20 Interesting Facts about Jane Seymour

Jane Seymour was the third wife of King Henry VIII, the mother of King Edward VI and the sister of Edward Seymour, Duke of Somerset and Lord Protector, and Thomas Seymour, Baron Seymour of Sudeley.

Even though she was queen for a relatively short period, Jane Seymour is still an interesting Tudor lady, and in this latest “Facts about…” instalment, I share 20 interesting facts about her. Did you know all of them?

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3 thoughts on “20 Interesting Facts about Jane Seymour”
  1. My favourite picture of Jane is the one where she is dressed in the gown of gold with the dark sleeves and matching cap, in it she looks softer and more approachable, so much nicer that the Holbein one where she looks stiff and unattractive, she was queen for only fifteen months and made little impact on the English court, yet during that time she did try to assert herself by pleading for the restoration of the monasteries, Henry was not amused and we have to remember she had tried to reconcile him with Mary, yet he was not easily swayed and only by signing away the validity of her parents marriage, was she allowed back into his embrace, maybe Jane had been too vocal on the subject of the monasteries but he told her in no uncertain terms not to meddle in his affairs, with brutal honesty he then reminded her what happened to her predecessor, in other words he was threatening her with execution, he must have been quite angry with Jane to say that, and the poor woman must have been terrified, but to her credit and common sense she spoke no more on the subject to the king, it just goes to show Jane was not the weak little woman that she is often portrayed as, quite demure and humble but she was a champion of what she thought was right and honest, and had the courage to speak up for it, on her blood relationship to Queens Anne Boleyn and Catherine Howard, this is a subject many writers don’t often comment about, iv read many fiction books on Anne but none of them have ever remarked that they shared the same grandmother in Lady Elizabeth Tylney , both Anne’s and Jane’s mother were at court in service to Queen Katherine, and they could have been quite close, however no such cordiality existed between their two daughters, in the power struggle at Henry’s court, it just goes to show blood was not thicker in the case of the Boleyn’s and Seymours, when the king showed an interest in the Seymours eldest daughter they immediately saw a chance to promote their own interests and maybe, a return to Catholicism, Cromwell became their ally and offered Jane his own apartments at court, Jane became a bit haughty no doubt the result of being the kings favourite lady, it was a trait Chapyus remarked upon and also, he and others were baffled as to what the king saw in her, no one thinks she has much beauty he said, small pale and plump with a strong nose small pursed mouth and small piggy like eyes, it seems her only saving grace was her calm serene demeanour, Henry I believe did not look at Jane’s face when he began courting her, he knew her family was quite large with two healthy sons, Edward and Thomas the younger, she also had several sisters, I think he thought she would be fertile as she came from a fertile family, by now with two failed marriages behind him both that had produced no sons, he began to seriously consider Jane as a queen that would be able to give him that son, a brood mare nothing more, he was not in love with her there’s appears to have been no passion, this is borne out by the remark he made after their marriage when he saw two beautiful ladies at court, he expressed regret he had not known them before, not exactly the words of a man in love, I hope Jane never got to hear those words because that was not exactly the right start to a marriage, she is said to have been schooled on what to say to the king how to act and such, given advice is how I prefer to see it, I think she was very much her own woman as her argument over the monasteries and Mary proves, we do not know her feelings on Anne Boleyn, but we do know she was great friends with Mary and had loved and served Katherine faithfully, in her defence I would assume she thought, along with the majority at court, that Anne was a wicked woman without remorse or feeling, on Anne’s arrest and execution I would also assume that she felt she got what she deserved, even though being so long at court, she must have pondered on the ludicrous charges against her former mistress, as she would have known it was no easy feat for a queen to commit adultery, and certainly not with five lovers, she did not fall pregnant easily as by now Henry was not as fertile as in his youth, yet when she did become pregnant the king and country were overjoyed, yet how many times had people prayed up and down the country in the churches and in their homes and private chapels for a safe delivery, Jane however did give Henry V111 a Prince and heir, and there were banquets feasting, jousting bonfires, the whole country was mad with happiness, but Jane’s triumph became her death and she is remembered for giving the king his only son who survived childhood, Alison Weir notes of people’s descriptions of Jane and how pale she always seemed to be, one theory is she could have been anaemic, unknown in Tudor times and which could have been a factor in the health issues which, ultimately led to her demise, Weir had a lengthy discussion on the subject with a midwife, she could have been correct, Jane could have been anaemic, a doctor told me once he could see by looking in my eyes that I was not anaemic, in early times childbirth was so hazardous the expectant mother wrote her will, because there was a strong possibility she would not survive the ordeal, when she believed she was pregnant, Mary 1st wrote her will yet sadly, her dreams of motherhood were not to be, she suffered from phantom pregnancies is one theory, yet it is also thought the swelling of her belly was a sign of something more sinister, cancer is a possibility, Jane survived for a few days after then delirium took hold, she had blood poisoning and in those days nothing could be done, maybe it was a blessing she did not know what was happening to her, and Henry was distraught, he had come to respect her and was eternally grateful for the precious gift she had given him, the long arduous ordeal of childbirth which had travailed for two days was finally over, her poor worn out body finally succumbed to blessed infinity and she gave her soul up to god, Mary was chief mourner and long after Jane had been interred in her resting place, Henry shut himself up in his apartments with only his fool for company, his grief was genuine and maybe in his own way, he had come to love her, as token of his esteem he requested his body be laid to rest beside hers on his death, for a young woman of no great beauty and so quiet and unobtrusive, Jane really did not do so bad after all.

