To Protect Thyself and Thy King

When the Lord Protector, Thomas Seymour’s brother Edward, Duke of Somerset was off fighting the Battle of Pinkie in Scotland in 1547, Thomas used his time wisely by gaining friends and support from the King’s inner circle of servants and privy chamber members.

Thomas, as the Lord High Admiral of England, should have been in Scotland as well, but he had stayed in London to allegedly intrigue against Somerset. If I recall he feigned illness. This would not be the last time Thomas Seymour shirked his duties as Admiral.

It was also during the time when Somerset was at the Battle of Pinkie that Seymour was able to convince the King to write a letter approving of a marriage between Thomas and Kateryn Parr. Of course, nobody knew that the two had already wed, but Seymour got a letter written that protected himself and the queen dowager.

During this time Thomas Seymour was believed to have given money to two or three of the members of the King’s privy chamber and grooms of the chamber. By accepting the money from Seymour he believed that they would in return become ‘his men’.



The question that always remains is what was the catalyst that caused the falling out between the two Seymour brothers for Seymour to act this way?

The main cause of the following out between Thomas and his brother Edward was the fact that Edward became Lord Protector of the Realm and Governor of the King upon the accession of their nephew, Edward VI. Thomas believed that the titles should have been shared by the two brothers as had happened in the past. He even went so far to search the chronicles for precedents and discovered evidence to back him up: ‘that there was in England at one time one Protector and another Regent of France and the Duke of Exeter and the Bishop of Winchester, Governors of the King’s Person‘.¹

Some have suggested that John Dudley, Earl of Warwick instigated Seymour’s intrigues to cause discord between the brothers. After the death of Henry VIII, Thomas Seymour felt that he was unfairly treated and this caused a wound between the brothers. Like a vulcher, Warwick attacked the wounded prey.

Prior to the death of Henry VIII there is nothing of note to indicate that the brothers were anything but civil with one another. As a matter of fact, Thomas wrote to his brother when he was away that he had checked on his wife (Anne Stanhope) and Prince Edward:

“Our master and mistress, with my lord Prince, are merry, and so is my lady my sister, whom I will visit ere (before) I sleep. And thus most heartily fare ye well, and send you  a prosperous journey. Westminster, [14 March 1544]”

So Warwick, understanding that there was an opportunity to be had, promised that if Thomas pursued the cause to become Governor of the King with the council, that he would give him his support. Seymour played into Warwick’s hands like a puppet – he had already been angry and jealous toward his brother and the nudge from Warwick was enough to push him over the edge. When Thomas raised the matter at a council meeting his brother, Duke of Somerset upon hearing his statement, stood up (without saying anything) and ended the meeting.

The one thing that Warwick had not mentioned was the discord caused by having two uncles in charge – looking no further than the Duke of Gloucester and Cardinal Beaufort (previously mentioned Regent of France and Bishop of Winchester) during the minority of King Henry VI. This was something that Thomas’ brother, Somerset had mentioned and was one of the reasons he was reluctant to give his brother such a title.



We also know Thomas was not too keen on education, so did he know English history? Was he aware what had happened the last time two uncles held power during the minority of their nephew?

As Thomas pushed and pushed about the matter of becoming Governor, it only incensed Somerset further. It was brought to Seymour’s attention that he willfully signed the document making Edward, Lord Protector of the Realm and Governor of the King. This did not dissuade Seymour from his mission, however.

Ultimately, the council turned against Thomas Seymour – probably led by the Earl of Warwick and they convinced Somerset that his brother was a danger to his life.

Edward VI

Now, if we look at King Edward VI and his relationship with Somerset, we see a young King, who was the son of Henry VIII – that in itself probably means that Edward had a strong personality and wanted things his way.

John Fowler, servant to King Edward VI, had mentioned that Seymour would come to the privy buttery and drink there alone and ask him whether the king would say anything of him. Thomas had been giving the King gifts of money so that he could give gifts to his servants and have money of his own – you see, the Lord Protector had also put restrictions on his nephew the King and so Thomas may have believed he and the King were kindred spirits in the is matter…both were being held back by the Lord Protector. Seymour, while protecting and encouraging his nephew to become King in his own right was not only fighting for his nephew, but also for himself. He saw it as unfair and so had the King. At one time mentioning how he wished that his uncle Somerset was dead.

