The Other Lady: Jane Seymour

Written by Rebecca Larson

While this should not be considered an in-depth research of the time period (as that would take the time to write another book), this should be seen as a way to follow Jane Seymour’s rise as the other lady in Henry VIII’s life, just before the execution of Anne Boleyn. In this article I follow the trail of gossip through Imperial ambassador, Eustace Chapuys as well as a letter from Henry to Jane, up to December 1536, when it is suspected that Jane Seymour was pregnant.

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Jane Seymour Character Study (Guest Post)

Jane Seymour Character Study
Guest Post by Hunter S. Jones

When I began thinking of what I could write about the Tudor era. I wanted to write a story unlike anything I had ever read before. The artistic seed was there, but what would trigger the growth of a concept which led to Phoenix Rising?

Let’s examine Jane Seymour. What do we know of Jane Seymour, really know of her? She was the daughter of Sir John Seymour and Margery Wentworth. Jane was the oldest daughter of ten children, six of whom lived to adulthood. In that era, six surviving children was no small feat.

Was Jane Seymour born at Wulfhull or Wolf Hall as it is now known, in Wiltshire, England, the family seat? We do not know. What we do know is that the Seymours were an old family, tracing their roots to one of William the Conqueror’s men. Through Jane’s maternal grandfather, she was a descendant of King Edward III of England.

Due to Jane’s pedigree, Jane and King Henry VIII were fifth cousins. Sinister enough, but get this – Jane was a second cousin to none other than Anne Boleyn. That’s when the story of Jane took a turn for me. What type of female, now or five hundred years ago, is fitted for her wedding dress at the very hour her cousin is to be executed by beheading? The concept for my story, Phoenix Rising, was beginning to take root. Then, when I discovered that Jane was presented at court by none other than Sir Francis Bryan, the story began to reveal itself to me.

Victorian depiction of Jane Seymour

We read about ‘Plain Jane’ or how fair she was, so we perceive her as homely. True, her pictures do not translate well into our millennium, but let’s look at the time period and the concept of feminine beauty in the Tudor era. The archaic meaning of fair is a beautiful woman, as in Who’s the fairest of them all?

Jane motto was ‘Bound to Obey and Serve’. She was the epitome of the Tudor female. She even had Henry VIII’s longed for male heir. This was the real reason women were important at that point in time, right?

There is so little known about Jane Seymour. The story of women vying for the attention of a powerful man is timeless. Add in family intrigue, Jane was known to be haughty. Is it that difficult to imagine he felt her station above that of Anne Boleyn. A bit of encouragement from her family and Sir Francis Bryan and she became a force to be reckoned with. Would she stop at nothing less than becoming Henry’s wife through schemes and power plays?

Jane served Katherine of Aragon and openly supported Princess Mary, the daughter of Henry VIII and Queen Katherine, even before Queen Anne was beheaded. Was Jane out for revenge? Once Katherine was deceased, did she truly believe that Henry was free to marry and love again and that she was a better choice for England than her cousin Anne.

The mystery of Jane Seymour is even more enigmatic than that of her glamorous relative, Anne Boleyn. She is a true chimera. Do we know for certain this is by her hand?

What we do know is that Jane Seymour gave Henry VIII the one thing he wanted most, a male heir. As with the majority of Henry’s wives, she paid for his decisions with her life.

~~~

Sources:

Magic & Mystery in Tudor England, Hunter S. Jones.

The Tudors: King Takes Queen, Michael Hirst, Elizabeth Massie.
The Six Wives of Henry VII, Antonia Fraser.

Photos: Public Domain.

~~~

Now Available!

