Meet the Wives Handbook: Jane Seymour

Role as Queen

Jane Seymour was the only one of Henry's wives to fulfill a Tudor queen's ultimate role -- the birth of a legitimate son (See Children). For this, she would be known as Henry VIII's most beloved wife.

But, ironically, unlike her predecessors, Jane Seymour was never crowned queen. Rumor had it that the king had postponed Jane's coronation until she proved herself capable of bearing heirs. In reality, Henry's treasury was depleted. A coronation had to wait until funds from dissolved religious houses were diverted to the royal coffers. The date was slotted for October 1536 -- within ten months of their wedding. But when October came, an outbreak of the plague and a series of uprisings in England's North (see King vs. Queen) prevented the ceremony from taking place. To pacify the rebels, Henry agreed to their demands that when the queen was crowned it would take place in the North, at York -- a promise that went unfulfilled.

The fact that she was never crowned did not stop Jane from pursuing her goals. Her brothers, Edward and Thomas Seymour, were named Duke of Somerset and made a member of the Privy Council, respectively. When Jane became pregnant, the pleased king further elevated Edward to member of the Privy Council. Jane also delivered on her promises to Spanish ambassador Eustace Chapuysto encourage the king to reconcile with Mary, Henry's daughter by Catherine of Aragon, and reinstate her as his heir. Jane, only eight years Mary's senior, had befriended Mary while she served Catherine of Aragon, whom she admired and emulated. The king initially refused Jane's pleadings, counseling his third wife that she would do better to "study the welfare and exaltation of her own children" than to look out "for the good of others."

Still, Jane persevered. When Mary finally signed a document declaring her mother's marriage unlawful and her father Supreme Head of the Church of England, her mission was accomplished. Though Mary was not recognized as Henry's heir, the two met in July 1536, the first time in six years with "love and affection."

At court, Jane wanted to get rid of Anne Boleyn's influence and re-establish the virtuous principles she had experienced as maid-of-honor to Catherine of Aragon. The queen insisted that her maids and ladies-in-waiting be "sober, sad, wise" and willing "to serve God and be virtuous." English gable hoods, the demure headdress favored by Catherine of Aragon, were in. The saucy French hood worn by Anne Boleyn was out.

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