27 May 1537 – Queen Jane Seymour’s pregnancy is celebrated

On 27th May 1537, Trinity Sunday, there were celebrations in London following the news of the ‘quickening’ of Queen Jane’s baby.

Jane Seymour had been married to King Henry VIII for just under a year and it was hoped that she was carrying Henry VIII’s longed-for son and heir.

The first movement of the queen’s baby was a joyous occasion and it sparked off celebrations in Oxford, York and Guînes. In London, a Te Deum was sung in St Paul’s Cathedral, fires were lit and wine was enjoyed by the people.

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Today is also the anniversary of the execution of Margaret Pole, Countess of Salisbury, in 1541 – click here to read more.

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10 thoughts on “27 May 1537 – Queen Jane Seymour’s pregnancy is celebrated”
  1. You can see the difference between Henry when young when he was married to his first queen, and now with his third, Katherine had conceived easily and had many pregnancys, the same with Anne who became pregnant shortly after sleeping with Henry, and she had another two that we know of, however it took him eleven months to get Jane with child and I’m wondering if the allegations made at his second wife’s trial about impotency problems were not without foundation, ill health and stress can lead to a loss of libido and Henry was all to aware that time was not on his side, he was not the fit virile man he once was and was growing fatter every day, therefore it’s hardly surprising that it took Jane longer than her predecessors in falling pregnant, however once confirmed the country went wild with joy, it was something to celebrate and a good excuse to have a drink or two, both Henry and Jane were jubilant and she was taken very good care of, this was a sign that he had been right in casting aside his wanton wife and marrying a good woman of virtuous character, how did he really feel though, he had gone through it so many times before and all the onus was on Jane to give him a heathy son, she must have had some worrying moments, after all whose to say she would succeed where Anne and Katherine had not, what was so special about her, in this we see Janes strength of character, she appeared to have no difficulty in becoming Henrys consort after the dreadful death of his second and it is this which is at odds with her renowned meek servile nature, however she was kind to both her stepdaughters and now she was pregnant and it was a sign that God favoured Henrys third marriage, his only son to survive to his teens Henry Fitzroy had gone the same way of his siblings shortly dying after Anne Boleyns execution of a wasting disease, Henry was broken-hearted, so this joyful event must have been overshadowed by all the ghosts of the children he had buried down the years, as also noted this was the execution of Henrys cousin Lady Margaret Pole, the last survivor of the House of Plantaganet, the daughter of the ill fated Duke Of Clarence who was drowned in a vat of malmsey, a convicted traitor, Margaret was much loved by the Kings daughter the Lady Mary who had been her governess and was a dear friend of hers and her late mothers, Henry had no angst with her it was her son who was the traitor, he had very conveniently escaped from England so in a vindictive act worthy of a tyrant Henry decided his mother should pay the price instead, he cared not what Mary thought and she was his blood relation but she had to be made an example of and was taken to the Tower, I think here was another case of a stitch up like in Anne Boleyns case, she was Catholic so it was easy for Cromwell to find a case against her and a tunic was allegedly found in her rooms displaying a motto which was used by the rebels in the north, how convenient! Henry mistrusted his Plantaganet relations and had already thrown several in the Tower the previous year, he was it seemed trying to find an excuse to get rid of them or maybe he genuinely feared they were in rebellion against him, but Lady Margaret was an old lady, (for the time) and should have posed no danger to him, she had lost her father when young and she must have been haunted by his memory when she was in the Tower, she must have feared she was going to die also yet when the news came it was done in a most horrid fashion, she was given no time to prepare and was brutally told she was to die there and then, according to one source she was led to the scaffold and in spectacular fashion refused to lay her head on the block, she ran down the scaffold and around the green whilst the shocked crowd looked on, the headsman never having had that happen to him decided he had to try to catch her, the long heavy skirts women wore then meant he would have had no trouble in catching her and according to the source, swung his axe down again and again till she was wounded so horribly she fell to the ground and died, another source says she was beheaded by a bungling headsman who missed her head and had to strike several times before she was mercifully decapitated, so the truth could lie somewhere inbetween, I imagine this proud lady of royal blood was indignant at her treatment and possibly put up a bit of a struggle when escorted to the block, she could well have thought she was just being murdered because she had more claim as many believed to the throne than Henry, whatever happened that day on May 27th 1541 was just another example of Henry V111’s cruelty, more innocent blood shed and another corpse for the sad little church of St Peter Ad Vincula, her bloody death provides yet another gory tale to add to the other gory tales of the Tower, and it is said her wraith haunts the Tower on the 27th May every year, she is chased around the green by the ghostly headsman and his axe before they both fade away, when the restoration work was being made in St. Peter in Victoria’s reign her skeleton was found, according to the report the bones were of a female and of advanced age, she was reburied and an inscription marks her final resting place, RIP Lady Margaret Pole Countess Of Salisbury.