Read the book here: getbook.at/TudorMagic

~~~

About The Author

Author and historian Deb Hunter writes as Hunter S. Jones. She publishes independently as well as through traditional platforms. Recently she revealed that she is a Stage IV cancer warrior. She is passionate about the history of romance, science and music, a.k.a. sex, drugs and rock & roll. She is also a historian for Past Preservers Casting. When she isn’t writing, talking or tweeting about kings, queens and rock stars, she’s living the dream in Atlanta, Georgia with her Scottish born husband.

She is the author of the international best-seller. PHOENIX RISING, a fictional story of the last hour of Anne Boleyn’s life, as revealed through a Tudor astrological star chart.

She has been involved in academic projects at Harvard University, The University of Texas, UCLA, Vanderbilt University, University of The South, University of Notre Dame, the University of Tennessee, and the University of Edinburgh, Scotland. She has been associated with the prestigious Society of Authors founded by Lord Tennyson, Royal Historical Society, Atlanta Historical Society, American Historical Association, Organization of American Historians, Society of Civil War Historians (US), Dangerous Women Project, Romance Writers of America (PAN member), and Historical Writers Association.

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The Life of King Edward VI of England (Part One)

As only the second Tudor king, Henry VIII was troubled through most of his reign by the lack of a male heir. He had sons but they never survived infancy – until the birth of his son Edward, Prince of Wales.

It took three marriages and countless pregnancies, miscarriages, stillbirths and deaths before the King got what he so desired. A son. Jane Seymour was the mother of Prince Edward but sadly lost her life after a long and arduous labor. There are debates on whether she died from puerperal fever or food poisoning since the release of Alison Weirs novel, Jane Seymour – the Haunted Queen which came out earlier this year (2018).

King Henrys first wife, Katherine of Aragon had been married to the king for over two decades, with many pregnancies and only one surviving child, a daughter, name Mary. While Mary was not the son that Henry so desired she was still The Kings Pearl.



King Henrys mistress, Bessie Blount provided the king with an illegitimate a few years after the birth of his daughter Mary. Surprising many at court, probably including his queen consort, Henry recognized the child as his and gave him the surname, Fitzroy, which translates to son of the king. Surely, if it came to it, Fitzroy could be his heir, but it was not ideal. In history it was never ideal to have a bastard named heir to throne. The king was grasping, he was desperate. Enter, Anne Boleyn.

Anne Boleyn had arrived at Tudor court at a time when Henry VIII was restless in his marriage. One could probably say that he was in panic mode. He desperately wanted a male heir and Anne Boleyn gave him the possibility of the son that he so desired. Unfortunately for King Henry his first wife would not accommodate his need for a son by granting him a divorce. The battle lasted seven long years and culminated in the King becoming the Head of the Church of England and marrying Anne near the end of 1532. The following September Anne gave birth to a daughter, called Elizabeth. While both Henry and Anne were disappointed they both believed that sons would follow.

Some have claimed that the King had syphilis, that this may have been the reason behind so many miscarriages and stillbirths, but that could not be further from the truth. In 1888, a Victorian doctor claimed the King had syphilis and this claim continued until it was debunked in 1931 by Frederik Chamberlin, but even Chamberlin could not stop the spread of the rumor. To this day, there are still those who believe the King and his Queens suffered from the disease. If the king HAD suffered from syphilis, not only would there be documentation of mercury treatment for the disease but he would have had gaping sores in the lymph node areas, potentially the destruction of the nasal cavity, loss of front teeth and palate erosion and lesions on the scalp and tibia. None of which had been reported.

Author Kyra Kramer, and others, believe that the King had a Kell positive blood type and that he developed McLeod syndrome as a result.

The Kell positive blood type would help to explain why his partners suffered miscarriages and losses. While McLeod syndrome explains the physical decline and outbursts by the king in his later years.

Unfortunately for Anne Boleyn she would not provide the King with the son she had promised and Henry in turn moved on to another – Jane Seymour.

In October 1537, Jane Seymour gave birth to a healthy son, Edward, Prince of Wales. Twelve days later she was dead, but Henry had his son.

Around midnight on the 28th of January 1547, King Henry VIII took his final breath. He had denied for days that he was to die and had been loth to hear any mention of death until Sir Anthony Denny insisted that last rites be given by Archbishop Cranmer. When Cranmer arrived, the King was no longer speaking and could on press Cranmers hand to acknowledge his presence.



At 3am, just hours after King Henry had died, Edward Seymour, Earl of Hertford and Sir Anthony Browne rode to secure Edward, now King of England.

After retrieving Edward he was brought to Enfield where his sister Elizabeth had been staying, it was there that the two were informed of their fathers death. Edward was just nine years old and Elizabeth thirteen. At nine, Edward was too young to rule outright and his father had desired a regency council of 16 men to govern the country.

A conversation later mentioned by Sir William Paget with Edward Seymour, then Earl of Hertford tells us that Hertford began plotting for the Protectorship prior to the Kings last breath while pacing outside his room at Westminster. And so began the reign of King Edward VI, but before I get into that, lets go back to the beginning and learn a bit about the young Prince Edward.

Prince Edward of England

In March 1538, when Edward was almost six months a formal household was setup up for him. This was not uncommon. From birth, Prince Edward was handed over to the care of a separate household from the hectic nature of Tudor court.

Lady Margaret Bryan led Edwards household just as she had with his sisters Mary and Elizabeth as Mistress of the Household. Bryan would write regular letters to inform both the King and Cromwell of the Princes progress.

Tudor England, as we know, was strife with superstitions and prophecies – and a series of circumstances struck fear for the safety of the Prince, such as voodoo dolls which portrayed young Edward were found with pins pushed into it. In most cases, a piece of something belonging to the victim is attached to the doll – this makes one wonder how they would be able to obtain a piece of hair or what not to create the dolls.

There were also rumors spreading that Edward should be as great a murderer as his father since he had murdered his mother in her womb. These rumors were apparently started by a royal herald called Robert Fayery.



With all this happening in England, security was stepped up around the young prince who was already be protected from disease. Every day his residence would be cleaned to protect the young prince from infant mortality.

Nothing must escape the closest of scrutiny. All foods for Edwards consumption – bread, meat, milk, eggs and butter – were to be first eaten in large quantity; his clothes thoroughly washed, dried, brushed and stored safely, to be tested and worn before Edward put them on.4

Edward appeared by all to be a happy and healthy child. Imperial Ambassador, Eustace Chapuys reported that Edward was the prettiest child you ever saw. (LP, XIII, ii, 232) But, in the Fall of 1541 he contracted a quartan fever. (LP, XVI, 1297), a form of malaria and for ten days the princes life appeared in danger. King Henry so feared the death of his heir that he summoned all the doctors in England, said French Ambassador Marillac – and one of those doctors informed him: (translated from French) that without this accident, the said Prince seems to him to be of a composition so large, so dear, and so unhealthy, that he can not believe, by what he now sees, that he is to live long. (Kaulek, Correspondance politique, 350-4). The Prince, of course, recovered with the help of his fathers physician, Sir William Butts. Butts had fussed so much about the prince that Edward, feeling better, began to call him a fool and a knave and instructed the doctor to leave him.

By the time Prince Edward had recovered his second stepmother, Katheryn Howard was on her way to the scaffold and his father still had but one male heir.

After his recovery Edward returned to his normal daily life at the palaces of Hunsdon, Havering and Ashridge.

Edward’s Education

For a majority of his young life, Edward was surrounded by women. Until the age of six when he was handed over to Richard Cox and John Cheke – both young humanists from Cambridge. Roger Ascham, a tutor of the Lady Elizabeth also became involved in educating the future heir.

By all accounts, Edward was a quick learner. By late 1546, Richard Cox began to teach the prince French, which by December of that year he had so excelled that he wrote letters to his sister Elizabeth in the language.

Only the best of the best were brought in to teach the future king. Like his elder sisters, Edward was also taught music. He could play the lute, and perhaps other instruments as well. Author and Edward VI biographer Jennifer Loach believes that Edward was probably taught by one of King Henrys most favored musicians by the name of Philip van der Wilder. Wilder was a member of Edwards privy chamber.

Just a month after he wrote a letter in French to his sister his father had died and he was now King Edward VI of England.

Just three days after the death of his father, Edward travelled to London by horse where the news of King Henrys death had just been made public.

Hear ye, hear ye, King Henry is dead, long live the king!

He was escorted to the Tower of London where cannons saluted the new kings arrival. He would stay there until his coronation.l on the 20th of February.

The last coronation took place in England was in 1533 when Anne Boleyn was crowned queen consort. It had been 14 years and one can imagine the uncertainty that came with a minor on the throne.

King Henry VI had been a minor when he came to throne as well and it was during his reign that the Wars of the Roses occurred, it would have seemed imperative to secure Edwards throne immediately and his eldest uncle believed that he was the best option to lead the country and guide his nephew. An act that would later destroy the Seymour brothers and leave the King without his uncles to protect him.

For two days following the coronation, Royal jousts were held while King Edward looked on. The kings uncle, Thomas Seymour was one of the six challengers who competed and ran six courses against twelve defenders.

The celebration continued with banquets and plays but the Imperial ambassador, Van der Delft was reportedly unimpressed calling the festivities unremarkable.

As is usual with Edwards diary little is written about the festivities except that he sat next to his uncle Edward and Archbishop Cranmer with the crown on his head.

It did not take long into the young kings reign before there were issues with council members not agreeing. Ambassador Van der Delft had predicted some envy between the Lord Protector and John Dudley. Although they both belong to the same sect they are nevertheless widely different in character; Dudley being of high courage will not willingly submit to his colleague. He is also higher in favor with the people than Edward Seymour, Duke of Somerset and Lord Protector. Van der Delft also said that Somerset was indeed looked down upon by everybody as a dry, sour, opinionated man.5

The young king spent most of his time isolated and without money to pay his servants, musicians and tutors, so when his uncle Thomas was made aware the King needed money he sent messages and coins to his nephew through the kings servant, John Fowler. Through Fowler Thomas Seymour now Lord Admiral was able to receive consent to marry the dowager queen, Kateryn Parr. By the way, he has already secretly married her without consent.

The Lord Admiral continued sending the king money and at one point Edward was reported as saying that he wished his uncle Edward were dead. During all of this the Admiral was pressing for the title, Governor of the Kings Person, a title Somerset also held. Thomas Seymour hired lawyers and suggested that their nephews reign was similar to that of the minor king, Henry VI.

A visit to the king brought forward Thomas Seymours path to the governorship; asking the King to give his Royal signature to the bill. Edward was not used to making decisions as such on his own and was uncertain what to do. Thomas continued to try to convince his nephew but the King only resisted harder, and at one point asked him to leave him alone. Afterward the young king spoke to his tutor Cheke and asked if it would be wise to sign the bill. Cheke made it clear that it was a risky idea and recommended he did not.

Thomas did not give up on his nephew – he continued pushing his cause and told his nephew that he would soon be able to rule alone, but not with Somerset managing his affairs. Eventually King Edward agreed to sign the bill, but unfortunately for Thomas it was only a verbal agreement. He asked his uncle to leave the bill with Cheke for him to sign later.

Seymour handed Cheke a paper which had this written on it: My Lords, I pray you to favor my Lord Admiral my uncles suit. It was in Chekes hands now to agree to bring the bill to the king to sign. He would not. Seymour was furious and Cheke informed his student that he was playing with fire and by no means was he supposed to sign anything without the guidance of the Lord Protector.

Meanwhile Somerset had raged yet another battle in the war best known as the Rough Wooing – an ongoing war with the hopes of a treaty between England and Scotland over the marriage between their Queen (Mary Stuart, or queen of Scots) and the King of England, Edward VI. The battle of Pinkie was considered a success and the King commended his uncle for striving that his kingdom be quiet and replenished with true religion. When Edward was informed from his uncle that Catholic priests were some of the first to be hacked down in battle he was ecstatic. While the battle was a victory for the English, the Scots would not relent and their Queen Mary was smuggled out of Scotland and raised in France- thats how much the Scots did not want the reformed religion in their country. She would later marry the Dauphin of France who later became King Francois II making Mary also queen consort if France.

