Jane Seymour

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Jane Seymour
Hans Holbein the Younger - Jane Seymour, Queen of England - Google Art Project.jpg
Queen consort of England
Tenure30 May 1536 – 24 October 1537
Proclamation4 June 1536
Bornc. 1508
Died24 October 1537 (aged 28)
Hampton Court Palace
Burial12 November 1537
St George's Chapel, Windsor Castle
IssueEdward VI of England
FatherSir John Seymour
MotherMargery Wentworth
ReligionRoman Catholicism
SignatureJane Seymour's signature

Jane Seymour (c. 1508 – 24 October 1537) was Queen of England from 1536 to 1537 as the third wife of King Henry VIII. She succeeded Anne Boleyn as queen consort following the latter's execution in May 1536. She died of postnatal complications less than two weeks after the birth of her only child, a son who became King Edward VI. She was the only one of Henry's wives to receive a queen's funeral, and his only consort to be buried beside him in St George's Chapel, Windsor Castle.

Early life[edit]

Jane, the daughter of Sir John Seymour and Margery Wentworth was probably born at Wulfhall, Wiltshire,[1] although West Bower Manor in Somerset has also been suggested,[2] Her birth date and place are not recorded, but it is generally estimated as occurring in or around 1508.[1] Through her maternal grandfather, she was a descendant of King Edward III's son Lionel of Antwerp, 1st Duke of Clarence.[3] Because of this, she and King Henry VIII were fifth cousins. She shared a great-grandmother, Elizabeth Cheney, with his second and fifth wives, Anne Boleyn and Catherine Howard.[4]

She was not as highly educated as Henry's first and second wives, Catherine of Aragon and Anne Boleyn. She could read and write a little, but was much better at needlework and household management, which were considered much more necessary for women.[5] Jane's needlework was reported to be beautiful and elaborate; some of her work survived as late as 1652, when it is recorded to have been given to the Seymour family. After her death, it was noted that Henry was an "enthusiastic embroiderer."[6]

She became a maid-of-honour in 1532 to Queen Catherine, but may have served her as early as 1527, and went on to serve Queen Anne. The first report of Henry VIII's interest in Jane Seymour was in February 1536, about three months before Anne's execution.[7]

Jane was highly praised for her gentle, peaceful nature, being referred to as "gentle a lady as ever I knew" by John Russell and being named as "the Pacific" by the Imperial Ambassador Eustace Chapuys for her peacemaking efforts at court.[8] According to Chapuys, Jane was of middling stature and very pale; he also commented that she was not of much beauty. However, John Russell stated that Jane was "the fairest of all the King's wives."[9] Polydore Vergil commented that she was "a woman of the utmost charm in both character and appearance."[10] She was regarded as a meek, gentle, simple, and chaste woman, whose large family made her a suitable candidate to give birth to many children.

Marriage and birth of heir[edit]

Henry VIII was betrothed to Jane on 20 May 1536, just one day after Anne Boleyn's execution. The couple were married at the Palace of Whitehall, Whitehall, London, in the Queen's closet by Bishop Gardiner[11] on 30 May 1536. As a wedding gift the King made her a grant of 104 manors in four counties as well as a number of forests and hunting chases for her jointure, the income to support her during their marriage.[11] She was publicly proclaimed queen on 4 June 1536. Jane's well-publicised sympathy for the late Queen Catherine and her daughter Mary showed her to be compassionate and made her a popular figure with the common people and most of the courtiers.[12] She was never crowned because of plague in London, where the coronation was to take place. Henry may have been reluctant to have Jane crowned before she had fulfilled her duty as a queen consort by bearing him a son and a male heir.[13]

As queen, Jane Seymour was said to be strict and formal. Jane would form a close relationship with her stepdaughter, Mary. The lavish entertainments, gaiety, and extravagance of the queen's household, which had reached its peak during the time of Anne Boleyn, was replaced by a strict enforcement of decorum. For example, she banned the French fashions that Anne Boleyn had introduced. Politically, Seymour appears to have been conservative.[14] Her only reported involvement in national affairs, in 1536, was when she asked for pardons for participants in the Pilgrimage of Grace. Henry is said to have rejected this, reminding her of the fate her predecessor met with when she "meddled in his affairs".[15][better source needed] Her motto as a queen was "Bound to obey and serve."

