Jane SeymourToday, the 30th May, is Henry VIII’s wedding anniversary – well, ONE of his wedding anniversaries! On this day in 1536, just 11 days after the execution of his second wife, Anne Boleyn, Henry VIII married Jane Seymour.

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Now, Anne Boleyn was a woman of mystery, but what do we know about Jane Seymour? Here is some information on the woman who became Henry VIII’s third wife, the woman he called his “true” queen and love, and the only queen who provided Henry VIII with a son.

Jane Seymour – Beginnings

It is thought that Jane Seymour was born around 1508 or 1509, although some believe that her birth date was as early as 1504. It is reported that at her funeral 29 women walked in succession, one for each year of her birth, so that puts her birth date at 1508. Jane was one of the eight (some say nine) children of Margery Wentworth and Sir John Seymour, a courtier who had served Henry VIII in Tournai (1513) and had accompanied the King to the Field of the Cloth of Gold in 1520. The family home was Wulfhall (Wolf Hall) in Wiltshire.

Unlike Catherine of Aragon and Anne Boleyn, Jane Seymour was not highly educated, and could actually only read and write her name. Like many women of her time, she was taught household management, needlework and other such skills, it was the men of the household who were formally educated. It is thought that she became a maid-of-honour (lady in waiting) to Catherine of Aragon in 1532 and then became one of Anne Boleyn’s ladies when she took over from Catherine as Queen. Jane Seymour was not an evangelical like Anne Boleyn, she was from the “old faith”, a Catholic.

Jane Catches the King’s Eye

King Henry VIII visited the Seymour family home in September 1535, during his Royal progress, but it is not known whether Jane caught his eye then or whether it was later at Court. By February of 1536, just after Anne’s second miscarriage, gossip about the King’s attraction to Jane was rife amongst foreign ambassadors. It was also around this time that Jane’s brothers began to rise at court, just as the Boleyns once had.

Mystery surrounds what Jane actually thought of the King’s advances and we cannot be sure of her role in the fall of Anne Boleyn. Was Jane simply an instrument of her family, Cromwell and the Catholic faction, or did she know what she was doing and encourage the King’s advances, flirting openly with him? Was she a cunning woman who saw her opportunity or was she an innocent young woman who had fear for her future? There is no definitive answer to these questions but Jane probably did not have any choice in the matter anyway. She had caught the King’s attention, Anne was on the way out and Jane was the chosen replacement.

Happiness and Sadness

On 20th May, the day after Anne Boleyn’s execution, Henry VIII became betrothed to Jane Seymour and preparations were made for the Royal wedding, which took place ten days later at Whitehall Palace. Unlike, Catherine of Aragon and Anne Boleyn, Jane was never actually crowned Queen. Opinions are divided on this, with some believing that Henry wanted Jane to give him a son first, to prove herself to him, and others believing that her coronation was postponed due to a plague in London.

In May of 1537, it was announced that Jane Seymour was pregnant and Henry was ecstatic, ordering bonfires to be lit in celebration and showering his Queen with gifts and affection. It is said that Jane had a pregnancy craving for quail, so the King ordered the very best quail for her from Flanders and Calais.

On the 12th of October, after a long and difficult labour, Jane gave birth to Henry’s longed for son, a boy named Edward, at Hampton Court Palace. Although it was rumoured that Edward was born by an emergency Caesarean (c-section), this would have taken the life of Jane and we know that she was present at his christening on 15th of October. It is likely that she died of puerperal fever which turned into sepsis. Jane Seymour died at Hampton Court on 24th October 1537 and was buried at Windsor Castle, in St George’s Chapel, in a tomb that Henry had been building for himself. Henry VIII joined Jane in this tomb when he died ten years later.

Whatever our thoughts on Jane and her predecessor, Anne Boleyn, Henry VIII obviously took Jane’s death hard. It is said that he wore black for three months and, although Cromwell started looking straight away for a new wife for the King, Henry did not remarry until 1540, when he married Anne of Cleves.

