1 April 1536 – Henry VIII sends Jane Seymour a gift

Posted By on April 1, 2016

JaneSeymourLucasHorenbout In a letter dated 1st April 1536, Eustace Chapuys, the imperial ambassador, reported to Charles V, Holy Roman Emperor, that he had just received a message from the Marchioness of Dorset corroborating news that he’d already heard from a “maistre gelyot”. This news was that the King had been “paying court at Greenwich” to Jane Seymour and that he had sent her a purse of sovereigns accompanied by a letter. According to the information Chapuys had received, Jane’s reaction to receiving this gift was as follows:

“the young damsel, to whom he is paying court, after respectfully kissing the letter, returned it to the messenger without opening it, and then falling on her knees, begged the royal messenger to entreat the King in her name to consider that she was a well-born damsel, the daughter of good and honourable parents without blame or reproach of any kind; there was no treasure in this world that she valued as much as her honour, and on no account would she lose it, even if she were to die a thousand deaths. That if the King wished to make her a present of money, she requested him to reserve it for such a time as God would be pleased to send her some advantageous marriage.”

The Marchioness told Chapuys that “in consequence of this refusal the King’s love for the said damsel had marvelously increased”. She also said that the King had resolved that he would from now on only see Jane if she was chaperoned by one of her relatives, which would be easy now that he had given Thomas Cromwell’s apartments to Edward Seymour, Jane’s elder brother, and his wife.

According to Chapuys, Jane was being coached in how to appeal to the King and also to turn him against Anne Boleyn. Chapuys explains:

“But I hear that the young lady has been well tutored and warned by those among this King’s courtiers who hate the concubine, telling her not in any wise to give in to the King’s fancy unless he makes her his Queen, upon which the damsel is quite resolved. She has likewise been advised to tell the King frankly, and without reserve, how much his subjects abominate the marriage contracted with the concubine, and that not one considers it legitimate, and that this declaration ought to be made in the presence of witnesses of the titled nobility of this kingdom, who are to attest the truth of her statements should the King request them on their oath and fealty to do so.”

In the same letter, Chapuys also reported that his sources had told him that Anne Boleyn and Thomas Cromwell were “on bad terms” and “that there had been a talk of a new marriage for this King”. This, of course, was just over a month before Anne Boleyn’s arrest.

Notes and Sources

  • Calendar of State Papers, Spain, Volume 5 Part 2: 1536-1538, 43.

29 thoughts on “1 April 1536 – Henry VIII sends Jane Seymour a gift”

  1. Christine says:

    She must have had something for the King to notice her but it’s very hard to work out exactly what it was, she was said to have been very pale and so quiet and plain looking, it was possibly just the huge contrast between her and Anne, loud brash and noisy and there was Jane in the shadows looking like she wouldn’t say boo to a goose, Henry knew she would never argue with him and be the centre of attention in a crowd but it was that which drew him to Anne in the first place, he went from one extreme to the other, I think after a time he would have been bored with Jane I doubt he would have been faithful to her I think he fancied her a little and she was just there available, at a time when he was heartily sick of Anne, after their marriage he noticed two other ladies at court and was heard to say it’s a pity he hadn’t seen them first, that shows that he never really loved Jane I think it was just that she was there at the right place at the right time, because of her early demise he never had a chance to get fed up with her maybe that was a lucky escape for Jane but we will never know.

    1. Charlene says:

      I don’t think paleness was considered the turnoff in Tudor England that it is in modern England, what with all the cruel, vicious mockery of redheads and such.

    2. Amy says:

      I think her meekness whether feigned or real worked in her favor. Katherine of Aragon was a strong woman who never criticized in public during their marriage, but likely had some input behind closed doors, and Anne was by all accounts outspoken in public and private even having loud arguments with the king that were overheard and recorded by several contemporaries. Jane offered a meekness that was expected of women of that time, and a meekness that Henry hadn’t experienced in his home life since the death of his mother.

      1. (I agree with Christine.)

    3. bruno says:

      Hi Christine, I must admit that the queen shown above was no strikingly beautiful woman.
      In her official portrait, Holbein could not be accused of flattery either.
      As was not the case with german princess Anne of Cleves.
      Because on the latter we really find NO report about her so-to-say charm.
      She was definitely a ugly woman, a fact that nobody happened to contest.
      Instead Jane Seymour’s appearance was praised by some persons, among other Polidoro Virgili and John Russell – as we know, this man was a courtier, and so much embarrassed to answer when it ran on Anne of Cleves’ looks.
      Jane was even named “the fairest of all” .
      On the foresaid portrait, with her large cheekbones and fine lipsI cant help seeing sth of Gwyneth Paltrow.
      Except (and it does matter indeed) that her features show no expression at all.
      She might have been born before 1509, being I believe the eldest if not of all children of John and Margery (née Wentworth) Seymour, at least of their daughters.
      So some kind of a spinster by then.
      Eustace Chapuys who liked her so much for having been the obedient servant to both Queen Katherine and KH, is a bit ironic about her virginal virtues.
      I agree with all you tell about the (probable) royal feelings to Jane Seymour.
      But did such a man as Henry Tudor love any of his wives?
      I mean he certainly had some respect towards his first …
      But after gaining some independence through his divorce’s struggle, he just acted as being THE master – all the more that his successive wives were both much younger and not of royal breed.
      Betraying his new queen (Jane in this case), he was morally able to, but on physical terms is another question .
      I am no expert of masculine beauty, but I still believe that even young, despite his good shape, he was no Adonis – his feature are not fine nor regular his nose has a ugly form.
      Had he not been the king, I guess no woman on earth would ever have noticed him.
      Later – when definitely fat like a hog – poor Katherine Howard was probably, young as she was, just taken with the idea of being courted by the king, not by a prince charming
      The only thing I can see – especially since Anne Boleyn’s fate – is that his supposed “love” towards his queens was just a short-lived excitation at the idea of having new subjects under his command.
      When Anne Boleyn- the object of his passionate poems – fell dangerously ill (and it was before their wedding), he just kept estranged from her – no matter she died .
      Very cold-hearted – so waht you write about Jane Seymour seems to be a general trend by him.

      1. bruno says:

        Well about Anne of Cleves, I remember Marillac (french ambassador, but I doubt his words about a “middling beauty”, because in the same time all English seemed to be shocked by their new queen’s appearance instead)

      2. Christine says:

        Hi Bruno in all the portraits of King Henry he had a broad face and a thick neck, he also had a rather long slightly hooked nose which his daughter Elizabeth 1st inherited, the artists of the period were not particularly good as you can see his features are slightly wonky in some of his earlier ones, it’s true that Holbien was very realistic and had he been in the court when Henry was a young prince we may have been able to have seen what he actually looked like, as it was we have his suit of armour in the Tower which shows us what a fine athletic figure he possessed and how tall he was to, the average height in Tudor times was much shorter than today therefore he must have seemed a giant among men, the fact that he was good at sports jousting etc and rode for hours all this added to his allure and is why many of his contemporaries called him the golden prince, he lost his looks as he grew fatter and his merry disposition hardened him after the years of frustration with the divorce and the disappointments of the deaths of his children, particularly his male heirs, but he was called an Adonis by many and was said to have been the most handsomest prince in Christendom, I do agree with what you say about men they never get bored with going to bed with women, this was the secret of Anne Boleyns allure she wasn’t easy, she was his first true love and whilst he probably did love Katherine I think it was just a young mans fancy for an older quite sophisticated woman, he is said to have loved Elizabeth Blount but married her of to another courtier and when she was pregnant the relationship ceased, we don’t know how deeply he felt for Mary Boleyn and how long that affair lasted but we do no how he felt about her sister as his love letters testify and the fact that he ripped the country apart to make her Queen, also Katherine Howard he was said to be besotted by but as for Anne of Cleve’s that was just a political marriage and his last marriage was just for companionship really and he wanted a step mother for Edward and Elizabeth, so we can say with all certainty that Anne Boleyn was his great love, the love of his life, how his wives felt about him though we have no idea except for his first wife who did it appears love him most sincerely and in fact maybe she was the only one out of all his wives who did, Anne Boleyn quite possibly was attracted to him as when he began courting her he was still trim and handsome but after he became less mobile instead of reducing his food and wine intake he just ate more possibly what we call today as comfort eating, so he just ballooned which of course made him more inactive and so he lost his looks completely and became as you say a fat hog.

        1. bruno says:

          Thank you Christine it seems both complete and accurate indeed.
          With – if I am allowed to have a sturdy opinion on it – a womanish fine view, not only on KH but on a more general level, on relations between men and women.
          As a man I feel about the same – in fact it is the only point that could “attract” me about KH’s personality – the choice he had to make between Katherine of Aragon and Anne Boleyn.
          Younger than queen Catherine, he was certainly proud of being married to an authentic princess, and much confident (and I guess, he was completely right in this way) in her solid political capacities.
          Years flowing by, he almost surely got “bored” not of his easy mistresses, but of having an aging partner as wife; at that point young and much attractive (whatever we see in this word, I take for sure she must have been) Anne Boleyn appeared.
          And if her looks are still matter of debate, her wit and fascinating manners are well known.
          And – just assuming – I think he had never known of such a woman.
          Both his subject (technically) and something sovereign in her small person .
          Refined and self-confident, she probably seemed a “nec plus ultra” to KH and he could not help dreaming of possessing this “fairy queen” – no matter what could happen.
          What you – truely – depict is an intense passion for Anne Boleyn
          This one used to please and seduce (hadn’t she attract Margaret of Habsburg’s attention when still a child?) was accustomed to courts and royal favors.
          And she probably was not impressed by KH.
          I can admit – not being a woman – she could herself have a crush on him.
          But the fact he was a king certainly helped.
          Had he nor been a royal, I think Catherine of Aragon and Anne Boleyn as fascinating charcaters.
          The object of their restless fight was sth I hardly see in KH’s person.
          Yes I admit, the wives of KH after Ctaherine’s and Anne’s death dont interest me much.
          Katherine Parr certainly had deep learning in theology especially and was clever and patient.
          But I cant explain why I hardly see her as a real queen of England.
          Just a transitory historical character.
          About physical traits you depict so well…
          I used to think Elizabeth I rather took after her mother (even without possessing her charms, her portrait when she was crowned at 25 with her high forehead and floating hair don’t lack of royal looks; I forget about Pourbus who flattered her too much, he had her ridiculously prettified).
          Her longish bony face shows few similarities with her father’s.
          But what struck me most is that even young, in his portraits KH bears a big and large nose not straight at all .
          If later it suited him “better” (if I dare say) when he grew heavy, his profile is uncommon.
          The best-looking prince ? When compared with Charles V or Francis I it is not much to take pride about.
          And despite his own size, he often asked ambassadors about the french king.
          Imitating him (when Francis I was slightly burnt at face and decided to hide his wound by bearing a beard and so on….).
          The “beauty of the family” was Mary Tudor – the king’s sister.
          There is a fine portrait of her by french painter.
          She was about 18 at the time but rather looks like a much younger girl.
          Fair complexion, baby-face and childish expression.
          I don’t know what she looked like later .
          Margaret’s looks seem very close to her brother’s.
          I mean nothing special at all in my opinion.
          Holbein is a genius .
          We french had to wait a bit – for a Clouet as official painter.
          I love them

        2. bruno says:

          I have seen a portrait of his face in 1530 (the time of Anne’s and KH relation).
          The features are already fat I can tell.
          And he has a long chin, the same curious nose I mentioned …
          His athletic shape (the same as Francis I or about), nothing else I guess

  2. Banditqueen says:

    There was a definate move towards the Seymour family, towards Jane from among Anne’s detractors. I am in no doubt that she was naturally protective of her reputation and honour, her moral status and her family honour. However, Jane was being coached on how to handle the King, had learned a thing or two from her service under Katherine of Aragon and Anne Boleyn. Henry got bored with ladies who allowed him into their beds, if he was on the hunt for another wife, then holding back and indicating you are also wanting an honourable marriage was just what he licked. This is a very well rehearsed move, high drama, Jane should have been married long ago, so she is telling the King, I am not to be paid for services, I am only interested in marriage. Pity that she did not read the letter, as we don’t know what was in it, or at least I don’t believe that we do. We don’t know that Henry was definitely looking for a new wife either, but he was being given a big hint. Once his marriage to Anne did go south towards the end of the month, he had wife number three in the wings.

    As to what Jane Seymour looked like, I doubt that she was particularly pale or plain as Holbein shows a conventional English rose with ash blonde hair, cheeks painted to create a natural convention beauty, heavy hooded eyelashes, a face that is anything but plain, modest but knowing eyes and although realistic is typical of the favoured look at the time. The fact is that we don’t know what Anne Boleyn looked like, none of her contemporary portrayals survived and the descriptions of her are by people who did not like her. It’s assumed that dark hair is black but it was a convention not to describe hair colour in too much detail. Dark hair can be brown, brunette, black, very dark shade of red, anything in between. She was also meant to have a long neck, dark eyes and her nose is pointed. Anne was not a conventional beauty. She attracted Henry with her flirtatious personality, her fun loving ways, her whit and humour and the way she dominated a room. Jane was quiet, but no mouse, she was charming and a peacemaker. Perhaps her calm manner and concern for others as well as her sweetness is what attracted Henry. She was the opposite to Anne, he wanted a peaceful life after the trauma of the last ten years, that is what he saw in Jane.

