of Anne's execution, Jane Seymour picked out her wedding dress and was officially betrothed to Henry VIII. Jane was born around
1509, the daughter of Sir John Seymour and Elizabeth Darrell. With four brothers: Edward, Thomas, Henry, John and Anthony
and three sisters: Elizabeth, Dorothy, and Margery, Jane grew up at the family seat of Wolf Hall in Wiltshire, England.
The Seymours were a prestigious family, an ancient one that dated back to the 13th century. Jane's father was a noble man.
He had served in the Tournai campaign of 1513 and had accompanied King Henry VIII to the Field of the Cloth of Gold in Calais
in 1520. Made a knight of the body, John Seymour sought to rise at court and secure places for his nine children.
When Jane was a young teenager, she became
a lady-in-waiting to Queen Catherine. Her arrival at court remarkably was around the same time as the beginning of Anne
Boleyn's rise at court. Soon after her arrival, Jane, who had come to sympathize with Catherine, as did her family, was put
in Anne's household as her lady-in-waiting. Jane was the exact opposite of Anne. While Anne was loud and temperous, Jane was
sweet, quiet, and serene. Anne was a dark rare beauty while Jane had a fair and pious look to her, with pale skin and light
In 1535, King Henry VIII stopped at Wolf
Hall on a royal procession. His marriage to Anne Boleyn had begun its deterioration, and at his stay in Wolf Hall be noticed
Jane Seymour, who was around 25 at the time. Henry did not favor Jane until the next year, for there was still some hope for
Anne, until she suffered a miscarriage a few months later, and next to that Henry had taken on a mistress, Anne's cousin Madge
Shelton. In February of 1536, Henry and Jane's relationship began. Henry found Jane's calm manner soothing to Anne's rambunctious
and annoying behavior. Henry began to give Jane costly gifts and clothes and moved her into rooms closer to his by April of
Unlike Anne, Jane was a more chaste woman.
She refused to dine alone with the king and was always with a chaperone. Whenever Henry would get to intimate, she
reminded him of her marriage. However, like Anne, Jane denied Henry's sexual favors.
To rid himself of Anne, Henry spent more
time around Jane. By the spring of 1536, he was determined to rid himself of Anne Boleyn and marry Jane. He began to publicly
declare that he was bewitched by Anne, and he had her and her 'lovers' arrested in May of 1536. Anne was found guilty of incest,
adultery, and plotting to kill the king, all of which she was innocent of. Henry wrote a letter to Jane to celebrate
the news and Anne was executed on May 19, 1536. Jane and Henry were betrothed the same day. 11 days later, on May 30, 1536,
Henry and Jane were married. Jane took on the motto 'Bound to Obey and Serve'. She was not given a coronation like Catherine
and Anne, and some historians believe that she had to prove herself first. If she was barren, Henry could have the marriage
annulled. This also shows how Henry had started to believe that giving an heir to England was more important than love.
On July 20, 1536, Henry VIII's only living son, an illegitimate
bastard named Henry Fitzroy, died at the age of 16. Henry only had two other living children: Mary and Elizabeth. Determined
to have an heir, Henry and Jane announced Jane's pregnancy towards the beginning of the New Year. In May of 1537, the London
chronicler Edward Hall wrote:
'On 27 May 1537, Trinity Sunday, there was a Te Deum sung in St
Paul's cathedral for joy at the queen's quickening of her child, my lord chancellor, lord privy seal and various other lords
and bishops being then present; the mayor and aldermen with the best guilds of the city being there in their liveries, all
giving laud and praise to God for joy about it.'
In October, Jane traveled to Hampton
Court and took her lying in. After a long and enduring labor, Jane gave birth on October 12, 1537 to the heir that Henry VIII
had been waiting for. Named Edward, he was baptized hurriedly and Mary, his half-sister, became his godmother. The birth had
overwhelmed Jane and at one point she had to be given a caesarean section in order to give birth. Bleeding heavily, Jane was
very weak and could barely move from her bed, hence the christening was held in the room where Edward was born on October
15, 1537, St. Edward's Day. Two weeks after Edward's birth, Jane Seymour died, on October 24, 1537. Some believe that
she had puerperal sepsis, childbed fever, but others think she died from the complications of the birth. Nevertheless, Henry
had what he had been waiting for for 29 years: an heir.
had a deep effect on Henry. Given a solemn state funeral, she was laid to rest in Windsor Castle, which Henry was building
for himself. Her chief mourner was Princess Mary, who Jane had helped reconcile with Henry VIII, Mary's father. Henry wore
black for another 2 years before he decided to marry again.