THE SIX WIVES OF
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
article first appeared in June, 2007.
Most recent update: 2014.
VII Things You Don't Know
Henry VIII's VI Wives
III Catherines, II
Annes, & I Jane
— IIIRD OF A SERIES —
Wife III —
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
Tower of London. On June 4, Jane
Seymour was pronounced Queen of England.
PORTRAIT OF JANE SEYMOUR
BY HANS HOLBEIN THE YOUNGER.
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
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.
Seymour gave birth to the male heir
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 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
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.
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
SERVED AS LORD PROTECTOR OF ENGLAND,
AND IN ESSENCE SERVED AS SUBSTITUTE
THIS PERIOD THE THRONE
ACTED TO FIRMLY INSTALL
AS THE DOMINANT RELIGION OF BRITAIN.
BROTHER OF QUEEN JANE
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.
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.
relationship of Jane
Seymour’s sister Elizabeth with the
royal court of Henry VIII serves to demonstrate the
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,
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
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
• Despite the beheading of her father-in-law by her brother-in-law, Elizabeth
continued on at
Henry’s court, serving the king’s last two queens,
and Katherine Parr as a
lady-in-waiting. When the king died, Elizabeth’s brother
Thomas Seymour soon married his widow, Queen
• 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.
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
(EVENTUALLY QUEEN ELIZABETH I, LAST AND GREATEST OF THE TUDOR MONARCHS).
— END OF PART THREE —
LEARN ABOUT HENRY VIII &
ALL SIX OF HIS WIVES: