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King Henry's third wife- Jane Seymour

Updated on February 6, 2013

The origins of Jane Seymour

The ancestry of the Seymour’s could be traced back to Normans under William the Conqueror. Her father was a gallant soldier being knighted in the field by Henry VII and enjoying the trust of Henry VIII. The family was not particularly grand and although connected they were described as astute. Jane was herself the fifth child of ten children, six of whom, including the first four, had been sons. Jane was in her mid twenties in 1536 and a charming and fair woman, although not beautiful she was virtuous and from good stock with breeding possibilities. Jane was regarded as a calm, sweet tempered, intelligent woman who lived a virtuous life and was agreed by all to be a virgin. The court split into factions with the large majority supporting the replacement of Queen Anne by Jane Seymour. Anne had a poor power base only amongst her relations and the most powerful, the Duke of Norfolk did not like her, and she was not an easy person to like. International diplomacy was hinting at the replacement of Anne, the Spanish seemed willing to forget Henry’s slight to his first wife Catherine, now she was dead the removal of Anne Boleyn would make the way clear for cordial English Spanish relations. Anne Boleyn was executed by a swordsman's single blow on 19th May 1536, and Jane Seymour and King Henry were betrothed in secret the very next day.

JANE SEYMOUR- A portrait by Hans Holbein the younger
JANE SEYMOUR- A portrait by Hans Holbein the younger | Source

Queen Jane

On 30th May Jane Seymour became Queen Jane, the third woman to be the Kings wife in that year. The celebrations were heady, a pageant on the River Thames, the Tower festooned with streamers and pageants, tournaments and entertainments attended by the King and his new Queen. The King appeared an immense magnificent figure as his 6foot 2 inches frame was now significantly overweight, though as of yet there were no signs that this was causing him any difficulties.

Queen Jane kindled a firm friendship with the Kings daughter Mary who was now reinstated in his affections, so much so that the King and Queen visited her and palace records indicate a number of presents went to the Princess from them. Jane is recorded as being satisfied with her lot in life and being a quiet and loving wife. On her marriage the Seymour families standing in the country rose and Jane herself became a rich woman with a large dowry. Her brother, Edward Seymour was created Viscount Beauchamp after the wedding, his position being even more important as the Uncle to the heir to the throne should Jane have the son that her pedigree suggested she would.

Portrait by an unknown artist of Henry Viii
Portrait by an unknown artist of Henry Viii | Source

The birth of a prince

In June 1536 the second Act of succession was passed which gave precedence in the succession to any children of the King and Jane Seymour , both Mary and Elizabeth were now regarded as his illegitimate children. The year after their marriage the rumours circulating after Anne Boleyns remarks that the King would not father any more children because of impotence, ceased as Jane realised that she was expecting the Kings child. Jane’s pregnancy became apparent late in February and the “quickening “ of the baby would have been felt by her around May. At this point the King rewarded her with the elevation of her brother to the Privy Council. As with the first pregnancy of Catherine of Aragon and Anne Boleyn, it was generally agreed that Jane would give birth to a boy, the astrologers said so and the people were prepared to welcome the prince soon to be born.

Queen Jane was in labour from the 9th to 12th October, an ordeal that would over whelm most modern women in an era with competent pain relief. The baby boy was called Edward after his paternal great grandfather. At forty six years of age, after nearly thirty years marriage to three different women, the King had finally been presented with a legitimate heir. The King was said to be besotted with his baby son and was prepared to raise Jane to the highest heights possible. The baby was christened three days later and Jane was dressed and sitting in her bedchamber receiving guests and fond wishes. Six days after the baby Princes birth, on 18th October, baby Edward was proclaimed Prince of Wales and Jane’s Brother was given the Earldom of Hertford with a considerable income, such was the King’s pleasure. It is about this time after the birth that Jane began to feel ill with puerperal fever caused by poor hygiene at birth. It is believed that this developed to septicaemia and Jane died on 24th October when baby Edward was just 12 days old. Historical chronicles indicate that both the King and his daughter Mary were saddened by the death of Jane; Elizabeth being too young to have merited a mention. By dying at this point, having given Henry what he truly desired Jane Seymour guaranteed her place as his “true and loving wife” as mentioned in the Kings final testament made just before he died. Queen Jane’s body laid in the chapel of Hampton court where priests prayed over the coffin for twelve full days and nights before the burial at Windsor. Henry’s daughter, Mary acted as Jane’s chief mourner and the next day her coffin was interred beneath the choir of St George’s chapel. The gifts of jewellery that Jane had received were given mainly to Mary but also to her family and other ladies at court. The gift of land and income received as her dowry was returned to the crown. Henry remained in mourning until February 1538 and at this point previously low key plans for a new queen were given a higher level of precedence, the search was on for a new Queen.


