30 May 1536 – Henry VIII and Jane Seymour get married at Whitehall

On 30th May 1536, eleven days after his second wife, Anne Boleyn, had been executed, Henry VIII married Jane Seymour in the Queen’s Closet at Whitehall, a property that he’d renovated with Anne…


On this day in Tudor history, Tuesday 30th May, just eleven days after the execution of his second wife, Queen Anne Boleyn, King Henry VIII married for the third time.

The wedding took place in the Queen’s Closet at Whitehall, formerly York Place, a property that had been renovated by Henry and Anne Boleyn.

The king had been wooing his wife’s maid of honour since for at least four months and the couple had become betrothed on 20th May, the day after Anne’s execution. They had left it another ten days to marry because of gossip surrounding their relationship.

The groom, Henry VIII, was forty-four years old, had ruled over England for 25 years and was twice-married with three children, Mary, Elizabeth and Henry Fitzroy. None of whom were legitimate heirs to the throne.

The bride was about twenty-seven years old and was the daughter of Sir John Seymour and his wife, Margery Wentworth, of Wolf Hall in Wiltshire. Jane was related to Henry’s second wife, Anne Boleyn, as their mothers were first cousins. It is thought that negotiations for Jane to marry William Dormer had begun but had come to nothing, and William had married another woman. I is believed that Jane started serving Catherine of Aragon from around 1527-9, and she then went on to serve Queen Anne Boleyn from 1535 onwards. It was while she was at court serving her that she caught the king’s eye. Eustace Chapuys, the imperial ambassador, described Jane as “of middle stature and no great beauty, so fair that one would call her rather pale than otherwise” and Hans Holbein’s portrait of Jane is far from flattering. Jane was blonde, pale-skinned and rather chinless. However, this made her much closer to the Tudor ideal of beauty, the classic English Rose, than the dark-haired and sallow-skinned Anne Boleyn.

As I say in my book “The Fall of Anne Boleyn: A Countdown”, “Jane has gone down in history as Henry VIII’s true love, the woman he chose to be painted with in the Whitehall family portrait and the woman he chose to be laid to rest with, but this surely had little to do with true love and more to do with the fact that she gave him the ultimate gift, that of a son and heir. He didn’t treat her particularly well when they were married, but Jane’s death so soon after their wedding, after giving him a son, made him look back fondly on their union, regarding Jane as his only true wife.”

Following their marriage, Jane appeared in public for the first time as queen on 2nd June at Greenwich and on Whitsun, 4th June 1536, was officially proclaimed queen at the palace.

Three years earlier, Queen Anne Boleyn had been preparing for her coronation. On the night of 30th/31st May 1533, eighteen men were created Knights of the Bath as part of the celebrations, including Sir Francis Weston, who would, of course, end up being executed in the fall of Anne Boleyn in 1536. Click here to find out more.

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