Alleged Kidnapping Attempt

On the night of the 16th of January 1549, Thomas Seymour was arrested for allegedly killing the King’s dog and attempting to kidnap the King. What is not fully stated in most cases is the facts that surround the case.

Weeks earlier, Thomas Seymour had made complaints that his nephew was not well protected. That he needed more guards. On the night of the incident it was reported that Thomas dispersed some of the guards to run errands, which left a gap in security. The Duke of Somerset had made it very clear prior to this that Thomas should not have access to his nephew. Would these guards have been brave enough to work against the Lord Protector by taking orders from his younger brother? I’m skeptical.

The story then continues with King Edward’s dog being shot outside the royal bedchamber. The sound of the gunshot alerted a nearby guard (why wasn’t there one closer?) who then collected other guards before approaching the door to the bedchamber. It was then that they spotted Thomas Seymour standing there. Immediately Thomas was accused of shooting the dog and plotting to kidnap the king.

Professor G.W. Bernard cannot definitively say whether or not Thomas Seymour meant to kidnap King Edward (and Elizabeth for that fact) – to me that speaks volumes. Nobody knows for certain if that was his intent that night at Hampton Court Palace. We know he was there – that’s a fact. We also know that sometime before the alleged kidnapping that Seymour was discouraged at the number of guards available to protect the king. Those who oppose Seymour see that as him scoping out the joint beforehand. I see it as an uncle who is concerned for his nephews safety.²



Henry Bullinger is quoted as condemning Seymour on the 15th of February 1549. Bullinger, a German reformer,  put all the blame on Seymour and insisted that Seymour killed the King’s dog and would have killed the King if he had not been halted by the guards.²

When we consider the killing of the King’s dog we must remember that there were no witnesses to the murder. It was easy to place the blame on Seymour. Contrary to what some authors have stated, the King’s dog was not next to the King’s bed in his bedchamber, instead he was just outside the room.²

Thomas Seymour had brought a few of his servants with him that night at Hampton Court Palace that night. My thought has always been that Seymour was concerned about the safety of his nephew. There was no advantage for him to murder his nephew, but protect him – yes. It is my belief that one of his servants made it to King’s room before Seymour to check if the room was being protected and got scared by the barking dog. In a panic the dog was killed. Seymour’s timing could not have been worse – as he approached the King’s room the King’s guards apprehended him. Seymour insisted that he was checking that the King was securely guarded. It is possible that he was there to kidnap his nephew. He may have seen this as his only option.²

After his arrest, Thomas Seymour was examined and mentioned that he and Fowler had a discussion about Mr. Stanhope’s paranoia surrounding the King. That he asked to be woken anytime someone came to the door. Then they went on to ask if he was afraid that any man may come and take the King. To which it was implied that that man was Seymour – he said, “If he think that I will go about it, he shall watch a good while”.³

Did Thomas Seymour want to kidnap his nephew? Well, he certainly mentioned one time that he wished to have the King in his possession. Here is how he responded to that charge against him:

“He said that about Eastertide he said to Fowler, as he supposeth it was, that if he might have the king in his custody as Mr. Page had he would be glad, and that he thought a man might bring him through the Gallery to his chamber, and so to his house, but this he said he spoke merely meaning no hurt.”²

The story of Thomas Seymour and his nephew ended with Edward VI turning against his uncle and Seymour being executed on the 19th of March 1549. Then a few years later, on the 22nd of January 1552, his other uncle and former Lord Protector was executed, leaving John Dudley as the most powerful man in England.

The Tudor court was full of scandal and intrigue and the reign of Edward VI was obviously no different.

We may never know the whole story when it comes to Thomas Seymour, but I promise you I will continue to dig until we have a better understanding of all the events that occurred between 1547 and 1549.

This article was originally published on my Thomas Seymour blog.

