7 June 1536 – A water pageant for the new queen

Jun7,2018 #Jane Seymour

On this day in history, 7th June 1536, less than three weeks after the execution of previous queen, Anne Boleyn, there were celebrations for the new queen, Jane Seymour, Henry VIII’s third wife and the daughter of Sir John Seymour of Wulfhall.

These celebrations took the form of a water pageant, or procession, along the Thames, from Greenwich to Whitehall (York Place).

Click here to read chronicler Charles Wriothesley’s account of celebrations that day.

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20 thoughts on “7 June 1536 – A water pageant for the new queen”
  1. Many probably thought ‘here we go again’ but probably still were entertained by it all and enjoyed the break from the daily drudgery. I’m sure many were also praying that this Queen would give England a prince.

  2. I must admit, I cannot really get excited about this pomp and ceremony for Henrys third queen, as it seems to me it was like dancing over the body of his previous queen and the five courtiers who perished with her, as for the Londoners what on earth did they think, but they were so far removed from the colourful and dangerous court of their King that as Michael remarks it was something for them all to enjoy, another spectacular display something for young and old to like, but for the cynics amongst them they must have thought this marriage may not last a few years or so, to me these displays although worthy of a queen were extremely tasteless coming so soon after the death of his murdured second wife, and as his colourful barge passed the Tower did Henry give a thought to her whom once it was noted, he could not leave for an hour? Did he think of the five innocent men some of whom had been his close friends and companions for many years mouldering in their pitiful graves, – possibly not for this Kings most convenient conscience told him it was the right thing to do for the safety of his realm and the succession, what did Jane think also as she passed by the the grim facade of Londons mighty fortress, now gaily decked with frivolous banners and streamers, to me it seems a bit like adorning the head of an ancient grey haired lady with multiple bows and ribbons, the sight must have been incongruous to behold given its reputation as a place of torture misery and death, but it had not always been so and we have to remember it was once a home for previous monarchs who had often stayed in its beautiful apartments and sat in the enclosed gardens, also it still was in Henrys day a place where the Monarchs stayed before their coronation as Anne Boleyn had, above the dirty depressing cells were the unfortunate prisoners lived, the luxurious apartments fit for kings and the queens resided when events like such as these took place, but as Jane passed the Tower did she think of the horror of her predecessors last days there? Could she see in her minds eye that tragic scene that had taken place so shortly before, did she see that lonely figure clad in grey and scarlet the headsman behind her, the mass of crowds murmuring to each other, some with sympathy and some, one suppose’s with satisfaction, but all transfixed with the horror of what was to come, she must have looked away as they passed and focused on the winding river, these celebrations were proof of the kings loyalty and commitment to her his new bride, Jane must have been happy that day and resolved to make her new husband happy also, it was another day for rejoicing and there must have been plenty of strawberries, the fruit of the summer season to enjoy that day to, there is no mention of wine running freely again but there must have been toasting aplenty in the ale houses and taverns to the new queen, even if they thought with sympathy of the previous one, now was a new day to look ahead and pray be the queen will be fruitful and England will have a prince – at last!

  3. What a wonderful sight all this must have been, no matter how people felt about yet another Queen, the third in three years, being hailed before the world as the hope of the future, and his legal wife and hopefully mother of a son to be, and, everyone likes a good festival and party. All of the Lords had their own barges and they were all richly dressed as would the barges be with flowing banners and the King and Queen in great and grand barges and the large ships all decorated as well. They received homage and many guns salute. I believe people enjoyed this regardless of their private feelings.

    Feelings in any case would have been very mixed. Anne Boleyn was not a popular person or Queen, although she had tried to do her best and some people had warmed to her. She had also won over some sympathy at her trial and execution and during her giving at Easter to the poor. Independent evidence suggests she was generous and it was appreciated but the vast majority of people still remembered Queen Katherine of Aragon and her beloved daughter, Princess Mary, who had their admiration and sympathy. We don’t know what they knew about the new Queen, but if her support for Mary was known, then we can be certain that would have won her support. We do have one clue in the form of a lyrical poem which criticised the King for moving on to a new Queen so soon after Anne was beheaded. That is not the same as not liking his wife. This marriage made a stir, I am sure, but given Jane’s gentle and gracious nature, I am convinced that most people welcomed her as a person they hoped would bring domestic peace and a new start.

    I don’t believe anyone watching this wonderful pageant could have failed to have a good time. Just like when our council and local businesses pay for the Tall Ships Marine Festival or the Giant Puppets every couple of years, the hundreds of thousands of visitors enjoyed them, while the moaners who number in single figures stayed away. Nobody taking part could have failed to have appreciated the beautiful spectacular colours and sounds and you simply get caught up in the moment.

