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Jane Seymour: Henry VIII's True Love

Updated on May 30, 2014

Jane Seymour - The Queen Consort

In 1536, just 11 days after the execution of Anne Boleyn, Henry VIII's second wife, Jane Seymour became Mrs Henry Tudor. She married Henry VIII and became the only wife to give him the legitimate son and heir to the throne that he needed. There are many historians who believe that it was her ability to give him the heir that made him love her; not that he actually loved her in the first place.

Jane died around two weeks after her son's birth and she was buried in a tomb Henry was building for himself. He mourned her for two years after that and it probably would have gone on longer had Thomas Cromwell and other advisors not pushed Henry into marrying for the fourth time. In 1547, Henry was buried next to Jane Seymour; something that he had made clear he wanted in his will, making it clear that he truly loved her.

Jane Seymour was lady-in-waiting to Catherine of Aragon and Anne Boleyn
Jane Seymour was lady-in-waiting to Catherine of Aragon and Anne Boleyn

Jane Seymour Is a Lady-in-Waiting

Jane was originally lady-in-waiting to Catherine of Aragon somewhere between 1529 and 1532. The date has never been confirmed. Whichever date it was, she remained as lady-in-waiting during the reign of Anne Boleyn but, unlike her flirtatious predecessor, she didn't catch Henry VIII's eye in this way.

Jane wasn't an outgoing person, like Anne Boleyn or Henry's fifth wife, Katherine Howard. She was quiet and had a very soothing manner. Raised as a Catholic and a traditional English woman, her mild temper is probably just what Henry wanted at the time and that caught his attention during a visit at Wolf Hall, the Seymour's home, in 1535.

Henry refused to act on his initial attraction. Anne was pregnant shortly after the trip and it was expected to be a boy. Unfortunately, the pregnancy ended in a miscarriage on January 29, 1536, on the day Catherine of Aragon's funeral. Doctors believed that the child was a boy and it was the final straw. Henry made it clear that he wasn't happy with Anne and his eyes strayed towards Jane Seymour. All he needed was a way to legitimately get rid of Anne Boleyn so there wouldn't be the same problems with wife number three as there was with her.

Read More from David Loades About Jane Seymour

Henry VIII Shows His Affections for Jane Seymour

With Catherine of Aragon dead, it was the perfect time for Henry to find a way out of the marriage. With Anne Boleyn falling from grace, it was the perfect time for Thomas Cromwell to do something about her faction and remove her from court. With Catherine gone, if they could find a legitimate reason to remove Anne, there wouldn't be any arguments from the English people about the validity of Henry VIII's third marriage.

While Cromwell went to work to remove Anne, Henry showed his affections for Jane Seymour. He started sending her expensive gifts but she would often return them. This led to Henry promoting her two brothers to court. One of those promotions was on April 29, 1536, when George Boleyn was supposed to become Knight of the Garter but instead he was taken in for questioning three days later. This was the first sign for Anne Boleyn that something was wrong.

Jane showed no signs of returning the affections until May 20, 1536, when she and Henry VIII were officially betrothed. The day after Anne Boleyn's execution! She had managed the same thing around a decade earlier; become Henry's Queen Consort. The difference for Jane was that she did it slyly and didn't steal the crown from Anne, as Anne had done to Catherine.

A Fan Made Video of Henry VIII Moving Onto Jane Seymour

The Coronation of Jane Seymour Delayed

While the marriage happened on May 30, 1526, there was no official coronation. The official reason was that there was a plague in London but it is possible that Henry VIII didn't want to make the same mistake as he did with his previous wives. He wanted to make sure she was worthy of being Queen Consort. She needed to provide him a son and one that would survive infancy. Jane was simply on a long list of women who Henry VIII could have married and now she had to live up to her expectation.

A plague was passing through London at the time and a summer coronation wasn't possible. It would seem like a genuine reason until you consider that Henry was going to hold off until the spring of the next year! By the spring, Jane was pregnant and the coronation didn't happen. Yet in 1533 Anne Boleyn had her coronation despite being five months pregnant! It's just another sign that Henry VIII didn't actually love Jane and just the fact that she gave him a son.

Edward VI ruled England between 1547 and 1553
Edward VI ruled England between 1547 and 1553

Jane Seymour Gives Birth to Edward VI

Jane found herself pregnant relatively quickly in early 1537. There were complications with the birth though and at one point they believed they would need to deliver the baby by caesarian. Some historians believe this is what killed her except a c-section in Tudor England meant instant death for the mother as the medical care was inadequate. It is probable that Henry VIII would have ordered for the caesarian though had Jane not delivered the baby. That isn't because he didn't love her but because of the time they were living in. Henry VIII was under a lot of pressure to provide an heir and they believed that this baby was a boy.

Jane Seymour finally delivered a healthy baby boy, Prince Edward Tudor. It was cause for celebration for the whole of England until it was clear that Jane would not survive. Around two weeks after Edward's birth, Jane died of childbed fever; a common illness due to bacteria in a tear or left over placenta during the birth. Edward VI never had the chance to meet his mother.

Henry VIII went into a deep state of mourning. He wore black until1538 and refused to even consider marriage until two years later. Considering the time that they were living in, this was a major show of love. One boy was not enough to secure the Tudor line. Henry VIII needed another heir and the only way that would happen was if he re-married. By honouring Jane's death in the way he did, he proved that she was his one true love. The two year gap was the longest Henry left between his marriage as King of England.


  • The Six Wives of Henry VIII by Alison Weir, Vintage Books, 2007


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