Although Jane Seymour was only queen for such a short time, she used her position as Henry’s wife and queen to try and reconcile Henry VIII with both his daughters, Mary and Elizabeth. She invited Mary to court and pushed for Henry to recognise her claim to the throne, and then she invited Elizabeth to Edward’s christening. Mary was also made Edward’s godmother and was the chief mourner at Jane Seymour’s state funeral.

Find Out More

An interesting article entitled “The Death of Jane Seymour: A Midwife’s View” can be found at http://tudorstuff.wordpress.com/2009/03/21/the-death-of-jane-seymour-a-midwifes-view/ – it’s a great article and reminds me of my eldest son’s birth. After 24 hours of labour, I was given an emergency caesarean because my son was stuck and had been in an awkward position in the birth canal. I’m sure that if I had been in Tudor Engand, we both would have died.

If you’re interested in finding out more about Jane Seymour, historian Elizabeth Norton’s book “Jane Seymour: Henry VIII’s True Love” can be pre-ordered – click here for details (click here for UK/Europe)

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38 thoughts on “Jane Seymour”
  1. Hi Claire

    Jane Seymour was not who she appeared to be. Jane was a very deceitful and sneaky woman. Jane was not the little mouse that people assumed her to be. Even though Jane was not well educated or intellectual like Katharine and Anne she was ambitious. Jane was dull and boring but at the same time dangerous.

    Jane wanted what Anne had. Its a shame that she had no strategy of her own in which to catch Henry. Jane used Anne’s strategy but implemented the fact of her innocence (she looked the part ). Henry would of become bored with her if she hadn’t died. Jane was like milk toast, if you had to have that every day, day in day out you would become thorougly disenchanted with it.

    She did not have the fire and passion or intellect that both Katharine and Anne had.

    I have never cared for Jane and considered her a usurper, which I never considered Anne to be. As I look back at history, Jane was in my eyes the “evil” Queen. I credit Jane and her supporters for Anne’s downfall. I also feel that Jane lacked any remorse, sympathy or empathy for anyone.

    Jane’s family was also morally corrupt as her father had an affair with his daughter-in-law who bore him several children. So, the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree.

    The historians have done a great injustice to Anne when they claim that she was the “evil” Queen and Jane the innocent. It was the other way around.

    I guess you can probably tell that I am no fan of Jane Seymour’s and think that she received karma when she suffered and died after the birth of Edward.

    1. Hi Sherri,
      Thanks for taking the time to comment. I think I’m going to get the Jane Seymour book and dig a bit deeper into her character. Like you, I do kind of feel that she probably wasn’t as meek, mild and innocent as she made out, but I could be wrong! How awful to be preparing for your wedding and having secret assignations with a man who is framing his wife and planning her execution! And to get married so soon after Anne’s death – disgraceful and unfeeling.

      Yes, I’d read about Jane’s father and his daughter-in-law – the things those Tudors got up to!!

      Thanks again for your comment and it was great to hear your opinion.

      Claire x

  2. I don’t think she was soo innocent either… She may have complied with Henry, but it was all a game. She knew what she was doing when he started to court her. She knew that he was married. She did exactly what Anne did, but decided to play the innocent church mouse instead of a strong, independent woman.

    Her family didn’t care about what it meant for her, just that they would finally rise in the peerage.

    Edward Seymour kinda disgusts me after what he did to his nephew. Thomas, well we all know about him. They didn’t care when she died, I don’t think they even greived for her. All they were concerned with was themselves… With all the manipulation and cunning in her family, I doubt she was oblivious to it all…

    1. I agree! But honestly, it’s a fact that all historians agree that Henry the VIII was the bad guy in all of his marriages not only his third one. But what Thomas did (including him being a “creep” to Elisabeth when Catherine Parr was pregnant with Mary Seymour is pure cruelty.

  3. I agree that Jane wasn’t as meek and mild as some believe her to have been. She was a devout Catholic who wanted the church restored to prominence. Her family sought to become the pre-eminant family in England over the Boleyns. She was coached by them as to how best to catch Henry’s attention. By being the opposite of Anne, she was able to do so.

    She was however, kind to Mary Tudor and I believe she brought Elizabeth to court as well.

