Detail from the Whitehall mural
Detail from the Family of Henry VIII Portrait

On Tuesday 30th May 1536, just eleven days after Anne Boleyn was beheaded, King Henry VIII married Anne’s former lady-in-waiting, Jane Seymour, in the Queen’s Closet at Whitehall.

The couple had become betrothed on 20th May 1536 and following that Jane had been kept in seclusion at Chelsea, due to the gossip and ill feeling that the speed of their relationship had caused. However, Henry was not going to let gossip get in the way of his plans; he needed a son and heir as soon as possible. The wedding was a private affair but on 2nd June Jane appeared in public at Henry’s side as queen:

“On Friday last [2nd June] the Queen sat abroad as Queen, and was served by her own servants, who were sworn that same day. The King came in his great boat to Greenwich that day with his privy chamber, and the Queen and the ladies in the great barge.”

She was officially proclaimed queen on Whitsun, 4th June 1536, at Greenwich Palace.

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12 thoughts on “30 May 1536 – Henry VIII Marries Jane Seymour at Whitehall”
  1. I wonder if Jane lay in bed awake at night thinking about her future ! What if I have a girl ! I know one thing I would have been a bit worried about Henry he switched in and off like a light switch .I don’t know if he did love her or she was convieniant for Henry at that time his mind set is hard to understand .Jane was no spring chukien so didn’t have many child bearing yrs left in her I wonder why he didn’t go for a younger model as he did later with Katherine Howard perhaps he did fall in love with her I don’t think we will ever really know .Im not a big fan if Jane but it’s sad she died after giving birth she didn’t deserve that . Perhaps that was his punishing Henry for what he did to Ann Karma lol !!

  2. Jane truly fascinates me. She is a true enigma.

    She was apparently no great beauty, came from relatively humble origins, was quite old for the times (in terms of child bearing) and was not a sparkling courtier like his other wives. So what did Henry see in her? I cannot imagine it was because she was Anne’s antithesis because Henry surely would have found that in other ladies who were just as beautiful as his previous wives (not that I think she was unattractive, probably just an attainable beauty kind of in a girl next door kind of way). So how did this suppose wall flower catch the King’s eye? Even if she was thrust into his direction it didn’t guarantee he would notice her.

    There must have been something very special about her in order to win the heart of a King. But no one knows. And that’s what I love 🙂

    Either way, happy anniversary Henry and Jane. It’s a pity that their marriage was so brief. I’m sure she would have been a wonderful Queen if she had reigned longer.

    1. I wonder if it was just the complete contrast with Anne. Anne was dark and olive skinned, Jane was a typical English rose; Anne had sme kind of sexual magnetism and Jane was seen as meek and mild. Perhaps Henry wanted an easy life, a submissive woman after the more feisty Anne. It’s hard to know, but Chapuys was rather scathing about Jane and doubted that she could still be a virgin at her age and with her years at court.

      1. It could be a possibility but weren’t most ladies at court pale English roses and were trained to be meek and mild? It makes me wonder what Henry saw in this particular ‘English rose’ compared to the others when she wasn’t considered much of a beauty compared to the others and how he even noticed her in the first place.

        I remember reading that about Chapuys, I love him, he’s such a bitch 😀

  3. I think that Henry VIII chose to be buried with Jane Seymour, but I am not positive about it. I am an ‘Anne Fan’, but I am very sympathetic about Jane’s suffering during child birth. So difficult to be a woman in those days even if one was Royalty.

  4. While Jane’s family was relatively humble, her bloodlines were good. In addition to having ancestors in the Percy, Clifford, Arundel, Despencer, and Mortimer families, her maternal grandfather descended from Edward III through his son Lionel, Duke of Clarence (the same line of descent that gave the Yorkists their better claim to the throne over the Lancasters). These relations made Henry and Jane 5th cousins and made Anne Boleyn and Jane half-second cousins (sharing a great-grandmother, Elizabeth Cheney). I can imagine that Henry stressed Jane’s royal descent and noble lineage much the same way as he stressed Anne’s.