    1. Jane baffles me because Chapyus said of her she was inclined to be haughty and proud, haughtiness is not an attractive feature and is akin to arrogance yet many noted she was gentle and kind also, quite possibly after the King showed an interest in her she may have exhibited traits of a proud nature, you could not fail to be moved when the King shows an interest in you, Chapyus also remarked on her lack of beauty and said nobody else thinks she has any either, but Henry found her a delight to be with although after his marriage he did comment on the good looks of two women he had seen at court, and said he was sorry he had not noticed them before, did Jane get to hear of this because if she did then she must have been quite mortified, it was not the sort of thing to say after one had just said the marital vows, and it does prove to me at least that Henry was not that enamoured of her, I think she just happened to be in the right place at the right time and she was a pleasant diversion from nagging Anne, but as the people watched the colourful displays on the Thames these thoughts probably did not enter their minds much, as Bq said people get caught up in the moment and on that day they just allowed themselves to savour every beautiful moment.

      1. This goes along with what you said: Did Henry love Jane and want to be intered with her because he loved HER or did he love her because she bore him his long sought son and heir?

        1. I think after her death he began to harbour sweet thoughts of her, a certain nostalgia for something which he possessed so briefly and was taken from him so soon, after Anne of Cleves and his misery over his fifth queen he possibly came to regard her as the best wife he ever had, she had never betrayed him, she had given him a son, so possibly yes he may have fallen in love with her in his dotage which may sound strange, but as young Edward grew up and he did resemble his mother fond memories must have stirred in Henry of his dead queen who had never given him any trouble, i think he respected Jane and after her death came to regard her in high esteem but I doubt he was ever in love with her, his decision to lie with her shows I think more of a gratefulness for the son she had given him, and let’s face it, he wouldn’t want to lie beside Katherine whom he had tried to get rid of for seven years, both Anne and Jane were lying in traitors graves and Catherine Parr out lived him as did Anne the discarded wife from Cleves, his choice of which queen to lie beside therefore was rather limited.

        2. I made a mistake in my previous post, I meant both Anne and Catherine were lying in traitors graves.

      2. Yes, there are some contradictory and very puzzling descriptions of Jane Seymour. Martin Luther called her an enemy of the gospel, probably because she had traditional Catholic beliefs, but she was more likely just of conventional faith, rather than actively against the Bible, indifferent as most people were. Just where Luther got this rather far fetched idea from seems to be as much of a mystery as her full relationship and attraction to the King. Henry may well have been nostalgic about Jane, because she gave him his only son and lost her life and she may also have genuinely given him peace which he lost at her death. Yes, there could have been much hidden about the mysterious Jane and she seems to be adaptable. Yes, I can imagine a pride emerging in the new Queen, a submissive aspect to the King and a champion to those who hoped in the old faith. How much Henry loved Jane is one question I don’t believe we can know but I believe her portrait shows a woman of not bad looks, but like Anne she must have had enemies whose description was not favourable. Chapuys seems to contradict himself, not being very flattering one minute and being impressed in his next dispatch after his audience with her. Jane must have had a way with her which made her accessible and was believed to be gracious and kind. She was certainly an anomaly. She is both haughty and gentle and submissive but also a woman on a mission. It is like Anne who was both very religious and also loved to flirt and dance and masquerade. We have different snapshots and too many questions. Did Henry really love her or did he find her attractive because she offered him much which was different to Anne? Did he love her to the extent of heart breaking or was he mourning her as the lost mother of his son? If only we knew more.

  4. Part of it could also be that his time with Jane was so brief that he never had a chance to tire of her.

      1. I partly agree that Jane’s death certainly immortalised her in Henry’s affection and memory but I doubt he would have tired of her as she was safe by virtue of the fact she had born a living son. Henry didn’t tire of Katherine of Aragon, he needed a male heir. He tired of Anne because he saw the same pattern of children being born or dying in the womb who didn’t survive. He would have remained married to Anne had her son in 1536 gone to full term and lived, even if he was fed up with her arguments. I don’t believe he would have left either of his first two wives if sons had come along and lived. Henry had moved onto no three because he had conveniently worked out his second marriage was cursed. Jane was fortunate in that she had a living son, because Henry may well have found a way to end this one too if another daughter and no sons came along. I doubt he would have treated her as he did Anne, because she was more compliant and less likely to be trouble. Anne and Katherine were both strong and obstinate and had fight in them, the latter had refused to accept that she was no longer Queen and it is very possible that Anne might not have done so either. I believe Jane would have accepted a divorce and come to a sensible and a settlement like Anne of Cleves did.