    I believe that Henry would have tired of Jane after a short while had she not died after giving birth to Edward. There wasn’t the same passion that he shared with Anne and knowing Henry, he would have gone looking for that somewhere else. He probably would have retired Jane to the country and gone his merry way…

    I believe that Anne was Henry’s true love, not Jane…

    1. Yes, she was kind to Mary because she had loved and respected Catherine of Aragon. Elizabeth Norton makes out that Jane actually had little contact with Elizabeth but I’m not sure how true this is.

      1. Claire I think it is true that Jane had next to no contact with Elizabeth. Makes you wonder what would have happened if Jane had lived.

  4. I agree I don’t think Janey was so meek & innocent either.

    But there’s one point that’s confused me. Jane’s always described as a staunch Catholic. At what point did her brothers Thomas & Edward turn Protestant? They definitely seemed to be on that side of the fence by the time Henry died.

  5. Hi Kelly,

    Yes, the whole Seymour family were originally part of the Catholic faction that plotted with Cromwell over Anne Boleyn’s fall. Changing “faith” was to many a political decision, rather than one of the heart, and the brothers must have changed their allegiance at some point for their own gain. I’m not sure when this happened but by the time Edward VI took the throne they were staunch protestants and rivals. Thomas Seymour rose high as a result of his sister’s marriage to Henry but it was Edward Seymour who became Lord Protector of Edward VI and was responsible for Edward’s protestant rule. Thomas Seymour married Catherine Parr shortly after the King’s death.
    I’m not sure when they changed from Catholicism to Protestantism but, as you say, it does seem strange when they were pro-Catholic during the fall of Anne Boleyn and the rise of Jane seymour. There was a period of 11 years between the fall of Anne Boleyn and the King’s death and a lot can happen in that time.

  6. We think of the worst ravages of the English reformation being the result of Henry’s rule, but in fact the time of Edward VI – which means the rule of his uncle Edward Seymour – was in some respects equally as bad, if not worse. So much of the rich artistic heritage of the old Church was wiped out during this time. And of course lots of lands were confiscated and given to political favourites. Henry died basically still a Catholic. The Seymours and their boy King died fervent Reformists – and a lot of what they did was not pretty.

  7. There seems to be a lot of misconceptions about Jane and the Seymours in general. I’d like to state ahead of time that I mean only to bring other information to this conversation and that though my opinions and studies differ greatly from others, I respect everyone’s views and input no matter how we may differ.

    Let’s start with Jane’s image, truly her innocent and obedient figure gets most of it’s backing from Henry and Edward VI. It was Henry who made Anne Boleyn be remembered as a “harlot”, and it would be Henry, who instilled in Edward, the “saintly” image of Jane. As such history has determined a role and image of each figure, i.e. Protestant propagandists and the image of “Bloody” Mary or the Catholic supporters and the image of “the six fingered” Anne Boleyn.

    Jane started off at the hilt and has now fallen on the blade of this highly judgmental sword. Just as AB has gone from “wh*re” to “martyr”, Jane has gone from “saint” to “villainess”. Bare in mind these images, and notice how often history has failed to realize that while some figures certainly fall under the category of “good” or “bad”, (i.e. Good: Mother Teresa versus Bad: Adolf Hitler) most people in history fall in-between, as a human being with good intentions but flawed just as the other beside them.

    Jane was the oldest daughter of a family with fairly modest court standing, her father John was well liked by both Henry VII & Henry VIII, and he was known for his military antics. Jane’s mother, Margery Wentworth, was a beauty who was shy and demure, in other words, she did not flaunt or seek attention.

    Jane, characteristically, was like her brother Edward (Somerset), whom she reportedly favored. Now, Edward has always been depicted as cruel and ambitious man. Edward was ambitious no doubt, but he was very intelligent and some what distant, hence his coming off as “cold” or “cruel”. And Edward was a popular man among the people, unpopular among those seeking Edward VI’s favor. Somerset’s end would upon trumped charges of treason, which, with persuasion from Northumberland and Cranmer, Edward VI would change the sentencing from imprisonment to execution. Mary Tudor remarked that Somerset’s execution had more to do with court politics than actual crimes against the King.

