12 October 1537 – A prince for Henry VIII and Jane Seymour

Posted By on October 12, 2017

On this day in history, 12th October 1537, the eve of the Feast of St Edward the Confessor, an exhausted Queen Jane Seymour, third wife of King Henry VIII, gave birth to a little boy in her chamber at Hampton Court Palace. He was born at around two o’clock in the morning.

Chronicler Edward Hall recorded:

“In Octobre on saint Edwardes euen was borne at Hampton Courte the noble Impe prince Edward […]”

Charles Wriothesley wrote:

“And the morrow after, being Fridaie and the eaven of Sainct Edward, sometime King of Englande, at tow of the clocke in the morninge the Queene [was] delivered of a man chielde at Hampton Court beside Kingston.”

Wriothesley goes on to say that a Te Deum was sung in every parish church in London, church bells rang throughout the city, bonfires were lit in every street, the city merchants gave out fruit and wine, German merchants gave wine and beer to the poor, and “a great peale of gonnes was shott at the Tower of London”. It was a day of celebrations for the King and his people.

For the queen, the arrival of a healthy son after a long labour must have been an immense relief. A solemn procession had taken place on 11th October at St Paul’s “to pray for the Queene that was then in laboure of chielde” because her labour was taking so long.

Letters announcing the birth had been prepared in the queen’s name and under her signet, and were then sent to the Privy Council.

“Right trusty and well beloved, we greet you well. And forasmuch as, by the inestimable goodness and grace of Almighty God, we be delivered and brought in child-bed of a Prince, conceived in most lawful matrimony between my Lord the King’s majesty, and us; – doubting not, but that for the love and affection you bear unto us, and to the commonwealth of this realm, this knowledge shall be joyous, and glad tidings unto you, we have thought good to certify you of this same: to the intent ye might not only render unto God condign thanks and praise for so great a benefit, but also continually pray for the long continuance and preservation of the same here in this life, to the honour of God, joy and pleasure of my Lord the King and us, and the universal weal, quiet, and tranquillity of this whole realm.

Given under our signet, at my Lord’s manor of Hampton Court, the twelfth day of October.”

The new prince was christened three days later in the Chapel Royal at Hampton Court Palace. He was baptised “Edward”. Jane was well enough to receive visitors after the christening but by 18th October she was seriously ill. Jane died on 24th October 1537. Her son became King Edward VI on 28th January 1547, following the death of his father.

Contrary to myth, Jane Seymour did not die as the result of a caesarean (C-section) – click here to read more about this myth.

Notes and Sources

  • Hall, Edward. Hall’s chronicle : containing the history of England, during the reign of Henry the Fourth, and the succeeding monarchs, to the end of the reign of Henry the Eighth, in which are particularly described the manners and customs of those periods. Carefully collated with the editions of 1548 and 1550, p. 825.
  • Wriothesley, Charles. A chronicle of England during the reigns of the Tudors, from A.D. 1485 to 1559 (1875 edition), p65-67
  • Heylyn, Peter (1600-1662) Ecclesia restaurata; or, The history of the Reformation of the Church of England, Volume I (1849), p14

10 thoughts on “12 October 1537 – A prince for Henry VIII and Jane Seymour”

  1. Michael Wright says:

    Because of the way Anne was treated for not giving Henry a son I often think about this possible alternate history:
    1) Jane survives the birth of Edward.
    2) Edward dies in 1553.
    3) Henry doesn’t die in 1547 but is alive well past the death of Edward.

    My question is how does Henry treat Jane?
    Though this is a moot exercise I am really interested in people’s opinions.

    1. Anyanka says:

      for me..

      Henry would have kept getting Jane pregnant because that’s what a wife was for. Henry would have cherished her as the mother of his oldest living son and for her other sons and daughters.

      She would never have felt that she would be replaced. She may well have died in childbirth following another pregnancy.

      Jane, I think, had hidden depths. Once she was secure as queen by birthing Edward, she would have been crowned as Elisabeth of York was. She probably would have tried to ease the Reformation but I doubt if Henry would allow her to have much influence over policy.

