Alice’s Restaurant

May 28, 2007

Tudors: The Rise and Fall of Jane Seymour

Filed under: Henry VIII, History with Mr. Al, Research — aliceaudrey @ 10:45 pm

Having seen the first two of Henry VIII’s wives bite the dust we are back for another guest blog with Mr. Al.  Let’s see how Jane fared.

Apparently not one to shilly-shally, Queen-to-be Jane was busy with her wedding dress at the same time that Anne’s head was being chopped off. Some girls might, given the circumstances, have had reason to pause and consider what the future might hold. Some girls might. But not Jane. The marriage was announced to the Privy Council the same day that Anne died. Henry and Jane were married the next day at Hampton Court. Small ceremony, immediate family only, top secret, etc, etc. The Henry marriage drill. Jane then retreated to her family estate to prepare for the Official Wedding.

Things had changed for Henry as a result of his relationships with Katherine and Anne. And not for the better. Already suspicious by nature, just like his paranoid dad, Henry became even more distrustful of those around him. No woman would ever again manipulate him to the extent that Anne did. Anne knew very well what buttons to push as regards Henry. What she lacked was the maturity or wisdom to know when to stop. As Henry’s disastrous marriage with Anne of Cleves would prove, handled the right way, Henry could be a pretty magnanimous guy. Handle Henry the wrong way, As Anne Boleyn discovered,  and he would stop at nothing to make someone else pay for his mistakes.

Mrs. Henry Tudor the III had a couple of things going for her. One, she was as temperamentally different from Anne as night from day. Quiet, reserved, one is tempted to say docile. Although docile isn’t the right word to describe someone as ambitious as Jane. Jane was every bit as ambitious as Anne was and for the same reasons. To further the interests of her entire family. The other thing going for her was that, as a lady in Queen Anne’s service, she watched the entire Henry/Anne drama at close range.

She was not going to make the same mistakes Anne made. Humble and submissive was just what the doctor ordered; Jane reasoned. She was right. After all, what would it profit her if she gained the whole world, but lost her head? Literally. Humble and submissive. No one, least of all Henry, could fault her for being a dutiful wife and a queen who discharged her royal duties without getting on her husbands nerves. Although Jane was a devout, conservative Catholic, Henry’s will was her law. If she did not support many of Henry’s changes in the church, and she did not, she had the good sense to keep her mouth shut.

What kind of queen was Jane? Unfortunately, she didn’t live long enough to really leave her stamp on history. On October 12 1537, Jane gave birth to a boy, the future King Edward the VI. Twelve days later, she died of puerperal fever. Henry was devastated. He had finally found the woman who had given him his heart’s desire, and God had taken her away. She was the perfect wife. She had born him a son and didn’t interfere in state business.

 And she was chaste! Really, truly chaste! Not the sorta, kinda French chaste practiced by Anne. All that she asked of him is that he render her the honors that were due her as his wife and Queen. And he did, without thinking twice about it. Why oh why couldn’t poor Henry Tudor have it his way, just once! Was that too much to ask? To the end of his days, Henry considered Jane the best wife he ever had. God knows he had enough of them to make the comparison.

Henry had a practical view of kingship that left little room for sentimentality. He went into seclusion for a bit after Jane’s death, wouldn’t see anyone. When he returned to the land of the living, the Privy Council tentatively, VERY tentatively one would imagine, suggested his Majesty might wish to consider getting married again. Just to make sure there were some extra princes around. It never hurts to have some spares handy. Henry agreed. As soon as was decent, of course. Decent in this case being the day after Jane’s funeral.

While Henry and his council agreed that re-marriage would be desirable ASAP, they ran into the practical problem of whom to marry. Potential brides were a bit thin on the ground. Adding to the problem were questions of foreign policy and national security. On top of these issues Henry added a layer of his own. The wife of his dreams had to be good looking and have large breasts. Anne was a grave (snicker) disappointment in the breast department. Jane was a big (giggle) improvement, but, not to put too fine a point on it, she was dead.

What with one thing or another, it was two years before Henry got to play the bridegroom again. Things might have moved faster if Henry had had a better public image. He was in his late forties, balding, putting on a lot of weight, had the disposition of a rattlesnake, had been excommunicated, had three ex-wives, all of them dead, two of them because he wanted them that way, AND… He had a well-deserved reputation for shagging any woman who would hold still for him. And even some that wouldn’t.

The princesses of Europe were NOT lining up to become Mrs. Henry Tudor the IV. What this meant for the Privy Council is that they would have to go pretty far afield to find their next queen. No one had the brass to tell Henry that he might get lucky sooner if he lowered his expectations.  As it turned out Henry would have been A LOT happier if he had lowered his expectations. Cromwell certainly would have been happier. Not to mention alive.


Thank you Mr. Al.  And here I thought it was only Henry’s wives who risked their necks to be near the throne.  Silly me.



  1. Cromwell should have known that was goes around comes around.;-)
    Tks Mr. Al for another refreshing installment.

    Comment by Anastasia — May 29, 2007 @ 3:20 am

  2. Mr. Al, I’m learning to love history for the first time in my life! Thank you for the lesson.

    Comment by sashacat — May 29, 2007 @ 1:58 pm

  3. Thank you Mr. Al! Can’t wait for the next Henry installment!

    Comment by Ericka Scott — May 29, 2007 @ 4:25 pm

  4. Thank you for your comments.I hope I’m not ruining the story for you by telling you that there would be more wives in Henry’s future. Stay tuned good readers.

    Comment by Mr Al — June 2, 2007 @ 5:12 pm

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