    Back to Jane, while it is popularly believed Jane was unintelligent and could do no more than write her name, Jane actually was educated. Granted it was not the education of an Infanta or noblemen’s daughter in Europe’s most illustrious courts, it was an education that consisted of basic reading and writing, and also a simple knowledge of Latin.

    As to Jane’s faith, Jane was most famously called by reformer Martin Luther as “Enemy of the Gospel”. Jane was a traditional Catholic, as raised by her mother and within the family church. When Jane became queen, she would request her family’s priests as opposed to the Henrician priests provided by her husband. Jane’s free thinking brothers went with Henrician to Protestant to keep with the changing tides of court.

    Jane’s most notable mark as consort was when she pleaded with Henry on behalf to the Pilgrimage of Grace. She was rebuked for her interference and dropped the subject when reminded of her predecessors.

    This is key in Jane’s character, often thought of as a “doormat”, Jane stepping back and not pushing her luck is a sign of a intelligent woman. This is something Anne never learned, she didn’t drop things, and as such it only soured her relationship with Henry, Jane, by doing the opposite was not only pleasing Henry, but strengthening her own position by remaining favor.

    Another point to Jane as consort was her concern with the lady Mary. Even before Jane had wed Henry she brought up the importance of Mary and within the regards of securing Henry’s kingdom and also doing service to her faith. Jane was called a “fool” in regards to this by Henry, but she didn’t stop, after becoming queen, Jane again pushed for Mary’s cause, it came to fruition when Mary realized she needed to reconcile with her father and that her father’s new wife supported her. It would be only two months after Jane became queen that Mary would be welcomed back to court.

    Jane’s personality: I believe some have used the term “milk toast” to describe her, some even mark her off as very unremarkable, Jane wasn’t as “loud” as her predecessor, but she certainly wasn’t a “church mouse”. Jane was described as “haughty” by Chapyus and nothing less than demanding within her duties as queen.

    The French influence that flourished under Anne was to be utterly wiped out; Jane preferred everything to be “English”: fashions, manners, colors, everything. Jane went about creating a small resurgence of the Gable hood, only after her death would the French hood return to English courts, and even at that it would eventually modified into a English-French hybrid: the Flat hood. Jane also preferred the traditional English dress styles, as opposed to the “revealing” French styles.

    The “Plain” standard does not suite Jane in regards to fashions and accessories, in fact Jane was very fashion forward, however her preference of conservative styles have often left her to be overlooked and thought of as “dowdy”.

    Jane had a preference toward rich and colorful fabrics, heavy with brocade and jewels, and her favorite item: pearls. As opposed to her predecessor, Anne Boleyn, who favored dark fabrics and subtle colors, Jane enjoyed vibrant and catching colors, red, the English standard, in particular.
    Her headwear, the gable hood, was always heavily jeweled, either pearls or rubies or in her Holbein painting, both. She had a great affinity for pearls, every depiction, whether sketch or portrait, Jane is wearing a great number of pearls. Records report Jane had about 24 monogram/love-knot rings: I or J for Jane or I entwined with H for Henry.

    Jane had in her collection a “UTIS” brooch, meaning “HIS” which was Greek for Christ; it may have originally belonged to Katharine of Aragon. Jane also had a jeweled Tau cross which she changed between a brooch and a necklace ornament. The Tau cross would be later worn by Catherine Parr.

    Just in case anyone is curious to the sources of my information:
    Pamela M. Gross
    Antonia Fraser
    Elizabeth Norton
    William Seymour
    and a bit of my own research 😉

    1. I beg to differ on the question of Jane Seymour’s education. I’ve read books by every author you have listed, and it’s clear Jane knew how to read (English)and sign her name – that’s it. She was instructed in house management, i.e., dealing with servants, etc…and was a expert seamstress. She had no formal education beyond this, and certainly DID NOT read or write Latin. That, of course, doesn’t mean she was stupid – obviously, she knew just what to do to get Henry’s attention, so she at least took instruction (from her family) well. Also, compared to Anne Boleyn, she certainly was milk toast – which is very likely what Henry found appealing. Anne had worn him out, she was such a virago, and having a dull but sweet girl like Jane around was probably a welcome change. Jane was keenly aware of her “lowly” origin, and maintained a very strict and decorous household to overcompensate, thus the description of “haughty”.She was never the love of Henry’s life; he chose to buried next to her because she was the wife who gave him a legimate and living son, so it was politically correct to extole her virtues after her death. You obviously have admiration for Jane and object to some of the posts berating her character, but don’t make her out to be more than she was.