    1. bruno says:

      Hum Banditqueen did you say “KH got bored with ladies allowing him to their beds” ?
      That I really doubt.
      Excuse me he was just a man.
      Wanting to marry – and get sons and legitimate heirs – is another thing.
      I agree with the rest – except I find you are a bit harsh to Anne Boleyn’s memory, it was rather said that her “flirtatious personality” was her brilliant wit, she was not an easy-going doll.
      To resist the king’s advances for so long is a proof she had other strong charms.
      Make me think of Sheherazade – condemned to death by her husband and master, her spirit not only saved her life but bore a real love from him.
      Just a tale – in real life, even Anne Boleyn’s unique charm was not enough to attract some durable faith from such a powerful man
      Another point (a detail rather) is that Jane was very pale indeed.
      Her hair was not ash blonde but of washed-out colour rather.
      That we know from Eusatce Chapuys – we read of a nearly albino woman…

      1. Banditqueen says:

        Hello Bruno, I could not think of anything else at that time of the morning but actually the term is very wide usage, especially in times past. I am not talking about sexual flirtation, but something that would have been encouraged in the game of court. Anne was sophisticated, she could hold a whitty, fun loving conversation as well as a more adult, mature or refined, educated conversation. She was confident and could work or own the room. It was noticed that she was courted by many, again in a none sexual way, was the central attraction in a room, in a good way, she had that extra something, was also fashionable, very French in her manner, dress and speech and the entire package. Her mind and obvious education meant she shared a number of intellectual interests with the King. Henry would have found her his equal in many ways. Unfortunately Anne also spoke her own mind, in public as well as private and continued to do so, after marriage, a fact which made her enemies, challenged policy directly, things which Henry did not want and which he almost goes out of his way to avoid in wife three. Produce son please, don’t run my business for me. Hope this helps. All the best.

        1. bruno says:

          Ok for the way you are depicting Anne Boleyn.
          It sounds very true (the fact that she spoke her own mind and I guess even when with her relatives – when you want to last, you have to favour your clan and remember that your own favour is not much when your master’s mind is so frail itself).
          She was not of the higher breed to become a queen and it could not fail rising much enemies indeed
          I see (with much pain 🙁 ) that we’ll never agree about K H’s natural qualities.
          Banditqueen, you are a queen; sometimes rather Katherine of Aragon, dutiful sovereign and consort, sure of your love and faith to your husband as well as certain of HIS blameless fellings in return.
          Sometimes a queen-to-be, like Mary Tudor, by then young and unaware that it will take so long time before being crowned at your turn.
          And as a young girl, you languishingly spend your leasure-time listening to music (it echoes your passionate feelings about a betroth that could be spanish, even if then again you can’t fancy he will wear blonde curls and will appear so late in your life); when you need to make your heart beat faster, you remember being a pretty good dancer
          And other times close to a bandit rather – or, better said, the ghost of one of these princesses, but if you, like they did, stick to defend the memory of K H (thinking of the time, he behaved according to his rank and yours, and the respect and tender feelings you more than once benefited during his first wedding) and return with a good deal of humour (gentle ghosts have these ironic ways), you must not forget one thing : it was not Anne Boleyn’s arrival in K H’s or his unfulfiled wishes to father a legitimate boy that made him a heartless tyrant.
          I still think he was just “waiting for the time” – getting rid of Wolsey and his queen, exactly the same way he had weeded out his father’s counselors soon after his coronation, was the condition for him.
          For the rest I guess you are all right ; such a man could be sure he was even stronger (at jousting and on anywhere other matter) than any of his subjects.
          Yes what you write helps me much – all is accurate and well thought.
          Just – only my opinion – too marked by your own feelings towards K H
          Good things under his kingship – I still consider him the worse Tudor sovereign (even if of course we can’t say much about his unfortunate son Edward).
          Will you ever forgive me Banditqueen ? :-/

    2. Christine says:

      Hi Bandit Queen I find the sketch of Jane Seymour by Holbein more attractive than his actual painting of her, and whilst a fair complexion was much admired she was said to have been too pale, maybe she had little colour in her cheeks and rosy cheeks are very attractive have been throughout the ages, trouble with the artists of the day were they always had the sitter at an angle instead of full face, apart from Anne Of Cleve’s we only see all Henrys other wives painted at an angle too, Jane Seymour’s mother Margery Wentworth was famed for her beauty but it appears Jane didn’t inherit her looks she has a rather large nose and a small pinched mouth, but possibly after she was relaxing with a few glasses of wine and she had some colour in her face with her hair loose she did look quite pretty, as iv said before the headdresses which concealed the hair were not particularly flattering and made the women of the court look rather severe.

      1. bruno says:

        I am still laughing- hardly imagining Jane Seymour as an alcoholic .
        Maybe she could have been tempted when considering the fate of the two previous queens, who knows ?

        1. Christine says:

          Ha ha yes Bruno I should think had I been married to Henry V111 I’d have had more than a few glasses of wine a day, more like a bottle as for Francis he was said to be very attractive to the women dark and tall and in fact I find him quite fascinating a personality as well, when at the Field Of The Cloth Of Gold he had a wrestling match with Henry and he threw him to the ground it so annoyed the latter they nearly came to blows and the two Queens had to pull them apart, just goes to show that even Kings can act like normal men when they get really annoyed about something, I bet it was quite funny to watch, my ancestry is Norman French and I an descended from the early French Kings through Queen Matilda Of Flanders and I love reading about them, always thought I’d visit their graves one day in the Cathedral of St. Basilica.

