4 June 1536 – Jane Seymour is officially proclaimed queen

On this day in history, Sunday 4th June 1536, five days after her marriage to King Henry VIII and just over two weeks after the execution of her predecessor, Jane Seymour was officially proclaimed queen at Greenwich. Chronicler and Windsor Herald Charles Wriothesley recorded:

“Also the 4th daie of June, being Whitsoundaie, the said Jane Seymor was proclaymed Queene at Greenewych, and went in procession, after the King, with a great traine of ladies followinge after her, and also ofred at masse as Queen, and began her howsehold that daie, dyning in her chamber of presence under the cloath of estate.”

Jane had already appeared in public as queen. Sir John Russell, in a letter to Lord Lisle, recorded that on 2nd June 1536, at Greenwich, “the Queen sat abroad as Queen.” It is hard to believe that this was only just over a month after the arrests of Queen Anne Boleyn and the five men brought down with her. Things moved incredibly fast, and extremely brutally, that year.

Of course, a new queen needed a household. If you remember, I wrote about Queen Anne Boleyn’s household being broken up on 13th May 1536 and her staff discharged. Well, some of Anne’s household were lucky enough to gain employment in Queen Jane’s household. Those who served both Anne and Jane included William Coffin, Anne’s master of the horse; Sir Edward Baynton, Anne’s vice chamberlain; John Smith, Anne’s surveyor; Jane Boleyn, Lady Rochford, Anne’s sister-in-law; Anne Gainsford, Lady Zouche; Bess Holland, and Margery Horsman. I wonder how they felt about this.

Also on this day in history, 4th June 1550, Robert Dudley married Amy Robsart at the royal palace of Sheen. Click here to read more.

Notes and Sources

  • Wriothesley, Charles (1875) A chronicle of England during the reigns of the Tudors, from A.D. 1485 to 1559, Volume 1, Camden Society, p. 43-44.

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23 thoughts on “4 June 1536 – Jane Seymour is officially proclaimed queen”
  1. Henry has been King for only about 27 years and this is his third queen. To put that in perspective he will live for less than 11 more years and will have 3 more. Though strictly speaking I don’t know if Anne of Cleves was technically queen. If someone can answer that for me please do. This would have been an interesting time to live in England. With King Henry on the throne I would rather be a farmer than a courtier.

    1. Anne of Cleves married a king and therefore was a queen, and was proclaimed as such. Coronations are important symbolic rituals but they do not make a monarch or a consort. Henry VIII would, of course, argue that only Jane Seymour and Catherine Parr were valid queens as he had his marriages to Catherine of Aragon, Anne Boleyn and Anne of Cleves annulled, and Catherine Howard was a bigamist. Edward V was never crowned and Edward VIII wasn’t either, but they are seen as valid Kings of England. The non-consummation aspect of the Cleves marriage is a tricky one as it was claimed that it hadn’t been consummated and therefore the marriage was not valid, but we don’t know what happened behind closed doors and Anne was very much accepted as queen for those few months.

      1. Thank you for that. I was confused because of the non-consummation aspect and the short length of the marriage.

        1. I think it’s confusing as well, Michael, but we generally accept all Six of Henry’s wives as his Queen because they were made so at some point in marriage, by virtue of a coronation or being proclaimed/recognised as such as we are sensible people and look back with a neutral eye. However, Henry agreed who his Queen was according to what was convenient at the time. For example he had no problem having Katherine of Aragon as his Queen for eighteen years and then his “conscience” decided his lack of a male heir made that marriage invalid, although most of his people and Katherine disagreed. He married Anne and she was his true wife, even though he wasn’t yet annulled, then once he was she was crowned. When he was fed up with that arrangement after three short years as with no fault of her own, Anne miscarried of possibly two male children, he declared his marriage was invalid and wanted out. His ardent desire to make a fresh start led him down the dark path which led to the destruction of his wife and five friends simply because he didn’t want another inconvenient wife causing trouble as Katherine did. He then had the same person annul his marriage who had made it legal, Thomas Cranmer, because he wanted Princess Elizabeth removed as his heir. Now with two dead wives he was both a widower and a bachelor and probably his entire Kingdom were totally confused. With Jane being the only wife he now had, her children were his only heirs. Jane was lucky to give Henry a son but lost her life. To him she remained his only beloved and true wife.

