24 October 1537 – Queen Jane Seymour dies at Hampton Court Palace
Posted By Claire on October 24, 2018
On this day in history, 24th October 1537, Henry VIII’s third wife, Jane Seymour, died at Hampton Court Palace. She had given birth to a baby boy, the future King Edward VI, on 12th October 1537 after a long and difficult labour, but had been taken ill shortly after Edward’s christening on 15th October.
In Letters and Papers, there is a record of the arrangements made following Jane Seymour’s death:
“A remembrance of the interment of Queen Jane, mother of Edward VI., who died at Hampton Court, 24 Oct., on Wednesday about 12 p.m., in child-bed, 29 Henry VIII.
Immediately upon this heavy news the King ordained the duke of Norfolk, High Marshal, and Sir Wm. Pawlet, Treasurer of the Household, to see to her burial; and he himself retired to a solitary place to pass his sorrows. The aforesaid councillors then sent for Garter and other of the Office of Arms to show precedents. First the wax-chandler did his office, taking out the entrails “with searing, balming, spicing, and trammeling in cloth,” then the plumber leaded, soldered, and chested; and her entrails were honourably interred in the chapel.” (LP xii. ii. 1260)
So Jane’s heart and entrails were buried in the Chapel Royal at Hampton Court Palace. The record then goes on to give details of the burial of Jane’s corpse in St George’s Chapel, Windsor Castle, on 13th November 1537. Jane’s step-daughter, the Lady Mary, acted as chief mourner.
You can read the primary source accounts of Jane’s illness and death in my article The Death of Queen Jane Seymour and midwife Dayna Goodchild wrote an excellent article on Jane’s labour and death for Tudor Life Magazine back in June and you can click here to read that now.
You can also read more about Jane Seymour in the following articles:
- Did Jane Seymour have a C-section?
- Jane Seymour – Guest Post by Lauren Johnson
- Jane Seymour: The Meek and Mild One?
- Jane Seymour: Redefining the Myth
Here is my 60-second history video on Jane Seymour if you just want to know the basics about Jane:
17 thoughts on “24 October 1537 – Queen Jane Seymour dies at Hampton Court Palace”
A sad day indeed for the family and the country but she had given England an heir. If Jane had survived and outlived Henry I’m guessing that the transfer of power from Henry to Edward would have been much smoother and perhaps Henry’s will would have been honored and Edward’s uncles Somerset and Sudeley would not have had a chance to do the stupid things that got them accused of treason and executed.
When I was a teenager (a long time ago) I read that Jane Seymour had miscarried before becoming pregnant with Edward. I have never seen reference to this anywhere else, and cannot remember where I read it. Is there any evidence to support this? She and Henry were married for 6 months before she became pregnant with Edward. It seems a long time.
I think that was in one of Jean Plaidy’s novels- Murder Most Royal.
Yes that’s right, it was Murder Most Royal, authors often stray from the facts when they write historical fiction but to be fair to Miss. Plaidy she did stick as close to the truth as possible which she always stated in her novels.
God bless you, gracious Queen. You were a gentle woman, a dutiful wife and a serene queen. Your reign may have been short but you helped unify a broken court and country with your pacifying efforts and securing the Tudor dynasty.
