4 June 1536 – Jane Seymour is proclaimed queen – The Fall of Anne Boleyn
Posted By Claire on June 4, 2019
You thought I’d finished my video series on the fall of Anne Boleyn in 1536, didn’t you? Ha! Got you! Here’s a surprise extra video for you!
On this day in 1536, 4th June, Whitsunday, Henry VIII’s new bride, Jane Seymour, was officially proclaimed queen at Greenwich.
Henry had married his third wife on 30th May 1536, just eleven days after the execution of his second wife, Queen Anne Boleyn. Everything had moved incredibly fast!
Find out more about what happened on this day in 1536 in the following video.
I did the “Fall of Anne Boleyn” videos daily from 24th April to 20th May and you can catch up with them on the Anne Boleyn Files and Tudor Society Youtube Channel, along with my “On this day in Tudor history” daily videos.
You can get my book “The Fall of Anne Boleyn: A Countdown” here: http://getbook.at/fallanneboleyn
21 thoughts on “4 June 1536 – Jane Seymour is proclaimed queen – The Fall of Anne Boleyn”
Thank you, Claire. It’s always good to put things in perspective. It’s always of interest to think about what the persons involved would’ve thought about this (overly) quick transition from one queen to the next. Jane Seymour herself, included. Maybe she thought it was a bit rushed?
I feel I got sa tiny taste of what the English people felt in 1536. The Fall of Anne Boleyn videos were over and that was fading and yesterday I watched the video on the marriage of Robert Dudley and Amy Robsart and a few minutes after I walked away a second video appeared announcing Jane as Queen. The immediate response in my head was didn’t he just execute his most recent queen? It really dawned on me how fast this all went down. I’ve said this before, it’s one thing to read the dates that this all happened but when you get the information in ‘real time’ you feel the speed in which it all occurred. The people must have been very startled by all this.
By now I feel Henrys subjects were realising what manner of man he was, and the rosy tinted view that had been there from the sunny days of his accession to the throne was beginning to fade, the golden prince was gone now he had just killed one wife and married another, and had her proclaimed queen just a little over a fortnight from when his previous queens head had rolled in the straw, it must have felt surreal to Annes ladies and gentlemen of her household that now, in so little a time they had to serve another queen, Jane so different in looks and temperament now sat in Annes place and they had to bow and curtsey and do her bidding, most of those people had been loyal to Anne, Jane Boleyn her sister in law for one how did she feel, she had lost her husband so this prim and proper woman could sit on the throne with the King, and Anne Gainsford had been a friend of Annes and must have felt shock and disgust at the hasty wedding and now Janes proclamation as queen consort, her uncle James Boleyn had managed her household accounts, did he now lose his post or did he resign one wonders, Nan Cobham Margery Horseman and Annes dear friend Lady Lee, they must have been broken hearted over her death and to see another in her place so soon after her death one can only imagine how they felt, the Kings hasty marriage was an insult to the dead queen but he and Cromwell possibly hoped that everyone was convinced of her guilt therefore they would understand his third marriage, but many felt disgust as a few days after Annes execution many nobles had dined together and the conversation was all of the late queens trial and execution, there was discontent there and not only in court circles but in the streets of London to, the ballad that had been circulating around which had angered the king because it was a slur on him and Jane, and one can imagine the derision that went on in the tavern houses, had this been in the day of the music hall plenty a song would have been sung about Henry V111 and his marital adventures, many were not convinced of the dead queens guilt, she had not been popular but that does not mean they believed she was guilty of the odious crimes for which she had been put to death, and in the court too the people who were in close contact with the queen knew how difficult it was for a queen to be unfaithful as she was surrounded by attendants all the time, Henry had not succeeded in convincing his people that Anne Boleyn was a monstrous adulterous murderous woman, and this sudden engagement and marriage to her lady in waiting only heightened their suspicions that she had died because the King had fallen in love with another, one contemporary observed of Jane how sweet and gracious and gentle she was, and that the King had been brought out of hell into heaven because of the cursed marriage of the other, Jane was liked by many because she was gentle and quiet but also Chapyus that doyenne of information remarked that she was haughty, to be fair to Jane it could have been shyness that he interpreted as haughtiness, although he had loathed Anne he too was not convinced of her guilt, the Kings marriage was well received by some, the Lady Mary for one who must have been overjoyed that her mothers rival was no more and decided to write the king a letter congratulating him, we can understand her feelings she believed Anne had been the cause of all her mother and hers misery, she was to get a rude awakening when she tried unsuccessfully to see him but no summons came, Jane