Jane Seymour

Jane Seymour was the third wife of Henry VIII, preceded by Anne Boleyn, and was Queen of England for just under a year. Jane was mother to the only male heir - Edward, Prince of Wales (who would later reign as Edward VI).

Jane had been at the Royal Court, possibly as early as 1527, serving the first Queen, Catherine of Aragon. She went on to serve Queen Anne Boleyn when Anne ascended the throne.

The first report of Henry's interest in Jane came after Anne Boleyn gave birth to a stillborn baby boy in September 1535. Henry married Jane on May 30, 1536, at the Palace of Whitehall in London, just eleven days after the execution of Anne Boleyn. She was publicly proclaimed Queen Consort on June 4, though she was never crowned due to an outbreak of plage in London, where the coronation was to take place.

As Queen, Jane Seymour was said to be strict and formal - her chosen motto was "Bound to Obey and Serve". The light-hearted frivolity of Anne Boleyn's reign was replaced by a strict enforcement of decorum. For example, the dress requirements for ladies of the court were detailed down to the number of pearls that were to be sewn onto each lady's skirt. The French fashions introduced by Anne were banned.

While Jane was able to read and write a little, she was not nearly as educated as either Catherine or Anne had been. However, she was much better at needle- work and household management, which were considered much more important for the women of this time. Her needlework in particular was reported to be beautiful. Some of her work survived to 1652, when it was given to the Seymour family. After her death, it was noted that Henry was "an enthusiastic embroiderer".

Jane died in the early morning of Oct 24, 1537, twelve days after giving birth to Edward. It is believed that she died of post-pregnancy complications. She was the only one of Henry's wives to receive a Queen's funeral, and was the only wife to be buried beside him at St. George's Chapel at Windsor Castle.

It is widely held that Jane was Henry's favorite wife - Henry wore black until well into 1538, and waited more than two years before marrying again. This was the longest interval between marriages during his reign. Years after her death, even while he was married to other women, Jane continued to appear in royal portraits as Queen Consort. Her special status as mother to the heir was never forgotten.

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