    Henry does seem to have bounced back and forth on his marital choices. Anne Boleyn was certainly the opposite of K of A – or at least Katherine’s personality at that time in her life; Jane was the demure pale English rose instead of the erudite French-educated and sophisticated Anne Boleyn; from the humble Jane quietly married to a glittering royal wedding to a foreign bride in Anne of Cleves; from his physical distaste for A of C to a delectable if vague teenager in K of H; and from that to the lovely educated widow in K Parr.

    I do wonder how our view of Jane would have changed had she lived. Leigh Jenkins wrote a speculative novel about this called Jane the Confidante. Would being mother to the heir have solidified her position? Or would Henry have tried of her and sought out another Anne Boleyn? Would we have found Jane to be a far different person than history reveals?

  5. I think Henry found with Jane something of the peace that was lacking with Anne. I do not believe that Jane was a doormat, and to be honest in the three biographies I have read I see no sign of this myth. This, I think comes again from some novels and hollywood which has Henry and Cromwell yelling at Jane every time she asked for anything and her being totally submissive. What a load of nonsense!

    Jane was more typical of the sort of wife a Tudor nobleman or gentleman may expect to have. She was well brought up, she had good manners and knew how to run a household; she was educated to a moderate standard needed for this purpose; she seems also to have had good common sense, compassion and right judgement. I think she was probably intelligent but not intellectual. Being highly educated and intelligence sadly do not always go together; just work with any university professor for a long time and you will soon find that out; I speak from personal experience. They are mostly wooly headed and self processed. Jane was astute enough to learn from those coaching her and to value her honour and to make sure the King valued her honour as well. She also saw how the religious divisions and the divorce had personally affected the King and his family. She was perceptive to know that restoring something of the domestic peace he craved and bringing his daughters to court would go a long way towards that goal.

    Anne had attempted to approach Mary to reconcile her with her father if she recognised her as Queen. Jane had seen the damage that approach had and that Mary was not going to respond to that demand. Jane tried a different approach; first via the King saying that she felt it would help his peace of mind and the peace in his kingdom if he were reconciled with Mary. Henry may have chided her; but there is no evidence of him yelling at her; he may have said she was foolish and look to their own children; but Jane was astute enough to persist and to get him to at least be open to the idea. Henry wanted one thing from Mary, however, submission and he insisted upon this first; sending delegations to try to force her to submit. Jane did not give up and a second attempt led to all sorts of trouble; questions and investigations amongst the Princesses friends; so she had to give up until Mary had signed the agreement with the King to accept his will. Then both the King and the Queen received first Mary and then Elizabeth back as welcomed daughters.

    Jane was obedient most of the time and accepted much of what the King wanted as she was bound to do this as a Tudor wife. Anne was not submissive to Henry and was much more of a fire cracker; that did not sit well with him or the ideal of a wife or Queen. Jane is often compared unfavourably to Anne, and unfairly, I think as Jane meets with much more of the norms and the duties of a Christian wife in the 16th century. We see Anne and we see how forward and outspoken and independent she was and how she often demanded her own way; argued with the King, was forward in her thinking and very much her own person. Anne was also the Kings mistress for 7 years.

    Mistresses often did have more power than a wife and more influence; Anne was naturally a woman who knew what she wanted and how to express herself; she did not always think before she spoke at times either; and may-be in Jane Henry saw someone who had learned to keep quiet when she had to and to use wisdom when approaching a matter of importance with the King. Henry did not like to be contradicted and ever since his accident, ever since his perceived betrayal by his Queen; by people close to him; something in Henry had snapped. He was not now a man to listen; not a man to argue with; not a man to contradict. Jane was wise enough to see this; to learn this as she went along and to act accordingly.

    Jane did also attempt tp plead for mercy for the pilgrims in the north; a plea that failed and was seen as interfarence, so it is not surprising that she settled down and did not bother to bring the subject up again. It is clear that Jane saw her role as Queen as one of peace-maker and the lady whose duty it was to give him a son. I see Jane as being very domestic centred; being very family centred; wanting the best possible family around her that she could have and she wanted the Kings happiness. She was conscious I think of what had happened to Queen Anne and to her beloved former mistress Queen Katherine and she both wanted to ensure things were different and prayed that God was gracious to grant her a son, so things this time would be better.