Notes:

¹ Dasent, J.R., Acts of the Privy Council

² Thomas Seymour Blog, Charges Against Thomas Seymour [5 March 2018]

³ A Collection of State Papers 1542-1570, Examination of the Lord Admiral [1549]

Sources:

England Under the Reigns of Edward VI and Mary with the Contemporary History of Europe

Bernard, G.W., Power and Politics in Tudor England – The downfall of Thomas Seymour (essay) [2000] ISBN 0 7546 0245 1

McLean, John, The Life of Thomas Seymour, Baron Seymour of Sudeley


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Early Tudor Palaces and Country Houses

 

Early Tudor Palaces and Country Houses

1485-1550

Compton Wynyates

Public Domain: 19th century print or a watercolour from Nash Mansions of England published in 1870
Public Domain

“The delightful red-brick manor house of Compton Wynyates in Warwickshire, was begun by Edmund Compton in 1481, just prior to the accession of the House of Tudor. Edmund’s sturdy but good-looking country home was given some elegant editions, including porch and some towers by his son, the prominent Tudor courtier, Sir William Compton, between 1493 and 1528.” –The Illustrated Encyclopedia of Royal Britain by Charles Phillips (p.348)

King Henry VIII’s room at Compton Wynyates had stained glass windows featuring the royal arms and throne of Aragon – the royal arms of his future wife, Katharine of Aragon. In 1572, Elizabeth I also stayed in the same room as her father.

In later years Compton Wynyates became uninhabited. This caused the house to decay and nearly fell into complete ruin. In 1768 it was ordered by Lord Northampton to be demolished, but the order was not carried out. In the late 19th century it was restored and in 1884 was once again inhabited by the 5th Marquess of Northampton.

Hampton Court Palace

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Photo Credit: Christopher Wren / CC BY-SA 3.0

“One of England’s finest royal building associated with the magnificent court of Henry VIII, although major changes were made in the 17th century during the reign of William and Mary. The palace came into royal hands as a gift from the statesman, Cardinal Wolsey to his royal master, Henry VIII.” -The Illustrated Encyclopedia of Royal Britain by Charles Phillips (p.350)

In an episode of “The Tudors” on Showtime, it shows Henry VIII becoming a little distraught by the grandeur of the palace that Wolsey had built - it was greater than any palace Henry had at the time. Once Wolsey noticed Henry’s reaction to the grand palace he offered it as a gift to His Majesty. At this time Wolsey was starting to fall out of favor of the  king and out of self-preservation offered his splendid palace…I’m sure Hampton Court Palace was hard to part with, but then again, so is your head.

(c) Trinity College, University of Cambridge; Supplied by The Public Catalogue Foundation
(c) Trinity College, University of Cambridge; Supplied by The Public Catalogue Foundation

Hever Castle

Public Domain
Photo Credit: The Giant Puffin / Public Domain

“The moated and fortified manor house of Hever Castle, near Edenbridge in Kent, was the childhood home of Anne Boleyn, mother of Elizabeth l. Henry VIII was a frequent visitor in the 1520’s when he paid court to Anne.”- The Illustrated Encyclopedia of Royal Britain by Charles Phillips (p.352)

After the death of Anne’s father Hever Castle was taken over by the Crown. Henry VIII gave it to Anne of Cleves after their divorce in 1540. When Anne of Cleves died in 1557 the Castle again reverted to the Crown until Queen Mary l gifted it to Sir Edward Waldegrave.  For more on what happened: Hever Castle & Gardens – Owners

© National Portrait Gallery, London
Anne of Cleves
Anne of Cleves by Hans Holbein the Younger

Leeds Castle

CC BY-SA 3.0
Photo credit: Sophie Templer / CC BY-SA 3.0

“Henry VIII took a great liking to Leeds Castle in Kent, and carried out lavish improvements, transforming it from castle to fortified palace. The King was often in Kent, where he was entertained at Penhurst Place and visited Anne Boleyn at Hever Castle. Leeds Castle had well-established royal links, and had been favoured by kings and queens since Edward l honeymooned there in 1299.” –The Illustrated Encyclopedia of Royal Britain by Charles Phillips (p.353)

In 1519, Henry VIII transformed Leeds Castle for his wife Katherine of Aragon.

Katherine of Aragon
Katherine of Aragon

Sulgrave Manor

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Photo Credit: Cathy Cox / CC BY-SA 2.0

“The sturdy, unpretentious manor house at Sulgrave, in Northamptonshire, was built in the early Tudor years by a direct ancestor of George Washington, the first President of the United States of America. Lawrence Washington, younger son of a prominent Lancashire family, was born c. 1500. He became a wool merchant and bought the Priory of St. Andrew, Northhamptonshire, from the Crown in 1539, following Henry VIII’s Dissolution of the Monasteries.”The Illustrated Encyclopedia of Royal Britain by Charles Phillips (p.356)

Edinburgh Castle & Holyroodhouse

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Photo Credit: Kim Traynor / CC BY-SA 3.0

“Edinburgh Castle was a well-established stronghold and royal dwelling by the latter years of the 14th century when the future Robert ll build David’s Tower, containing royal apartments. In the mid-1430’s, James l built a new Great Chamber, probably alongside the royal accommodations in the Tower. His successor, James ll, brought the great siege gun of Mons Meg to the castle, which assumed an increasingly important role as a royal artillery.”The Illustrated Encyclopedia of Royal Britain by Charles Phillips (p.358)

The increased use of Edinburgh Castle as Scotland’s principal foundry in 1511 left little room for the royal family to stay. In the meantime, the royals began to stay more regularly at the Abbey of Holyrood. King James IV built Holyroodhouse as his principal residence in the late 15th century.

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Holyroodhouse – Photo Credit: Kim Traynor / CC BY-SA 3.0
James_IV_of_Scotland
James IV of Scotland

Following her return from France in 1561 Mary, Queen of Scots stayed at Holyroodhouse. In 1565 she married Henry Stuart, Lord Darnley there, and in 1566 the brutal murder of David Rizzio catapulted Mary into scandal after Lord Darnley was suspected of orchestrating the murder.

Mary, Queen of Scots
David Rizzio
David Rizzio

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Falkland Palace & Stirling Castle

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Falkland Palace – Photo Credit: Sam Styles / CC BY-SA 2.0

“Falkland Palace began as a castle built by the Macduffs, earls of Fife, probably in the 13th century. James ll extended the castle and frequently visited it to hunt deer and wild board. After 1458, when he granted a charter, it was known as Falkland Palace.” “James V’s daughter, Mary, Queen of Scots, was a frequent visitor to Falkland Palace after her return to Scotland from French exile in 1561.”The Illustrated Encyclopedia of Royal Britain by Charles Phillips (p.359)

King James ll of Scotland
King James II of Scotland

Stirling Castle is one of Scotland’s most historically important sites and was once a favoured residence of the Stewart kings and queens who held grand celebrations at the castle.

Knights, nobles and foreign ambassadors once flocked to Stirling Castle to revel in its grandeur with its superb sculptures and beautiful gardens. It was a favoured residence of the Stewart kings and queens who held grand celebrations from christenings to coronations.” – VisitScotland.com

Stirling Castle http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0/
Stirling Castle – Photo Credit: Finlay McWalter / CC BY-SA 3.0

Deal Castle

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Photo Credit: Lieven Smits / CC BY-SA 3.0

“Henry VIII built the low-lying artillery fort of Deal Castle, in Kent, as one of a string of coastal fortifications built around England’s south coast in the later 1530s and early 1540s. Following his break with the Church of Rome, he feared invasion by the armies of a Franco-Spanish Catholic alliance brokered by the Pope.”The Illustrated Encyclopedia of Royal Britain by Charles Phillips (p.360)

Notice how from above Deal Castle looks like the Tudor Rose. Henry VIII was in his late 40s when he build these forts. Anne of Cleves is said to have stayed at Deals Castle after her long voyage from Europe on her way to London to meet her future husband.