Jane put forth much effort to restore Mary to court and to the royal succession, behind any children that Jane might have with Henry. Jane brought up the issue of Mary's restoration both before and after she became queen. While Jane was unable to restore Mary to the line of succession, she was able to reconcile her with Henry.[13] Eustace Chapuys wrote to Charles V of Jane's compassion and efforts on behalf of Mary's return to favour. A letter from Mary to Jane shows that Mary was grateful to Jane. While it was Jane who first pushed for the restoration, Mary and Elizabeth were not reinstated to the succession until Henry's sixth wife, Catherine Parr, convinced him to do so.[16]

In January 1537, Jane became pregnant. During her pregnancy, she developed a craving for quail, which Henry ordered for her from Calais and Flanders. During the summer, she took no public engagements and led a relatively quiet life, being attended by the royal physicians and the best midwives in the kingdom.[17] She went into confinement in September 1537 and gave birth to the coveted male heir, the future King Edward VI, at two o'clock in the morning[18] on 12 October 1537 at Hampton Court Palace.[19] Edward was christened on 15 October 1537, without his mother in attendance, as was the custom. He was the only legitimate son of Henry VIII to survive infancy. Both of the King's daughters, Mary and Elizabeth, were present and carried the infant's train during the ceremony.[20]

Death and funeral[edit]

Portrait of Jane believed to have been painted during her short queenship and attributed to the "Cast Shadow Workshop"

Jane's labour had been difficult, lasting two nights and three days, probably because the baby was not well positioned.[21] After the christening, it became clear that she was seriously ill.[22] She died on 24 October 1537 at Hampton Court Palace. Within a few weeks of the death of Queen Jane, there were conflicting testimonies concerning the cause of her demise. In retrospect from the current day, there are various speculations that have been offered. According to King Edward's biographer, Jennifer Loach, Jane's death may have been due to an infection from a retained placenta. According to Alison Weir, Jane may have succumbed to puerperal fever following a bacterial infection contracted during the birth.[14] The same author has also speculated, after medical consultation, that the cause of her death may have been a pulmonary embolism.

Jane was buried on 12 November 1537 in St. George's Chapel at Windsor Castle after the funeral in which her stepdaughter, Mary, acted as chief mourner. A procession of 29 mourners followed Mary, one for every year of Queen Jane's life.[23] Jane was the only one of Henry's wives to receive a queen's funeral.[14]

Phoenix and Castle badge used by Jane Seymour

After her death, Henry wore black for the next three months. He married Anne of Cleves two years later, although marriage negotiations were tentatively begun soon after Jane's death. He put on weight during his widowerhood, becoming obese and swollen and developing diabetes and gout. Historians have speculated she was Henry's favourite wife because she gave birth to a male heir. When Henry died in 1547, he was buried beside her, on his request, in the grave he had made for her.[14]


Jane Seymour's arms as queen consort[24]

Jane gave the king the son he so desperately desired, helped to restore Mary to the succession and her father's affections, and used her influence to bring about the advancement of her family.[25] Two of Jane's brothers, Thomas and Edward, used her memory to improve their own fortunes.[14] Thomas was rumoured to have been pursuing the future Elizabeth I, but married the queen dowager Catherine Parr instead. In the reign of the young King Edward VI, Edward Seymour set himself up as Lord Protector and de facto ruler of the kingdom. Both brothers eventually fell from power, and were executed.[14]

In popular culture[edit]

In film and on stage[edit]

In books[edit]

