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1st April 1536 – Jane Seymour and Henry VIII

Posted By on April 1, 2012

On this day in history, 1st April 1536, Eustace Chapuys wrote a very long and detailed letter to his master, Emperor Charles V, in which he mentioned an incident concerning King Henry VIII and his alleged new flame, Jane Seymour.

Chapuys wrote of how he’d heard that the King had sent Jane “a purse full of sovereigns” and that on receiving the purse, Jane had kissed the letter and begged the messenger to tell the King that she could not take the purse because “she was a gentlewoman of good and honorable parents, without reproach, and that she had no greater riches in the world than her honor, which she would not injure for a thousand deaths, and that if he wished to make her some present in money she begged it might be when God enabled her to make some honorable match.”

According to Chapuys, Jane was being coached by Sir Nicholas Carew and the Catholic faction in how to appeal to the King and also to  tell him how much the people of England “detested” his marriage to Anne Boleyn. Was Jane’s behaviour all part of an act or was she simply being a virtuous woman who was concerned about her reputation? It’s hard to know. Whatever the truth behind Jane’s actions, Henry was warming to the thrill of the chase and had moved Edward Seymour and his wife, Anne Stanhope, into Cromwell’s chamber (poor Cromwell had been moved) to make it easier for him to see Jane.

Notes and Sources

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

30 thoughts on “1st April 1536 – Jane Seymour and Henry VIII”

  1. Lisa c says:

    Sorry but she wanted the crown and Queen Anne gone.

    1. Lady Brooke says:

      Hello myne awne sweethearts,
      Such. Joy to find everyone getting together and discussing our favorite people during
      Our favorite century. I don’t agree with the term that Jane didn’t get the crown because Anne had it. I believe that all the Tudor consorts possessed different allure, mystery and intrigue. All of them in likeness of being very intelligent, quick witted and well learned. I think that they had to be to keep Henry’s affection close to the heart. Janes motto was ” to serve and obey.” Which is the personality that we have all come to know her by, there was such a strong bond, the English people were once again in a religious upheaval. And Chapuys was in her head all the time often encouraging her to keep strong in her faith, and to bring Mary around more often which is what Jane did. On that note I don’t see anyone

    2. Lady Brooke says:

      Hello myne awne sweethearts,
      Such. Joy to find everyone getting together and discussing our favorite people during
      Our favorite century. I don’t agree with the term that Jane didn’t get the crown because Anne had it. I believe that all the Tudor consorts possessed different allure, mystery and intrigue. All of them in likeness of being very intelligent, quick witted and well learned. I think that they had to be to keep Henry’s affection close to the heart. Janes motto was ” to serve and obey.” Which is the personality that we have all come to know her by, there was such a strong bond, the English people were once again in a religious upheaval. And Chapuys was in her head all the time often encouraging her to keep strong in her faith, and to bring Mary around more often which is what Jane did. On that note she is considered to be the milk of human compassion, Jane had to be something amazing, to even get Henry to notice her. And she was indeed beautiful, but in a more common way. I could picture Anne and it literally takes my breath away.
      Lady Brooke

      1. Lady Brooke says:

        Also I think we should

  2. Lois Bateson says:

    Jane Seymour was no fool. I think she played it the only way she could. When the king showed his favour to anyone, they didn’t really have a choice. She was definitely not a stupid woman, she obviously saw and learned what the king was capable of and she did what she had to do. And she did it quite well, I think. Plus she had the boy he always wanted and then poor Jane died. At least she did of natural causes and didn’t suffer the axe or sword. She couldn’t run and hide so she had to play the game…..or else. Glad I didn’t live back then but love to read about it. Great article 🙂 thanks

  3. Melissa says:

    Ugh. Honorable parents? Wasn’t her father sleeping with his daughter-in-law? That family was worse than the Boleyns in any way I can think of.

    1. Eliza says:

      Really? I hadn’t heard that before..

      1. Sherri says:

        Yup, Jane’s father was sleeping with his daughter in law and was actually alright living with her. They had several children together.

        Sherri

        1. Eliza says:

          That doesn’t sound like honorable at all!! 😉

  4. Emma says:

    The conservative faction at court had been waiting for an opportunity to get rid of Anne and her failure to produce an heir coupled with Henry’s interest in Jane was their opportunity. It seems certain that Jane was coached to undermine Anne and there is no evidence to suggest that she was reluctant to do so. Having said that it does not automatically mean that she was putting on an act. If Henry had become interested in her whilst married to Catherine or if his marriage to Anne had been secure she may have still not have wanted to have become his mistress.

  5. Brenda says:

    When Jane says “no”, she is a smart manipulative girl. But when Anne said “no” (don´t remember what´s the name of the post where it was being discussed) she was being honest and pure. I would really like people to judge history with a cold head and without choosing teams. It´s the only way to find the true -which is elusive enough-

    1. Claire says:

      What we do know is that Jane was being coached and manipulated by the Catholic Conservatives so her reaction could have been down to them telling her what to do or it could have been a spontaneous reaction from a woman who was shocked by Henry’s gift and wanted to protect her virtue. Whatever the truth, things started moving fast from then on.

    2. Eliza says:

      Brenda, I think that Anne didn’t know that her “no” would lead her to the crown.. Whereas Jane knew of Anne’s story, so she had a clue that denying the King could make her Queen eventually. At least that’s what I think.

      1. Brenda says:

        Yes, this makes sense. But isn´t it possible that Anne was being coached by her family, also? They both played the same game, I think, and both were victorious for a short moment

        1. Eliza says:

          Of course, we can’t exclude any possiblity. How I wish Anne’s or Henry’s or Jane’s diary would miraculously found!! So that we know once and for all the true feelings of these people!