Henry Vlll in 1542
Anne of Cleves - 1540s
Anne of Cleves – 1540s

Syon House

Public Domain
Public Domain

The splendid Syon House, now surrounded by London’s westward sprawl at Brenford in Middlesex, was built during the reign of Edward VI by his uncle Edward, Duke of Somerset, Lord Protector. Somerset built a three-storey building with battlements and angle turrets around a central courtyard. His house stood on the foundations of the abbey church that had belonged to the convent on the side.” –The Illustrated Encyclopedia of Royal Britain by Charles Phillips (p.362)

The land which Syon House was built had originally belonged to a convent. The nuns’ confessor, Richard Reynolds refused to accept Henry VIII as Supreme Head of the Church of England – he was was executed and his body placed on the gateway of the abbey to be used as an example of what happens to those who refuse to accept the Act of Supremacy.

Henry’s fifth wife, Katherine Howard was detained here prior to her execution in 1542.

Henry’s coffin rested at Syon House on it’s journey to Westminster and had burst open overnight- dogs were said to be seen gnawing on the royal corpse. Many suspected divine retribution since this happened at Syon House and the events that took place years earlier.

Katherine Howard
Katherine Howard

Sudeley Castle

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Photo Credit: Wdejager / CC BY-SA 4.0

“The 15th century Sudeley Castle in Gloucestershire was rebuilt in the late 1540s by Lord Thomas Seymour. Thomas was the brother of the Duke of Somerset, Lord Protector to Edward VI; their sister, Jane, had been Henry VIII’s third wife, who had died giving birth to Edward in 1537, making the brothers the young king’s uncles.”The Illustrated Encyclopedia of Royal Britain by Charles Phillips (p.363)

After the king’s death, Thomas Seymour married Henry’s widow Katherine Parr. Thomas and Katherine moved into Sudeley Castle where she gave birth to their daughter, Mary on 30 August 1548. Katherine died there from puerperal fever a week later and was buried in St. Mary’s Church near the castle.

Thomas Seymour
Thomas Seymour
Katherine Parr
Katherine Parr

Anne Parr: Witness to History

Lady Anne Parr was sister to Kateryn Parr — sixth wife of Henry VIII. Anne Parr is unique because she was either a Maid-of-Honor, or Lady-in-Waiting to all the wives of Henry VIII, all six.

A Maid-of-Honor was generally a young girl in her teens, just starting out at court. In order to hold the position one had to be part of a noble family. Physical beauty was also requirement, so we must assume Anne was considered attractive. A Maid-of-Honor also had to impress courtiers – knowing a foreign language, and being a good dancer were only a couple of the necessities of holding the position.

A Lady-in-Waiting was a married lady who served the Queen. Some of these ladies had served prior to becoming married as Maids-of-Honour. A woman could also became a Lady-in-Waiting when she married a prominent member of the King’s Privy Chamber or Privy Council. These ladies helped dress the Queen, they provided companionship to her and served her during her meals. A Lady-in-Waiting spent considerable time with the Queen. They kept busy with activities like needlework, sewing and embroidery.



There is not conclusive evidence to show when she went from Maid to Lady, but we can assume it was after she married.

Anne Boleyn was a Maid-of-Honour to Katherine of Aragon beginning in 1522, when she returned from France. Anne Parr joined the same household in 1528 when her mother, Maud Green secured her a position with the Queen. Anne Parr would have been witness to the events between Boleyn and King Henry. She was actually very fond of Anne Boleyn and stayed in the new queen’s household when she was crowned in 1533.

When Henry VIII had his second wife beheaded and married Jane Seymour, Anne Parr was there. She was also one of the few people present at the baptism of Prince Edward, and was part of the funeral procession of Queen Jane – she was with the fourth chariot.

William Herbert
William Herbert

In February 1538, Anne Parr married Sir William Herbert, Esquire of the King’s Body. It is very likely that she met William at court.