  8. “This is key in Jane’s character, often thought of as a “doormat”, Jane stepping back and not pushing her luck is a sign of a intelligent woman. This is something Anne never learned, she didn’t drop things, and as such it only soured her relationship with Henry, Jane, by doing the opposite was not only pleasing Henry, but strengthening her own position by remaining favor.”

    I find it interesting that the sign of intelligence is to lay low and do exactly what all other women of the period were expected to do. Today we would call that uninspired, unintelligent, and cowardly. Traits that were the opposite of what Anne displayed during her rise and, more importantly, her fall.

    If I have to choose between the two ladies – I’ll take Anne every time!

    1. You’ve got to be kidding. Jane Seymour was no coward. Nor was she stupid. jane died with her head and her dignity intact. Anne lost all she’d gained.

      There’s such a thing as diplomacy. Katherine of Aragon had it. So did Jane. Anne was the daughter of a famous diplomat, you’d think she would have had some of her father’s skills and known how to pick her battles, admit defeat and regroup when necessary.

      Anne’s uncompromising attitudes would fare no better in present day marriage (or other social situations) or in career roles.

      1. I’m not sure that it is possible to compare Jane to Anne in such a way, after all Jane may only have “died with her head and her dignity intact” because she died after just 17 months of marriage and due to puerperal fever. Yes, there was such a thing as diplomacy and I think that all of Henry’s wives, save Catherine Howard, had that skill and Anne was very politically astute.

    2. I agree. “Laying low” is a merit only if your only aim in life is stay alive and married, even if you never achieved anything in your life. (I don’t of course mean that that it would have been perfectly understandable for Jane to “lay low” after Henry’s warning, but there is nothing particularly admirable in it, either.)

      Compared with Katherine of Aragon who, as a regent, raised an army against the Scots and Anne Boleyn who promoted Reformation Jane Seymour’s only merit was delivering of a male heir – and that merit was not due to intelligence, courage, determination or conviction, but only a biological luck.

      Of course, Jane seems to have been a good step-mother to Mary and Elisabeth, but her total lack of influence on Henry is shown that he first forced Mary to sign the Oath and she remained a bastard. (Henry could have given her a legal status as a child “begotten in good faith” even if his marriage to Katherine remained null and void.)

    3. Me too!! Jane was LUCKY because she delivered a SON and she didn’t have to wait 7 years to be Henry’s Queen, they way Anne did… Anne is the Warrior here… Jane just happen to have timing on her side.. Had she delivered a Girl., Henry would not have her in all his paintings as he did

  9. How Jane maintained her self and behavior was for survival, In that time women were treated as property or used for bartering and not aloud to have an opion (look what happened to AB). As now and in that era one thing has not changed whether roylaty or common man, men cheat. I give Jane props for reconizing the way to a man’s heart is through loyalty, not with sex. If that is what one believes they will be greatly disappointed every time as there is always someone waiting to do the “duty” with the king and do”it” better… But it takes brains to catch ’em and keep ’em. Granted Anne B. sounds like so was the “fun” queen but Jane was the one Henry wanted to be barried with. Jane played the dumb fox very well, she was able to get Henry to make changes by using sublty suggetion, I call that cunning. Rule one never let them see you coming, rule two you can get more by using a little finesse the by being a gorilla…..

  10. @Pom

    “I find it interesting that the sign of intelligence is to lay low and do exactly what all other women of the period were expected to do. Today we would call that uninspired, unintelligent, and cowardly. Traits that were the opposite of what Anne displayed during her rise and, more importantly, her fall.”

