14 May 1536 – One woman is falling and another is rising

On this day in history, Sunday 14th May, twelve days after the arrest of Queen Anne Boleyn and the day before her trial for high treason, King Henry VIII sent Sir Nicholas Carew to collect Jane Seymour from Carew’s country home and to bring her to Chelsea.

Jane had been sent away from court to prevent gossip about the king’s relationship with her, but the king wanted her close to him now, and the property at Chelsea was within a mile of his lodgings.

While one woman had only five days left to live, another was waiting in the wings to take her place as queen. It just doesn’t seem right, does it? Henry VIII didn’t waste any time!

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9 thoughts on “14 May 1536 – One woman is falling and another is rising”
  1. Henry must’ve thought that everyone other than himself was daft. Geez, at least wait until your previous wife is gone before bringing out the next one. This isn’t just a matter of proper decorum, if you want people to accept that this sham is on the up and up at least pretend it’s legitimate. Henry just could seem to see what a monster he appeared to be. A lot of this had to have been apparent even in May of 1536.

  2. I have always thought Anne was innocent of adultry and really still do. That being said recently I have thought about the possibility of what if she knew without a male heir Henry would replace her or worse. Since some say he was impotent maybe she was trying to conceive an heir with these men. I’m not sure even I can believe this but I guess it could be a possibility

    1. But then if he was impotent for Anne to try to pass of a son as his would not work would it? As Henry would know that the child would not be his.

      1. Not totally impotent as he fathered a child with Jane Seymour after Anne. Maybe Henry had already lost a lot of interest in Anne and rarely bedded her thus decreasing her chances of giving Henry a much longed for heir and increasing the chances of Henry replacing her. After he did it to Katherine for Anne so she knew he’d do it to her. Complicated I wish we knew more

        1. I am sorry to be a sceptic, but we don’t actually have any evidence for Henry being impotent at this time of his life, outside of gossip. If he was impotent then why was Katherine pregnant at least six times and maybe even more that we don’t know about? Henry also made Anne pregnant at least three times, probably even four in less than three years. He only fathered one child with Jane Seymour because she died. In short he didn’t have any problems making his first two wives, but tragically they were unable to carry the children to term, apart from two daughters. Henry may have had a genetic problem, his wives may have had one, they may also have had rare blood disorders or as with many people have been unlucky as many parents were because children died regularly and women miscarried regularly, although Henry’s wives had more than usual, they may have had other undiagnosed medical problems, the theories are unproven and many, we just do not know. Whatever the causes of these tragic miscarriages and babies who died, it had nothing to do with impotency. The only evidence for Henry being impotent was the conversation Anne had with her sister by law, Jane Boleyn, Lady Rochford in which she said Henry couldn’t satisfy a woman, but really is this evidence or a wife who has fallen out with her husband?

          It is possible that Henry may have suffered very occasionally from impotence when he was in his last year of his marriage to Anne, his mid forties onwards. Even so it would be totally nutty for Anne to have sex with someone else at such times as Henry would know the baby wasn’t his, even if he was obliged to accept it as such. A husband was assumed to be the father, even if they were not, unless they denounced the children. The theory that Anne may have had sex with a lover because Henry was incapable is not accepted by most historians but has been muted by Philippa Gregory as the reason she slept with her brother, which she sets them up to do in her novel The Other Boleyn Girl. One historian George Bernard also believes Anne slept with Mark Smeaton and Henry Norris, but this too is based on dubious evidence. Neither scenario are very likely.

          The only other piece of evidence to support rumours that Henry may have had sexual problems was the note passed to George Boleyn by Thomas Cromwell at his trial. Told not to read it, George being bold and cocky did so anyway and before 2000 onlookers declared that he had joked about the King’s potency. The laughter must have been embarrassing. George was also accused of insulting the King’s clothes and that Elizabeth was not his daughter, charges he denied. He may have joked about the potency of the King, but it is doubtful George Boleyn would impugn the name of his niece, the King’s daughter and insult his own sister, the Queen by these words. None of this is evidence of any impotence before 1536/7.

          We do believe that Henry suffered from periods of impotency in his last decade due to growing age, weight and ill health. We know this because he asked his doctor for help with this problem and his last child was born in 1537. He didn’t even get the young and presumably fertile Katherine Howard with child. When he married Jane Seymour he expressed fears that he may not have children with her and she was several months sleeping with Henry before she conceived a son. Now of course we cannot count Jane too much as she died shortly afterwards or Anne of Cleves as the marriage was not consummated for other reasons. However, with Katherine there appears to have been a period of satisfaction early on and then periods of ill health and impotency, depression and even separating himself from her. With Katherine Parr, Henry was ailing and most probably did have sexual problems at least part of the time, due to his great size and his age and many health problems, something which is backed up by the fact she had a child with Thomas Seymour, after three childless marriages to older men, a year after Henry’s death.

    2. If Henry was having problems, like impotency, then he would know that the baby wasn’t his, though. It really wouldn’t help turning to another man.

