On this day in history, the 20th May 1536, Eustace Chapuys, the Imperial Ambassador, wrote to Seigneur de Granvelle informing him of the latest developments in London:-
“Has just been informed, the bearer of this having already mounted, that Mrs. Semel [Seymour] came secretly by river this morning to the King’s lodging, and that the promise and betrothal (desponsacion) was made at 9 o’clock. The King means it to be kept secret till Whitsuntide; but everybody begins already to murmur by suspicion, and several affirm that long before the death of the other there was some arrangement which sounds ill in the ears of the people; who will certainly be displeased at what has been told me, if it be true, viz., that yesterday the King, immediately on receiving news of the decapitation of the putain entered his barge and went to the said Semel, whom he has lodged a mile from him, in a house by the river.”
From this one letter we know that as soon as the King heard that Anne Boleyn was dead he was on his way to see his new love and that at 9am on the 20th May, just one day after the execution of his previous wife, Henry VIII and Jane Seymour became officially betrothed. Talk about moving fast! Chapuys also makes the point that there was gossip about the King’s relationship long before Anne’s death, which, although Anne was not the most popular of people, caused ill feeling and sympathy for Anne’s plight.
I suspect that Henry VIII saw nothing wrong with his actions as, after all, he was acting in the best interest of his country by providing England with a new Queen to give him a son and heir. What did it matter that he was planning a wedding while his actual wife was in the Tower condemned to die? Henry had probably convinced himself that his marriage to Anne Boleyn was as cursed as his marriage to Catherine of Aragon and that he was doing the world a favour by getting rid of her. Henry could move on to a new love and a new life, but Anne had been denied that chance. It is no wonder that Henry neglected his daughter Elizabeth for a time, how could he look into those dark eyes and not think of the woman he had fought so hard to possess but had ended up killing?