was sympathetic to the kings eldest daughter and we can see her trying to coerce Henry into welcoming her back at court and he agreed she should, but only on his terms and only after she had signed the document that stated her parents marriage had been unlawful and she was of no legal status, poor Mary had dreamed of a joyful reunion with her father now the wicked stepmother was dead, she had not envisaged this and she had to pay first for all her wilful disobedience over the years, a delegation was sent to her and she was more or less bullied into signing away her mothers and her rights, but Chapyus had advised her as he was fearful for her life and so the misery that Mary had hoped had died with Anne was not yet over, the late queens death meant nothing to how Henry treated his eldest, she had to conform to his will as all his subjects had to, she was his daughter but still his subject and so she signed away that which her mother had so valiantly fought for, but the tears she shed were mingled perhaps with tears of joy for the King welcomed her back at court, into the bosom of his new family and thus happy days were there once more for this lonely girl, Jane herself was happy but did she ever give a thought to her tragic predecessor lying in her grave and of the four souls who had suffered with her, she knew what a dangerous man the King was and she now shared his bed and board, did she ever feel the cold steel at the back of her neck like her dead mistress had? Was she ever haunted by her? only Jane knew the answer to that and whatever qualms of conscience she felt for Anne Boleyn she must have buried in the knowledge that maybe she had been guilty and therefore deserved to die, it was now upto her Queen Jane to do her duty and give this most mercurial and dangerous of kings a prince, old Bluebeards reign continued over the two dead bodies of his previous queens.
I’m sure they felt much the same way that the household and ladies of Katherine of Aragon felt.
Hello Clare, I was just wondering what happened to Lady Worcester, Anthony Browne’s sister, one time friend of Queen Anne and informant against her, did she have a position as one of Jane Seymour’s ladies?
I hope her conscience pricked her whatever became of her.
Hi Jean, Elizabeth died in 1565 and had quite a few children, the child she was carrying when Anne was in the Tower was a little girl whom she called Anne possibly in memory of her dead friend, the evidence against the queen was said to come from her testimony yet we know these charges were rigged and it was her brother who mentioned his sisters remarks to Cromwell, about the carrying on in the queens household, I believe Elizabeth did not wish to bring harm to her friend and was bullied into making a confession, she could have been threatened with death herself and her remarks to her brother were twisted into something by Cromwell and/ or his henchmen, we have to remember Smeaton could well have been threatened which was why he never retracted his statement, she was known to be close to the queen and Anne had lent her a good deal of money a hundred pound which in today’s money is a huge amount, proof of their closeness and I think we should not judge her too harshly, iv not found any sources that says she continued to serve the new queen Jane Seymour but she could well have.
Elizabeth and Henry Somerset, the Earl and Countess of Worcester had at least twelve children, ten of whom amazingly lived to be adults and became married to the next Earl of Northumberland and so on, the Neville families and other important families. Anne Browne, first wife of Charles Brandon was the sister of Elizabeth Browne and Anthony was very big the Council and here is a bit of intrigue. The brother in law on her husband’s side was William Brereton, one of the men who was executed with Anne Boleyn. Brereton was big in North Wales and Cheshire, he was very influential there and Cromwell and he had a political rivalry. One theory is that they had fallen out on a matter of justice for a retainer and also that the legislation being prepared by Cromwell on behalf of King Henry to unify Wales was opposed by him as it would restrict the power of gentlemen in the region. It also ended the ridiculous situations such as existed in Chester on the borders, whereby any Welshman found inside the city after dark could be summarily executed. In practice this had ended long ago but the law still stood. Anthony Browne was important, as was his father, and like William B he had been in the King’s service since forever. He was close to the King and Cromwell and Brandon, who had reasons not to be sad at Anne’s downfall. His own powerful position gave him lands and power and the Worcester powerbase was across middle and South Wales and England. Anthony Browne wanted more land which affected Brereton and he personally saw him as an irritant. His arguments with his wayward sister over her alleged adultery for her husband which led to the revelations about Henry Norris, Mark Smeaton and Queen Anne may have been an unfortunate accident which he then relayed to the King via Cromwell but in the light of his own political motivations they become darker and more sinister. Christine, you are probably correct, Elizabeth was probably bullied into her testimony as her brother had personal and political reasons for forcing her to cooperate and a few hours with Cromwell would do the rest. In fact the Lady Worcester would have little choice.