For some reason I cannot get the article, my iPad keeps reloading when it reaches the page never mind, hi Sheila I read that many years ago in a novel by Jean Plaidy, a work of historical fiction therefore that could be where you saw it also, I doubt it has any basis in truth, we know Henry V111 was rumoured to have problems in the bedchamber and as Jane did not fall pregnant right away there could have been more to the rumours than met the eye, it was first arisen at the trial of George Boleyn, I think however there could have been another reason why Jane did not fall pregnant sooner, it could be because Henry did not want any salacious gossip said about his queen and the reason for their hasty marriage, they could have been playing safe for the first six months after their marriage and death of his second queen, Janes death was terrible but not as terrible as his second wife’s, we can only sympathise really for the two of them who both died, albeit in different ways for Henrys quest for a son, Anne because she failed to give him one and Jane who triumphantly did but died as the result, in early times all they could do was pray that the Lord would spare the victim and I believe Henry did revere his third queen, she was the calm after the stormy relationship he had with Anne Boleyn, after the triumphant celebrations of the birth of the little prince her health declined, then like most people when death is near, she appeared to show signs of good health, then fever took over and she became delirious, she had diahhorea always dangerous in a very sick person as it leads to dehydration, the septicaemia that took hold travelled very fast as it always does and the consequences were fatal, poor Jane was described as a gentle soul and after the arduous labour she endured, she deserved to live but she was just another victims in those days, rich and poor alike in the trials of childbirth, Henry worried sick over his wife and child ordered his personal physician’s to enter the sacred bedchamber and they were not experienced as the midwives, no doubt they had no idea about strict hygiene and it is said their rough handling caused the infection, which later was to kill her, another theory is some of the placenta was lodged in her which the midwife would have taken out, her attendants were also blamed for serving her the rich foods she asked for but why deny her what she wanted? After her ordeal I’d say she deserved anything what she asked for and besides, it was not the food that killed her, it was lack of hygiene and she must have been ripped quite badly, it makes you wonder how in fact the human species has survived this long without the medical knowledge that we have nowadays, but man survives as nature always finds a way, poor Jane tried to help the unfortunate who suffered at the closure of the monasteries, she fought the lady Marys corner, maybe I should address her as the Princess Mary as she was born legitimate, whatever Henry V111 decreed, and her death left a gaping hole at court, Christmas that year must have been without much festivity, and it was a whole year thearabouts before Henry coerced by Cromwell, thought about marrying again, she alone lies next to Englands much married monarch for all eternity – the only queen of his who gave him a son who outlived infancy and who sadly died before he was able to fulfill his promise, RIP Queen Jane and her brilliant son King Edward V1.
Hi Christine. I think you are right; I used to read Jean Plaidy as a teenager. I don’t think Henry would have tried to avoid his new Queen becoming pregnant. Quite the reverse. We will never know.
Iv often wondered does Claire or maybe Bq know why her heart was buried in Hampton Court, I know that it was common for medieval monarchs to have their heart buried in other places but by the 16th c I believe it was becoming a bit of a rarity, did she request this herself or was it Henry V111 who decided and why Hampton Court, was it because she died there or was she fond of the place?
It is believed that Henry Viii probably ordered the heart of his beloved Jane to be buried at the place of honour by the high alter at the Chapel Royal in Hampton Court partly to honour her as the mother of his new heir and for her sacrifice. She had died in fulfilment of her dynastic obligation and her heart belonged at the sight of her triumph. Henry wanted her to be given a great and wonderful public burial but he wanted her heart close. As you say it was a normal thing to place the heart in a casket for burial in a chosen place, separated from the body. It was still practised among noble families. I believe Henry was very sentimental and very traditional and he was still influenced by those of the old Catholic faith. Henry was both grateful to Jane and had followed many older traditions while married to her, despite his moves against the Monasteries, which had more to do with fiscal than religious policy. He would have made this personal tribute to Jane and she is still there. By the way her lungs are also there, but why them, unless it’s representing the life breath she gave up and the effort she made in her delivery of a son and heir.
There isn’t a known source for another pregnancy, but some recent historians like to go with it. It is noteworthy that Janet Wertman in her fantastic historic novel Jane the Quene the first in her Seymour trilogy, has used the mysterious miscarriage as a scenario, although she does remark that it is something she believes possible, not a known fact. It is more for dramatic licence. It certainly is possible that Jane was pregnant very quickly after her wedding, but evidence to contradict this is a comment from Henry himself that he didn’t believe he and Jane would have children, because he had married her late in life. He was also recorded as saying he was disappointed after a few months that she was not pregnant. Had he believed Jane to be pregnant? There isn’t sufficient evidence either way but a very early miscarriage is possible.
Thanks Bq, and your theory about her lungs are probably right, they represent the life she gave up for her child, Jane has often been vilified for the woman whom Henry V111 was seeing whilst his second queen was alive, and to Annes fans she appears as cold and rather heartless but there is no evidence that she rejoiced in her fall, and really Annes behaviour was no different when it was her Katherine and Henry embroiled in the eternal triangle, Annes situation can be seen as far worse as her bloody death was followed by the marriage of her husband and lady in waiting, but Jane was persued by the King as Anne had been and cannot be blamed for the actions of Henry V111, we do not know what she thought of her tragic predecessor but she was well liked and respected, and I think had she lived she would have been a successful queen consort, her death was a tragedy not only for Henry V111 and her motherless little son but for Mary too, who had enjoyed a close friendship with her, I should imagine her elaborate funeral was very mournful.
Yes, I agree, we get so bogged down with Team Katherine Team Anne and Team Jane that we forget the chief protagonist in all of this, King Henry Viii who was desperate for a son. Anne was blamed for Katherine, and to some extent she was to blame as she insisted on being Queen and sent Henry round the bend with desire, but in all fairness his marriage to Katherine was under scrutiny before he fell for Anne because he believed it was invalid. In Anne he just happened to find a woman he now loved and was willing to have him as a husband, which saved a long hauled entrance to the international marriage market again, so he went down that route for a second match. In Jane he at first just found a lady he could court, hoping she would be his mistress, but as the months went on and she cleverly gave him his letter and money back and talked about a virtuous marriage, he got the hint. He decided he wanted to end his marriage to Anne by April 1536 but events took a dark turn and a more permanent solution was desired. I don’t believe Jane had anything to do with Anne’s death. Henry was determined to move on and Jane became his choice, supported by a large faction at Court and he sent her home to prepare. He didn’t want another KOA being around and he probably reasoned Anne would not go quietly and accept an annulment as Katherine had refused. It was Henry and Thomas Cromwell who plotted and brought a made up case against Anne. Jane, I don’t believe had any inkling that Henry was going to charge his wife with adultery and treason and we don’t know how she felt at this time. Yes Jane probably could have refused to be Queen but I believe she had a higher cause, to try and help Mary and to try to help the Catholic cause. Her political and religious agendas may lie at the heart of her accepting the hand of a man who had just beheaded her former mistress. I believe these three women had a lot more in common than we think. I believe they all saw themselves as called to the Crown Matrimonial. They are all three linked and their stories cross. Sadly they all faced a tragic end, one of them, Anne, in the most brutal way imagined. But we must remember, neither Anne or Jane could save her predecessor, because Henry was a man determined to have his own way, who declared himself Head of the Church and by doing so became more powerful than any other King. Katherine would not go, Henry would have forced her into retirement even if he married someone else other than Anne Boleyn. Anne was not having any more success in providing a male heir than Katherine, even though she had only been married for three years, but Henry had had enough. Anne would have fought him as Katherine did but Henry found a way out, a way he could use, even if Jane Seymour said no thanks. He would have executed Anne and then found another wife. He just happened to line up his next one first and then turned on the poor woman whom he was meant to love. He married Jane in undue haste, but Henry thought he was getting married for the first time. Jane may have been shocked, but she had agreed to be his wife, the timing was the King’s, not hers to decree.
Yes the other woman is always blamed, Henry I don’t believe disclosed to Jane the machinations of himself and Cromwell concerning Anne, that I believe was something only he and his tricky lawyer discussed in absolute secrecy, to Jane he no doubt poured out his soul of his unhappiness about the wretched ungrateful woman he found himself bound to in holy wedlock, but she was told nothing more than that, his courting of Jane must have been pleasant just idle chit chat, iv often wondered did Jane really think Anne was guilty of incest a shocking charge if ever there was one, and the other lurid tales said about her,maybe she shared the same gift of Henry V111 that she chose to believe what was convenient rather than what appeared to be the truth, but as lady in waiting she would have known it was impossible for a queen to commit adultery especially all the bed hopping that Anne was said to have indulged in, I believe she thought maybe some of the charges were true, that of plotting the Kings death as she once foolishly blabbed she would kill Katherine and Mary if she had the opportunity, I think Jane possibly disliked Anne and could well have been wary of her and we have to realise that Annes behaviour did not endear people to her, she seemed to delight in making enemies and when she realised Henry was seeing Jane she began to bully her, slapping and pinching her, that was not the way for a queen to behave, how much different had Katherine been when discovering her husband’s attachment to Anne, she held her in more esteem than ever, according to one source, but Anne had a dreadful temper and was unhappy, she had lost her baby son and was paranoid about her shaky position, she reacted in the only way she knew how in outbursts of anger, she saw Jane no doubt of the harbinger of doom and Jane found herself in the flattering position of being kings favourite, Jane has been accused of pushing herself forward and trying to make the King notice her, but she had been at court a long time and was not to blame for the actions of Henry V111, as Bq mentions he was the chief protagonist, and he chose Jane, as in years before he had chosen Anne, thus Anne was hated because Henry wanted to marry her but his marriage to Katherine had been dead a long time, it’s all too easy to blame the other woman but the fault rested entirely on the shoulders of King Henry V111.
It would have been practical for her heart and entrails to be buried nearby as soon as possible as those were the things that decomposed first. She wasn’t buried until 13th Nov so this allowed for time for the burial to be organised. It was quite common, too, for people to have their entrails buried in one place and their body another, it meant that they could honour two places or rest in two places that were special to them.