        Of course this is all speculation and Jane Seymour was blessed with a precious son and she would have remained as Queen for the rest of Henry’s life had she lived. Even if he was fed up and did tire, there is no way he would have left the mother of his son. Jane would be secure. Henry might have found some passion elsewhere but the woman who sat beside him on the throne, the woman who was with him in public or official functions would be his wife, the mother of his heir, Queen Jane Seymour. In any event it is quite possible that Henry and Jane would have other children. Henry also declined in health, so it is less likely that he would have the energy for a long term mistress. I actually believe Jane was just what Henry was looking for. As the mother of sons she would have grown in stature and power and become more influential. She might not have had an active political role, but that wasn’t unusual. As a traditional Tudor wife, Jane Seymour was perfect. Anne Boleyn was not your usual Queen and she was what we would call advanced for her time, she was not a feminist but she was unusually very intelligent and well educated and also proactive in the cause of reform and in political changes. Jane was more the sort of quiet, compassionate, accepting and family minded wife Henry needed, one who may intervene on behalf of others, but who would not try to rule him or challenge him too much. There is a good chance that as the mother of his heir, however, her requests would have more impact. Henry wanted sons, but he also hoped for a more balanced and peaceful domestic life. There is nothing to back up modern assumptions that Jane Seymour was dull and boring or that Henry would have found her so. It is much more likely that Henry would find her to be an able partner, an able mother and if he went to war, an able Regent. She was shrewd and learned quickly. She was clever enough to learn to take Henry’s veiled threat seriously and to take a back seat until she had given him an heir. Henry honoured her for this for the rest of his life and he most probably would have honoured her in life as well. We can’t know but going by other King’s and the Queens they married for alliances, they were not abandoned even if their husband was aloof. They might live practically separate lives but their Queens were still the mother of their sons and they received public and Courtly recognition. Even Louis XIV who slept with half of Versailles, who may not have found Marie Teresa very attractive, honoured her as the mother of his son and heir and she remained secure. Henry was unusual in that he went around marrying his female subjects for love and they came with a family and political faction. Jane was seen by many at Court as the focal point of a faction who supported Princess Mary and Orthodox Faith. I am certain that this faction would have risen even higher had Jane lived and benefited enormously by her death. Like Anne of Cleves, who was Queen for just six months, I believe Jane Seymour is one of the underestimated Tudor Queens and too easily overlooked by historians.

        1. Ooh, did enjoy your last para, BQ. ‘I actually believe that Jane was everything Henry was looking for.’ you write; and we all seem to agree that one of the things Henry now looked for was submission.
          In HHtY’s portrait of Jane, with her prissy little mouth and sharp nose, the only arresting feature I see are Jane’s eyes. And ‘doe-eyed’ (or wide-eyed and innocent) came to mind, as did the Song of Solomon’s line, “Behold you are fair, my love! Behold you are fair. You have doe’s eyes.” Checking the SoS online, and on a christian blog, I quickly saw that I’d misremembered and ‘she’ has dove’s eyes.
          The blogger mentioned that the eyes of the dove are only able to focus on one thing at a time, which is pleasing for their mate and that thus they are the symbol of lovers. Jane gazing (in adoration) at Henry, eyes on him and him alone, following his every gesture, submissively and barely speaking at all .. what a lovely little portrait of submission, d’y’think?
          Same christian blogger mentioned also Proverbs 19:12 – “The King’s wrath is as the roaring of a lion; but his favour is as dew upon the grass.”
          Really enjoyed the last few days of debate around Jane, who is, as you say, “easily overlooked.”

        2. She was only queen for a few years so it’s easy to see why she didn’t make much of an impression but in the short time she was, as I said before she did her best to reconcile Mary with her father, I agree Henry would not have discarded her as she had given him a son but he always had an eye for the ladies and I think would have got bored with her, but that’s not important as a queens main function was to breed, and that’s were mistresse’s came in, Henry was a realist and he would not have wanted to get rid of Jane, she was docile and though were she believed there was a worthy cause to fight for, such as Mary and the closure of the monasteries, she also knew when to back off and keep silent, she could have been a most successful queen consort and yes I believe she is rather overlooked by historians, I feel sorry for little Edward and Elizabeth too for never having known their mothers.

        3. Thanks Globerose for your lovely and very appropriate poetry and quotations, very beautiful and I think it sums love and devotion and Jane very well. I loved the way her portrait was described in one of the many documentaries, by Lucy Worsley I believe, as hiding a secret truth, was she shrewdly watching or was she being coy? She certainly has very nice eyes and you wonder is there more for us to know? Thanks for your lovely words and lovely post.