  3. You cannot prevent gossip and Henrys preference for Jane was apparent before Annes arrest, and he was kidding himself if he thought now was the time to bring her out so to speak, generally after ones wife had been dead a year it was considered respectable enough to re marry then, and this was the norm for Kings as well as commoners, so Henry by having Jane living nearby and he would be seen making regular visits to her, was not acting within the degrees of respectability, it was in fact highly provocative and like before when peoples sympathies were with Katherine, especially women, now there was a tide of sympathy for Anne, it was Henrys behaviour that was odd, there was Jane being treated like a Queen already and no doubt she was planning her wedding with excitement, she must have had dreams which included helping Henrys elder daughter and turning England back to what she believed was the true faith, we do not know when he asked Jane to be his wife, his interest in her had been growing over the past year and quite possibly he had first noticed her when he had visited her fathers house, he found her company pleasant as she did not argue with him and try to be clever, she was calm and he must have found her presence soothing after the volatile behaviour of Anne, he found himself thinking maybe she would make a fine wife and give him a son or two, after Anne lost her last baby he must have decided to make a clean break from her, she could never give him a healthy son but Jane maybe able to, she was not exactly young for Tudor times but still younger than his harridan of a wife, so after some courting after which he gave her some gifts he must have spoke of marriage and she must have agreed to marry him, no doubt he told her the same he had told Anne years before, do not worry you will soon be my queen, he must have said, but this time he did not intend to wait for years and years, no – he was not a young man anymore and he was sick of Anne, she had to go and go quickly, Jane quite possibly believed Anne was guilty although common sense would have told her it was highly unlikely, but she may have had Henrys gift of believing what was convenient for her at the time and it appears she had never liked her former mistress much anyway, she had been a supporter of Katherine and had very strong sympathy for Mary, now she would be in a position to help her and in fact she incurred Henrys wrath much later when she tried to get her reinstated in the succession, this is one of the aspects of Janes character I like, she tried to do her best for those more unfortunate for herself and she also pleaded with the King about the closure of the monasteries, it’s her disregard for her former mistress I find baffling but she no doubt blamed her for Katherine who she had also served, and Marys unhappiness so maybe she’s not that hard to understand, looking at her portrait she looks decidedly plain, her nose is large and she has a small pinched mouth, there is another portrait of her where she is dressed in gold and in that one she appears more attractive, she is described as colourless and her skin so pale as to look too white, although a pink and white complexion was highly praised a too pale one was not, Chapyus himself said she was no beauty and he described her as a bit haughty, he reckoned she was not virtuous either, seeing as how she had been long at court, certainly the court was immoral and people indulged in love affairs but Jane seems to have had no suitors except the King himself, but when we consider this was a most horrible situation with one queen imprisoned awaiting trial and possible death, and the next queen to be all ready to step into her shoes, it has an air of immorality about it because it seems that Anne was only in the Tower so the King could replace her with Jane, and this is why people never believed she was treated fairly, he should have waited at least a bit longer before he wed Jane but he married her within two weeks of Annes death, no wonder sympathy was with Anne, it was no way for a King to behave, visions of wedding bells and the sword intermingled over Henrys court, a forsaken queen and a new one with her brides bouquet, the difference was startling and ghoulish.

  4. This was the Government believing and spinning it’s own propaganda and now making certain that was what was believed abroad. The Queen is really being painted as out of control sexually, spearheading a major conspiracy to kill the King and rule with one of their illegitimate children passed off as the true heir and to marry her lover. This terrible plot and the Queen’s rank behaviour have been discovered and all guilty parties brought to justice and everyone must be thankful that the King and country have been delivered from these evil treasonous plots. The Ambassadors are being given the official state version and told to take the news to their masters. There is certainly no pretence of embarrassment or hint that this is anything but a real and present danger, that everything people have heard about Anne sleeping with many lovers and plotting with them is true and the discovery of her conspiracy and betrayal is both miraculous and something to be grateful for. The King has been saved from an evil woman who is nothing but a common wh*re and from her evil design to murder him. This is how the rest of Europe are meant to see it and it is totally shocking. The black legend has been painted and Henry is a victim of betrayal and deceit. Heaven only knows what these Ambassadors made of it all, but the lies they were fed are being presented as truth and condemned in the harshest terms.

    As for Jane, well she has been moved out of the way while all this is going on and kept away from the terrible events in London. Now Henry sends for her as he knows he is soon to be a widow. Sir Nicholas Carew a supporter of Jane and of Princess Mary, is coaching her and moved her closer to the King, to his home in Chelsea. Now she really is a Queen in waiting. I don’t believe Jane Seymour had anything to do with Anne’s downfall but her family had supported Cromwell and moved her into place so as Henry noticed her. Anne became vulnerable and the Seymour and Aragonese faction were able to influence events in their favour. Now all their hooes lay in Jane and she was on a mission. Although she had obviously agreed to marry Henry, she possibly had little choice now regardless of how she felt about the events around Anne and the others. She could do nothing about it and seemed willing to accept it. We can’t even speculate on her thoughts or feelings, but Jane was starting to see herself as the next Queen, was honoured as such, according to Elizabeth Norton saw herself as an advocate for peace and Princess Mary and marriage to the King was her destiny. She accepted the homage showed her and the stark contrast between Anne in despair in the Tower, sad and without friends and Jane, preparing her wedding dress, jewellery, make-up, getting ready, surrounded by friends and family, couldn’t be more extreme.

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