        2. bruno says:

          Narcissist enough I answer to myself, Christine, not being enabled to answer your comment.
          Yes it is another point of my fascination.
          France and England, as different as possible, share a long history in common.
          I see your version about the Field Of The Cloth Of Gold (thank you for recalling this term, hard to translate from french) is the good one – Francis I and KH were very proud of themselves indeed .
          Francis I is the very type of sovereigns french use to admire even if in fact his miltary virtues, his larger than life ambitions nearly ruined his realm.
          Charles V at the same time, even if not very “exciting” as human being was his countries’ blessed king and emperor.
          I don’t want to shower your enthousiasm about “my” king.
          I rather think he always needed a woman – what women often find charming 😉 .
          Orphan from his father traised by an ambitious and strong-willed mother, much nursedand admired by his only (elder) sister, indeed, he knew how to behave towards women.
          This why he was justly named a “Roi-Chevalier” .
          Not as rude as the better-known “Vert-Galant” – who had numerous mistresses but did not “naturally” attracted women, rather prey of sexual obsessions …

      2. Banditqueen says:

        Hi Christine, yes the sketch is very attractive. Perhaps she turned pale after Henry proposed lol.

        Hi Bruno, yes, Henry was a man, which means that he probably didn’t know what he wanted. He was clearly still desperate for a son, but really, Harry, what’s wrong with flowers and a box of Chocolates? A purse of money obviously sent the wrong message.

        1. Banditqueen says:

          Yes I am aware that Jane Seymour was also described as pale, but I doubt she was as pale as some claim. Her portrait is more accurate than some people think. Chapyus was meeting Jane briefly after her rushed transformation from subject to queen. How do we know she was not having an off day? Others such as John Russell et al describe her as fair. She had a kind personality and was described as a peacemaker. It was these qualities that showed inner and true beauty. It is also worth noting that physical characteristics that people found attractive then may not be the same things we find attractive. (According to various know it alls on documentaries) Personally I believe judging by appearance alone is shallow. Jane, Anne and Katherine all had personal qualities which allowed Henry to see them as future wives. Henry was King, but he also had personal qualities, especially pre 1536, which attracted people to him. Many of those qualities were lost in his last years, but the evidence is there to support a number of positive things that went beyond his kingship. Katherine Howard was indeed overawed by the majestic image of Henry, but I don’t believe that the pretty frocks and lavish gifts did any harm either. Anne of Cleves probably thought the same about him as he is said to have thought of her. Having said that, once they were not married, the pair got on well. What Katherine Parr was drawn to, other than being flattered is a mystery, save she is thought to have seen marriage to Henry as her personal religious calling.

          I do believe that Henry was capable of loving at least one wife, his first. There is contemporary evidence that Henry was delighted to be married to Katherine of Aragon, their relationship for a number of years was good, but it turned sour after a number of years, as Henry needed a son and fell in love or lust with Anne Boleyn. Henry possibly ceased to love Katherine, but that does not mean he did not love her for several years.

        2. bruno says:

          Hi Banditqueen
          Yes of course you – like youb laways see to be – accurate, precise in your word.
          I’d rather that Christine and I were sort of kidding 😉
          I now imagine Jane Seymour whose portraits are not very prepossessing (admit) – turned into a sort of sexual after taking courage before entering the royal room with let’s say two or three glasses of bordeaux now wearing her hair loose,her cheeks rosy and her lips red at last !
          Yes you are right – sending a lady – especially if this one is famed for her virginal qualities – money is not only tactless but shows some hast it seems …
          All that is amusing rather than “romantic” (well, according to our nowadays standards).

        3. bruno says:

