Jane Seymour was one of the more forgettable wives of Henry VIII, despite her being the only wife who died as his Queen. History has forgotten her as just another woman, but I'm here to shed some light on the last years of a woman who just wanted a better life for herself and her family.https://www.whatawomanpod.com/2019/12/03/jane-seymour
Support the show (https://www.patreon.com/whatawomanpod)
speaker 0: 0:00
Hey, everyone, Welcome to what? A woman podcast where I talk about influential, infamous and for gotten women throughout history. My name is Lauren and this is Episode one Jane Seymour. So I'm super excited to talk about Jane Seymour today. She is just one of those people. I think, that history left behind. She was very much a woman who was trapped in her own world. And I think that, as you'll find out during the episode, she did what she had to do to try and elevate her station to get out of, you know, the the past that fate had set out for her. So I hope that you learned something and you have a new appreciation for Gene Seymour and women in general from this period of time in history to get started. Jane Seymour was the third wife of Henry, the eighth, who was very famous in history for his break with the Catholic Church in order to divorce his first wife, Catherine, on, and then his subsequent marriage to an Bullen, which resulted in her execution and then his next marriage to Jane Seymour. And then, he said, subsequently had two more wives. Eso he totaled five wives and only one legitimate heir. Jane Seymour was born in 15 09 and she died in 15. 37. She ruled England as queen from 15 36 2 15 37 She was born to John Seymour and Marjory Wentworth. So James, life before she went to court is kind of irrelevant. I don't mean that in a bad way, but she was raised in her family estate. She was taught everything that girls of her station are typically taught. Her father was a night s, so she wasn't exactly the most noble of women, as I mean that in that she wasn't a noble per se. She was taught to read, and she could write her name but her. Most of her education focused on needlework and other womanly art such as household management's. Once she was about 27 years old. She had no marriage prospects. So at the time, she was unfortunately considered to be an old maid, so she didn't have many options in the terms of where her life could go. At this time, women were very much at the mercy of their fathers, their brothers, their husbands. So if you didn't have a husband, you were still under your parents thumb. And so when she was 27 had no marriage prospects, her father decided that the best place for her to find a husband would be at court. So when she was 27 she was sent to Henry, the eighths Court toe, where he was currently married to his first wife, Catherine. Catherine was a staunch Catholic, so her ladies in waiting were expected to be very chaste, very modest and very respectful. Jane served dutifully and didn't find a husband, unfortunately during Katherine's rain. So when Henry began his affair with an ballin, things kind of went arrived for the court. Women were allowed to be flirty er and apparently changed what was allowable in women's fashion, and Jean eventually served as leading and waiting, too. And Berlin, when she was made queen. So again she still wasn't really finding a husband. And I'm sure her father and you know her family were getting pretty antsy, hoping that someone would a take that take her off their hands so she wouldn't be a financial drain on them and be, you know, someone a good marriage for their daughter would mean that their station in life would be elevated. And I don't think that anyone could have foreseen who herb marriage would be and how high that family would actually rise. I think most people are pretty familiar with the reputation that and Ballin created for herself as Henry, the 8th 2nd Wife. But Jeanne was very much the opposite. She was very virtuous and modest and timid, and she had a reserved nature. And people actually believe that this is what drew the king to her during his marriage to an. It was a pretty trepidatious time in history and for Henry, specifically en and her family made a lot of demands on the King and expected quite a lot for someone who had yet to give him a male heir, which was exactly the purpose that he had married her. I'm sure that, you know, the fact that she was young and beautiful definitely helped, But the king mainly used the fact that Katherine had yet to give him a male heir as grounds for their divorce. So after and second miscarriage, the king was visiting jeans, family at their estate and people believe that this is where he first began to see Jane as a potential maybe not future wife, but potential person of interest and not in a crime way person that he was interested in, you know, betting. I'm sure she wasn't known to be a great beauty. People actually wrote that about her. Unfortunately, she was plain. But for whatever reason, the king, who obviously could have whoever he wanted whenever he wanted, decided that Jane was who he wanted. So she began receiving the focus of his affection and began not returning it. Basically, she returned his gifts and expressly told him that they couldn't meet if they didn't have a chaperone so that she could preserve her virtue. Essentially in that people couldn't have any grounds to think that she was doing anything on towards. So from then on, Henry did honor that and met her only with a shop. Rome. We know from a letter that and wrote to the king that and was aware of something going on between the king and Jane. We don't know if they were having a fully fledged affair or if the King was just showering her with affection and We also don't know how Gene was behaving at this time. What we do know is that and was eventually executed after Henry accused her of ah, a myriad of things which I'll probably get into when I eventually do an episode on and to look out for that leader because she's a very interesting figure. So and was executed. And two weeks later the King married Jane Seymour. I think we can all draw some pretty accurate conclusions about what happens. So once Jane was made queen, she was actually known for being unknown. It's come to light through, you know, historical documents and letters and things that some of Anne's biggest enemies at court, such as Thomas Cromwell, greatly supported the king and his relationship with Jane Seymour. And likely that's because she wasn't seen as a threat. Gene was again seen as kind of just a woman, and women weren't really threats at the time, but somehow and had gotten herself that reputation and people wanted her gone. They wanted to make sure that whoever was beside