A) Elizabeth Browne was a woman and therefore her husband’s property and also under some authority from her brother. Both could command her to tell convincing truths and support the allegations against her mistress. Her own alleged adultery was no more than gossip but Anthony thought she was carrying another man’s child. Henry Viii wasn’t to be messed with. Elizabeth had very little choice in this.
B) Elizabeth had slandered the Queen, treason under the Treasons Act and had apparently revealed knowledge of wrongdoing by the Queen and several members of the King’s household. Adultery may not be treason, but what if something more went on? Anthony could not conceal his conversation and for Elizabeth to hide the “truth” was misprison or knowledge and concealing treason and adultery. These matters affected the person of the King and the succession. What if Princess Elizabeth was the child of Sir Henry Norris, for example? The gossip had to be reported to the authorities and Elizabeth had to be questioned on her knowledge as a lady of the bedchamber.
Elizabeth was mentioned in two more sources as giving evidence in some form, although we don’t know if she was in Court. Judge Spellman wrote a report and we know that Elizabeth was mentioned and a letter to Lady Lisle mentioned her and so her evidence was obviously used in some form against the Queen. I doubt she intended any of this and was probably very upset afterwards. Her child didn’t move in her womb and Anne was concerned about this. However, the pregnancy came to term and in September she had a baby girl, Anne, perhaps called after her late mistress. In fact this baby was Anne Somerset, wife of Thomas Percy, 7th Earl of Northumberland.
As we know Elizabeth went on to live on to 1565 and she and her husband were buried near their Seat in Chepstow Priory in South Wales, which is a very famous monument and I visited there two years ago. Their son, William Somerset succeeded as Earl of Worcester. I suspect that Elizabeth regretted her role although she did write to Cromwell to thank him for his goodness to the family and for forgiving a long term debt she owed to the Queen. It is certainly something for which she has been harshly judged, especially in the book Anne Boleyn Fatal Attractions by George Bernard who in 2010 caused a sensation in the media when he claimed Anne was guilty of some of the things she was accused off and concentrated on the testimony of Elizabeth Browne, Countess of Worcester, immortalised in a poem life of Anne Boleyn written by Lancelot de Carles in 1536, a French official at the English Court. Most other historians disagree and Eric Ives especially proved the indictments were nonsense.
Good post Bq very informative about Elizabeth, I did read that her brother was very much against the queen and was in favour of the Seymour’s, so unwittingly his sister gave him the means to hasten her end, by all accounts Elizabeth and the queen were very close she must have been to have named her daughter after her, we can see here how her name has also been sullied along with that of Lady Rochford and Smeaton, bullying threatening twisting of words etc, and the queen was convicted of adultery and plotting to kill the king all utter nonsense, it is not that hard to frighten someone unless you are made of the stuff of matyrs, Anne Askew for one but such courage is rare, Lady Elizabeth had a good life and was pregnant, when we consider she was probably put under great duress and in her condition she must have been extremely worried not only for the queen but her unborn baby, how repulsive and vile for Cromwell to bully a lone frightened woman in her delicate condition, but he was a bully his portrait looks every inch the hardened lawyer he became, first in the household of Cardinal Wolsley then as he rose to favour under the eye of his new friend Anne Boleyn, she saw in him the means to help her and the King secure the much wanted divorce, he was cold and cunning and soon became the queens enemy after they fell out over certain topics, he then began to align himself with the Seymours when he realised Annes star was falling, an opportunist he would do everything he could to keep the Kings favour and saw here there was a life and death struggle between him and the Kings luckless wife, the family of Elizabeth and Henry as you say were very fortunate in their large family, they went onto marry into the great families of the day, Elizabeth had a good long lived life, but she must have deeply regretted her foolish words to her brother and wept tears of regret for her friend the dead queen whom she had lost so tragically.
