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The books I’ve recently read

Today I would like to bring two books to your attention: “Jane Seymour” and “Henry VIII” by David Loades. Both books were sent to me by the wonderful staff at Amberley Publishing. Thank you for the great read!

“JANE SEYMOUR”

Jane Seymour is an interesting character because she is remembered chiefly as Henry VIII’s most beloved wife who gave him a son. Considering that Henry’s two previous wives were abandoned due to the inability of having a male child, Jane is the one who succeeded where her predecessors (and successors) have failed. Unfortunately, Jane Seymour died shortly after the birth and we don’t know if she would have become more powerful or decisive had she survived.

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January 1535 : Banquet with French Admiral

While researching the events of 1535, I found a very interesting account. If you watched “The Tudors” you probably remember the scene from season 2 episode 6 when Anne Boleyn laughed hysterically as she saw how Henry pays attention to one of the court’s ladies. This incident really happened. Anne’s behavior almost caused a scandal when:

“The Admiral frowned, and said, “What, madam, do you laugh at me?” On which she excused herself by saying it was because the King had told her he was going to ask for the Admiral’s secretary to amuse her, and that the King had met on the way a lady who made him forget the matter. I don’t know if the excuse was accepted as satisfactory. The King, on the other hand, and the Lady were much disappointed that the Admiral showed no pleasure at any attention that was shown to him, even at the Tower of London and the Ordnance.”

In his book “The Life and Death of Anne Boleyn” Eric Ives dates this incident as early as 1 December 1533 (p. 196). In primary sources provided for this chapter, Professor Ives gave Cal. S. P. Span., 1534-35, p. 338 (LP, vii. 1507; ibid. p. 376 (LP, viii. 48).

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24 October 1537 – Death of Queen Jane Seymour

Jane Seymour by Hans Holbein, 1537

On this day in history, 24th October 1537, Queen Jane Seymour died after long and exhausting childbirth. She was the third wife of king Henry VIII, but they were married only for 1 year, 4 months and 24 days. But Jane was Henry’s most beloved wife, because she gave him what he desired since 1509 – a son, a male heir to succeed him in the future – Prince Edward Tudor.

Jane was never described as a great beauty. Chapuys wrote that she was ‘of middle height, and nobody thinks that she has much beauty. Her complexion is so whitish that she may be called rather pale.’ Additionally imperial ambassador noticed that she was ‘not very intelligent, and is said to be rather haughty’.[1] Jane was about 27-28 years old when Henry VIII took an interest in her, so by the standards of her age, she was considered to be an old maid. Chapuys expressed his doubts about Jane’s virginity, but here is no proof to confirm or deny that she lived an unchaste life before she became king’s new love. For some reasons, Henry VIII fell in love with Jane Seymour, neglecting his wife Anne Boleyn. Anne and Jane were so different – Anne was pretty and intelligent, with olive skin and dramatic black eyes while Jane was meek, ‘not very intelligent’ as Chapuys described her and she was pale blonde with not much beauty.

But Jane Seymour managed to maintain king’s interest in her and only 11 days after Anne Boleyn’s execution, Jane stepped into her shoes and became Henry’s third wife and queen.

Pregnancy and delivery

The whole court rejoiced when rumors about queen Jane’s pregnancy, although no official announcement was made. Elizabeth Norton writes how;

‘By late May it was noted that she would soon be appearing in an open-laced gown, signifying her status as a pregnant woman’ [2]

We can only imagine how Jane Seymour felt about her pregnancy. She knew exactly that two of her predecessors had failed to give Henry a male heir. Catherine of Aragon had 6 pregnancies and born only one healthy girl, and Anne Boleyn was pregnant 4 times and also gave birth to only one girl. Jane knew that her position is in danger until she would give Henry a long awaited son.

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