3rd wife of King Henry VIII
1508 or 1509, daughter of Sir John Seymour and Margery Wentworth, at Wolf Hall, Wiltshire
30 May 1536 Henry VIII at Whitehall Palace, London
24 October 1537 at Hampton Court Palace
St. George’s Chapel, Windsor Palace
ane was fair and pale, quiet, mild, and above average in intelligence. A lady in waiting, first to Katherine of Aragon and then Anne Boleyn, she caught Henry’s eye by October 1534, when his fascination with Anne was waning.
Her pious (if ostentatious) refusal of gifts from a married man only increased Henry’s ardor. He agreed to protect her reputation by meeting her only in her family’s presence – and then installed her brother, Edward, at Greenwich to facilitate his pursuit. Over the next year, as Henry’s relationship with Anne spiraled downwards, his courtship of Jane intensified. Eleven days after Anne’s execution, they married.
Jane enjoyed her short time on the throne, travelling and hunting and celebrating Christmas with Henry. Her family also enjoyed themselves. Brother Edward was named Viscount Beauchamp and then Earl of Hertford. Brother Thomas was knighted.
Jane had no political influence. After a single instance of advocacy, Henry pointedly reminded her “that the last queen had died in consequence of meddling too much with state affairs.” Jane did, however, bring about reconciliation between Henry and his daughters, Mary and Elizabeth.
Jane’s pregnancy became known in February 1537. After a lengthy and difficult labor, her son, Edward, was born at Hampton Court on 12 October 1537.
Following the usual protocol, Jane did not attend Edward’s baptism three days later but she did receive guests, seated in the chapel antechamber. There were, however, unrecognized obstetrical complications. Jane sickened and died 24 October. She was buried at Windsor. Henry mourned, wearing black until February 1538. At his own death, he was buried beside her.
Although a cynic might suggest that Henry would have tired of Jane, as he did her predecessors, she remained forever untarnished in his memory, his “true and loving wife,” thanks to her early death and her son.
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