    Jane didn’t always lay low, as just stated she spoke out on matters quite a bit before Henry told her to step back (that alone shows she wasn’t unispired)…and who wouldn’t? Henry, by that point, had shown that he could very easily do away with someone who angered him, even if he had to fabricate evidence to do so.
    Jane was being very smart by stepping off of his buttons, especially after Henry reminded Jane of KoA & AB’s fate. I would argue it would’ve been very unintelligent to continue provoking Henry.
    And by doing so, Jane was able to remain in favor and perhaps use her influence when she was more secure. It’s merely speculation, but had Jane survived after Edward’s birth, and judging by her actions, she very likely could’ve used her new found “Saintdom” (in Henry’s eyes at least) to play a more influential consort role.

  11. (were staunch protestants), We were always Protestants to a point, but our roots where Jewish and Berber. the word “Maur “comes from the word Amour,Amur meaning God Moor-Mour-Moorish which is infact widely linked to Morocco and Algeria and the Berbers.the home’s in England are known as tudor home’s because there built in Moorish style as where the castle’s with the 5 arche’s and 3 teared gate houses.cross stitch is Berber in origin. Janes had all of her dresses made with this type of stitch sown in.. the tudors even hung beautiful carpets/ Tapestries as wall hangings that is the Berber Moorish in origin and style . a women would make a carpet explaining her life in great detail for her future husband or for the right suiter to marry so he would know everything about her.the colors red,white and green where widely used in the Berber carpets why before 1066 and the battle of hastings where the family of St Maur (Seymour) first joined in the invasion of England from Normandy and the hastings Tapestries. there truthful origin isn’t only France it gos back must futher then France.the Berber people where known as Sea People and Moors as in “Seamour”.

  12. Hi,
    It depends in what sense. Henry VIII obviously saw Jane Seymour as his most important wife because she bore him a son, Edward VI, who was England’s first Protestant king, but Anne Boleyn helped bring in the English Reformation and it was Henry’s love for her that made him break with Rome plus she gave birth to Elizabeth I who is known for the Golden Age of her reign. Then there is Catherine of Aragon who was the mother of Mary I and helped defend England from the Scots when she was left Regent.

  13. I hate the people who consider Jane a usurper and a unfeeling woman. She obviously cared for Mary and Elizabeth. I know what she was deciteful and sly but she understood Henry better than Anne did. I think that she knew he wanted a obediant wife since he was king. She understood that he was going to be unfaithful and I think she was prepared for it.

  14. I’m probably going to be rushed of off here with torches and pitchforks but I have to say that I like Jane. *bracing for a slap* I am like her. I am fairly shy and quiet. People think I’m snobby or malicious because I don’t always say what I think, I am not opinionated and I like being a housewife. Though I am proud to say I am able to read and write more than just my name. Nothing is wrong with being meek or humble. I love Anne but I am definitely more Jane.

  15. I don’t see why everyone hates Jane, she wasn’t that bad..
    I know Anne Boleyn, Katherine of Aragon and even Katherine Parr, perhaps, arouse strong feelings in many Tudor history lovers, but I think we should look at Queen Jane from a more positive perspective. She was obviously good for the king in that she provided him with a male heir and was also calm, gentle and meek, which, let’s face it, was what he WANTED in a wife. Along with Anne of Cleves and Katherine Howard, Jane is extremely misunderstood and despised by people who didn’t even know her!

    I don’t think she’s wholly responsible for the fall of Anne Boleyn. Anne had done pretty much the same thing to usurp the crown of England, and although Alison Weir may be regarded as some as dubious, she is correct in stating that although Jane has been dismissed by some as cold and calculating and willing to have her mistress killed, Anne had done much the same thing earlier by her threats about Katherine.

    All in all, I think Jane is a very unknown, transient Queen, who is difficult to feel for, compared to the powerful feelings one can feel for Anne Boleyn, for instance. There was nothing bad about her, in my opinion – had she survived her son’s birth, she probably would have been a very successful, even excellent, queen.

