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THE SIX WIVES OF HENRY VIII

 

Travel is people. You may go abroad to see the famous sites, but what you remember best are the people you meet. Among them, like unexpected treasure, are a few memorable contacts that will make your travels unique, special, and delightful. "People" is devoted to some of those you may come in contact with during your Home At First travels.

WIFE #3 — JANE SEYMOUR

This article first appeared in June, 2007.                                                    Most recent update: 2014.

VII Things You Don't Know About

Henry VIII's VI Wives

III Catherines, II Annes, & I Jane

— IIIRD OF A SERIES —

Wife III —

Jane Seymour


I.

Just as Anne Boleyn had been an attendant to Queen Catherine of Aragon, Jane Seymour had been a lady-in-waiting to Queens Catherine of Aragon and Anne Boleyn. Henry married Jane on May 30,

1536 just 11 days after Anne Boleyn was beheaded in the Tower of London. On June 4, Jane Seymour was pronounced Queen of England.

Portrait of Queen Jane Seymour by Hans Holbein the Younger. PD-Art.
PORTRAIT OF JANE SEYMOUR
BY HANS HOLBEIN THE YOUNGER.

Romanticized portrait of Anne Boleyn by 17th century painter Frans Pourbus. PD-Art.

II.

Henry’s first queen, Catherine of Aragon, whom he divorced to marry Anne Boleyn, died in early 1536. Much of Europe, and

indeed of England, had continued to view her as the rightful Queen of England, and

Anne Boleyn as little more than the king’s official mistress. With Catherine’s death and Anne’s execution, Jane Seymour’s position as queen was considered by almost everyone to be legitimate.

ANNE BOLEYN — PORTRAYED ROMANTICALLY IN THIS
17TH CENTURY PAINTING BY FRANS POURBUS — WAS
NOT VIEWED SO UNIVERSALLY KINDLY DURING HER
THREE YEARS AS HENRY VIII'S SECOND QUEEN.

III.

Jane Seymour gave birth to the male heir King Henry VIII had long wished for. Their son became King

Edward VI at 9 years old, and lived only to the age of 15.

EDWARD VI, SON OF JANE SEYMOUR AND
KING HENRY VIII. THIS CHILD WAS THE
HEIR TO THE THRONE OF ENGLAND THAT
HENRY HAD SO LONG SOUGHT. BUT THE BOY
WAS SICKLY, AND, ALTHOUGH HE DID
SUCCEED HIS FATHER TO THE THRONE, HE
DIED AT FIFTEEN, LEAVING BRITAIN IN
ANOTHER CRISIS OF SUCCESSION.

Jane Seymour's toddler son, Edward VI, son and heir of King Henry VIII. Portrait by Hans Holbein the Younger. PD-Art.

Figure of Jane Seymour from Madame Tussaud's, London.

IV.

Ironically, Jane did not survive the successful birth of her son at Henry’s lavish Hampton Court Palace just outside of London. She died in 1537 within two weeks of the birth of complications from

childbirth. She was buried at Windsor Castle. When Henry VIII died ten years later, he was buried next to Jane at St. George’s Chapel, Windsor Castle. (Information about these and other locations in and near London you can visit is found here: the Tudors.)

JANE SEYMOUR WAS UNDOUBTEDLY THE KING'S FAVORITE WIFE. AFTER HER DEATH, HENRY VIII WENT INTO MOURNING. HE MARRIED AGAIN, BY POLITICAL ARRANGEMENT, THREE YEARS LATER, TO ANNE OF CLEVES, A WOMAN HE NEITHER KNEW NOR WANTED TO KNOW. WAX FIGURE OF JANE SEYMOUR FROM MME. TUSSAUD'S.

V.

The christening of Jane’s son, Prince Edward, was attended by his two half-sisters: the future Queen Mary (daughter of Queen Catharine of Aragon) and the future Queen Elizabeth (daughter of Queen Anne Boleyn).

Three Queens from three different families married one Tudor (Henry VIII) and gave birth to children who each became monarch. None of the royal mothers lived to see the succession of their child to the throne.

EDWARD VI WAS KING FOR SIX YEARS, BUT DID NOT
REIGN. HIS UNCLE, EDWARD SEYMOUR (JANE'S
BROTHER), SERVED AS LORD PROTECTOR OF ENGLAND,
AND IN ESSENCE SERVED AS SUBSTITUTE KING. DURING
THIS PERIOD THE THRONE ACTED TO FIRMLY INSTALL
PROTESTANTISM AS THE DOMINANT RELIGION OF BRITAIN.

Edward VI, boy king, by Hans Eworth. PD-Art.

Edward Seymour, Jane's brother, who was de facto monarch of England as Lord Protector during the reign of his nephew, King Edward VI. He was executed on Tower Hill after promoting Lady Jane Grey for Queen upon the death of Edward VI. PD-Art.
EDWARD SEYMOUR
 
Thomas Seymour, Jane's brother, who married Henry VIII's widow Katherine Parr and wooed his daughter Princess Elizabeth. Thomas was executed on Tower Hill after being implicated in a plot to kidnap his nephew, King Edward VI. PD-Art.
THOMAS SEYMOUR

EDWARD SEYMOUR, BROTHER OF QUEEN JANE SEYMOUR
AND LORD PROTECTOR OF ENGLAND
DURING THE REIGN
OF HIS NEPHEW KING EDWARD VI. HE WAS EXECUTED
ON TOWER HILL AFTER PROMOTING LADY JANE GREY
FOR QUEEN UPON THE DEATH OF EDWARD VI.