    Henry could not have been an easy husband to live with, but it seems that he was generally an attentive one. Jane was the sort of person who could absorb that, read his mood and her gentleness and kindness should be praised as qualities that enabled her to bring that peace to his household, even in the midst of a national crisis. Jane was also fortunate in that when she was finally with child, some 7-8 months after her marriage it went well and was the long awaited son that Henry needed. I think she would have gone on to be a successful wife and a great Queen had she lived. There were ways in which a King and Queen could live seperate lives if they chose; but there was something about Jane that made Henry content; domenstic peace, in spite of the turbulence in the rest of the Kingdom.

    1. I don’t really know what to make of Jane. There’s just not enough evidence to give much impression of her character. She clearly wasn’t like Anne and I don’t buy the recent argument that she was actually quite proactive. The evidence seems to suggest that she was heavily couched by her family and the Aragonese faction into how to respond to Henry’s interest. I’m sure she wasn’t a complete doormat but it seems likely that her character was definitely more ‘submissive’ than ‘active’.

      Her rise was also easier to achieve – supplanting the supplanter doubtless seemed less offensive than Anne ‘tearing’ Henry away from his wife of twenty or so years – plus she’d had the benefit of following the path that Anne had created by withholding her honour until the prize was in sight. Her strategy to win over Mary wasn’t a better one than Anne’s, it was just a lot easier to achieve because she hadn’t replaced Mary’s mother! And I suspect her general avoidance of getting involved in politics was less down to a particular strategy and more down to her natural inclination not to be involved, plus it was likely clear that Henry wouldn’t let her get involved either.

      Although ideas of beauty are subjective, contemporary reports seem to be lukewarm about her attractiveness and Holbein’s portrait does not show a beauty. I suspect her appeal was probably being in the right place at the right time. The contrast with Anne, in looks and seeming temperament, was probably just what Henry was looking for at that moment. Has the events of early 1536 unfolded differently, she might have faded back into the background. I think there’s a contemporary report that shortly after marrying Jane, Henry was flattering some ladies at court and reported as saying something along the lines of they might have been marriage material if he’d met them earlier? If so, it doesn’t suggest that Jane’s allure was that strong.

      I find that many writers seem to treat the time after Jane’s marriage to Henry as a return to calm and all sweetness and light, but given that Jane didn’t conceive for several months, she can’t have felt too secure for the first six months of her married life. It was a sad end for her though.

      Is there any evidence of her relations with Elizabeth? I know she’s often praised for bringing Mary back into the family fold, but did she just ignore Elizabeth?

  6. I think that there is some evidence in the official records of expenses that Jane gave some impressive jewels to raise money to buy cloths for the Princess Elizabeth, and later on she also had her brought to court. Elizabeth also took part in her brothers baptism ceremony. Jane was a compassionate woman. She may not have had to means to intervene for Elizabeth officially but I am certain she did what she could to help her privately. The little girl was growing out of her cloths and Henry refused her more as he did not believe she was his child; or so the story goes. Jane is credited with giving a necklace to be sold to buy her new clothing. I am sorry I cannot at the moment provide the reference but I can find out for you. If not, I am sure Claire will have information on this.

  7. In terms of fertility twenty seven is not old so I would imagine she had time on her side still it is said once a woman reaches mid thirties it gets harder but still possible if Henry had married Anne boleyn when he wanted without the six years of hassle then they might have been more successful in the way of baby’s I do however believe Jane got lucky in terms of a boy as it is down to nature tho I feel sorry for the way she died she did not have as easy as some would make out

  8. She is a mystery because she’s there and yet she’s not, Anne let everyone know her opinions and yet all we no of Jane is that she became Henrys third wife, as for him loving her I hardly think so, she just happened to be in the right place at the right time, when he was sick of Anne and after the wedding he said he had seen two other ladies about the court who were very attractive and it’s a pity he hadn’t seen them first, not the speech of a man in love unlike his mad passion for Anne and later for Catherine Howard, I wonder if Jane knew he’d said that, I’d be gutted had my newly wed husband said that about me, what an insult! No she was very devious I think she comes across as smug and seemed to have no pity for Anne who was languishing in the tower at the time, but then she had been friends with Catherine Of Aragon, her and Anne were second cousins tho so you would have thought she would have been a bit loyal towards her, Henry didn’t miss her much I think he’d got his son and heir, all that mourning was just a show, in fact some may have thought it was divine intervention for Henry killing Anne in the first place

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