Religious reform during the reign of Edward VI was in full swing with the guidance of Somerset, the King and a slightly reluctant Cranmer. The repeal of King Henry VIIIs Act of Six Articles allowed for unrestricted reading of the Bible. This also resulted in books that had been previously banned being printed once again. Most were Protestant books.

King Edwards sister Mary was a staunch Catholic and the reformation went completely against her beliefs making her an obvious figurehead for the opposition. Mary became a vocal critic of her brothers government and their religious policies. This became a sore spot between the two for Edwards entire life. Even so, Edward still cared for his sister and was a bit sympathetic to her cause – he allowed her to she could practice her faith privately and to Have patience till I have more years, then I will remedy all. That statement suggests that even the King had believed his uncle Somerset had take the reform too far. He was not alone, Archbishop Cranmer felt the same.

Continue reading Part Two

Notes:

Kyra Kramer – Henry VIIIs Health in a Nutshell
CATRINA BANKS WHITLEY and KYRA KRAMER. A NEW EXPLANATION FOR THE REPRODUCTIVE WOES AND MIDLIFE DECLINE OF HENRY VIII
Skidmore, Chris. Edward VI. Page 23
4Ibid.
5Ibid. Page 24
6 Ibid. Page 64

Sources:
Loach, Jennifer. Edward VI
Kramer, Kyra. Henry VIII’s Health in a Nutshell
Skidmore, Chris. Edward VI

The Procession for the Christening of Edward, Prince of Wales

The crying of a newborn babe echoed through the bedchamber where Queen Jane had finally given birth to the new Prince of Wales, Edward Tudor. King Henry VIII and his daughters Mary and Elizabeth’s lives would change forever because of that crying baby boy – and it would shorten the Queen’s.

The Monday following the birth of Prince Edward a grand display of succession was displayed when a glamorous christening ceremony was held for the new heir to the English throne.

While the actual procession took place in October 1537, the images shared belong of his christening procession were not made until 1560.

Setting the Stage

The christening was held on a platform – here is the artist’s interpretation of what it looked like in 1537:

The College of Arms, London

The platform, or font, was tall enough so that all who came to witness the christening could visibly see it happening. It was like a stage in that sense.

Procession

The College of Arms, London

“The procession was led by 80 knights, gentlemen ushers and squires, walking two by two and carrying candles. Behind them came the staff of the Chapel Royal, the choir, the dean and the chaplains.” It is stated that there were at least a dozen choir boys instead of the four shown above.

More nobles making their way in the procession. The College of Arms, London

As the procession continued, the members walking in the procession only became more and more important. In this image we see the Council of the King and some foreign ambassadors.

The King’s Council The College of Arms, London

In the above image we see at the end of the line Archbishop Thomas Cranmer, who would be the man christening the young prince. As the procession continues we have an interesting image of a woman and a man. The woman is actually the four year old Elizabeth alongside Edward Seymour, Viscount Beauchamp. The image drawn in 1560 clearly depicts the future queen as much, much older than she was at the time. Here is a report from the christening:

Then the crysome richly garnished borne by the lady Elizabeth, the Kings daughter: the same lady for her tender age was borne by the viscount Beauchamp with the assistance of the lord.

A pair of covered basins borne by the earl of Sussex, supported by the lord Montague. A taper of virgin wax borne by the earl of Wiltshire in a towel about his neck. A salt of gold similarly borne by the earl of Essex. Then the crysome richly garnished borne by the lady Elizabeth, the Kings daughter: the same lady for her tender age was borne by the viscount Beauchamp with the assistance of the lord. The College of Arms, London

Then the Prince borne under the canopy by the lady marquis of Exeter, assisted by the duke of Suffolk and the marquis her husband. The lady mistress went between the prince and the supporter. The train of the Princes robe borne by the earl of Arundel and sustained by the lord William Howard. The nurse to go equally with the supporter of the train, and with her the midwife. The canopy over the Prince borne by Sir Edw. Nevyll, Sir John Wallop, Ric. Long, Thomas Semere, Henry Knyvet, and Mr. Ratclif, of the Privy Chamber. The tortayes of virgin wax borne about the canopy by Sir Humph. Foster, Robt. Turwytt, George Harper, and Ric. Sowthwell. (Letters and Papers)

The College of Arms, London

Lastly in the procession is the King’s daughter the Lady Mary, followed by her ladies.

Next after the canopy my lady Mary, being lady godmother, her train borne by lady Kingston. All the other ladies of honour in their degrees. The College of Arms, London