I’m currently reading Travy Borman’s book ‘The Private Lives of the Tudors’ and just came to the ascession of Henry VIII. At the time such praise of this new king and how everything would be so much better after 24 yrs of rule under his austere and rigid father. High praises and high hopes by people such as Thomas More. Who knew that this king would become such a monster who would cause so much grief and be responsible for the deaths and sadness of so many.
Yes he was called a vision of manly goodness genial good natured friendly, it was life what happened to him Michael, life which was to him a series of tragedies over the deaths of his children, no prince to succeed him then Katherine’s refusal to let him go, years of waiting to marry Anne the fatal injuries due to the accidents at jousting, then again Anne’s miscarriages he became bitter and possibly twisted, what happened to this king was a tragedy and to those who became involved with him.
I’m just glad we’re learning about him now and not first hand during his reign.
England during his reign must have been a terrifying time to live in when he got older, he had the beautiful monasteries destroyed and had heretics hunted down, he dealt harshly with the northern uprising although initially he agreed to meet with Robert Aske, but later he was made a scapegoat after the second rebellion and was hanged, he forced the new religion on his subjects and gave himself absolute power by making himself head of a new church, that of England and passed a law making it treason for anyone not to acknowledge him as such, he was fast becoming a tyrant and the appalling deaths of Lady Margaret Pole, his own cousin and his daughters old governess and that of Cromwell showed how fickle a character he had in favour one day enemy the next, I have no love for Cromwell but he had served his master well and yet he literally threw him to the wolves, he had his second queen beheaded when he knew she must have been innocent and he was quite callous over young Catherine Howard’s death, he totally disregarded her extreme youth and ignorance, he tried to bring Scotland to heel over his desired marriage to the little Queen of Scots and ordered his soldiers to lay waste to the country, it was an age when an innocent look a gesture could be misconstrued as treason, along with the gaiety and laughter of the court of Henry V111 lurked the ever menacing shadow of death.
A number that Robert Hutchinson gives for executions under his reign is up to 150,000. This seems high but over a space of 37 yrs and all of England and after the laws passed later in Henry’s reign dealing with the succession making almost anything treason it certainly may be possible. If so, beyond terrible.
After posting that I googled executions under Henry VIII and got the answer not really possible to know. Estimated between 57,000 and 72,000. But these may be exaggerated. All we can be sure of is a lot
I am always suspicious of these estimates because they come from Hume who was a historian in the seventeenth century and came up with the figures of around 72,000 but that may well be an exaggeration and he wasn’t even being critical. But you know me, the source mad statistics nut, who is cynical about later sources and how the figures were arrived at, if they had accurate records or are just guessing; I have always questioned this figure. However, it is not impossible because the death sentence existed for numerous things, not just murder, heresy and treason and some of Henry’s laws extended the death sentence in many areas. The first statute making homosexuality a crime punishable by death was passed, although I doubt this contributed much, there is a new witchcraft law against harmful sorcery, which is murder, there was an extension of what treason was, the new religious laws, the supremacy, laws on begging, laws on forgery and fake minting, all of which were punishable by death, theft above a certain value was a capital crime, slander could be a capital crime, perjury could also be but a fine was more usual as was flogging or prison, some husbands saw adultery as pretty treason but it wasn’t actually a crime, rape of course was; there were so many things you could be put to death for that it isn’t surprising that such huge numbers are estimated. I would love someone to go through what records do exist and try to come up with a proper number using modern methodology. The history of crime is a dark one, but when we go back to these times we are facing the loss and gaps in records, which may well have been kept and there are so many minor things we wouldn’t think of as criminal and also these things affected people as young as fourteen. The laws governing what was orthodox religion changed during Henry’s reign but from the fifteenth century under Henry iv, the first Lancastrian King, the death penalty was introduced into England for repeating offenders. This certainly increased during the reign of Henry Viii with a dozen or less being executed in between 1510 and 1529 but many more afterwards. The Six Articles and laws against Anibaptists pushed the numbers up and 47 were executed as a result. However, the Supremacy caused the biggest opposition with former monks and friars facing death under new treason laws, ordinary people in public life opposed the new laws, in the Midlands and North hundreds were executed after the Rebellions of 1536/7 and as you can imagine, numerous others officially and probably unofficially as well. Henry Viii was on the throne for over 37 years, with his latter years being far bloodier than his first decades, but even so 72, 000 still seems a gross exaggeration.