the king was someone that wasn't going to have her own mind, wasn't going to try and sway him in one way or the other and wasn't going to meddle in any affairs. The only time that Jane actually tried to do any meddling was during one of the uprisings that happened during Henry's reign after his break with the church, which obviously rattled a lot of cages. And a lot of people were very upset about his ungodly behavior. So she actually encouraged the King to pardon some of the people who took part in one of the most popular rebellions, the Pilgrimage of Grace. She expressly told the king that it was their job to look out for the spiritually guidance of the people, and he returned her concern with a reminder of what happened to his last wife, who meddled in his affairs. So after that Gene, I stayed out of his business, she went about her life, and for the next year that she was queen. She was working mainly to provide him with an heir, which she did, or during the year 15 37 Jane actually gave birth to Henry's first male heir, and unfortunately, she died a few days later from complications from childbirth, likely an infection. But they weren't able to tell at the time. It's funny that after Jean died, the king actually stayed in mourning for several months, much longer than for any of his other wives who perished while they were married to him. And while people believe that he truly did love his wife, Katherine, they also believe that he loved Jane for what she brought to his life, which was spiritually Peacefulness and a son. The son was eventually named Edward the sixth, and Edward would eventually become the next king of England and rule until his death. So Jane really was a major player in in England's history. But because she's a woman who wasn't known for anything other than childbirth, um, she doesn't really have a place in our history books. As all women in history, Jane has been painted in two lights. She is either the manipulating temptress or she's the victim. Now, personally, I'm more apt to believe that it's a combination of both. I believe that Jane was well aware of her diminishing prospects, and she realized that if she were to go on being an unmarried woman, she would be completely reliant on her father and her male relatives and be completely at their mercy. Does that change much when you have a husband? No. But we all know that there's a difference between the relationship between a father and a daughter and a husband and wife, and I don't mean in the most obvious sense. I mean in that you can have more of a a relationship based on respect, even if not love between your husband and that often is a different dynamic between that of ah, father and a daughter. So when Gene found herself the focus of Henry's attention, I'm sure her family noticed it, too. So did she kind of work with her family to encourage the king and to make the most of this opportunity? I think so. Does that make her a terrible temptress? No. I believe that similar to an she was really doing all that she could to improve her lot in life. And though she was actually of a lower station than an I think that Jane probably was just trying to make the most of her life. And really, how can we judge anyone for doing the same? Especially when women used the Onley things that they had at the time which are leveraging their, you know, their virtue or their virginity and their sexuality. We really can't judge a person for using the things that they have at their disposal when it's all they have at their disposal, especially at this time. Women didn't have anything to their name. I don't believe they were allowed to hold property. In fact, they were likely considered the property of their husbands of their fathers. And so becoming the mistress of the King. And, you know, the next Queen of England was likely something gene truly wanted, if only to help improve what her outcome would be, and especially if she did desire to become a mother. Women at this time, I can't even imagine what would happen if they decided to have a child outside of wedlock. And I don't mean with the King, because obviously that worked out okay for his other mistresses. But if Jane wanted to become a mother and to have a child that would be provided for and be cared for, then I believe that putting herself forward to the king was probably in her best interest. I also, as I mentioned, I believe that Henry did care for her and if only because of what she brought to him. So, as I said, his morning lasted a long time. And though she wasn't actually crowned Queen of England, likely because Henry wanted to wait and see if she could fulfill her sight of the marriage agreement, which is essentially providing airs, which she did. But on her epitaph, Henry had inscribed the words here lies Jane of Phoenix, who died in giving another Phoenix birth. Let her be mourned for birds like thes are rare indeed. And I think that really demonstrates exactly what she was worth to him. She had given him, at this point in his life exactly what he wanted. An heir. Henry was no spring chicken at this point. In fact, I'm pretty sure he died about 10 years later. And not that he lived to be a ripe old age. You know, we all know that he overindulged over imbibed. Um, likely, that's what killed him. But as an aging king who kind of made things a little trepidatious and his kingdom by, you know, breaking with the church so he could marry an after Catherine. I'm sure what he wanted was to provide England with an air of that would solidify his reign. And so the fact that Gene is the one who gave that to him as something he was probably forever grateful for. So when people ask whether Jane was a victim or a manipulator, I have to say both. But I also have to err on the fact that she was doing what she could with what she had. And I think that when people look back on history, it's easy to kind of look through this crystal clear lens and only see what you want to see. But I think it's very important to remember that these people were just trying to live their lives. And I think they made the most of it, especially named Seymour. And she doesn't deserve to be for gotten thanks for listening to what a woman you can subscribe to the podcast on iTunes, Spotify or the Google Play store. If you liked the episode and want to support the making of what a woman, you can leave a review on iTunes or head to the Petri on at patri on dot com slash what A woman pod and become a supporting patron. You can find me on Twitter at twitter dot com slash what? A woman pod. Don't forget to some of your favorite historical women. I'm always looking for new discoveries, and I'm especially interested in learning about women of color. See you next time.