When the Prince was christened all the torches were lighted and Garter King at Arms proclaimed his name. This done, this service following was in time the Prince was making ready in his traverse, and Te Deum sung:First, to the lady Mary the lord William to give the towel and the lord Fytzwater to bear covered basins, and the lord Montagew to uncover. Item, to the bishop that doth administer, the lord Butler to bear the towel, the lord Bray to bear the basins and the lord Delaware to uncover. To the duke of Norfolk and abp. of Canterbury, godfathers, the lord Sturton to bear the towel and the lord Went worth to give the water. To serve the ladies Mary and Elizabeth with spices, wafers, and wine: the lord Hastings to bear the cup to lady Mary, and the lord Delaware that to lady Elizabeth; lord Dacres of the South to bear the spice plates to both, lord Cobham the wafers, and lord Montagew to uncover the spice plate. The bishop that doth administer, the duke of Norfolk and abp. of Canterbury, godfathers at the font, and the duke of Suffolk, godfather at the confirmation, to be likewise served by knights appointed by the lord Chamberlain. All other estates and gentles within the church were served with spice and ypocras, and all other had bread and sweet wine.

The going homeward was like the coming outward, saving that the taper, salt and basin were left and the gifts of the gossips carried, i.e. Lady Mary, a cup of gold borne by the earl of Essex; the archbishop, 3 great bowls and 2 great pots, silver and gilt, borne by the earl of Wiltshire; Norfolk, ditto, borne by the earl of Sussex; Suffolk, 2 great flagons and 2 great pots, silver and gilt, borne by Viscount Beauchamp. Lady Elizabeth went with her sister Lady Mary and Lady Herbert of Troy to bear the train. Sounding of the trumpets. Taking of assayes. The Prince was then borne to the King and Queen and had the blessing of God, Our Lady, and St. George, and his father and mother; and the same day the King gave great largess.

In Attendance

Take a look at the list and note all the well known Tudor names who attended. This was a huge event and anyone who was anyone would wish to attend the coronation of the heir to the throne.

The lord Chancellor. Dukes of Norfolk and Suffolk. Marquis of Exeter. Lord Cromwell, lord Privy Seal.(fn. n15)Earls of Arundel, Oxford, Essex, Wiltshire, and Sussex. Viscount Beauchamp. Lords Howard, Admiral, Delaware, Sandes, Bray, Montagewe, Sturton; Hongerforth of Hechbury,(fn. n15)Cobham, Dacre of the South, Montjoye, Fitzwater, Hastings and Butler. The abp. of Canterbury. Bishops of London, Lincoln, Rochester, Chichester, St. Asse, and Carlisle. [Abbots of Westminster, St. Albans, Waltham, Towerhill and Stratford].(fn. n16)Mr. Henage, Sir John Russell, Sir Francis Bryan, Sir Nich. Carowe, Sir Thomas Cheyny, Sir Ant. Browne, Sir John Walloppe, Ric. Long, Thos. Semere, Hen. Knyvet, Peter Meutus, Sir Humph. Foster, Geo. Harper, John Welsborne, Rog. Ratclif, Ant. Knyvet, Rob. Turwytte, Sir Humph. Ratclif, Sir John Sentjohn, Sir Thos. Rotheram, John Williams, Ralph Verney, Sir Wm. Essex, Sir Ant. Hongerford, Sir Wm. Barnden (in another hand“ou Baratyn”), Sir Walt. Stoner, Sir John Brown, Sir John Bouchier, Sir Edw. Baynton, [Sir Henry Bayngton],(fn. n17)Sir Hen. Long, Sir Wm. Kingiston, Sir John Briggis, Sir Nich. Poyntes, Sir Walt. Deynis, Ant. Kyngston, Sir John Sentlowe, Sir Hugh Paullet, Sir Giles Strangwishe, Sir Thos. Arundell, Sir John Horsey, Sir John Rogers, Sir Wm. Paullet, John Paullet, Sir John Gage, Sir Wm. Goryn, Sir Edw. Nevill, Sir John Dudley, Sir Willm. Haulte, Sir Edw. Hutton, Sir Wm. Kempe, Sir Thos. Poynynges, John Norton, Sir Ric. Weston, Sir Ric. Page, Sir Giles Capell, Sir John Rainsforth, Sir Thos. Darcy, Sir John Sentleger, Sir John Turrell, Wm. Sailiard, Sir Chr. Willoughby, Sir Ric. Sandes, Sir Geo. Somerset, Sir Arth. Hopton, Sir Ant. Wingfeld, Sir Wm. Drury, Edw. Chamberlain, Ric. Sowthwill, Sir Hen. Parker, Sir Griffith Dunne, Sir Ph. Butler, Sir Rob. Payton, Sir Giles Alington, Thos. Meggis, Thos. Wriothesley, Ric. Manners. The dean of St. Stephen’s, archd. of Richmond, dean of Exeter, dean of Windsor, dean of Sarum, Dr. Bell, Thurlbee, Dr. Turryt, Mr. Patte, Dr. Wilson, Dr. Skippe, and Dr. Daye.


Note:

FutureLean -A HISTORY OF ROYAL FOOD AND FEASTING, UNIVERSITY OF READING

Reference:

Letters and Papers, Foreign and Domestic, Henry VIII, Volume 12 Part 2, June-December 1537

FutureLean -A HISTORY OF ROYAL FOOD AND FEASTING, UNIVERSITY OF READING


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Book Review – “Jane Seymour: The Haunted Queen” by Alison Weir

Jane Seymour (9)

Before I begin my review, I have to say that I am a HUGE fan of Weir’s series on the six Tudor queens. There are quite a few Weir haters out there but you cannot deny this woman can write one hell of a novel – not to mention she’s popping one of these out every year. It’s quite amazing.

Description of Book from Amazon:

Acclaimed author and historian Alison Weir continues her epic Six Tudor Queens series with this third captivating novel, which brings to life Jane Seymour, King Henry VIII?s most cherished bride and mother of his only legitimate male heir.