    1. I think some people feel that they have to pick sides, that if you like Anne Boleyn then you have to naturally hate Catherine of Aragon and Jane, but I don’t think there are sides and I don’t understand why people hate Jane so much. Jane was what Henry felt he needed after Anne, she served a purpose, poor woman, and she definitely cannot be blamed for Anne’s fall. I believe that Jane was coached to be the perfect woman for Henry but I don’t believe it was her choice or doing. She may have gone along with it because of her sympathy for Catherine and Mary and the feeling that Anne was not rightful Queen, but I don’t see her as the monster who purposely set out to destroy Anne.

  16. This is my view of Jane.

    She was not the little angel some make her out to be, but she certainly didn’t plan to steal Anne’s crown from day one. When the king showed interest in her she was smart enough to know where that could lead to, you don’t say ‘no’ to a king , plus her family encouraged the flirtation, so Jane went with it. When it comes to Jane’s role in Anne’s downfall, I dont think she played a major role as her brother and Cromwell were moving things along quite well.
    It’s my own personal opinion that Jane had no second thought of stepping onto Anne’s throne. In Jane’s view she was a wh*re who had stolen Henry from Catherine of Aragon; the true Queen and then slept with many men including her own brother, she was judged by a jury of her peers, so she must have been guilty and therefor deserved death as her punishment.

  17. I’ll admit I’ve never thought much of Jane. I’ll admit she wasn’t a complete doormat but she wasn’t quite as strong-willed or intelligent as other wives were. That isn’t to say she wasn’t edcuated, she just wasn’t intelligent in the same way as say CoA and Anne Boleyn were. I don’t really blame her in any way for ‘replacing Anne’ because Jane wouldn’t have had the guile to do it had it not been for her ambitious family. Her greatest virtue was really the fact that she was quiet and demure, as opposed to Anne who was very firey and passionate about her beliefs.

    You could argue that Jane was smart enough to drop subjects when Henry made it clear he didn’t want her opinion, but the thing that sticks out to me was that Henry refused to indulge her as he did with Anne, or to similar extents CoA or even Catherine Howard. She didn’t really have that strong side to her. I’m not saying its a fault, I just feel that some historians try to make her out to be more than what she was.

    Had she not died in childbirth, I doubt she would have had much impact on history. Had she not had a son, Henry would have very quickly tired of her because her former appeal had been her stark difference to Anne. With Anne gone he would have likely sought after women more acquired to his tastes as he had done in the past.

    It doesn’t help Jane’s case that she was probably the least remarkable looking of Henry’s wives. I have never seen a portrait of her I felt was very nice looking. In many ways I think she was lucky to have been in the right place at the right time in regards to catching Henry’s eye. That’s my honest opinion of Jane. Simple and unremarkable, even if she wasn’t a complete doormat – very little to her. I don’t dislike her but I’m not all that interested in her either.

  18. You all forget that Jane supported Catherine of Aragon, yet began courting Henry while Catherine was still alive. Chapys, who supported Jane, said she wasn’t a virgin, so she lied. Doesn’t sound like a nice person to me.

    1. Chapuys was a gossip and what he actually said was that he doubted that Jane was a virgin because of the time she had spent at the English Court:-
      “She is over 25 years old. I leave you to judge whether, being English and having long frequented the Court, “si elle ne tiendroit pas a conscience de navoir pourveu et prevenu de savoir que cest de faire nopces.” LP x.901
      He wasn’t saying that she definitely wasn’t a virgin, how could he know this. Chapuys could not really be called a supporter of Jane at this time, he was actually shocked by the events of May 1536 and the King’s behaviour with Jane, although he was pleased that Jane supported Mary.
      As far as Jane’s relationship with Henry VIII, the earliest mention of her being singled out for the King’s attentions are in a letter written by Chapuys in February 1536, so after Catherine’s death. We just don’t know when their courtship started.