          Poor Anne of Cleves was married to His Majesty but he didn’t consider the marriage valid as he claimed it wasn’t consummated and he didn’t like this lady. As Claire says we don’t know what happened behind closed doors, but it probably wasn’t consummated. However, for the rest of her life Anne saw herself as the true wife of Henry and she is certainly regarded as being his Queen for six months today. The status of Katherine Howard is interesting, because of her relationship with Francis Dereham who claimed to be her common law husband. Katherine had no such beliefs and once Queen, she believed it was over. Henry confuses things because he married Katherine in the belief of her being pure and he was devastated to know that she had a past. It is debatable as to her exact relationship with Thomas Culpeper, but if Katherine committed bigamy then how could she commit the adultery she was executed for? Henry accepted the latter as another convenient reality. There was no such ambiguity over his final marriage to Katherine Parr, a double widow and she was still honoured as a Queen after his death.

          Ironically Anne of Cleves was buried by her stepdaughter, Queen Mary I in Westminster Abbey with all of the honours of a Queen and had a very fine tomb, still partly seen today. She also had the good sense to agree to a divorce and to come to a favourable agreement with the King, receiving many houses, three palaces and an annual income. She was also called the King’s Sister. Henry married all of these women and at some point they were recognized as Queen. We honour them all as such today, giving them back that dignity Henry Viii took from them in life.

  2. Hi Michael, technically yes Anne having married Henry V111 did become his queen and she is always known as such, but Wikipedia states that as the marriage was not consummated she was not crowned as queen consort, and of course Henry wanted this known to hasten his divorce from her, so in theory she did have the title of Queen of England but not the honour of the coronation, in the end Cromwell found the pre contract between her and an old suitor to rid himself of her, though he did harp on about the non consummation bit as well, but he knew that reason would not have satisfied Cleves and so he needed a better excuse hence the pre contract, yes I agree about living in the court of Henry V111 at the time, it was a turbulent period in history and I believe you were better of being a member of the lower classes, the men and women of the nobility and aristocracy had more to lose than the poor farmer or fisherman or shepherd whose very existence was blighted by poor harvests, the plague lack of work and money, those people had names we have never heard of yet they existed in their thousands, harsh their lives may have been yet they had freedom of choice to marry who they wished, neither were they were haunted by the steely horror of the axe, the courtiers who served in Henry V111’s court after he became Head of the Church were more vulnerable to his absolute authority which he excercised with cold ruthlessness, the men of his council he sent to bully his daughter Mary to sign the document agreeing her parents had never been married is a prime example, as he grew ever older and more brutal the court became a wary place to live in, though he could still be genial and have flashes of good humour, people must have lived in fear of him, increasing infirmity and ill health only made him more bad tempered, his sudden widowhood when Jane died sunk him into misery as I believe he had come to regard her with very real respect and love, and then the two disastrous marriages to Anne and the flighty Catherine Howard made him exclaim in bitterness why had he the misfortune to have such ill conditioned wives, of course there was nothing wrong with Anne of Cleves he just found her unattractive but he never gave the poor woman a chance, other monarchs had to marry women they found equally unattractive and in the past they had, it was one of the drawbacks of being a King, what was so wrong with Henry that he could not accept that, he could have slept with Anne and she could have given him a son, he could have then not slept with her anymore as job done, he would have had his mistresses for pleasure which was the norm amongst Kings and there would have been no need to marry the other two, one historian said why did Henry V111 marry Catherine Howerd as she would have been fine as just his mistress, the tragic girls life would have been spared at least, he had young Edward as his heir although he could easily have died like his tragic half brothers and sisters, and which he did sadly years later, I think their deaths and the the memory of Arthur his elder brother was the reason he wanted more sons which is understandable, but he could have given poor Anne of Cleves a chance.

      1. They say when Charles becomes king Camilla will automatically become queen and likewise with Catherine the Duchess of Cambridge, but when our present queen married Philip became Duke of Edinburgh not King consort, I’m not sure why that was wether it was to do with his background or maybe he refused it, I don’t think Camilla will be very popular as she will always be compared unfavourably and some what unfairly I must add to Diana, she has been for years anyway ever since their affair became public knowledge, with Edward V111 the establishment could not would not accept Wallis Simpson as she would be queen and for a twice divorced American that just was not acceptable at the time, the public were more in his favour though as he was popular, the golden prince like young Henry V111 was when he ascended the throne, the title HRH was not given to her which legally was wrong since Edward was HRH, when you marry a HRH that title becomes yours but the queen mum rather spitefully had that title denied her, but in law she was wrong.