Ever since she was a child, Jane has longed for a cloistered life as a nun. But her large noble family has other plans, and as an adult, Jane is invited to the King?s court to serve as lady-in-waiting to Queen Katherine of Aragon. The devout Katherine shows kindness to all her ladies, almost like a second mother, which makes rumors of Henry?s lustful pursuit of Anne Boleyn?also lady-in-waiting to the queen?all the more shocking.? For Jane, the betrayal triggers memories of a haunting incident that shaped her beliefs about marriage.

But once Henry disavows Katherine and secures Anne as his new queen?forever altering the religious landscape of England?he turns his eye to another: Jane herself. Urged to return the King?s affection and earn favor for her family, Jane is drawn into a dangerous political game that pits her conscience against her desires. Can Jane be the one to give the King his long-sought-after son, or will she be cast aside like the women who came before her?

Bringing new insight to this compelling story, Alison Weir marries meticulous research with gripping historical fiction to re-create the dramas and intrigues of the most renowned court in English history. At its center is a loving and compassionate woman who captures the heart of a king, and whose life will hang in the balance for it.

My Review

I have met many amazing authors over the past few years and have read plenty of books to draw comparisons. Even my husband knows when a book is good because I am constantly raving about how great it is and neglect everything in our life to continue reading. That is how I feel about this book – to be honest, it’s how I felt about the first two books in the series as well.

The reason I love Weir’s novels so much is because she makes the story come to life for the reader. With every page I’m transported back in time to whatever the topic may be. Her writing seems effortless, something I envy.

Many have asked (prior to reading this novel), “Why is it called ‘The Haunted Queen’?” Well, the answer is simple but may not be obvious at first: Jane Seymour, as the third wife of Henry VIII, married him less than two weeks after the execution of his second wife Anne Boleyn. Jane, in the novel, is haunted by the memory of Anne and her involvement in the late queen’s downfall. Jane was also very concerned about hurting dowager princess of Wales, Katherine of Aragon while she still lived and Henry was courting her. She felt as though she had betrayed a great friend whom she had been very loyal to while in her service and after she was removed to serve Anne Boleyn. But, let’s be clear, she is mostly haunted by Anne Boleyn. In the story, Jane is visited at night in her bedchamber by a shadow figure – she could not make out who it was but became convinced it was Anne Boleyn seeking revenge on those who had wronged her…Jane saw herself as instrumental in Anne’s downfall. Every time the shadow visited something awful would happen.

This story is a real page-turner even though we already know how it is going to end. I always find it interesting to see an authors creative take on history. In my opinion, Weir does not disappoint. Her description of the Seymour family at the beginning of the book really brought them to life. You get a feel for each member and what they brought to the table, how the death of a loved one affected the entire family and how ambition brought them near the crown. Jane is often seen as the boring queen, but in this story you get to see the “real” Jane: deeply religious, extremely loyal, kind to all and haunted by her past discretions. There may even be some surprise developments.

If I am to find anything negative to say about this novel it would be the fact that Weir found the need to slip in the extra nail again…I’m not sure why it bothers me so much but it was one of the reasons I set aside the second novel “A King’s Obsession” for weeks before going back to it. The other thing that I noticed while reading this book was that I felt (at times) that I was reading a scene straight out of “The Tudors”. It was quite strange to be honest – it made it easy to read and imagine the scene because it was something I was familiar with but I wonder if it influenced this novel at all or if it was straight coincidence. Even with that being said I absolutely LOVED this book and I hate that I have to wait another year to read the next one on Anne of Cleves. The idea of being halfway through his six wives and this series makes me wish he had married ten times, only so this series won’t end for another seven years. But that’s me being selfish.

Lastly, there was one part of the story that I found intriguing – we all recognize Jane from her Holbein portrait and that is who we see her as…in this story we come to understand more about it and why she looks the way she does in the portrait.

If you are a fan of the Tudor dynasty, or even if you are a fan of Alison Weir, I highly recommend this book. You will not be disappointed!

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