  19. Dear Claire,

    It seems you write personally as if you have meant that you personally knew Anne. I am doing a research project and so it appears you provide somewhat “logical” but explanatory information. 6th Grade work is HARD AND LONG! 🙁 🙂 ‘) But anyways, yeah! 🙂

  20. Tengo una duda, acerca del año en el que entro Jane Seymour al servicio de la reina Catalina. Se podria decir que los primeros años de Jane son un misterio

  21. I suppose how you feel about Jane is how you feel about the other wives. If you hate Anne, you like Jane, etc.

    I don’t think any of Henry’s wives were “evil”, I think the only one who may even slightly be considered for this title is Henry, all of them are just human beings. Yes, Catherine was stubborn and maybe should have let go, but wouldn’t you have continued fighting if you knew you were the rightful Queen and were protecting your daughter? And maybe Anne was a bit of a gold digger, but even if she was, wouldn’t you be in that situation? And perhaps Anne of Cleves was a pushover, but wouldn’t you settle for a nice castle in the country when you had seen what had happened to Anne? And Katherine Howard constantly gets called “stupid”, but wasn’t she just young and in love? And Catherine Parr had a bad taste in men, but so what, so do a lot of clever, intelligent women?

    And so Jane, yes, may have played the whole meek and mild game to become queen, but so what if she did? Like the other wives she was human, and it was HENRY who killed Anne, just like it was HENRY who put aside Catherine and killed Catherine Howard. He wasn’t just cruel to his wives, but also to his friends (think Wolsey and Cromwell).

    I love this website because it treats these figures in the context of their time and does not ascribe them modern motives or feelings, but at the same time treats them just as they were; humans. All of them, just like people today, were bound by the same passions and fears that all humans are.

    1. I think that’s true for some people. I know that some feel that they have to pick sides – if they like Catherine of Aragon then they hate Anne. if they like Anne then they hate Jane etc. I know some who hate Anne because they feel she gets all of the attention, too. But, there are also plenty of people who can like and respect these women for who they were as individuals. I find each of them interesting and, as you say, it was Henry who was responsible for what happened to them.

      Thank you for your kind words, I’m so glad you enjoy the site. I do try and view these people in the context of their time, but it is hard.

  22. I think both Anne and Jane were very difirent woman and had good and bad quality s . I think Anne was very virbrant and smart Henry loved her with a passion but she did not know how to go from transition to queen she never really back down and spoke to Henry outspoken and rude and if you are married to the king of England that s not a good move it was her downfall. As for Jane she has came across rather cold looking forward to a wedding being queen when the first one wasn’t even dead she might have been less intellectual but she had other smarts . And I believe the key to handleing the king was to play the submissive wife on the other hand if jane had lived and not bore a son am sure Henry would have found a way of disposing her aswell.

  23. Like many people back then, I don’t think Jane Seymour was an inherently good or bad person. I think she was more in the middle, (leaning towards the good side.) She was peaceful and humble, and she tried to restore Mary to the throne, to name a few good things. People do try to blame her for Anne Boleyn’s downfall, but I don’t really think that’s fair. It’s unknown whether or not she rejected the King’s advances, but I think it’s important to remember women didn’t have much of a choice back then. When Henry says it’s you, then it’s you. (Six reference lol) Let’s say, hypothetically, she did pursue Henry as much as he pursued her. Some people might call her a wh*re for doing this since Henry was married to Anne Boleyn at the time, but Anne Boleyn kind of did the same thing when Henry was married to Catherine of Aragon (although Anne rejected Henry’s advances initially.) I’m not an Anne Boleyn hater by the way, I just think it’s important to acknowledge that if we’re going to call Jane a harlot or something. Moving on with the hypothetical “what if Jane did flirt with the King” that definitely could’ve contributed to Anne Boleyn’s downfall and her marriage falling apart, but Jane wasn’t the main reason for Anne’s marriage falling apart. It was also because Anne was unable to give birth to a son, which angered Henry even though that wasn’t her fault. Depending on how it went down in history, Jane could’ve contributed to Anne Boleyn’s beheading, but it’s unfair to claim that Jane caused Anne’s beheading, or that anyone except Henry caused her beheading. Henry was the one with the power, the one who made the ultimate decision to cut Anne’s head off. There’s a definite difference between Anne Boleyn’s downfall and her beheading. Her downfall may have involved multiple people (one of them might’ve been Jane) but her beheading was Henry’s fault and Henry’s alone. But hey, that’s just my opinion, what do I know?

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