          Yes, Christine, that’s the problem with the Kings of old, they had long suffering wives who had to accept the mistress while they had the babies. Anne couldn’t do that, such was the love she felt for Henry and she expected him to be faithful. Jane, having served Queen Katherine and been coached by certain in the know courtiers, knew how to keep her counsel and she did what women had done for centuries, looked the other way. In some ways she was lucky to have met Henry at the time of his life to marry because at 45 he was still a catch, but he was also starting to recognise his health problems. He was less inclined to look at other women and he certainly wasn’t the randy devil Francis I was. He was almost a prude by the standards of the time when it was accepted that men, high born men, found satisfaction when their wives were pregnant. But, you are probably right, he most certainly would have taken a mistress at some point. He still had the eye for a pretty face, we know this because of his fancy for young Katherine Howard, whom he hoped would give him son two, three and four. Now, that may be as a reaction to his marriage to Anne of Cleves, but we know one thing, Henry was delusional about his looks and in 1541, by which time the weight was on, he believed he still looked as a handsome man in his prime. I can’t see Henry having body issues, not unless he was forced to confront the truth. The women at Court were no better. There appears to have been more than a few willing enough to flaunt themselves around and sleep with the King in order to get ahead. Let’s face it, the King was rich, powerful, he could grant anything you wanted, so he had more to offer than looks and I am not saying these women were easy, but a few certainly didn’t see any harm in advancing family careers and who was going to say no to a wooing King? Henry had few actual mistresses but he did have bed partners during a pregnancy. Jane certainly would have accepted such a risk at some point, whether for excitement or convenient sex. I can see her as a really good Queen Consort, a loving wife and mother, a compassionate Lady and much honoured.

          I was watching Versailles earlier in the week and the documentary, Versailles, Dream of the Sun King this afternoon and Louis XIV, who had many women, still only had a few long term mistresses. He was also attentive to his wife, but his main two official mistresses, Montespan and Maintenon, were polar opposites. Yes, of course he had many more of various types, but these two are the most famous, being the longest and most powerful. The former was married, loved everything to do with pleasure, cared nothing for religious rules, was jealous and intelligent, controlled everything and was in the pockets of everyone. The second was pious, a chaste widow and cared for the Kings soul. She was also intelligent, ran his royal nursery and was the governess to his illegitimate children. She would not sleep with him. When Marie Therese died she became his second wife. Louis was a different person in his last decades and she was his perfect mate. Henry moved similarly from the vibrant Anne Boleyn to the gentle and grounded Jane Seymour. I think that now she suited his personality.

          Poetry was almost like life blood at this time and in Victorian times poets were the rock stars of today. Alas, it does not have the same appeal as it did, but there are times when we turn to poetry to express our deepest feelings. Tragic public events have often been such occasions and numerous books on poems can be found by people who have suffered loss or have been through illness or cancer. I wrote many poems after my accident in 1994. I included one at the request of my tutor in my introduction to my dissertation on disability. I have found some of the poems from the past appropriate for special occasions, funerals and celebrations. In Waterstones Book Shop they have poetry days on a Sunday and festivals still have poetry at fringe events. I don’t know if anyone remembers Pam Aires but her poems were very grounded and very funny. I didn’t know the historian, the late John Ashdown Hill wrote poetry until I was alerted to his book of poems on Amazon the other day. It is almost as if we have forgotten ourselves in words, but now and again, a poem reminds us we are more than mere flesh, we are spiritual beings and maybe that is the essence and origins of love.

  5. Thanks Christine. I do wonder how relevant poetry is in today’s world and whether it is dying out.

  6. I remember Pam Ayres she was brilliant, very very funny, I love writing poems myself and my friend always requests one after a few months, she reads them in bed as she says they help to calm her, she suffers from insomnia and has anxiety related issues, writing is a way of expressing oneself like song and verse, so yes it’s very thereputic too.

    1. Yes, she was and what a lovely thing to do for your friend. You are a sharing person and much appreciated by us all.
      A.A. Milne’s Teddy Bear captivated me as a child……….
      ‘ That handsome King – could this be he,
      This man of adiposity?
      ‘Impossible,’ he thought, ‘but still,
      No harm in asking, Yes, I will!’
      “Are you, he said, “by any chance
      His Majesty the King of France?”
      The other answered, “I am that.”
      Bowed stiffly, and removed his hat……………..
      With such an introduction to poetry, who could fail to fall in love? Something we share with George and Anne.

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