RIP Jane Seymour, who made the ultimate sacrifice in order to give Henry his much needed son and heir. We don’t really know what complications Jane went through but her pregnancy is recorded as being normal and healthy. The problem may have been that her delivery was difficult because the baby presented in the wrong position and she had also not been able to prepare for her delivery naturally due to her confinement. Jane became too tired to push and there is a theory that after the birth, the placenta had not detached and was still inside Jane. While a midwife may have known this, this time around Henry allowed doctors into the birthing chamber and they had no experience with childbirth. The midwives would have no choice but to defer to their judgement. Manually removing the after birth would have been painful and dangerous and maybe inflicting so much pain on the Queen, whose wishes prevailed, was not an option after such an exhausting and difficult birth. Today you would do this in an operating theatre, so it would have been a very traumatic procedure and it is totally possible that Jane may still have died. As it was she appeared healthy and was able to watch the elaborate and Baptism of Prince Edward a few days after his birth from a window. Then suddenly her health declined, possibly because of infection and she became feverish and weak. By the end of day twelve, Jane passed into a coma and died.
Henry was devastated. Regardless of how people feel about his behaviour in his last decade, Henry was genuine in his grief for Jane Seymour. He withdrew from the Court, he went into Seclusion, he was in full mourning for a very long time. Jane would have been secure with the birth of a son, she was traditionally educated, had enough about her to be a good companion, she had a clear political agenda, had the support of a large and well connected faction at Court, was not critical of Henry if he had affairs, although there are no records of any during his time with Jane, she was on good terms with the one daughter who mattered, Princess Mary, would probably have warmed to Elizabeth in time, loved hunting and dancing and music and may well have had more children. I dismiss claims that Henry would get bored because I don’t see why, especially now he was feeling his age and Jane was adaptable. He may have had the odd mistress, but we don’t know enough about Jane to make such assumptions. She had served both Katherine of Aragon and Anne Boleyn and proved that she could learn from both of them. Jane may not have the book intelligence of those two highly educated Ladies but who did? Few Tudor women. However, she was obviously literate and had excellent needlework, she had the experience gained at Court, she had her own ideas and was able to learn the art of working Henry, she had made mistakes but the birth of a son put her in a strong position. I don’t believe Henry wanted another bookworm at present and she was caring enough to be able to nurse him later in life, as KP did. I believe there was much more to Jane than history allowed us to see and she died before we found the best of her. RIP. YNWA Amen.
Yes Edward could have been a breech birth, and as for the theory that Henry might well have got bored with Jane I dispute that also, Janes attraction was in her passive nature and as you say. Henry was ageing, he was turning into the pipe and slippers man and all he wanted was a charming quiet little family, his long association with Anne had in a sense worn him out, he had come to view her as a destructive force and he was weary, now he had his son at last and a queen who didn’t hold him upto ridicule, who never berated him in truth, to Henry she must have seemed the perfect wife, no doubt there would have been the odd mistress when she was pregnant maybe, as we all know Henry loved the company of women for their very sexuality, he wasn’t interested in their points of view, he no doubt told himself he had had enough of clever women he wanted the typical Tudor wife, obedient and servile and fruitful to, queens were for bearing and mistresse’s for pleasure, I think that by now all Henry wanted was a peaceful life and he had it till tragedy struck, one can almost feel sorry for him even if wasn’t for the memory of his second queen lurking in the shadows.
A pipe and slippers man ha ha! Love that, a very different image of Henry, yo! That would be a good drawing to see. Yes, I believe he hoped he could settle down now and once his son was born he would find bliss. Jane had helped with Mary, whom Cromwell had persuaded to submit and his daughter was reconciled when she did. I don’t know if she did anything for Elizabeth, but Mary is believed to have persuaded her father to bring her to court at Christmas 1536/7 and Elizabeth was certainly brought to court to take part in the baptism of little Edward. Jane was described as a peacemaker and in the brief time she was with Henry I believe she made him content and the Court was an island of peace during some of the most traumatic events in Henry’s reign. I believe Henry found sanctuary with Jane in private and a glimpse of the family life he desired. I can imagine he had a few moans about Anne to Jane, the wife who doesn’t understand him. I also believe his failed fourth and fifth marriages have as much to do with a desperate search for that family life he was robbed of by fate as it was by the unfortunate circumstances that made them a mismatch. He found it again, at last by the time he was 52 and married for a sixth and final time to Katherine Parr.