    1. It was indeed a curious thing that Jane took several months to conceive, unless there was a miscarriage we don’t know about, as the King was now getting older and at that time of life when potency could be a problem (We now know that men over 40 have this problem as a natural occurrence). Henry, himself feared he may not have children with Jane so this was a great blessing and relief. She would of course have known she was pregnant before this, but the quickening was her official confirmation that she carried a live child, followed by public thanksgiving. After the terrible risings in the North and Midlands, this was wonderful news. Henry could only have been overjoyed as well as relieved.

      Margaret Pole or more correctly Margaret Plantagenet, Countess of Salisbury, daughter of George, Duke of Clarence and Isabella Neville (brother of Edward iv and daughter of the Kingmaker) was of course a close friend and great lady to Queen Katherine of Aragon for many years and the governess to Princess Mary, who she became close to. She was a trusted member of the court and she was one of the most important people in the country. Her son, Henry was a close friend of King Henry as a young man and her son Reginald was sponsored by Henry for his scholarship. However, the divorce changed all of this and the Pole and Montague families found themselves caught up in a vendetta against Reginald after her condemned the divorce of Henry and Katherine and supported the Pilgrimage of Grace. Henry couldn’t get at Reginald who was on the continent so he hit out at his family back at home. Paranoid by 1539, encouraged by Cromwell, Henry had the entire family arrested and put in the Tower. Henry Pole and his brother in law, Henry Courtney were ‘tried ‘. found guilty by Attainder and executed. Their younger brother, Geoffrey Pole tried to commit suicide and told everything, made up a load of rubbish and on account of his mental state and youth was released and went abroad. Margaret’s young grandson, another Henry Pole was in the Tower and vanished, believed poisoned. Margaret was held in the Tower until May 1541, shortly before Henry and Katherine Howard’s Northern Progress. She was an elderly lady, now about 67, but never charged or tried. Katherine Howard made clothing for her and showed her kindness. She was just brought out on that May morning and executed without any explanation. Her execution was quite gruesome. The poor lady didn’t know why she was being executed and refused to go meekly. It was a terrible and needless cruel act. She is recalled now as a martyr for her faith. May she and her family rest in peace. Amen.

      1. I think many at court were shocked by how Margaret was treated, it was true Queen Catherine felt pity for her indeed there must have been many who sympathised with this poor old lady, she was vulnerable and it shows Catherine’s good nature by visiting her with little parcels of food and comfy blankets and other necessities, the Tower must have been freezing in winter and we all know how awful January and February can be, in The Tudors it showed her being arrested when she was at dinner, it was awful to see her distress she became hysterical with fear and I imagined that was her reaction when the gaurds arrived to tell her she was about to die, in a way it was just as awful when Anne Boleyn had hyped herself up to die, prepared herself and then she was told she would be executed the following day, so she had to live through another day, don’t know what’s worse, this judicial murder of an old woman blackened Henrys name further, it was all the more dreadful because she was a close relation and had been entrusted with the care of Henrys little daughter, she had held a very responsible position which showed Henrys regard for her, her sons put the spanner in the works made unknowingly put their mothers life at risk, must admit I didn’t know much about Margaret only what I had read in Plaidys Murder Most Royal, and she described her execution in graphic detail, (the one where she was chased around the green), on hearing the news Mary must have been absolutely heartbroken, how did his two daughters ever cope with seeing their beloved friends and relatives brutally killed by their own father? Elizabeth all her life had to live with the knowledge that her own father had killed her mother, it must have hardened the characters of both these two daughters of his, Mary had to endure seeing Henrys mistreatment of her beloved mother now she had lost another beloved relative all down to his paranoia, Cromwell his right hand man made sure she was despatched like an old shoe through the bill of attainder which allowed Henry to dispose of his victims without a fair trial and this was the action of a tyrant, Catherine herself a year later would also be executed in the same way, here was a lady of the blood Royal who could trace her lineage back to Charlemagne and she had dutifully served her Royal master, she was innocent of any wrongdoing like Anne Boleyn and suffered the same injustice, Hemry it appeared had no qualms in executing women anymore than he did men even though he still liked to think of himself as a Sir Lancelot !

    2. Wow, Christine. A bit difficult to read your run-on sentence, but you have certainly given a lo of thought to the ladies and their executions. Before today I had never heard of Margaret, I’ll have to research what she did to get beheaded. But your depiction gives validity and gratitude to the French for the Guillotine which was swift and fool-proof.

  2. May he never rest in peace.. His father would have been ashamed of him. (Henry VII) I think also if Lady Margaret Beaufort (his grandmother) could have seen this coming she would have been ashamed. The continuation of the Plantagenets would have changes this bloody history.. Even Elizabeth I her attempt of turning Ireland .. “English”.. all it did was cause hatred between the islands.. All of the Tudors.. “Bloodthirty”..

    1. I don’t agree that the Tudors were bloodthirsty. Firstly, it’s too much of a simplistic explanation as it shows little knowledge of the saintly Plantagenets. The Plantagenets had their share of bloody executions or did someone sleep through the so called wars of the roses? Richard ii ‘ s reaction to the poll tax revolt was hardly bloodless. King Edward ii and his Queen saw several very lovely executions and King John (well don’t get me going on that one) plus Richard iii and the Crusade, oh and the heroic Henry V authorization of the massacre of 2000 plus unarmed women and children in Rouen.

      The so called ‘English ‘ making of Ireland began long before Elizabeth I and the English did far worse in Ireland in the last 200 years than she did. Mary I was wrongly called Bloody in the late seventeenth century onwards due to the burning of Protestants, but her handling of rebels was far more lenient than others in the same age or her father or sister. Henry Vii also had his own share of political enemies and dealt with them harshly and Margaret Beaufort was no saint. All of this ignores the political and religious changes of Henry Viii’ s reign which had a knock on effect in his children’s reign. And what about Edward? He wasn’t yet sixteen when he died so how can he be labelled ‘bloodthirsty ‘? Although he did come more into his own and begin to make more of his own decisions, the so bloodshed during the Western rebellion was on the orders of his council.

      This was a terrible thing to do but you have to remember that Henry had been affected by numerous changes, a possible head injury, divorce and several other things which had changed him. I am not excusing this terrible needless and cruel act, but Henry can’t be simply condemned either as nobody is qualified to judge another human being. There are others just as culpable of this murderer, plus it is possible that Henry had developed a madness from his French and Plantagenet ancestors. Yes Henry did terrible things, this is particularly dreadful, but was he any more bloodthirsty than his ancestors? Where the Tudors more or less bloodthirsty than their Stuart or Georgeon cousins? This is too simple a thing to say and ignores the religious, political and social realities of a changing age.