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      lola 5 years ago

      I have no problems with Jane

    • Just History profile image

      Just History 5 years ago from England

      joanveronica- thankyou for your visits and votes- I do tend to write long paragraphs but since that comment I have tried to make them shorter- but it is hard!

    • joanveronica profile image

      Joan Veronica Robertson 5 years ago from Concepcion, Chile

      I had a strange experience with this Hub! I read from start to finish with great interest. Then I read all the comments and found the one about the length of the paragraphs. I went back to look at the Hub, and yes! The paragraphs were long! Just scrolling down, I could see they were long, but I hadn't appreciated this when reading! Just goes to show how one's mind can become involved with the topic! Just keep them coming! I will be back. Voted Up, etc.

    • Just History profile image

      Just History 6 years ago from England

      phdast17- No worries and arent kids wonderful when they explain modern technology to you!!

    • phdast7 profile image

      Theresa Ast 6 years ago from Atlanta, Georgia

      Just History. You are right, there is no large audience for much of what you and I write and no need to worry about views, because there probably won't be many. I guess I made my comments for two reasons. First, I keep hoping that if we all make my Hubs easier to read, someone who doesn't think they like history just might stumble across a Hub, be drawn in and learn something about history. And maybe even discover they like it! :)

      My other reason is purely selfish. I started wearing bifocals about five years ago, but I still have a real hard time focusing on large amounts of text on a computer screen. Its like I need everything double-spaced (which is not going to happen) or short paragraphs with space in between. Last night, my IT geek son showed me how to enlarge the view on what I am reading. That helps a little, but I still struggle when paragraphs are long. But that is my personal problem and I can't and shouldn't expect you to change your style/format just to suit me. :)

      Anyway ,just wanted to explain my comments which probably sounded very rude and presumptuous. Hope you have a Happy New Year. :)

    • Just History profile image

      Just History 6 years ago from England

      phdast7- thanks for your kind comments- I guess I had not thought too much about paragraph length as this account is purely for those who want to find info rather than "hits". I will pop over and read some of yours now, either as me or my other ID case1worker!!

    • phdast7 profile image

      Theresa Ast 6 years ago from Atlanta, Georgia

      Great Hub full of historical content and you made all the historical actors seem interesting. I am relatively new here myself and this is just a suggestion...You will likely have more readers and more comments if you break your longish paragraphs into 2 or 3 shorter ones. Visually, your Hubs will be easier to read and much easier on the eyes. I would love your reaction/comments on some of my Hubs on historical topics. Thanks.

    • Just History profile image

      Just History 6 years ago from England

      kittythedreamer- perhaps he painted the portrait at the wrong angle!! Thanks for your visit

    • kittythedreamer profile image

      Nicole Canfield 6 years ago from the Ether

      Wasn't a very pretty lady was she? I'm still a HUGE fan of Anne Boleyn. ;) Voted up and awesome!

    • Just History profile image

      Just History 6 years ago from England

      Judi Bee- thankyou for your visit- msybr she was a bit dull, but she kept her head!!

    • Judi Bee profile image

      Judith Hancock 6 years ago from UK

      I always tend to think of Jane Seymour as a bit of a dullard, but that's because she supplanted my favourite, Anne Boleyn. In the end, all Henry's wives were simply pawns of their male relatives, you either accepted it like Jane or bit back at it like Anne.

      Enjoyed this hub, as usual. Bring on Anne of Cleves!

    • Just History profile image

      Just History 6 years ago from England

      Jenafran- Thanks for your kind comment. I thought the hub was a little short and then I realised- she was not around for very long- poor girl succumbed to death after child birth which was so common in those insanitary days.

    • Jenafran profile image

      Jenafran 6 years ago from Tampa Bay Florida

      Great hub! Thanks Just History!