  2. I definitely believe that Jane Seymour was not as demure as Henry thought she was. The Seymours and their allies, i. e Thomas Cromwell and Nicholas Carew and so on were as politically ambitious as the Boleyn faction and they were causing trouble before Anne’s arrest and execution. Pamphlets being circulated by members of this faction no doubt telling how unpopular the King and Queen were snd another set of pamphlets being circulated about how people were murmuring about Jane and Henry. This was because Henry was showing off another woman whom he intended to marry before his Queen had been tried. Then je was getting engaged to her before his poor Queen was cold in her grave. Henry married Jane just eleven days later. People murmured about it. They were horrified not only at the execution of an anointed Queen, they were shocked at the speed with which Henry had married again. Now there is something I read once about what they called Rogation Days coming up. These marked a space between certain feast days and you couldn’t marry during them. At least that’s what I read but I could be mistaken. Perhaps Henry wanted to marry at the first lawful opportunity before having to wait. I have actually just looked them up and we are in a cycle now because of Easter. The cycle now is from 10th April to 12th May, which will be Ascension Thursday. Rogation days are dsys of prayer and fasting and processing in the Western Catholic Church. The Major Rogation is 25th April with three days before Ascension. This cycle would have been around the time shortly after Anne’s execution. If that was the case then Henry would have had to wait to marry Jane and he obviously didn’t want to delay, so arranged their wedding for the earliest date possible.

    However, his marriage to Jane was super fast and very distasteful. I don’t really blame Jane because she probably didn’t choose the date. As a more devout Catholic than the King, a traditional Catholic, Jane would have observed the usual rules. Henry as the Head of the Church in England now made those rules and Jane followed suit. She was told to prepare for her wedding on something like 15th May, before Anne’s trial, showing it was all decided in advance. Jane obviously wanted to marry the King but I doubt she intended Anne to be executed. By the same token, however, she couldn’t do anything about it and believed it was her destiny to be Queen.

    Nicholas Carew had taken Jane under his wing and prepared her for her marriage, taught her how to handle the King and no doubt provided her with inside information. Jane was sent away to her parents home during Anne’s trial and then moved to stay with Carew near Greenwich. This was also to protect her reputation and to keep her away from the dreadful happenings in London. Anne was locked up in the Tower, forlorn of all hope, awaiting her death, as Jane was heralded and triumphantly treated as Queen. No wonder people complained and wrote pamphlets and were in shock. A little after Anne’s death he was having a party with many beautiful women invited. He really didn’t care about Anne in the Tower and she felt abandoned and alone. Jane had no power to help Anne, but maybe she wasn’t interested herself as she wanted to be Queen in order to help Princess Mary. This cause was very close to her heart and she set out to restore her as soon as Anne was dead.

