27 May 1537 – Celebrations for Queen Jane Seymour’s Unborn Child

Posted By on May 27, 2013

Jane Seymour EngravingOn this day in 1537, Queen Jane Seymour felt her unborn baby move for the first time. The “quickening” of her child sparked off celebrations around the country. In London a Te Deum was sung, fires were lit and wine was enjoyed by the people:

“Alsoe, the 27th daye of Maye 1537, being Trynytie Sondaye, there was Te Deum sounge in Powles for joye of the Queenes quickninge of childe, my Lord Chaunseler, Lord Privaye Seale, with diverse other Lordes and Bishopps, beinge then present; the Mayre and Aldermen with the beste craftes of the cyttye beinge there in their lyveryes, all gevinge laude and prayse to God for joye of the same, wher the Bishopp of Worcester, called Docter Latymer, made an oration afore all the Lordes and Commons, after Te Deum was songe, shewinge the cause of their assemblye, which oration was mervelouse fruitefull to the hearers; and alsoe the same night was diverse greate fyers made in London, and a hogeshead of wyne at everye fyer for poore people to drinke as longe as yt woulde laste; I praye Jesue, and it be his will, send us a Prince.”1

and a sermon was preached at Oxford:

“The last and greatest benefit, the special cause of their assembly, is “that our most excellent lady and mistress queen Jane, our noble and godly prince’s, King Henry the Eighth’s, wife, hath conceived and is great with child, and upon Trinity Sunday, like one given of God, the child quickened in the mother’s womb.” Exhorts them to give praise, and pray that it may be a prince.”2

On 1st June, William, Lord Sandys, wrote to Lord Lisle regarding the celebrations organised in Guines and Calais:

“I have this afternoon received from you the most joyful news ever sent me. No greater comfort ever came to my knowledge next to the prosperous estate of our Sovereign lord. You inform me that fires are to be made and Te Denm sung, and guns shot off at Calais at 4 o’clock. Too much honour cannot be done to the occasion, and I will do the same here, but this day is too far spent to do it publicly, and I have warned the curates of this county to meet at the parish church to-morrow morning and have a solemn mass with Te Denm after. There will also be a fire in the market-place and gun shot; so I trust the news will be known to all my neighbours, and your Lordship will perceive the doing thereof, if the wind suffer it to be heard.”3

And on 3rd June, the Duke of Norfolk wrote to Cromwell to tell him about the preparations for celebrations in York:

“Hopkins will report what he has done about the good news of the Queen’s being quick with child. This afternoon Te Deum shall be sung and this night bonfires made through all this city. Has ordered four hogsheads of wine out of his cellar to be laid abroad at night to be drunk in divers places freely.”4

There was hope of a new prince, an heir to the throne.

Also on this day in history…

  • The Execution of Margaret Pole, Countess of Salisbury – click here to read more.

Notes and Sources

  1. Wriotheseley, Charles. A chronicle of England during the reigns of the Tudors, from A.D. 1485 to 1559, p64
  2. LP xii, i. 1325
  3. LP xii, ii. 11
  4. LP xii, ii. 22

25 thoughts on “27 May 1537 – Celebrations for Queen Jane Seymour’s Unborn Child”

  1. M'lady says:

    Well, something to celebrate at last, I guess, after all the sadness going on of late. Poor Jane Seymour, I find it very hard to blame Jane for anything, probably just doing what others bid her to do around the time of Anne’s arrest. It’s a shame this woman died after giving birth. It would have been nice to see how many other little princes she could have bore Henry.

    1. The High Empress says:

      I totally agree with you, M’lady!

  2. Tudor rose says:

    He could only have one or the other it seemed!

  3. Aynne says:

    I find it somewhat amusing and relish in some kind of delight that Henry had to wait a full year before knowing for sure that Jane was pregnant and could enjoy any satisfaction or validation from having Anne executed.

    1. Claire says:

      I suspect that Henry was having some potency problems at this point. David Loades (in his book on Jane) wonders whether this was actually the last time that the King was able to consummate a relationship. I was under the impression, though, that Catherine H’s youth and beauty helped him with his problems, but it would explain why she never got pregnant.

      1. lilangel says:

        I’m sure no one would figure this would happen to Henry after all the times he tried with Catherine and Anne, maybe all his little Henry’s pooped out.

    2. margaret says:

      oh don’t you just know that henry would have blamed jane on this ,just like it was not his fault either with the other poor two

  4. Aynne says:

    Potency problems would most likely be whispered about in the inner circle and would be a part of why the notion of Anne trying to get pregnant by someone else could have entered the imagination of those close to the throne.