        1. Very interesting regarding Elizabeth and Philip. A rule change after the restoration or a personal choice by the Queen?

        2. IIRC, there is no such title in the UK as king consort.

          Philip of Spain was called King Philip since he was king of Spain.

          William and Mary ruled jointly as king and queen regnant,

          Victoria wanted to make Prince Albert King Consort but parliament refused to create the title as he a foreigner. I suspect the same would have happened had the current queen tried to force the issue since there is now a president.

          However since kings are traditionally considered to be more ‘powerful’ than queens giving an equivalent title would not be seen as desirable in earlier times as it could under-cut the power of a female ruler.

  3. Actually Anyanka your right, iv never heard of us having a King consort, and yes regarding the power thing there was that aspect too, whenever England had a female ruler which was not often, it was crucial their future husbands to be were allies of their adopted country, that politically the union was in her best interests, Albert was German and Victoria’s cousin who was the last of the Hanoverians, although he died young it’s interesting if when his widow became Empress of India had he been alive would he have had the title of Emperor?

    1. You are both right, the only title I have heard of for a Consort who married a British/English Queen Regnant was Prince or Prince Consort, the latter created for Prince Albert of Saxe Cobourg the husband of Queen Victoria, or Duke of X Territory, unless like Philip of Spain or William iii they ruled as joint monarchs, agreed by Parliament. I would imagine King Consort to be very rare, especially as there have only been seven Queen Regnants (excluding the disputed Queen Jane Grey) and I cannot think of any others who used the King Consort, but then there have been Queens in Holland and female Empresses I think used Emperor for their male counterparts. Royal titles are so odd.

      Camilla legally can’t become Queen and will have a none Royal title as a Duchess because of the fact both she and Charles are divorced. Charles will be King because his mother was the Queen but his wife was not granted his title. She is Duchess of Cornwall, not Princess of Wales. It is a rule invented by Parliament and it applied to the late Duchess of Windsor who didn’t get the honours of HRH until the poor woman died. The entire Royal system is old fashioned and out of date and personally I hope people call her Queen and accept her because she probably should have married Charles in the first place. I also hope that the next generations have no such problems.

      The problems female Kings faced in Tudor times is underlined by the concerns over the marriage of Mary and Philip ii. It wasn’t just that he was an undesirable Spanish King but as a man he was considered more capable of ruling and above a woman and was expected to take control. A wife was meant to obey her husband and the question was how did the Queen do that and remain autonomous? England may also become a satellite state for the mighty Holy Roman Empire. An agreement was reached making the two monarchs joint but giving Philip no power in England. It worked quite well. Elizabeth on the other hand didn’t marry anyone as she saw that her power would be reduced and for other personal reasons, but her decision meant everyone with the slightest bit of Royal blood saw her throne as theirs for the having. It was a problem overcame through time by lessening the power of the crown and ruling with Parliament and laying down protocols for marriage with a female and male sovereign, until we have the structure of today. Our Queen of course, reigns and has limited powers and there is nothing to fear from the challenge of a male consort to her authority. She did have to tame Philip as he was a play boy but the marriage has been a solid success. We have come a long way, but maybe still have work to do.

      1. Thanks Bq I thought I read somewhere that Camilla will be queen but you can’t believe everything you read in the papers, yes as a divorcee that poses a problem for her but she probably isn’t bothered anyway, I remember when they married they were saying the queen cannot attend as in theory, she’s head of the church and divorce is a no go there, of course she did not attend but they say Charles is determined she will be queen, as we see it’s not upto him.

        1. It seems the Queen didn’t have that problem with Prince Harry marrying a divorcee. I suppose PH being so low in the order of succession, it didn’t matter as much..

          HRH’s are gifts of the monarch by way of Letters Patent. The government doesn’t have much to do with them.
          As such, once the new succession law was passed in 2012, HM issued the letters “all the children of the eldest son of the Prince of Wales should have and enjoy the style, title and attribute of royal highness with the titular dignity of Prince or Princess prefixed to their Christian names or with such other titles of honour” equalising the status of female children with their brothers WRT inheritance of titles, etc.

          Technically, Camilla should be queen as that is the title used by the wife of a reigning monarch. Will she be crowned alongside Charles at his coronation? I imagine so, that would make her queen. I really can’t see Charles ruling for too long though.