  • The main character in Mistress Jane Seymour by Frances B Clark. The book formed part of a series, each book was written by a different author telling the story of each of the six wives.
  • Is the main character in Carolly Erickson's novel The Favoured Queen, which follows her from her appointment as lady-in-waiting to Catherine of Aragon right up to the time she herself becomes Henry's consort.[38]
  • Is the subject of the novel Plain Jane: A Novel of Jane Seymour (Tudor Women Series) by Laurien Gardner (Sarah Hoyt).[39]
  • Is the subject of Elizabeth Norton 2010 non-fiction book Jane Seymour: Henry VIII's True Love
  • Jane Seymour: Henry VIII's Favourite Wife written by David Loades is a study on her life and her brothers lives.
  • Appears as a lady serving both Catherine of Aragon and Anne Boleyn in Wolf Hall by Hilary Mantel, which ends with hints of her coming prominence. The second novel in Mantel's series, Bring Up the Bodies focuses on the machinations that led to the execution of Anne Boleyn, Henry VIII's growing determination to replace her with Jane Seymour and the Seymour family's strategems to gain from the King's attraction to Jane. A planned third volume, The Mirror and the Light, is expected to tell Jane Seymour's story.[40]
  • The book I, Jane, by Diane Haeger, tells of her growing up and, before catching the eye of King Henry, meeting a young man whose parents are well placed in court and look down on Jane and her family. Despite this, Jane and the son become close, and over the years she never forgets him.[41]
  • The main character in Janet Wertman's first book 'Jane the Quene'
  • Seymour is the title character in Alison Weir's book Jane Seymour: The Haunted Queen, the third in the Six Tudor Queens series.[42]

In music[edit]




  1. ^ or Sir John Croker of Lineham[citation needed]
  2. ^ or Elizabeth Fortescue[citation needed]


