Friday, July 11, 2014

The Wives of King Henry VIII - Chapter III: Queen Jane Seymour

Jane Seymour was a simple woman. She was not as grandly educated as Katharine of Aragon or Anne Boleyn, but she could perform housework very well. She enjoyed needlework very much, and was known to create beautiful embroideries. In court, she was a lady-in-waiting to both Queen Katharine and Queen Anne.

In 1536 the King was showing new affections for this unpretentious lady. He bought her fancy gifts. Jane was quite put off by the fact that he was still married to Anne. How respectable!

Only a day after Anne Boleyn was harshly executed, Jane was betrothed to the King. They were married on the 30th of May. He felt that she was his first “true wife.” The King gave her a vast amount of land and manors as a gift. On the 4th of June, the people of England were introduced to their third (or second, as many refused to recognize Anne Boleyn as the rightful Queen) Queen consort. She could not have a coronation due to a plague in London.

Nevertheless, she was very popular and well-liked at court, unlike Queen Anne. Polydore Vergil described Jane as “a woman of the utmost charm in both character and appearance.” Mary, daughter of Queen Katharine, certainly enjoyed her too, as Jane was sympathetic towards the fate of her mother. Jane, in return of Mary's kindness, made her next-in-line of succession behind any of her future sons. She felt sympathy towards the participants of the Pilgrimage of Grace, and requested that they were all pardoned, but Henry rejected. He reminded her of what happened to the previous Queens when they “meddled in his affairs.”

Jane was pregnant not long after, in early 1537. The King gave her many gifts. Festivities were held in celebration. Edward Hall records:
On 27 May 1537, Trinity Sunday, there was a Te Deum sung in St Paul's cathedral for joy at the queen's quickening of her child, my lord chancellor, lord privy seal and various other lords and bishops being then present; the mayor and aldermen with the best guilds of the city being there in their liveries, all giving laud and praise to God for joy about it.
It was a great time for the King. Nothing would go wrong this time. He already had his perfect wife, and now he was to finally have a legitimate son.

It was the 12th of October, at two in the morning, when the heir to the throne was born. The healthy baby boy was named Edward. Mary was the godmother. The whole royal family was happy. Finally the King had his son. No more would he have to remarry. He loved Jane; she was his perfect wife.

Jane had difficulty giving birth, and the Queen was very sick after. She passed away on October 24th. This very unfortunate and untimely death sealed the remembrance of a perfect wife in the King's mind. For three months he wore black and mourned. For three years he had no interest in remarrying. During this period his health worsened. He also became very interested in needlework. When the King passed away, he was buried with her. Her epitaph reads:
Here lies Jane, a phoenix
Who died in giving another phoenix birth.
Let her be mourned, for birds like these
Are rare indeed.
Thus passed the third Queen of King Henry VIII. Her motto was “Bound to Obey and Serve,” and that certainly made her more likable to the King. The King should have married Jane in the first place, if only fate allowed it. I believe if she survived, he would never remarry.


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