    Mary had good reason to hope Jane would help her because she was a supporter of her mother, Katharine of Aragon. Mary wrote to Henry and to Queen Jane, the latter encouraged her with kind words. Mary asked Cromwell how she should seek her father’s blessings and sent him a letter. However, Henry wasn’t planning to just forgive Mary. Jane did speak for her, more than once and Henry brushed her off. Now Mary tried and he sent a delegation to demand her submission. The poor girl was shocked and disappointed. However, Chapuys did indeed persuade her Mary to obey her father and submit, saying that the marriage between her parents was invalid and she was illegitimate. She crossed her fingers and signed without reading the articles. Afterwards Henry and Jane visited her and Henry gave her lots of money for her expenses and a diamond. Now that she had submitted, Mary was allowed back to Court and restored in every way, save the succession. Her relationship with her father was good from this point onwards and Mary was godmother to Edward, her brother. She was the chief mourner at Jane’s funeral in November 1537.

    Jane challenged Henry more than once. She brought to his attention the plight of the religious houses and begged for their restoration. She also pleaded for mercy for the pilgrims from the North, whom were rebels and played well her traditional role as Queen intercessor for those in need of mercy and help. However, Henry was having none of it. He rebuked her and told her to recall the fate of Anne Boleyn. Now we know that Anne was really executed for being a meddling woman. Henry had set himself up as Head of the Church and this questioned his authority as such, something he would no longer tolerate. I don’t believe Henry quite got what he was expecting in Jane. He underestimated her courage and her own convictions. She had her own independent beliefs and was willing to take risks for them. Jane, however, hadn’t yet given Henry a son and this weakened her position. Goodness knows what she might have achieved had she lived. I doubt Henry would have denied her anything. Having given Henry his son at long last, Jane was triumphant, if only very briefly before death took her. Henry was devastated and withdrew from public view for several months after her death. Jane may well have had more sons if it hadn’t been for her death and maybe her mission would be taken more seriously.

