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Jane Seymour (c. 1508 – 24 October 1537) was Queen of England from 1536 to 1537 as the third wife of King Henry VIII. She succeeded Anne Boleyn as queen consort following the latter’s execution for high treason, incest and adultery in May 1536. She died of postnatal complications less than two weeks after the birth of her only child, a son who reigned as Edward VI. She was the only one of Henry’s wives to receive a queen’s funeral, and his only consort to be buried beside him in St. George’s Chapel, Windsor Castle, as she was the only consort to have a male heir to survive infancy.

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Queens of England + Jane Seymour (1508-1537)

Jane was born in 1508, the daughter of Sir John Seymour and Margery Wentworth. She had the typical education of a female at the time, being better at needlework and household management than reading and writing. She served in Catherine of Aragon’s household and later Anne Boleyn’s when she came into power. By February 1536, rumors were abound that Henry VIII was pursuing Jane. 

In May 1536, on the day after Anne’s execution, Jane and Henry were betrothed and were married at Whitehall that month. For a wedding gift, Henry granted her 104 manors as well as a number of forests and hunting chases to serve as her income during their marriage. Jane was proclaimed as queen consort in June. She was never crowned due to a plague in London where the coronation was supposed to take place. It also may have been because Henry was reluctant to crown her before she provided him with a male heir.

Jane had well-publicized sympathy for Catherine of Aragon and the Lady Mary which showed her to be compassionate. She became a popular figure with the common people and most of the courtiers. Jane eventually would form a close relationship with Mary and worked hard on her behalf to restore her to court and to the royal succession. Jane was unable to restore her to the succession but was able to reconcile her with Henry. 

Queen Jane’s household was very different from the previous queen’s. A strict enforcement of decorum replaced lavish entertainments and general extravagance. As for Jane’s political influence, there is only one report of her involvement when she asked for pardons for participants in the Pilgrimage of Grace. Henry rejected this, reportedly reminding her of the fate her predecessor met when she meddled in his affairs.

In early 1537, Jane became pregnant. During her pregnancy she developed a craving for quail, which Henry ordered for her from Calais and Flanders. Jane led a relatively quiet life during her pregnancy and took no public engagements. She was attended by royal physicians and the best midwives in the kingdom. After a difficult labor that lasted two nights and three days, Jane gave birth to the long-coveted prince who would be christened Edward. 

After Edward was christened, it was clear that Jane was seriously ill. She died on October 24 at Hampton Court Palace and was buried in St. George’s Chapel at Windsor Castle in the tomb that Henry had been building for himself. Mary was the chief mourner at her funeral, which was the only queen’s funeral received by any of Henry’s wives. After Jane’s death, Henry wore black for the next three months and did not remarry for three years. When he died in 1547, he was buried next to her at his request. (x)

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