      1. This is a very interesting debate and I think Camilla should be Queen but it is a very strange situation, considering it was a divorce which created the Church of England and the first Headship was given to Henry Viii. The change to the rules on succession to make either sex in birth order rather than males first was well overdue. I really can’t imagine that people will not think of Camilla as Queen anyway because that is what we the public would want and expect the wife of the King to be. Maybe that also has something to do with our natural acceptance of all six wives as Queen, regardless of how Henry thought about them.

        As far as I know when a Prince has been married before he became King both have normally been crowned together, if not both having full if separate Coronations if married later. There has only been one exception to this as far as I can recall. George iv, the former Prince Regent, son of George iii, barred his wife, Caroline of Brunswick from her own Coronation and she was locked out of Westminster Abbey. Well, they didn’t exactly get on and in any case, George may have had two previous marriages, invalid because the women were Catholic and the priest who preformed the ceremony was dodgy. He had loved both of them. Again it was a right odd situation and Queen Caroline had to endure a terrible public trial of her marriage and fidelity before Parliament, with all her private life public knowledge. Somehow she was exonerated, probably because her alleged paramours were famous and in some cases married and political dynamite. She also won a lot of sympathy and public support, although her husband detested her. The one bright spark to come from their marriage was their lovely but tragic daughter, the beloved Princess Charlotte who died of neglect and poor advice in childbirth aged 21, alongside her baby.

        1. Yes George 1V went through a form of marriage with Maria Fitzherbert and with another lady as well, whose name I cannot remember, but I read in the Daily Mail a year or so ago that his descendant is living in America or Canada and was complaining bitterly that he was the true King of England, his birthright having been taken from him, but as monarchs/ heirs to the throne were not allowed to marry Roman Catholics which as you say, both the prince regents former loves were the marriages were not deemed legal anyway, wether George did think the marriage ceremonies were legal or just designed to get the ladies into bed, which if they were like Anne Boleyn he would have just been trying to deceive them it was a cruel thing to do and very foolish, this is what Edward 1V did when he went through a form of marriage with was it Eleanor? And it caused repercussions with the succession years later, George is said to have sincerely loved Maria but it was not a lasting love and he fell for another woman, the antics the monarchy have gone through down the centuries certainly keeps us entertained.

        2. There are probably a few such descendants living abroad and certainly there are in Australia, from the children of Ursula Plantagenet ( who never used the name, but I use it as identifying her) who was the only daughter and youngest child of Margaret Pole and Richard Pole and therefore the granddaughter of George, Duke of Clarence, brother of King Edward iv and King Richard iii. When Lord William Hastings lost all of his money on the horses in the nineteenth century, he went to Australia and there is a family who are the direct descendants of the Poles. They of course are not in the least bit interested in the throne but it made an interesting program just the same.

          The Queen, of course is held as right because she is made so by the Act of Settlement after the Stuart Protestant line died out and until recently Catholics were barred from the throne ( probably still are) and even if George loved Maria Fitzgerald, which he probably did, it was forbidden for him to marry her and remain heir to the throne. 300 years later and Prince Michael of Kent had to give up his claim as his wife is a Roman Catholic. I think the other lady was Harriet something, but my mind can’t recall. When you think Henry Viii married whoever he wished, at least four times, even though he fought to have Anne Boleyn for several years, it is an irony and perhaps a little unfair that his collateral descendants had to do as they were told. It is refreshing to see the Queen’s grandchildren marry those they love.

  4. Sir John Russell was certainly enjoying watching the new Queen who now made her formal appearance as Queen. Jane was attired in great pomp and ceremony and received the homage of her new household and her husband showed her off with pride just as he had done with Anne three years earlier. She was being given the best of everything, she was being treated to beautiful and exotic dishes, served on bended knee, being pampered and held in high esteem and worship. She was now Queen and had all of the glory to welcome her as Queen, short of a coronation. Jane had a pageant, a river procession, a banquet and big party and was greeted by the nobles and people. She came forth now for all to pay her homage.

    Henry was determined everything would continue now as if nothing had happened and the Court would be merry once more. There would be dancing, there would be feasting and his new Queen would be fully and properly greeted and treated with every honour possible. Everyone would carry on and enjoy themselves and celebrate Jane as his one true Queen. Sir John Russell was very enthusiastic about Jane, I think, and he had high hopes that Jane would bring his friend and royal master happiness, contentment and sons.

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