  3. Henry’s hasty marriage to Jane and his cavorting about during her arrest and trial was really shameless, and it just goes to show how little he cared about his reputation, the old harridan was under lock and key, soon to be disposed of, he had a new love he was about to be wed, he as cheery as a schoolboy, he cared nothing for his second queens plight, like years before he had abandoned Katherine now he was doing the same to Anne, I think Jane was brave and her demeanour hid a steely reserve, for she must have thought of what would happen to her if she also, failed to give the king a son, her family also yes just as ambitious as the Boleyn’s, did not seem to worry about their Jane either, in this they were I believe different to the Boleyn’s, Anne had fled from Henry only giving in when he proposed marriage, her father and possibly mother to, were not content with the situation and Thomas was not happy with her marrying the king, with the Seymours they actually pushed Jane into his path and it seems a sneaky thing to do but this was the court of Henry V111 and really, it was no different from other ages, there was always power struggles, Queen Elizabeth Woodville gave a lot of prominent positions to her relations which caused friction and jealousy at court, the pamphlet’s make me laugh, if only one had survived so we could see what they said, Anne had not been popular but her plight aroused the people’s sympathy, and their kings behaviour looked distasteful, especially when rumours about Jane began to surface, for decency’s sake he kept her away from court but news has a habit of filtering out, and a ballad was soon circulating through the London streets, about the king and his fancy woman, Henry was furious when he heard and, wrote to Jane informing her he would deal with the fellow when he was caught, however he never was and Henry must have realised then that his behaviour was not well thought of, he could make people quake before him, they bowed and curtsied but he had no power over their thoughts, the people looked towards the Tower and muttered, at court also people were muttering there was a sense of injustice being done, Chapyus himself for so long Anne’s enemy did not believe the charges against her, Chapyus really was an admirable man fair minded and decent, and although he had been Katherine and Mary’s champion for so long he did not let his feelings towards Anne effect his judgement, there were hushed whispers at court and everyone must have fallen silent when toad faced Cromwell appeared, imagine the atmosphere and poor Jane lady Rochford, how must she have felt and the families of Weston Brereton Norris as well, and there was poor Mark Smeaton who must have been feeling dreadful over his false accusations, we know nothing about the origins of this lowly musician where he came from, his family etc, most likely he came from a poor family but his skill at music delighted Henry V111 and he was soon in his employ, he then entertained the queen in her apartments he is said to have had a beautiful singing voice to, it seems impossible that amidst all the merrymaking Henry was involved in, dining most nights and being entertained and entertaining himself, it was also rumoured he used to dine with Jane at Nicholas Carew’s house, that on the other end of the scale there were five people condemned to die and it seems almost macabre, like jumping on someone’s graves, or in this case five peoples graves, Henry did not act like a king, he loved to look like a king he dressed magnificently, his court was one of the magnificent in Europe, yet in behaviour he acted almost childlike like a child in a toy shop, he showed no restraint no decency and no proper protocol at all in his marital adventures, his indecent engagement and marriage to Jane could have been because he thought he had waited twenty years for a son from Katherine, then seven for a son with Anne, and thought by now time was passing him by, he could not afford to wait another year for marriage with Jane which would have been the decent proper thing to do, they must wed as soon as possible so she could give him his son, I believe urgency was at the heart here, he had had a very bad fall from his horse when Anne was queen which could have been the reason she had sadly miscarried, he may have though he could die just like that from some disease, he was mortal after all, and he was frightened of illness, the old question arose in his mind again, he would leave England without a son, so although his hasty engagement and marriage shocked everyone i believe he did it for the safety of his realm, but then there was the case of little Catherine Howard why marry her? He set himself up for a lot of heartache, one historian has wondered why he ever married her, why just not take her for his mistress? she was by then his fifth queen and he already had his son, he had been unfortunate in his four former marriages, not with Jane but she had died, we know that it was always preferable to have two and Henry himself knew just how fleeting life was, he had only become king on the death of his brother, but he appeared to just want to marry Catherine because he was enamoured of her, not because of any sons she might have, there are no sources that tell us he complained because she never fell pregnant, he just seemed to enjoy her company, young and exciting as she was and pretty I think he was trying to recapture his lost youth there, had Jane lived she could well have given him another son but somehow I doubt it, had she survived her ordeal I think her body might have been too damaged to give birth safely again, like in the case of Margaret Beaufort, but at least her and the king would have both taken joy in their son as he grew up, Edward was a precocious little boy, and his portrait by Holbein as a toddler is charming he is pink and chubby, he was a healthy baby too the rumours about him being a sickly child are false, Jane could have been a good queen because she did try to involve herself in many matters, she was also an expert needlewoman and her work is on display today, she is said to have introduced Henry to the delights of this womanly pursuit and had she lived I think she would have delighted in making little gowns and caps for Edward, she was also a good horsewoman, being a daughter of the country gentry she would have ridden from an early age, she was no dullard she had been schooled like others of her class as to how to run a large household, being queen however is a bit different, but she managed perfectly in her short tenure as queen, even though he chided her for interfering, she probably dreamed of the country being returned to Catholicism but that would never happen, she was good friends with her stepdaughter and for the first time in years Mary must have been happy, it’s a charming scene to picture the three of them walking in the gardens and dining together, to picture Mary and Jane plying their needle, but her happiness like her fathers was short lived when Jane departed from life, the country had seen two queens die and their king this time, showed no urgency in being tied to wedlock again, he shut himself way and Cromwell and others barely saw him, he neglected his duties, it was a whole year before he begs in to seriously consider marrying again.

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