          To answer your other comment.
          I meant that in my opinion, “Harry” was far from deserving to wives like Catherine of Aragon or Anne Boleyn.
          I thank you for your ideas about men (in general) but he was worse because he was the king – and when a king does not know what he wants, it always has awful consequences.
          See Charles V : he might have been a rather unattractive figure, but from very young he was well aware of his duties.
          As the heir of the “catholic sovereigns” (spanish side), as well as a successor (even if elected) of Maximilian.
          But also in his private life : he (yes he was a man!) had two illegitimate children.
          But the first (Margaret future duchess of Parma) well before his only wedding.
          The second, (Don Juan) years after being widowed of his beautiful and much beloved wife (and first cousin), Isabel of Portugal.
          A perfect strategus
          A sovereign to be satisfied with.
          I would not say exactly the same about Francis I.
          But this one in his privacy even if unfaithful to both his wives (he had mistresses when being married), showed some respect to them (it can shock our morals, I know).
          And there is another fact ; he is not known to have sired illegitimate children.
          It seems he had two wives (Claude and Eleanor) and two mistresses (Françoise of Foix, countess of Laval-Châteaubriant and Anne of Heilly countess of Etampes).
          With the first favorite, there are still letters in existence that are love poems (both Françoise and the king were very learned)
          He could mix his respect towards his queen and a passionate relation.
          Ok, with Anne of Etampes it was less obvious (because of the mistress’ greediness and pride before ambassadors and queen Eleanor was connivent – might be because she was aware that their wedding was not a love match at all ? I don’t know) .
          To keep in touch with the matter (Jane Seymour, in spite of her dubious attractiveness indeed), I think even her character is colourless.
          Eustace Chapuys’ irony (or sort of) grates my ears.
          On the one hand, he is thankful to her for having England rid of Anne Boleyn, but on the other, he seems to feel some despise towards her.
          Maybe because she was still a virgin when already aging (I never understood how possible the dates of birth for the children sired by John Seymour and Margery, née Wentworth, I do think that Thomas’, Edward’s, Jane’s dates of birth were given at random rather – it “falls” too well 1507 1508 and then 1509, that seems a bit artificial, when they are known born next after an elder boy who died in 1520 when 20 or about)
          Or it can indicate he despised her for not being of royal breed either (too far from his queen Catherine), OR that he did not “buy” all the stories about her good qualities .
          Her ctemper is somewhat discussed (gentle patient girl or time-server, a tool in her brothers’ hands?)
          Another point (on which of course I might be as wrong as ever) is that I dont totally agree with you referring to “nowadays’ standards” when it runs about physical charms.
          Watching the portraits of Holbein or Clouet – very realistic, they were famed for being faithful and not vile flatters towards sitters – gives us the same feeling about beauty’s standards .
          I know that by then darkness (of hair or complexion) was not much praised.
          For that Anne Boleyn’s appearance was considered rather uncommon in english court (it might be why she did not impress a venitian ambassador, accustomed to find “dark types” in his country), but it did not mean she was seen as ugly, or “dark as a devil”.
          Clouet did not hesitate to show us princess Marguerite of Valois (later known as queen Margot), in one of his last portraits as very italian (what her mother actually was by birth) in her looks .
          This one is my favorite portrait, her large smile exposing her white teeth (about 18 just before her wedding), it is an image of sensual charm (far from dark tales about her).
          I consider that these portraits tell a lot – they are not only conventional pictures.

        4. Christine says:

          Hi Bandit Queen I agree sending money to a woman your trying to pay court to was I think rather insensitive of Henry, she could well have felt a bit offended by it, that made me laugh about Jane turning pale after he asked her to marry him, I reckon I’d have fainted.

  3. Christine says:

    When Anne was at the French court she was described as the most fairest and bewitching of all Queen Claude’s ladies, but at the same time the Venitian ambassador called her not one of the most handsomest women in the world, it just go’s to show that one mans meat is another mans poison, what Anne possessed was personality that most elusive of human traits and that combined with her rather exotic dark looks and elegance, French accent and flair for dress, which after all she had learnt at the French court, all these added to her fascination, Harry Percy and Thomas Wyatt the poet including King Henry all fell for her and there could have been others who kept their feelings to themselves, no one knew what Henry ever saw in Jane Seymour but then as Bandit Queen says it was possibly her quiet demeanour that he found attractive about her coupled with a kind manner, and it is these qualities that show true beauty, she doesn’t seem to have had any suitors and no man has ever been connected with her before she became involved with Henry, so we can safely say men didn’t find her very attractive, there is another possibility why Henry married her of course and that’s because she came from a large family which screamed fertility to Henry, she had several brothers so he probably thought he’d get a couple of sons on her, I think it’s a shame that she died after she gave Henry a son as she succeeded where his other wives had failed, I somehow don’t think she was as colourless as you think Bruno, although she certainly never made much of an impact on the English court or in her history, but the fact that she agreed to be courted by the King whilst his second Queen was carrying his child and then trying on her wedding dress as is supposed whilst Anne was preparing for her execution, all her behaviour shows a rather chilling disregard for her mistresses predicament, and it does show strength of character and a certain amount of courage that she could happily stand next to a man at the alter and troth herself to him who had just judicially murdered his previous wife, did she do all that just to please her family maybe, but I think she glorified in the thought of being Queen herself, it was a glittering prize and she must of thought she was dreaming because she may have thought she would die a spinster, she did reconcile Henry with Mary and she was kind to Elizabeth to, she abhorred the dissolution of the monasteries and angered Henry when she told him so, I think in all she would have been a quite successful Queen Consort and the people would have had a real affection for her had she lived, also she was clever enough to hold her tongue and she would have turned a blind eye to Henrys infidelities, she would never have nagged him like Anne and she would never have deceived him like Katherine Howard, I think he knew this also and it is said in later years he remembered her with much affection and she was the wife who was depicted in his family portrait with his children by Holbein, and of course she was the one wife he chose to lie beside.