When Henry VIII married Anne of Cleves, Anne Parr returned to court as a Lady-in-Waiting for the new Queen. The marriage was short-lived and Henry soon annulled his marriage from Anne of Cleves and wed the very young and flirtatious Katherine Howard. Anne Parr continued as a Lady-in-Waiting to Katherine Howard and was also the “Keeper of the Queen’s Jewels.”  Anne left court briefly to give birth to her son Henry. She returned to court some time after and her timing coincided with the fall of Katherine Howard. Anne attended to Katherine when she was imprisoned at Syon House and then in the Tower of London.



Katherine Parr
Katherine Parr
Holbein foll Henry VIII em l
Henry VIII

In 1543, Anne witnessed the wedding ceremony at Hampton Court Palace between her sister, Kateryn Parr and King Henry VIII. Anne was Queen Kateryn’s Chief Lady-in-Waiting. The sisters were indeed close and Anne was well experienced at court and in the Queen’s household.

Anne Parr experienced a lot during her time at court – especially when it came to the wives of Henry VIII:

  • She saw the poor treatment of Katherine of Aragon
  • The rise and fall of Anne Boleyn
  • The rise of another fellow lady Jane Seymour and her untimely death after providing the King with a son
  • The quick reign of Anne of Cleves
  • The experience of the downfall of Katherine Howard
  • The reign of her sister, Kateryn Parr

It’s easy to say Anne Parr probably had a lot of good advice for her sister, Queen Kateryn Parr, after all that she had witnessed. If we are to believe Philippa Gregory’s book, The Taming of the Queen (Historical Fiction) to be true, then we would believe that Anne Parr actually taught her sister how not to become pregnant — because being pregnant and losing the child, or having a deformed child made the king look bad…and we all know how insecure Henry VIII was. But, Gregory writes historical fiction and we should take that statement with a grain of salt. Kateryn had been married before so she surely knew how to not become pregnant, if that’s what she chose.

As the keeper of the jewels she would have seen each of Henry’s queens exchange some of the same jewels – some were made into a new piece, while others stayed the same.

On 20 February 1552, Anne died. At the time of her death, she was one of the ladies of the Lady Mary, the future Queen Mary I.

Anne Parr was one of very few women who served all six Tudor queens. Imagine if she had a diary that survived, or had written a book about everything she saw or heard. That would be priceless.

 

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Tudor Queens Who Haunt Hampton Court Palace

tudor-queen-who-haunt-hampton-court-palace

From Anne Boleyn, to Jane Seymour and Katherine Howard — all are said to haunt Hampton Court Palace. Anne Boleyn spent many happy days with Henry VIII here, Jane Seymour gave birth to the long desired prince and died here, and Katherine Howard was said to plead for her life in the gallery outside of where Henry was said to have been praying.

With 500 years of dramatic, often violent history, Hampton Court Palace is commonly regarded as one of Britains most haunted buildings. Here, State Apartment Warder David Packer takes you on a tour of the places within the palace most associated with ghostly goings-on. For information on ghost tours and visiting the palace, go to www.hrp.org.uk

Jane Seymour’s Rise to the Throne

Jane Seymour

 

Birth: October 1507/08 (determined by the # of ladies in her funeral procession)
Parents: Sir John Seymour & Margery/Margaret Wentworth
Siblings: Edward, Elizabeth, Thomas & Henry (may be more)
Spouse: King Henry VIII
Children: King Edward VI

1280px-Jane_Seynour_Signature.svg

Jane Seymour was a descendant of King Edward III’s son Lionel of Antwerp, 1st Duke of Clarence. Because of this, she and Henry VIII were fifth cousins.



Jane was likely educated by her mother. She was trained in needlework, household management and cookery. She could read and write her name. She also enjoyed outdoor sport including horseback riding and following the hunt.

Sometime during the 1520s Jane joined Katherine of Aragon’s household. It was while in Katherine’s household that she grew to know and love the Princess Mary…and Katherine herself. Jane so greatly admired the queen that she later modeled her own reign after her.

Princess Mary, 1525 © National Portrait Gallery, London

Jane had a front row seat during ‘The Great Matter.’ She had seen the way her friend, Queen Katherine was treated and had great sympathies for her – she had aligned herself with both Katherine and Mary.

When Katherine was  sent away to Kimbolton Castle Jane became part of Anne Boleyn’s household. This would not have been by choice for Jane, and I’m sure Anne would know this as well. Jane and Anne had  served in Katherine’s household together, so Anne would be well aware of Jane’s fondness and favor for Katherine, yet she kept her close…in her household. Is it because of the old saying? Keep your friends close and your enemies closer?

During Christmas 1533, King Henry presented gifts to several of Anne’s household, including Jane Seymour, whom he had known since she came to court, roughly a decade earlier. Henry had also known her father Sir John Seymour much longer; Henry had known John fairly well as he had a reputation of being a good administrator and at one time had carried out diplomatic missions abroad on the king’s behalf. John Seymour was therefor well trusted by Henry.

In the summer of 1535, the king and queen set off on a royal progress westward toward Wales. At this time their marriage was unraveling and was not the happy relationship they once had.  On their way back from Wales, on 4 September they made a planned stop at WulfHall to stay with the Seymour family manor. In contrary to how it was portrayed in The Tudors, Jane was not already at Wulfhall – she was traveling with the king and queen during their progress and arrived with them.



Wulfhall
Wulfhall (not original)

By Fall (September) 1535 King Henry started to pay closer attention to Jane Seymour. How could he not notice her? Jane was so different from Anne. What he once loved about Anne was now something he despised about her. Jane was less obvious and concealed her ambitions with a modest, subdued demeanor – this was very different than his current queen indeed. Jane’s manner was pleasing and her temperament, calm. The king had become enamored with her and everyone started to take notice, including Queen Anne. The advantage for Jane was that members of court seemed thrilled at the idea of removing Anne as queen – mainly because of her promotion of the reformist cause.

kunthistorisches museum jane seymourIt seems that after the stop at Wulfhall that Henry became smitten with Jane. When the group had returned to court the “affair” had continued and was growing. By November 1535 the French Ambassador saw them together and said the king was in love again. The affair, so obvious, that courtiers wanted to win favor with the Lady Jane Seymour. During this time of Jane’s rise Anne’s favor was in decline. The queen was excluded from things and was spending more and more time in her apartments, alone – very similar to the fate of her predecessor, Katherine of Aragon. It seemed as though karma had caught up with Anne for everything she put Katherine through.

Jane Seymour had two brothers at court, Edward and Thomas. They kept a close eye on their sister and insisted that she keep her virtue. They were playing the same game of chess that Anne and the Boleyns had played. “Save yourself for marriage and become the next queen of England.” The differences between Jane’s tactics versus Anne’s were that Jane was less obvious in her ambitions, more subtle than Anne was. Jane’s goal was to return England to Rome and Lady Mary to her rightful place in the succession.

During the same month (November 1535) Anne suddenly had favor returned to her when she declared to the king that she was with child again. The happiness did not last long as it was a stressful and depressing time for Anne.  She was losing her husband to one of her own ladies and Anne was aware that this child would decide her future. Henry was obviously not in love with her anymore as he shrank from her in public instead of comforting her as he used to.



Image now believed to be Anne Boleyn is similar to Moost Happy medal
Image now believed to be Anne Boleyn is similar to Moost Happy medal

In January 1536 Katherine of Aragon died at Kimbolton.  Henry and Anne wore yellow in public, the Spanish color of mourning and Henry was seen parading Elizabeth around with great joy. It seems obvious from his actions that the future of Anne had yet been decided if he was acting this way with Elizabeth in public.

Kimboltonmorris_edited
Kimbolton Castle; Public Domain
© National Portrait Gallery, London

On the day of Katherine’s funeral Anne caught her husband with Jane Seymour on his knee. Anne flew into a frenzy and Henry, worried for his unborn child, sent Jane from the room and attempted to calm Anne saying, “Peace be, sweetheart, and all shall go well with thee.” It was too late, the damage was done – it was later that evening that Anne miscarried their child…it had the appearance of a boy. Anne’s fate was now sealed.

In April 1536, Jane left Greenwich (where Henry & Anne had been at the time), not only was she distressed by the rumors and obscene stories about her affair with the king which had been circulating, but Henry also wanted her away from court when plans were being made for the removal of Queen Anne. Jane returned to Wulfhall and waited.

By 14 May 1536, Henry realized he could no longer be without Jane and called her back to London. When she arrived she stayed at the house of Sir Francis Bryan on Strand, about one mile from the king at Whitehall. This was when Jane first discovered what it was like to be a queen of England. She was dressed in rich garments, housed in great splendor and was waited on by Henry’s staff. Jane accepted these changes with a calm demeanor and grace.

Wife 3: Jane Seymour

Only four days later Anne Boleyn was dead.

Merely seven months from the beginning of their courtship, Jane was preparing for her wedding to King Henry VIII. On 20 May 1536 they had announced their betrothal.  That evening Henry and Jane dined together in Strand and afterwards he took his barge straight to Hampton Court. The next morning at six in the morning Jane followed him there. By nine they were formally betrothed in a ceremony lasting only a few minutes. After the ceremony she returned to Wulfhall to await her marriage.



At this time both Mary and Elizabeth were now bastards and his son, Henry Fitzroy was dying. Henry was desperate for an heir…and a speedy wedding.

On 30 May 1536, Henry and Jane were married in the Queen’s closet by Archbishop Cramner.

Henry’s personal wedding gift to Jane was a gold cup designed by Hans Holbein and engraved with their initials entwined with a love knot. Jane’s motto appeared three times on the cup. “Bound to obey and serve.”

Drawing of the cup; Hans Holbein the Younger
© Ashmolean Museum, University of Oxford

On 1 June 1536, Henry and Jane traveled by barge to Greenwich. A week after the wedding King Henry was already talking about the “Prince hoped for in due season.” Henry was optimistic that soon he would have that legitimate male heir he longed for and lost two wives over.

On 4 June 1536, Jane was proclaimed Queen of England at Greenwich.

In early spring 1537, Jane discovered she was pregnant – Henry had great reason to rejoice, for he believed she was carrying the son he had desired for so long. The pregnancy was announced in April when Henry relayed the great news to the Privy Council.

By late May at Hampton Court, it was announced that the child had moved in her womb. One courtier wrote, “God send her good deliverance of a prince, to the joy of all faithful subjects.”

On 16 September, Jane took to her chamber at Hampton Court in preparation for the birth of what was hoped to be a prince. Lady Mary had been with Jane for the last few weeks and would also be present in the chamber with her step-mother. By early October it seemed obvious that the birth was imminent. On 9 October the queen’s labor began. Jane’s labor lasted three days and three nights. It was rumored that she would have to be cut open to secure a safe delivery of the child. There is no evidence of a cesarean and no proof that Henry had to choose between Jane and the child if one had to be saved.

At two in the morning on the 12th of October Jane delivered a healthy, fair-haired boy. Her labor was long and painful but she had survived the delivery…and so had the child. Henry was over the moon with glee that he finally had a son, a legitimate heir to the throne of England.  They named the child Edward, Duke of Cornwall from the moment he was born.

By ten in the evening on the same day Jane was sitting in her bed “writing” a letter to Cromwell to inform him that they had delivered a son, a prince. Her letter was signed, Jane the Queen. (see signature above)

On the day of Prince Edward’s day of christening the guest had gathered beforehand in the queen’s apartments. Jane was lying on a bed of crimson lined with cloth of gold. Around her she wore a crimson mantle edged with ermine. Her blonde hair flowed loosely. Beside Jane sat the King. When the little Prince was brought to Jane she gave him her blessing.

The following day Jane suffered a bad attack of diarrhea, which left her very ill.  By evening she was feeling better. That night she fell ill again and early the following day her health was of growing concern. At that time it seemed obvious that she was suffering from child bed fever.

Jane’s conditions continued to worsen and Henry was called to be by her side. In the early hours of 24 October 1537, the queen slipped quietly away. Queen Jane was dead. Henry was destroyed by the death of his wife – his favorite wife, for she gave him a long desired son.

Young Edward Vl
Young Edward VI

Source: The Six Wives of Henry VIII, by Alison Weir


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