  5. Mary the Quene says:

    Tudor Rose: lol. Jane Seymourd didn’t stick around long enough for Henry VIII to tire of her, it’s true. She was suited more to the way of a traditional Queen who smiled and didn’t allow passion to shake her facade of service and humility. I don’t think she would have kicked up a fuss even if she’d survived post-childbirth septic poisoning (I’m making an assumption this is what killed her) and would probably have quietly lived her life as Queen in the background, while the King found his amusements elsewhere.

  6. Mary the Quene says:

    Claire, do please pass the ‘mind bleach’ – the thought of consummation of marital relations by this smelly old scoundral makes me wish I’d never thought about it.

    Anne of Cleves had the most honest reaction to him; if she were a present-day California girl, she might have put it like this:

    “Really? REALLY? Dude, u ever heard of a shower? And get ur fat a** to the walk-in clinic for that nasty leg-thing you got goin’ on – cuz it is totes foul and u r trippin’ if u think Ima hookin’ up wit u like that. Gah-ROSS!!!”

    1. lilangel says:

      I love it, you tell it like it is Lady Anne!

    2. epiphany says:

      You mean like it wasn’t. Henry was known to be a clean freak – he had bathtubs and running water in every palace where it was feasible. Henry was slim and athletic until about the time of Jane’s death. He suffered a jousting accident, which left him with a festering infection in his thigh – probably a bone infection that refused to heal due to his diabetes, which was likely the cause of all of his health problems, including his erectile dysfunction.

  7. BanditQueen says:

    Erectile dysfunction is common in men in their mid to late 40s and nothing to worry about. It may have been embarrassing to someone like Henry or any other King who was required to father loads of legitimate kids, but it should not be looked on as something to do with weakness. I suspect it was also quite common in Tudor times just as it is today as there is some indication hidden in the sources that the doctors were able to give Henry something for the problem. There are at least two direct references to them giving Henry something before he went into his wife and stress is also another cause of impotency and other fertility problems.

    The Pilgrimage of Grace caused a lot of stress for the couple and they were in danger of their lives and losing the throne. Internal problems within the domestic household also contributed to the stress Jane and Henry were under. It may also have been that it took some time for them to settle down after all the upset of Anne’s execution. Turmoil had taken its strain on them, and they may just have had normal problems with conception. Add that to the fact that Jane was about the same age as Anne Boleyn and not young for having her first child. Fertility problems existed in women in their 30s just as they do now.

    Henry had even admitted privately to Jane that he thought he may not have any children with her and he was sad that they had not known each other before now. But by the end of January 1537 or early February 1537 Jane was pregnant and the country by now had been pacified again. Of course it was May before the child quickened in the womb or kicked for the first time and this made the pregnancy official and public. By now Jane had also reconciled Henry to both of his daughters and the royal family was able to settle down to domestic happiness and stability. This was seen as the blessing of God on their relationship and pointed to Henry that he was right to rid himself of Anne. Of course the entire place went wild.

    The celebrations certainly were joyful and widespread. Henry and Jane must have been confident that the child was a son, yet again, and they must also have been relieved not only by the unexpected pregnancy but by the ending of the greatest threat to their thrones. It is indeed a great pity that Jane died a fortnight after the birth of Prince Edward; for she would have made a great mother and there is nothing that Henry could have denied her. She was in a unique position and I do think that she would have kept some kindness in the King. Jane was his one true love: she was also kind and generous; some of that should have been allowed to flow to her son.

  8. Dawn 1st says:

    Hi everyone, really missed you all this last few weeks, especially over the count down to Anne’s execution. Have been ill, and had to go into hospital for a while, luckily I took Claire’s books with me to keep me sane, and they made me feel I was with you all in spirit, 🙂 I am now enjoying catching up with reading all the posts and comments I have missed.

    I always feel this celebration of Jane’s pregnancy a ‘bitter sweet’ occasion, bitter in the fact that Judicial murder had been committed to achieve this day, and sweet that a child was to be born, possibly to the great relief to Jane and her family especially.
    It must have come as a big surprise for Henry too, considering his potency problems that had begun in Anne’s time. I suppose the fact that his leg had worsened and caused him a great deal of pain and discomfort, plus the fact he was gaining weight at an alarming rate would have added to his impotence dramatically, and not really put you in the ‘mood for love’.

  9. margaret says:

    I really think henrys and impotency problems lay in the amount of achohol he drank ,in fact ,I would say if anyone could find out what Katherine and anne drank as well this could well be their problem as well ,water was considered poisoned so they actually did nothing but drink from morning till night .