I don’t knock you being a statistics nut. I love that. I’m sure you’re right that the number is exaggerated. The impression I get and this is only an impression is that as Henry grew older he became less tolerant of almost any defiance and he would jump immediately to a charge of treason and execution and there were plenty of courtiers stabbing each other in the back more than willing to help him. It may be that that impression makes the reality seem worse than it was. Look at society today- optics are everything. That may have been true then.
Hi Michael, yes, you are absolutely correct here, we don’t really know, but in his last decade the numbers of people rounded up for what we call “treason by words” that is for example speaking against his wife or his policies, grew and we have the records as they were reported to Cromwell, from all over the place, via local magistrates and justices who had the people in custody, who then looked into them. We have numerous reports over the next ten years of jail, fines and execution for objection to the Supremacy, 18 monks, senior officials, all executed in this way, the number of people immediately around Henry executed on the most ridiculous things, even Cromwell himself, two wives, their alleged lovers, members of the old Catholic and descendents of the old nobility, the Howards, Nevilles, Poles, Courtney families, all under the axe: Henry was like a bomb ticking away, the slightest move making him go off, the death toll rising. I think that is actually the point people are trying to make, personality changes aside, for many reasons, most of them stemming from his marital adventures and break with Rome and paranoia, Henry’s England in that last decade wasn’t a safe place to be.
Congregations to Queen Jane Seymour and King Henry Viii on the announcement of their wedding and her proclamation as Queen of England. It does make the mind boggle over how those who served Anne could move on to the new Queen, but then many who had served Queen Katherine moved onto Anne’s household. Anne had served Katherine and she stole her crown, Jane Rochford served all five of Henry’s first five Queens, Mary Boleyn served Katherine and her sister and Jane Seymour served Katherine and Anne and now she had replaced the late Queen as well. Henry Viii married four women who had served a previous Queen. It was pretty normal it seems for the members of one household to move onto the next Queen because that was their jobs. Only the most devout servants would have remained with an ex Queen, who survived, although a fair number of women moved with Katherine of Aragon, but then she needed a proper household, with over 200 or more attendants and Anne had been executed, so numerous gentle and noble attendance women and men were without a mistress to serve. Naturally they were reappointed to serve Jane, it was all the families of these people knew, their duty was to be in royal service. It’s no different to those who fought for King Richard III and survived, although most actually died at his side, but others survived, their sons survived or they were civilians who had been connected to Richard by blood; going on to serve King Henry Tudor. They might have hated his guts for all we know they felt about him, but they had one thing in mind: I want to survive. They are not to know Henry has conciliation in mind, for all these people knew, he wanted to round them up and chop of all of their heads as had become normal during the Wars of the Roses if you landed on the losing side. Henry had post dated his reign, after all and both Richard and Henry declared those who fought against them traitors. If I was the Earl of Surrey or the missing Francis Lovell, I would be wandering what my fate was as well. Thomas Howard, reduced in rank to the Earl of Norfolk, had been badly wounded and his father killed fighting for Richard, but he was imprisoned, not killed, then when the opportunity to escape came, he didn’t take it. Three years later he served the new Tudor King putting down a rebellion, he served him faithfully and would later become the hero of Flodden. The Poles and Neville families settled under the new Dynasty, as did the Courtney family and many others, who went into service under the new King. The Boleyn family also found a trusted position in service of Henry Vii and Henry Viii. After the execution of his daughter and son, Thomas Boleyn retired to mourn but by July that year he was back in royal service because that was his duty. Other members of the family had to be considered, the family fortunes had to be regained, loyalty had to be proved. This was the only life the upper crusts knew: they couldn’t just go and work at something else, this was their status in life, this was their duty, this was their living and this was who they were. The local gentry were basically the local magistrates, sheriffs, the justice system, they were responsible for local law and order, for raising military service, for collecting taxation and for providing much of which kept the local population employed and housed as well as many other duties and they ran the country around them in the King’s name. Therefore they were relied upon by the crown and relied on the goodwill of the crown for their survival, support, success and advancement. They had a duty as daughters to marry well and provide children who would continue the cycle of success and expand their land and powerbase and as sons to continue the dynasty and to follow their father as successful magnets. The most obvious way to extend influence was through marriage but the best place to find a suitable partner and to gain more influence and patronage was at Court. A gentleman wanted his sons and daughters to make a good match and for them to find favour in the service of their King or Queen. Places were limited and competitive and you certainly could not afford to say no if a new master or mistress replaced your former one on the throne.