  4. bruno says:

    Yes I agree with so much in your comment.
    About Anne (of whom I am a great fan), are you sure it was her or her sister who was said the fairest ? Even though I can easily see what in her could attract courtiers as well as princes.
    Exotic ? Might have seemed so having stayed abroad for so long .
    I think she was from very young kind of dying for catching attention.
    And she succeeded in the job.
    And she certainly felt “at home” at the french court – the king Francis I as we know was much fond of extraordinary feminine characters (perhaps it has to do with his own mother, left a widow at 20 mother of two who managed to be not only a very learned lady but also one leading politician at a time when the fact was so rare among women and never married again, devoting her whole life to fulfil her ambitious projects for herself and her children).
    It is normal that such a lady found so many suitors, in France or in England.
    It is up to me to apologize for being harsh to Jane Seymour’s supposed temper.
    In fact – and while we seem to know about Anne Boleyn as if she could appear tomorrow without rising much surprise from us – for Jane, we get rather contradictory opinions on her person.
    All you recall Christine about her “first steps to the royal heart” could indicate indeed that she had nerves and not much tenderness towards her past mistress.
    But what I read about sort of a “mission” for Catherine Parr could very well also applied to Jane Seymour ; a staunch catholic she was of course shocked about HER queen Catherine’s fate and considered Anne not only a usurper, but an heretic as well.
    I might be wrong of course but I believe what Chapuys said about her.
    Regardless to the fact that to me, when he mentions her “fairness” he does not refer only to her complexion but also to the “colour” (if any) of her hair
    A rather shy “old maid” (maybe even too shy to admit any suitor ? Even if her portrait does not show a woman I would be the least attracted to, a lot of plain or sometimes ugly ladies found suitors and possible husbands – but you might be all right, it could be she was waiting for something or somebody else than the expectable knights, lords or…?).
    In this way, she could have been artful enough to wear a suitable mask for her king.
    But I rather think she obeyed (her own sense of holy duty who knows ? or her brothers’ orders – her father having died exactly in 1536 – or and that is my thought just the king’s orders, what perfectly suits with Chapuys’ comments about her qualities and behaviour by then).
    I guess she was indeed gentle and “quiet” (what her portrait by Holbein does not show – and you know how candid I become when watching one of them – it rather seems she was “tormented” from inside – I don’t see her as a sinner or a temptress but rather “haunted” by her religious feelings).
    She of course was not given time to show these qualities to her realm, alas.
    I don’t want to be unfair to her memory, but I hardly find her interesting as a character.
    I, on the other side, find so many formidable – might be too formidable to be fully kind and loveable, I admit – feminine figures by then that I keep seeing her as a kind of shadow
    Louise of savoie, Margaret of Austria – and I add Catherine of Aragon and Anne Boleyn , are ladies who did not inherit realms in their own rights but showed capacities during these violent times- when womanly weakness was so much despised …
    Strong tempers indeed but no useless cruelty in these four characters.
    But of course I agree and won’t spit on Jane Seymour who seemingly had been good-hearted, sincerely kind to her step-daughters (would surely have made a perfect queen consort indeed for K H and english subjects).
    About the fact that she accepted the royal court at the time of Anne’s trial, one can explain it not by a coldness or even a hatred towards her, but by her natural trend not to mess with public affairs … ?
    Coz cynism does not match with what we were told of her

  5. Maryann Pitman says:

    Both KoA and AB were strong women, both influential, until Henry was disappointed.
    Henry is remarkable in his demand for happiness in marriage, something a King is not supposed to expect. The three Tudors- Henry, Margaret and Mary have this in common. One has to wonder, were they so spoiled by their parents that they expected to get everything they wanted? Was their parents’ marriage so happy that they thought it was normal to expect happiness, even in a state marriage? Was it a simple matter of their having been parvenues who simply did not understand the obligations of royalty? It is hard to believe Margaret Beaufort did not impress on them the nature of their obligations.
    It is remarkable that Henry would even consider marrying a lady of the court, given that he was only the second king of his dynasty.
    I think the real failure of the Cleves marriage was that Henry was forced to marry a stranger-the only time he did so. It did not help that they had nothing in common, and that Anne had none of the graces Henry admired in a lady due to her restricted Lutheran upbringing.