    1. Dawn 1st says:

      It could be a contributing factor Margaret, as henry did seem to over indulge as he aged, but a lot of the alcohol they drunk was quite weak, what they called ‘small beer’ was very weak, and I have read that the wines at those times had a low alcohol content too, whether that’s true or not I’m not sure, though there were strong drinks such as mead. I think they also made cordials too which were alcohol free.

      But at the end of the day all the Tudors rich and poor drank alcohol from a young age, and although it wasn’t idea it didn’t seem to stop others producing lots of children, safer than the filthy water. There must be a book out there on this, it would be interesting to find out more wouldn’t it?

      1. margaret says:

        oh yes it would be interesting alright and im also thinking “the drink” could have contributed to henrys massive weight gain ,what do you think?

        1. Dawn 1st says:

          Well it was on TV last week that 2 large glasses of white wine is equivalent to a burger, fries and a fizzy drink!! that’s scary….this is because of the fermenting process of sugar and starch, plus alcohol reduces the amount of fat the body burns off for energy, hope I’ve repeated that right.

          I don’t know if wine was make in exactly the same as modern wines as sugar was mega expensive, and from what I have read it seems that the rich sweetened and flavoured the wine, as it tended to be sour, with honey or spices. But even if the calories were less in Tudor wines, the fact that Henry hardly exercised any more every calorie would show.

          I personally think it was over indulging in food, or eating what we know to be the wrong foods now, rather than drink, no exercise because of his ulcerated legs, and I am one of those that think he had diabetes as well, which without a correct diet causes so many health problems, to the level of fatality. But of course they didn’t know this then.

          Apparently Tudor house wives were expected to brew their own beer, and it actually contained valuable nutrients, so the experts say, so it was a valuable food source too, especially when you were poor, so it seems in the long run, Tudor alcoholic drinks were definitely better for you than water and the nutrient content helped people with a poor diet. How times have changed Margaret!!

      2. Tudor rose says:


      3. Aynne says:

        I wish I knew where I read this ages ago. Wine was rationed to some extent and if memory serves me, women were allowed 6 cups/mugs of wine a day, and men 8… however the wives of Henry VIII (according to this forgotten source) claimed Henry’s wives were entitled to 8, the same as most men. If someone can find the exact details or where this comes from great. I don’t want to start another Tudor rumour at this late date!

    2. Claire says:

      They did drink ale and wine because the water was not safe to drink, but it’s not comparable with today’s alcoholic drinks because it had a much lower alcohol by volume. I haven’t seen any contemporary reports which suggest that Henry was a heavy drinker or drank more than other courtiers, and Tudor people on the whole seem to have had no problems having children, but it would be interesting to examine the alcohol consumption of the time and its effect on health.

  10. margaret says:

    you are right about the lower alcohol content being lower ,it would have to have been ,otherwise you would have had a lot of drunkenness around the court ,and surprising that poorer people had no problem having children ,well not as much problems as henry did ,and they drank as well ,I don’t know why maybe they were just a lot fitter than the tudor crew

    1. Claire says:

      I bet there was drunkenness too, I think there have always been people do take things to excess. Dawn is right in that Tudor housewives also brewed ale, it was one of her duties. I have a few books on recipes, remedies and what was expected of a Tudor housewife and it’s an incredibly interesting subject.

  11. Mary the Quene says:

    The books on recipes, remedies and what was expected of a Tudor housewife sound so interesting!

    Is it safe to assume the ales and wines were brewed to be just alcoholic enough to keep them free of the bacteria levels found in the available water?

    Maybe just enough to give everybody the strength to face another day under the rule of the Tudor dynasty? I imagine constantly changing debts to the King (Henry VII) then religious persecution (Henry VIII, Edward VI, Mary I, Elizabeth I) where infractions were punished by horrendous death would put anyone on edge.

    1. Charlene says:

      They had no idea why water wasn’t safe to drink but beer was; they hadn’t discovered bacteria yet. They only knew that drinking plain water was dangerous. (Scholars had theories about bad odors and other “miasmas”, but most people didn’t know that, and most dangerous bacteria don’t leave an odour.)

      Small beer was popular because it was light and didn’t cloud the mind (also, frugal). Wine was lower in alcohol because they didn’t have modern strains of yeast that could convert all the sugars in the wine to alcohol. Neither was safe due to the alcohol content; beer was safe because the ingredients were boiled as part of the brewing process, and wine was safe because any contaminants would be outcompeted for nutrients and starved by the yeast. Also, contaminated wine and beer are obviously undrinkable, unlike contaminated water.

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