      1. Edward 1st also treated Wales and Scotland most harshly and one historian has suggested he planned to make the latter her feudal overlord, he certainly tried to take control over Englands two neighbours, Richard 11 it’s true was harsh with the peasants revolt, his picture shows a saintly golden haired child who looked like butter wouldn’t melt but the truth was he was spoilt and cruel, the inept and hopeless Henry V1 was imprisoned in the Tower by Edward 1V and was murdered, it was said Edward himself done it with his own hands or it could have been Richard his younger brother, later to become Richard 111, the sad story of the princes in the Tower is well known, the Hundred Years’ War was the result of England trying to get dominance in France as Edward 111 believed through his mother he was her rightful King, throughout history Kings have shed blood, on taking the throne William The Conqueror treated his adopted country most harshly in fact I believe out of all Englands monarchs he was the one most to be feared, he had won the throne by right of conquest and he knew the English did not want him, he exacted terrible revenge on those who rebelled against him and broke his laws, Henry 1st also had his own grandchildren put to death because of the treasonous acts of their parents, that was something I doubt even Henry V111 would have resorted to, Kings had to in those early days be seen to be strong, any sign of weakness was considered folly, and when Matilda went to war with Stephen in her bid for the throne it was such a momentous period in England’s history it was said Christ and his saints slept, Englands history is steeped in blood, Boudicea herself led a revolt on London and Colchester, the Roman civilians were butchered men and children also, and the women had their breasts cut off, London burned with such ferocity the signs of destruction are still there in the blackened walls in the foundations of the old city, to say the Tudors were more bloodthirsty than any other royal family is unfounded, Catherine De Medici led the massacre of the French Hugeonots in 1587, St. Bartholomew’s day, it has been known ever since as the Bartholomew day massacre, the Battle Off Culloden was also a massacre, what makes the Tudors stand out is that their dynasty was short lived unlike the Plantagenets, rather like a shooting star they blazed through the 16th c and like that star they disappeared , their reign was brief next to their predecessors whose crown they had stolen, yet they produced several memorable monarchs, Henry V111 and his luckless wives, Mary 1st who was a much misunderstood monarch but she has gone down in history as Bloody Mary, I wish people would read up on her as they would find a quite different person emerging from the blood soaked queen of legend, her younger sister Elizabeth who history has been more kind to yet herself was capable of being cruel and vindictive, her disastrous campaign as mentioned in Ireland, Henry V111 appears more bloodthirsty as he did kill two of his wives which was unique, and it is these two acts which make him look a lot worse than other Kings, Anne Boleyn was the first queen to be put on trial and executed and he had no pity for his fifth queen who was just a young rather ignorant girl, as discussed the senseless death of Lady Margaret Pole and he also condoned the torture of Anne Askew, King John himself had women killed, one he had locked up and starved to death just because her husband and son were traitors, he is also said to be reposible for the mysterious death of his nephew, and according to the sources he was blinded and castrated, John himself is supposed to have killed him himself, utterly barbaric and wicked, Richard 1st whilst as a soldier resorted to murder and rape yet he is known as the saintly Coer De Leon and regaled as a hero in the Robin Hood legends, yet again it shows how myth can overtake reality, when you look at all the deeds these Kings have committed it really isn’t fair to label the Tudors anymore bloodthirsty then they were.

        1. We could just make a very long list of Kings and their gory deeds. It might be a very long list, but it would certainly be a gory read. Game of Thrones is tame compared to the real history of our glorious monarchs. It’s enough to make one’s hair stand on end. Yes, people really do need to read more about Mary and there have been about half a dozen new books, but I really would recommend Samantha Wilkcox blog and fiction book Queen of Martyrs and Anna Wilkinson and Linda Porter for really good affordable biographies. I know there are a couple of tomes from academia, but excellent as they may be, the majority of us can’t afford them. Wilkinson and Porter are good reappraisal from original sources.

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