    The two wives he really loved the most intensely were said to be most graceful dancers-Anne Boleyn and Katherine Howard. My suspicion is that Henry wasn’t all that fussy about looks. He preferred women who could dance, and appreciate music. Anne was stimulating intellectually, when he still liked that in a woman-I do think he thought Jane Seymour was a quiet little mouse who would never dare give him a bad time. I suspect she was more subtle, and no less determined to have her way than her predecessors.

    Anne died because Cromwell smelled danger ahead. She did not understand, or would not agree with Henry and Cromwell’s choices in refilling the coffers, and she was an impediment and a danger to Henry diplomatically. Cromwell wanted a Protestant German alliance (yes, the one that he did eventually get-that killed him) and detente with the Emperor, before Charles and Francis could ally against Henry. And then, she failed to give Henry the promised son. Henry was not going to be put through another disaster a al Katherine. Cromwell anticipated the monarch’s need, and took care of business.

    Ironically, once Edward was born, Jane was safe. She just did not live to enjoy it. Henry would doubtless have strayed, but Jane would have been crowned and learned how to use the influence he son would have given her quietly and with skill. For all her family’s manuevering, she was her own person, and I doubt she would have given up trying to influence Henry to restore the Church.

    We’ll never know.

  6. Maryann Pitman says:

    Jane Seymour had been at Court some years, perhaps as early as 1527. She came from a wellborn family,her brothers were on the rise, but she remained single. Her paleness would translate to fairness at the time-this quote likely referred to how pale she was. Without a good dowry, some combination of appearance, learning, or artistic ability would be needed as a hook to attract a husband. It appears she had non of them, or not in sufficient quantity to attract a husband.

    Why Henry? Contrast surely. His first two wives were attractive, accomplished, strong minded women-and not all that subtle about it.
    Jane seems to have been a very quiet, plain woman in a large group of obviously different women. The English Court was a hotbed of sexual activity, flirtation, etc. A woman who was a wall flower might have started to look good to a king frayed at the edges by the conflicting demands of previous wives. He may have found her company restful.

    Long term, she never would have kept him faithful, but he was not so many years at this point from a place where that would have been irrelevant. Edward would likely have ensured her place, especially if more sons had followed.

    It is hard to know with Henry. He might have dumped her, legitimated Edward, and gone merrily on his way.

    I’d put no money on it either way.

    The only loser would have been Anne of Cleves-she would have been stuck in Germany, instead of living the high life in England.

  7. Maryann Pitman says:

    de Marillac is likely the more objective voice on Anne of Cleves. The English knew all too well that Henry was displeased with his new bride. I don’t know where the Holbein portrait was kept, but it was likely not on too public a display. Most would have based their expectations on Henry’s word, and he may have built her up into something more than she could have ever hoped to be. Henry was not experienced in this kind of marriage. He had known all his previous wives for years before marrying them. He had only married women he loved. It should be no surprise that at 49, with health issues and with failing virility, this marriage was almost bound to be a failure. Anne was an alien creature-her rearing was so completely different from the women Henry knew, and it was deficient in many ways for a woman who would live in a non German Royal Court. She learned quickly, and adapted well. None of the extant portraits show her as ugly, in fact, Jane was probably by fair the plainest of Henry’s wives. It should surprise no one that Anne’s strange clothes, and exhaustion after a long, hard trip, did not enhance her appearance in English eyes, at least initially. Differences in diet, and perhaps in the choice of soap could explain other issues. Hygeine was not exactly fastidious at the time by any measure, it is likely Anne did not use perfume, but plain soap, due to her strict upbringing.

    Again, expectation and unexpected cultural/religious differences made Anne a risky choice. She did all right in the end. She outlived all the other wives, and died safe in her bed.

  8. Banditqueen says:

    What historians would not do find out the contents of that letter but I assume it is lost as it has never been quoted anywhere. Jane of course didn’t open the letter, but it must have been preserved for a time as letters were always copied when done by important people and it must have been in the King’s private collection for a time before it vanished. Jane was acting with virtue, but she also knew that if she did so, Henry wouldn’t be able to resist her as Anne had taken the same step. She was gaining support at this point and although she may not quite have been in line as wife no three, there was a body of people who saw the Seymour family as the faction to support in favour of Princess Mary and if Anne was to fall. Anne was still vulnerable, she had to be careful. Jane was being taught how to keep the King’s interest and I believe she was a shrewd mover. She probably had more common sense and intelligence than she is given credit for, maybe not book intelligence, but intelligence from life and watching. Jane knew how to handle Henry, she knew he wasn’t one to cross and learned this from his rebuttal when she tried to intervene for the rebels in 1536/7. She knew Henry needed a son, but she also knew he didn’t want a nagging wife. Anne was so unusual for her time that we forget that Jane was actually more what any Tudor man expected in a wife. It’s a pity we don’t know more of what Henry wrote to her, because we don’t know much about his feelings for Jane. Oh well.

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