VI.

Even more than the Boleyn family, the Seymours became very well connected at the court of Henry VIII. Jane’s father, Sir

John, had served on military campaigns with Henry and become close to the

king and made a member of the court. Several of his family also received court-related positions. Jane became a queen’s attendant. After Henry VIII’s death, Jane’s ambitious brother Edward was made Duke of Somerset and became the England’s regent Lord Protector of England during the six-year reign of his young nephew King Edward VI, until falling out of favor and losing his head on Tower Hill in 1552. Another of Jane’s brothers, Thomas Seymour, married the Henry’s sixth wife, Katherine Parr, less than half a  year after Henry died. When Katherine Parr died (also of complications of childbirth), Thomas Seymour freely pursued the hand of Anne Boleyn’s daughter Elizabeth, who was prominent (after her sister Mary) in the line of succession for the crown. Princess Elizabeth spurned Thomas’s proposal of marriage. Thomas became caught up in a broken plot to kidnap King Edward VI, and was also executed at the Tower of London.

THOMAS SEYMOUR, JANE'S BROTHER, WHO MARRIED
HENRY VIII'S WIDOW KATHERINE PARR AND WOOED
HIS DAUGHTER PRINCESS ELIZABETH. THOMAS WAS
EXECUTED ON TOWER HILL AFTER BEING IMPLICATED
IN A PLOT TO KIDNAP HIS NEPHEW, KING EDWARD VI.

 

VII.

The relationship of Jane Seymour’s sister Elizabeth with the royal court of Henry VIII serves to demonstrate the convo-

luted web of the upper tier of the nobility of Tudor England:

Like her older sister Jane, Elizabeth Seymour was an attendant to Queen Anne
Boleyn. The Seymour family participated in the planning to rid Henry of Anne Boleyn.

When Jane Seymour replaced Anne Boleyn as queen, Elizabeth Seymour became the king’s sister-in-law, and served as her sister’s principal lady-in-waiting.

Elizabeth Seymour married Gregory Cromwell, son of Thomas Cromwell, Henry VIII’s principal advisor who had helped rid the king of Anne Boleyn and marry Jane Seymour. When Jane died in childbirth, Thomas Cromwell found Anne of Cleves and promoted her to Henry as the ideal fourth wife. When the Anne of Cleves marriage didn’t work out, Thomas Cromwell fell into disfavor and the king had him imprisoned and beheaded at the Tower of London.

Despite the beheading of her father-in-law by her brother-in-law, Elizabeth Seymour
continued on at Henry’s court, serving the king’s last two queens,
Kathryn Howard
and Katherine Parr as a lady-in-waiting. When the king died, Elizabeth’s brother
Thomas Seymour soon married his widow, Queen Katherine Parr.

Elizabeth Seymour’s brothers, Edward and Thomas, were both beheaded for treason during the reign of their nephew, King Edward VI.

Despite the crimes of her brothers and father-in-law, and the constant intrigue of the Tudor court, Elizabeth Seymour survived relatively unscathed through the reigns of Lady Jane Grey, Queen (“Bloody”) Mary I, and five years into the term of the last Tudor monarch, Queen Elizabeth I.

The Royal Family: Princess Mary, Prince Edward, King Henry VIII, Queen Jane Seymour, Princess Elizabeth. From a painting circa mid-1540s, near the time of death of Henry. Jane Seymour had already been dead nearly ten years. PD-Art.

A FANCIFUL PAINTING FROM THE MID-1540'S, SHOWS THE IDEALIZED ROYAL FAMILY OF HENRY VIII: FROM
LEFT, PRINCESS MARY (LATER QUEEN 'BLOODY' MARY), PRINCE EDWARD (SOON TO BE KING EDWARD VI),
KING HENRY VIII (SOON DEAD), QUEEN JANE SEYMOUR (ALREADY DEAD FOR NEARLY A DECADE), AND
PRINCESS ELIZABETH (EVENTUALLY QUEEN ELIZABETH I, LAST AND GREATEST OF THE TUDOR MONARCHS).


Live like a Queen when you come to London.
Stay at HOME AT FIRST’s Apartments at St. Katharine’s Marina.
They’re all named after their famous neighbors at the
Tower of London next door: the wives of Henry VIII.
For example, see HOME AT FIRST's
Jane Seymour Apartment.

— END OF PART THREE —
LEARN ABOUT HENRY VIII & ALL SIX OF HIS WIVES:

HENRY VIII

CATHERINE OF ARAGON

ANNE BOLEYN

JANE SEYMOUR

ANNE OF CLEVES

KATHRYN HOWARD

KATHERINE PARR

MAKE YOUR OWN FAMILY HISTORY
— HOME AT FIRST —

WE KNOW LONDON