That’s true life at court for the nobility was advantageous and one had to carry on as usual even if your beloved friend or relative was dead, in King Henrys case executed! Look at poor Sir Thomas Boleyn, he lost his two children yet still had to carry on as if nothing had happened, he was demoted as was usual after the fall of his family, but soon after was back at court and in favour once more, ones favour depended on the whim of a King or queen, that is true about the local gentry holding the office of local magistrate, some of my ancestors were country gentry and we’re all involved in the law it was like a family trade, Lincolns Inn saw many a member practice at the Bar, but for those who had loved Queen Anne had shared in her triumph and misery, it must have been soul destroying to see another queen in her place, it was not as if she had passed away naturally, she had been killed and she was only around thirty five/ six not young by Tudor standards but not old either, today she would be in her prime, she was still fertile, Henry V111 had given up on Katherine when she reached her menopause, but Anne Boleyn still had many more childbearing years ahead of her even though her obstetric history was not fortunate, Annes last miscarriage I think was the straw that broke the camels back Henry was less patient with Anne than with Katherine, now the years were against him we know men can father children at any age but he did not want to leave his kingdom to a child, the past had shown that a crown left to a child caused a power surge in those appointed to rule as regent, and in both cases the young king died, two young monarchs had died mysteriously when in their minority, Richard 11 and Edward V, Henry V111 quite possibly thought of his tragic predessesors when he became ever more paranoid about his quest for a son, in the end Jane Seymour did give him his prince but he to was in his minority when the old King died.
Lord John Russell was very pleased with the new Queen, writing to Lady Lisle that the King had come out of Hell into Heaven and was delighted in his new Queen. Jane was described as charming and gracious and a peace keeper who wanted the best for the King and all around her. Mary certainly hoped Jane could help her find peace with her father, but despite the Queen pleading for her new step daughter and writing comfortable words to her, Henry refused to accept her back, insisting that Mary sign the Articles he asked a delegation to go to his disobedient daughter and demand that she submit to him in everything. Mary was told to sign a document which denounced herself as legitimate and saying the marriage of her own parents, King Henry and Queen Katherine, was null and void. Mary was threatened, her friends arrested, she appealed to Cromwell and finally Chapuys persuaded her to sign but make a statement saying she did so under duress. Jane had been told to mind her own business, but brought the subject of Mary up on at least two occasions. Henry wanted all of his women under his control as he was fed up with opposition and he had to rule his own family in order to have obedience from his subjects and a disobedient daughter wasn’t good for the image of a man in control. Anne had been the type of Queen to want to be proactive and interference may have cost her marriage and even her life. Jane took the hint and chose to be conventional and humble and to be the wife that he needed and wanted at that time. Now that Mary had obeyed and submitted Henry and Jane came to see her and she was once more the centre of his family and the Court once again. She was very much adored and Jane was loved for her role in at least supporting Mary and for bringing some peace and stability to the Royal household.