. This cemented Henry’s idea of Jane being Henry’s true love. If Jane had given a female heir or Edward died within a few days of birth, Jane would not be called his true love. Had Jane lived after giving birth to a baby girl, no matter how docile or meek Jane pretended to be, her fate would be sealed unless. The factors contributing to Jane being called Henry’s true love is the short amount of time they had known each other and the birth of Edward VI. Henry must have looked back on her relationship with rose-tinted spectacles and remembered her fondly as the women who had given him a male heir. Despite what you think the marriage negotiations between Henry and other possible brides started a few months after Jane’s death. Anne of Cleve’s marriage was considered lightening fast in Tudor times, the marriage negotiations of Catherine and Arthur Tudor started before they were two years old. Being buried next to Jane should not be a sign of how much Henry loved her. After all Jane was the only reasonable option; Catherine of Aragon he had divorced and their marriage was annulled. Both Anne Boleyn and Katherine Howard lay in unmarked graves. And both Anne of Cleves and Katherine Parr were stll alive. See what i mean?

    I think the fairest way to determine the ‘true love’ if there was one, is to look at Henry’s actions before a male heir was born. Looking at Jane’s treatment before she came gave birth to the male heir compared to Anne Boleyn and Catherine of Aragon’s i can see no real difference, if anything both Anne Boleyn and Catherine of Aragon were treated better both before and during their pregnancies.

    Im going to finish my rant now by saying that Jane was NOT Henry’s true love based on the actions he did before Jane got glorified as the only person to provide an heir. Jane begged for the monastries but Henry ignored her and harshly remind her of Anne’s fate. Jane pleaded for Mary but Henry told her to stop being stupid and think about their own children. Not exactly true love eh?

    PS; Jane had a far easier time with persuading Henry to reconcile with Mary as Mary complied this time. This is due more to the fact that Catherine of Aragon was dead and there was only one Queen. If CoA was still alive i doubt Mary would have complied so easily with Henry’s wisdes. BTW Jane did not help Elizabeth, it was becaue of Mary’s wishes that Elizabeth got sent money and came to court in 1536.

    Sorry for my rant!

    Cheers,
    minimco

    [Reply]

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