      Jane would be the best at the power behind the throne as opposed to either KoA or AB. I feel she would have been queen in the mould of Katherine Parr.Trying to bring the various parts of Henry’s family together. Though I doubt she would have expected Elizabeth or her own daughters to be as highly educated as Mary was.

      1. Michael Wright says:

        Thank you so much for that. I am very narrow minded and not too positive when it comes to Henry and I really needed to hear the opinions of others to help alleviate my bias against him and see him in a more balanced and accurate light.

  2. Christine says:

    It’s hard to imagine how Jane would have been treated had her son pre deceased them both but her character was totally unlike that of Henrys second queen, although Anne Boleyn cannot be blamed for her miscarriages her behaviour did not endear people to her and she nagged at Henry and upbraided him for his mistresses, so much that he began to be increasingly irritated by her, made an enemy of Cromwell when once they had been friends, was hated by her stepdaughter and even her uncle insulted her calling her a whore, Jane was on the other hand quiet and of a much more calm demeanour, she knew her place and did her duty by the King, presenting him with an heir and the catholic faction was pleased they had a queen of the old religion at his side, Anne had been seen as the destroyer of the true faith, the cause of the break with Rome and of deposing good Queen Katherine from her place, and much worse, she had not respected her position or her husband’s but had slept with five men one her own brother, and had conspired the Kings death, she had been executed and her name was not allowed to be mentioned ever, her flirty behaviour and alluring ways had made it easy to get the charges of adultery look feasible but what could they put on Jane? She was as different from Anne as chalk from cheese, of little beauty and no great wit, Henry had been a free man when they married and Jane had had no previous betrothal, her name has never been linked with any other man save the King so there would have no grounds for divorce as what he did with his fourth wife – pre contract, had his mother lived and Edward died tragically as a boy I cannot see Henry trying to get rid of Jane, besides she could by then have given him another son or two, children died easily in an age where there were no vaccinations for childhood ailments, there was the dreaded sweat and malaria which Henry himself had suffered from in his youth, he had lost his natural son Henry Fitzroy not long after Anne Boleyns death and between himself and Katherine had buried many children so he was no stranger to heartbreak, however had she not given Henry anymore sons I do believe he would have maybe thought of trying with another wife, but no beheading that would not have been necessary, poor Jane I believe would have retired to a monastery without causing much trouble, but who knows? Theirs could have gone on to be a most successful marriage.

  3. Michael Wright says:

    Thank you so much for that. I can’t believe that for as long as I have asked myself this question I never took Jane’s personality into consideration. You’re absolutely right. I’m really glad I put this question out there. I can really see how Anne’s combativeness made it easier for Henry to believe the various charges against her. Or at least to go along with them.

    1. Christine says:

      Your welcome Michael, and when one dislikes a person or how they behave, it is very easy to believe or want to believe the worst of them.

      1. Michael Wright says:

        Perfectly stated.

  4. Banditqueen says:

    After two days of labour, the poor woman must have been exhausted as well as relieved and overjoyed to have a son. Henry let doctors into the room this time and there is some belief that as they dare not touch the Queen intimately, any afterbirth getting stuck would not have been attended to and it was this Queen Jane passed a few days later, before she died. This was also the cause of her infection and the midwife would have known to sort it much sooner. The fact is we know very little about the birthing room, only what we can get from anecdotes and the odd letter, midwifery books and the rules of decorum. We get very little idea about how women felt or the birth itself. It is a closed door.

    1. Anyanka says:

      I had a retained placenta with DD1. I was lucky enough that there were no more urgent cases than me in the Ob/Gen operating theaters.

      I was in surgery for over 2 hours for the extraction. Fortunately I was asleep due to an epidural and exhaustion. Manual extraction isn’t a pleasant procedure even for late 20th C medical teams. I know nothing like that would/could have been performed on Jane.

      1. Banditqueen says:

        Thanks for that information, Anyanka, that sounds horrible. I was going on information that a historian of midwifery had expounded on the Helen Castor documentary some time ago. I think you’re absolutely right, it sounds like something far too complex and painful for the sixteenth century, especially as you had a two hours operation. I hope you were well afterwards.

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