On this day in Tudor history, 3rd October 1536, in the reign of King Henry VIII, imperial ambassador Eustace Chapuys wrote to Charles V, Holy Roman Emperor, informing him that Queen Jane Seymour’s coronation was being postponed.
Several dates for Jane Seymour’s coronation are mentioned in the contemporary sources and building work had been started on Westminster Palace in preparation, but the dates all passed, and Jane was never crowned.
But why wasn’t Jane crowned, after all, Anne Boleyn had been given a lavish coronation?
Find out more about what happened in 1536 and 1537…
On this day in Tudor history, 3rd October 1536, imperial ambassador Eustace Chapuys wrote to Emperor Charles V informing him that Jane Seymour’s coronation was being postponed:
“The Queen’s coronation which was to have taken place at the end of this month is put off till next summer, and some doubt it will not take place at all. There is no appearance that she will have children. The delay of the coronation will do no harm except that the coming of the Princess to Court is put off till it takes place, and if it be delayed neither her affairs nor those of your Majesty will be the better for it.”
But Jane’s coronation wasn’t just postponed, it never took place.
Jane Seymour had become King Henry VIII’s third wife on 30th May 1536, just eleven days after the execution of her predecessor, Anne Boleyn. Henry had high hopes for his third marriage. His previous wives had only been able to provide him two daughters, and a son who lived for less than two months, and he desperately needed a legitimate Prince of Wales, and a spare would be good too. Jane’s mother had had ten children, of whom six had survived childhood, three of those being sons, so perhaps Henry saw Jane as a good bet for producing a son. He certainly did everything he could to get rid of Anne quickly and to replace her with Jane.
But why didn’t he rush to make a public display of his new wife and queen with a coronation?
Anne Boleyn had been crowned queen in a lavish coronation worthy of a reigning monarch on 1st June 1533, less than 5 months after her marriage and just days after that marriage had been ruled valid. And Chapuys was under the impression that Jane would receive similar treatment. On the very day of Anne’s execution, 19th May 1536, Chapuys wrote that Jane’s coronation was “to be celebrated with great solemnity and pomp, the King intending, as I am told, to perform wonders, for he has already ordered a large ship to be built, like the Bucentaur of Venice, to bring the lady from Greenwich to this city, and commanded other things for the occasion.” And we know that the king ordered work on Westminster Palace in preparation for Jane’s coronation, which included the building of a high walkway from the palace into Westminster Abbey. However, the work on the palace was brought to a halt at the end of the summer of 1536 and Chapuys, in a letter dated 1st July, recorded that the coronation had been postponed until after Michaelmas, that feast day being 29th September, and John Hussee had written to Lady Lisle in Calais that the coronation was not due to take place until after Hallowtide, although he later wrote that it was expected to take place on St Edward’s Day, 13th October, unless plague delayed it. Henry, Lord Montagu, recorded in a letter dated 15th September that Jane’s coronation was expected to be on “the Sunday before Allhallow Day”.
In January 1537, following the Pilgrimage of Grace rebellion, rebel leader Robert Aske wrote of how the king had promised to have Jane crowned in York, but then no preparations were made and it seems to have been just one of the empty promises the king made the rebels.
So, Jane’s coronation kept being put off.
Chapuys speculated on the cause of the postponement, commenting that “Suspicious persons think it is to see if she shall be with child” and adding “and, if not, and there is danger of her being barren, occasion may be found to take another. I am told on good authority that this King will not have the prize of those who do not repent in marriage; for within eight days after publication of his marriage, having twice met two beautiful young ladies, he said and showed himself somewhat sorry that he had not seen them before he was married.” Was the king already tiring of Jane?
The Milanese Ambassador had predicted that Anne Boleyn’s coronation cost the city of London around 200,000 ducats or £46,000 and that the king also paid around half that amount on top of that. But then Anne Boleyn had been pregnant. Did Henry VIII really want to spend all that money on a new queen who wasn’t showing any signs of being pregnant yet?
It wasn’t until February 1537 that Jane showed signs of being pregnant, much to the king’s delight, and perhaps the king decided to wait until after the birth of their child for Jane’s coronation. Of course, Jane died just 12 days after giving birth to the couple’s son, Edward, so the king never had to go to the expense of getting her crowned. Henry VIII married another three times, but never crowned those queens.