Moonday’s Heroic Hunk in History: Henry & Jane

     This Moonday’s Heroic Hunk in History is again Henry VIII Tudor, this time with his third wife, Jane Seymour. But first, an editorial comment. Why so much time spent on the Tudors? Besides being interesting as individuals (kings and queens and power and sex and intrigue usually are), the Tudors altered the direction of English history by violently breaking away from its Catholic heritage and ushering England into its own renaissance as an international power. Ultimately, the exploration and colonization of the New World was an outgrowth of the movement. Despite assertions to the contrary (yes, that is a political comment), the United States’ heritage and its institutions are profoundly English. Our laws (except for Louisiana) are based on the English model and the early colonists and Revolutionary War patriots and Founding Fathers were steeped in English law and culture. Appreciating our past puts our own present into a better perspective. Back to Henry and Jane.

Henry VIII

 Jane Seymour was born about 1509 and lived in obscurity (despite conjectures by numerous historians) until her arrival at court two years into the King’s marriage to Anne. A pleasant and submissive girl, daughter of an ancient Norman family, she willingly played the pawn to advance the influence and power of her father and brothers and their associate, the Duke of Norfolk. Like Anne, she began her journey to the royal bed as a lady-in-waiting to the Queen. Soon after her arrival, Anne jerked a necklace off Jane’s neck and discovered a portrait of the King in the pendant. Later, shortly after the death of Queen Katherine of Aragon, Anne discovered Jane sitting in Henry’s lap as he fondled her. All hell broke loose but Jane remained at Court.
     Jane, who was a devout Catholic, was recognized as the King’s mistress but the European diplomats writing home could not discern the basis for the King’s attraction. She was pale and passive and, at twenty-seven, rather old to be unmarried. She was the antithesis of Anne and her demeanor may have reminded Henry of his beloved mother, Elizabeth.
     Jane retired from Court during the troubles with Anne. When the cannons boomed announcing the Anne’s death, Henry rushed with horses and hounds to arrive at her home that night. They were engaged the next day and married May 29th, 1536. Parliament removed the Princesses Mary and Elizabeth from the succession in favor of Jane’s child or whomever Henry designated as his heir.

Jane Seymour

     Jane kept a low profile except for brokering a reconciliation between Henry and his daughter Mary. She also attempted to ease the persecution of the Catholic Church but was rebuked by Henry and reminded of the fate of her predecessor. She was never crowned Queen because of the presence of plague in London and Henry desired to wait until after the birth of his son.
     Henry in the middle of Jane’s difficult delivery was asked whether his wife or child should be saved if a choice must be made replied “If you cannot save both, at least let the child live, for other wives are easily found.” Edward was born on the 16th of September, 1537 and was baptized soon after. Jane went steadily down hill after the birth and died on October 24th, 1537 of puerperal fever—a post-delivery infection that killed many women until the advent of antibiotics and cleanliness during deliveries.
     Henry, the proud father but not so grieving widower, returned to Windsor where he began a search for his next wife. Next week, an aging Henry looks abroad for his next wife. RitaVF


2 Responses

  1. Such a callous bastard! Of course, when every whim is indulged, how could he be anything but?

  2. Sorry so late in posting my appreciation, Rita. Today has been a horrible, horrible day. It takes being threatened with being readmitted to the hospital to keep me off the computer.

    I know as a nurse you’ve studied the requirements of the Church after childbirth, and the post-delivery infections usually were a result of the Church requiring the birth canal being packed with ashes, soil and herbs. It’s a wonder we’ve increased as a people at all during certain points in our history.

    Beautifully done with just a clinical touch. It has to be clinical or a person might cry. Sure hope we keep our standards up, and strive for true balance with Faith and Reason.

    Love your work, woman!

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