  1. ^ a b Norton 2009, p. 11.
  2. ^ "West Bower Manor with barn". National Heritage List for England. Historic England. Retrieved 1 May 2017.
  3. ^ Norton 2009, p. 8.
  4. ^ Norton 2009, p. 9.
  5. ^ Brown 2005, p. 244.
  6. ^ "Henry VIII – the Embroiderer King". Royal School of Needlework. Retrieved 19 October 2009.
  7. ^ Lipscomb 2012, p. 70.
  8. ^ David Starkey, Six Wives: The Queens of Henry VIII, p.585-586
  9. ^ Norton 2009, p. 65.
  10. ^ Vergil 1950, p. 337.
  11. ^ a b Weir 2007, p. 344.
  12. ^ Weir 2007, p. 340.
  13. ^ a b Wagner 2012, p. 1000.
  14. ^ a b c d e f "Jane Seymour: Third Wife of Henry VIII of England". A-london-tourist-guide.com. Archived from the original on 20 June 2010. Retrieved 22 October 2010.
  15. ^ "The Six Wives of Henry VIII: Jane Seymour". PBS. Retrieved 22 October 2010.
  16. ^ Farquhar 2001, p. 72.
  17. ^ Weir 2007, p. 362.
  18. ^ Weir 2007, p. 367.
  19. ^ Seal 2001, p. 129.
  20. ^ Walder 1973, p. 47.
  21. ^ Walsh 2009.
  22. ^ Norton 2009, p. 145.
  23. ^ Weir 2007, p. 372.
  24. ^ Boutell 1863, p. 243.
  25. ^ Weir 2007, p. 373.
  26. ^ The Private Life of Henry VIII at the TCM Movie Database
  27. ^ Monaco, James (1992). The Movie Guide. Perigee Books. p. 30. ISBN 9780399517808. Retrieved 28 May 2018.
  28. ^ PIckering, David. "Six Wives of Henry VII, The". Encyclopedia of Television. Museum of Broadcast Communications. Retrieved 28 May 2018.
  29. ^ Angelini, Sergio. "BFI Screenonline: Henry VIII and His Six Wives (1972)". Screenonline. British Film Institute. Retrieved 28 May 2018.
  30. ^ "Six Wives of Henry VIII – Cast". TV Guide. Retrieved 28 May 2018.
  31. ^ "Naomi Benson". British Film Institute. Retrieved 28 May 2018.
  32. ^ "Emilia Fox interview". The Sunday Times. 12 January 2014. Retrieved 28 May 2018 – via Hampstead Theatre.
  33. ^ Kelley, Brian. "The Simpsons s15e11 Episode Script". Springfield! Springfield!. Retrieved 28 May 2018.
  34. ^ Rorke, Robert (5 April 2009). "QUEEN FOR A DAY". New York Post. Retrieved 28 May 2018.
  35. ^ "Who are the royal subjects?". Wolf Hall. BBC Two. Retrieved 28 May 2018.
  36. ^ League, The Broadway. "Wolf Hall Part One - IBDB: The official source for Broadway Information".
  37. ^ "Ex-EastEnders star Charlie Clements is eyeing up Game Of Thrones". Metro. 15 April 2016. Retrieved 28 May 2018.
  38. ^ "THE FAVORED QUEEN by Carolly Erickson". Kirkus Reviews. Retrieved 28 May 2018.
  39. ^ "Plain Jane by Laurien Gardner". Penguin Random House. Retrieved 28 May 2018.
  40. ^ Mares, Peter (18 June 2009). "Hilary Mantel's Wolf Hall". ABC Radio National. Abc.net.au. Retrieved 27 January 2014.
  41. ^ "Books by Author Diane Haeger". www.dianehaeger.com. Retrieved 28 May 2018.
  42. ^ "Jane Seymour". Six Tudor Queens. Retrieved 28 May 2018.
  43. ^ "Anna Bolena (1830)". Libretti d'opera italiani (in Italian). Retrieved 28 May 2018.
  44. ^ The Six Wives of Henry VIII at AllMusic
  45. ^ Vannan, Alastair (1 January 2013). "The death of Queen Jane: ballad, history, and propaganda". Folk Music Journal. ISSN 0531-9684. Retrieved 28 May 2018 – via The Free Library.
  46. ^ After Hours (Live in Paris) at AllMusic
  47. ^ Best of the Bothy Band at AllMusic
  48. ^ The Wind That Shakes the Barley at AllMusic
  49. ^ Lost River: Vol. 1 at AllMusic
  50. ^ Buchanan, Kyle (24 December 2013). "The Toughest Scene I Wrote: The Coen Brothers on Inside Llewyn Davis". Vulture. Retrieved 28 May 2018.
  51. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k Richardson, Douglas (2011). Everingham, Kimball G., ed. Magna Carta Ancestry: A Study in Colonial and Medieval Families. III (2nd ed.). Baltimore, Maryland: Genealogical Publishing Company, Inc. pp. 109–111. ISBN 144996639X.
  52. ^ a b c d e f Richardson, Douglas (2011). Everingham, Kimball G., ed. Plantagenet Ancestry. II (2nd ed.). Genealogical Publishing Company, Inc. pp. 214–215. ISBN 1449966349.
  53. ^ a b c Roskell, John Smith (1 January 1981). Parliament and Politics in Late Medieval England. A&C Black. pp. 154, 171. ISBN 9780950688299. Retrieved 28 May 2018.
  54. ^ Roskell, J.S.; Clarke, L.; Rawcliffe, C., eds. (1993). "STOURTON, John II (1400-62), of Stourton, Wilts.". The History of Parliament: the House of Commons 1386-1421. Boydell and Brewer. Retrieved 28 May 2018 – via History of Parliament Online.
  55. ^ a b Richardson, Douglas (2011). Everingham, Kimball G., ed. Magna Carta Ancestry: A Study in Colonial and Medieval Families. I (2nd ed.). Baltimore, Maryland: Genealogical Publishing Company, Inc. pp. 506–507. ISBN 1449966373.
  56. ^ a b Richardson, Douglas (2011). Everingham, Kimball G., ed. Plantagenet Ancestry. I (2nd ed.). Genealogical Publishing Company, Inc. p. 526. ISBN 1449966314.


External links[edit]

English royalty
Title last held by
Anne Boleyn
Queen consort of England
Lady of Ireland

30 May 1536 – 24 October 1537
Title next held by
Anne of Cleves