Henry VIII was betrothed to Jane Seymour, one day after his previous wife, Anne Boleyn, had been executed for adultery, incest and high treason in May 1536. But it is clear that this was not a whirlwind romance, Jane had been around Court for some time, having gone to Court to serve Queen Catherine, and then Queen Anne. In addition to this, the year prior to this Henry VIII had been the guest of her father, Sir John Seymour, at his country residence Wulfhall in the Savernake Forest, Wiltshire.
It would appear that a romance between them may have started around the beginning of 1536, as Henry’s marriage to Anne Boleyn began to flounder. Within a day of Anne’s execution, Henry and Jane were betrothed, and by the end of May they were married in the Palace of Whitehall, although Jane was never actually crowned Queen.
Jane was not as well educated as her predecessors, however, she was of noble birth. Through her mother’s lineage, she could trace her relations to Edward III via his son the Duke of Clarence. Furthermore, she was actually related to both Anne Boleyn and Catherine Howard, all three shared a great-grandmother, Elizabeth Chaney. Her strengths lay though, in embroidery and household management, something considered most appropriate for a lady at that time.
On her marriage, Henry gifted Jane 104 manors spread across four counties together with some forests. This would provide her with an income during the marriage, to pay for her dresses and her retinue. As for the embroidery, she was most enthusiastic, and this enthusiasm spread to Henry who after her death still continued to embroider himself. Embroideries that she made were passed back to the Seymour family and it is believed survived well into the middle of the seventeenth century.
Jane was popular with the people, and the court with her guidance was more conservative, and she was not interested in French fashion like her predecessor. She also got on very well with Mary, her step-daughter and fought to bring her back into the royal fold, and the succession. The latter, including also Elizabeth, was achieved somewhat later by Catherine Parr. Henry’s hopes for a male heir took a major setback shortly after the wedding when Henry, Duke of Richmond died aged 17. He had been Henry’s illegitimate son from his mistress, Elizabeth Blount.
That being the case, when in the early months of 1537 Jane did fall pregnant, Henry made sure she had everything she wanted and throughout the summer she had no public engagements. One of her cravings apparently were quail and these were brought in specially from Calais and Flanders. When Edward was born, Henry was no doubt delighted, and Lady Mary was to be one of the godparents. That joy was tinged with sadness when some fourteen days after the birth, Jane died from complications.
Henry had been organising the construction of his own tomb at Windsor, and that was where she was buried, to be joined in time by him. The only one of his wives to do so. and the only one of his wives to have a Queen’s funeral.