June 7 – Queen Jane Seymour’s celebratory water pageant

On this day in Tudor history, 7th June 1536, on the River Thames, there were celebrations for England’s new queen.

Jane Seymour had married King Henry VIII on 30th May 1536 and the king wanted to celebrate his third marriage.

The celebrations consisted of a river pageant from Greenwich Palace to Whitehall Palace, and you can find out all about it in this video, or by reading the transcript below.

On this day in Tudor history, 7th June 1536, there were celebrations for England’s new queen, Jane Seymour, third wife of King Henry VIII.
Jane had married Henry VIII on 30th May 1536, following the execution of his second wife, Queen Anne Boleyn, and Jane’s new status as Henry’s queen consort was celebrated on this day in 1536 with a water pageant on the River Thames, from Greenwich Palace to Whitehall, or York Place.

Here is an account of the pageant by herald and chronicler Charles Wriothesley:

“Also, the 7th day of June, being Wednesday in Whitsun week, the King and the Queen went from Greenwich to York Place, at Westminster, by water, his lords going in barges before him, every lord in his own barge, and the King and the Queen in a barge together, following after the lords’ barges, with his guard following him in a great barge; and as he passed by the ships in the Thames every ship shot guns, and at Radcliffe the Emperor’s ambassador stood in a tent with a banner of the Emperor’s arms set in the top of his tent and diverse banners about the same, he himself being in a rich gown of purple satin, with diverse gentlemen standing about him with gowns and coats of velvet; and when the Beach King’s [the Master of Ceremonies?] barge came by him, he sent two boats of his servants to row about the King’s barge, one of them were his trumpeters, and another with [shawms]shalms and sackbuts, and so made a great reverence to the King and Queen as they came by him, and then he let shot a forty great guns, and as the King came against the Tower of London there was shot above four hundred pieces of ordinance, and all the tower walls towards the water side were set with great streamers and banners; and so the King passed through London Bridge, with his trumpets blowing before him, and [shawms]shalms, sackbuts, and drummers playing also in barges going before him, which was a goodly sight to behold.”

It doesn’t sound quite as lavish a spectacle as Anne Boleyn’s coronation river procession back in 1533, which featured a mechanical fire-breathing dragon, monsters and wild men, but it still must have been a wonderful sight. I wonder, though, what the common people thought of it all – a queen executed just over two weeks previously and now there are celebrations for a new queen. Oh well, let’s just enjoy the sight!

Also on this day in Tudor history, 7th June 1520, the historic Field of Cloth of Gold meeting between Kings Henry VIII and Francis I began. Click here to find out more about this meeting.

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One thought on “June 7 – Queen Jane Seymour’s celebratory water pageant”
  1. Yes it would be so interesting to hear what those early Londoners thought of their King at this stage, they had witnessed the rise of another queen, her sumptuous river procession, her triumphant coronation the music the gaiety the free wine flowing in the streets, the banners the fluttering pennants, then a shocking death, to be followed by another wedding another queen and now, another river boat procession – what did they make of it all? The shenanigans of several members of our own current royal family have certainly filled the headlines over the past several years, but this king had actually sent his queen to her death one whom he had once adored, and shamelessly married another woman two weeks later, now she was being feted and honoured as if the other had never been, Henry V111 really was a unique monarch, partly I feel because he never really acted like one, he married his mistress and changed the religious structure of the country, he set up his own church, these things set him apart from his predecessors and although they can be listed as some of his achievements like the building of the navy, and many fine palaces, he then killed his queen, something which none of them had ever resorted to, and many of the Plantagenet kings were not good or honourable, Richard 11 Richard 111 King John they committed murder allegedly, but not one of them ever sent their queen to her death, Mary 1sts reign also is seen by some historians as a failure and it is Elizabeth 1st whose reign is ensconced in history as a golden age, but Henry V111 to parade his new queen before his people when his previous one was still decomposing in her grave, tells us a lot about this kings character and total disregard for the feelings of her grieving family, and common decency and protocol, he could forget Anne Boleyn and go forward easy, but others could not, it was a bizarre way for a king to behave and although we know his urgency was down to the need to begat a son, it still leaves a dreadful taste in the mouth, had I been in the crowds that day, I know I would have thought of nothing but the dead queen lying in St Peter, and had I tasted the wine, it would have been bitter.

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