        2. Brenda says:

          That ´d be sooo perfect that makes me cry, haha

  6. Ann says:

    The question of Edward Seymour’s wives is discussed in some detail at The Marital Misadventures of Edward Seymour, http://www.susanhigginbotham.com/blog/posts/the-marital-misadventures-of-edward-seymour/

    L.P.H.,

    Ann

  7. Angelina says:

    I think it was a bit of both – Jane was smart enough to not argue with those who wanted to use her as a pawn. Anne’s time had ended, and yes the Catholics wanted the woman who usurped their beloved Catherine gone, and Jane was ideal. I don’t think it was all an act, I believe Jane was truly the “peacemaker” she was labelled to be – she had been a lady-in-waiting to both Catherine of Aragon and Anne Boleyn, she knew how to act. She was from a nobel, courtier family she knew how to survive. She did take steps to take care of Anne’s daughter, Elizabeth, and of course reconcile Mary to her father and yes she gave England her prince. I still think it was both. I don’t believe that Jane was stupid and she played her part well – but I also believe kindness, mercy and compassion where apart of her nature.

  8. Kavita says:

    I think Cromwell gave up his chambers to the Seymours. I believe that’s how Schofield depicted it. Those two were on good terms with each other at this stage too, so it seems feasible.

    1. Emma says:

      Henry “Cromwell I’m moving Mistress Seymour into your chambers”

      Cromwell “Thank you, your majesty” (Thinks Wow, Mistress Seymour and I thought he had forgotten my birthday !”)

  9. Sherri says:

    I think that Jane was smarter than most people give her credit for. Did Jane have any choice in the matter when Henry made up his mind ??? I also think that Jane played the innocent naive vestal virgin and her physical attributes contributed to that image. Anne was the bold, flirtatious worldly vixen and her physical attributes were right on target for that image. So, in our times image and perception play a huge role and I imagine it did then also. Even today, looks play a huge part in what people think you are. My best friend has coloring (dark hair and eyes – same body type as Anne and physical attributes . Whereas, I am blonde, blue eyed and fair. People assume that I am innocent and naive and she is the opposite.

    But in the end I don’t think that either Anne or Jane had a choice. If they did, both of them would have married for love and happiness. I think that no matter what time period you lived in or live in people still wish to marry for love. Just like back then there are still marriages that are arranged in many cultures and societies.

    Jane was also pushed forward as the Catholics thought that if Jane were queen then the “true” religion would be recognized and things would go back to the way they were. Mary would also be reinstated. Henry had other ideas. None of that happened.

    Also, if some one blames Anne for being the “other woman” getting what she deserved then they must judge Jane as the “other woman” also and believe that she also got what she deserved.

    Even now in present times we blame the “other woman” for ruining a marriage when circumstances clearly show that it’s mostly the mans behavior that has caused the split.
    Has in Henry’s case with both Anne and Jane he took the initiative to pursue them. They just made the best of it.

    1. Brenda says:

      True. People don´t blame Henry enough for all the damage that he made.

      1. Baroness Von Reis says:

        Brenda,Your very correct on that reply,this King did what he wanted when he wanted,clearly did not care who was in his way!! Regards Baroness Von Reis

      2. Sigrid Aschelund says:

        I agree with you he was the one who started all that but it was never his fault if anything whent wrong and it has caused so much pain and lost life.

  10. Anne Barnhill says:

    I do think Jane was coached along and she had seen Henry in action before when he’d been refused. By claiming her virtue, she could say no and still be pursued…after all, she was there when it happened the first time. I agree that Anne said no and meant it–she didn’t have an agenda. Jane? I think she was seeing visions of the crown.

  11. kathleen murphy says:

    In this time period women were political pawns for their fathers or families..the only love allowed was romantic love. Anne and Jane had no choice in the matter. The king wanted them and would have them come hell or high water. Their families saw great oppprtunities coming their way through these daughters. Remember many of them including Anne and I believe Jane also, were sent to live with pther families at an early age. They weren’t in a loving family situation and a stable home enviornment like we were raised in the twentieth century. They had little say in their future. I think both women made the best of the the situation. Anne saw a way to power and thought she could make happiness by using that power to hurt her enemies an help her family. Jane being brought up in a gentler kinder way saw a way to happiness by being a mother to 2 children who had been neglected by their father
    She may have felt her child would suffer the same fate as the two previous if things didn’t change. Also remember Henry still considered himself a catholic not a protestant and i believe Anne was also. Henry’s father left him great wealth that Henry wasted and to keep up his life style he stole from the church and his people never benifited in fact were worse off than when the church owned the monestaries. That wealth at henrys fingertips was tempting to any family but especially the Seymors.

  12. Juliane says:

    Henry the april’s fool.

  13. Liutgard says:

    Why can’t we conceive of Jane being honest in her response to Henry here? Maybe she was coached by her family, but that doesn’t mean that she wanted it. She’d served Katherine, and she saw what had happened to her. Why must we assume that she was scheming?

    1. Claire says:

      That’s actually the question I was posing at the end of the article. I think it would have been in Jane’s nature to have acted like that anyway with the purse, but her coaching included talking to the King about his marriage.

  14. Rachel says:

    Given how women were regarded and treated in those times, most especially women of good families, I can’t honestly place blame on any of them. Jane was likely set before the King intentionally, then coached a whole lot.

    I just don’t believe most women in that period had much of a say in whom they married, how they acted in any given situation, and so on.

    Always the motives of men seem to behind many events in history.

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