Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Henry VIII Marries AGAIN!

On May 30, 1536, Henry VIII married his third wife, Jane Seymour, eleven days after the execution of Anne Boleyn. (Since Cranmer had determined that marriage null and void, perhaps this was just his second marriage, after all! No, this would really be his first marriage, since Cranmer had declared Henry's marriage to Catherine of Aragon null and void too!) They had been betrothed the day after Anne's beheading after Henry had removed Jane from Court so he wouldn't so obviously be involved with her while his second queen was in the Tower of London.

When Cromwell announced the marriage to Parliament, he used terms indicating Henry's reluctance to marry again--yet for the good of the country, he would do so, hoping to provide the legitimate male heir so earnestly desired.

Since Jane fulfilled these desires with the birth of Edward on October 12, 1537, she was Henry's favorite wife. When she died on October 23, she was also his only wife to be buried as a Queen of England, even though she had never been crowned.

David Starkey analyzed Henry's reasons for marrying Jane on his BBC/PBS show, The Six Wives of Henry VIII:

It's not surprising that Henry, tired of the belligerent Queen Anne, would fall for the 27-year-old Jane Seymour. In contrast to Anne, Jane was amiable, gentle and quiet. It also helped that Jane's mother had given birth to six sons -- a sign that Jane would be capable of producing heirs. Jane had already been in court for six years as maid-of honor to Catherine of Aragon and Anne Boleyn when the king began to court her. When it became evident that Henry had fallen for Jane, the anti-Boleyn faction, led by Nicholas Carew, rushed to her side to help her further captivate the king. With coaching from Carew, Jane used the same tactics -- to remain chaste while welcoming his advances -- that Anne had used to capture the king. Henry once again fell for it. In one instance, Henry gave Jane a present of gold coins. Jane had accepted other gifts from Henry before but she refused the money and begged the king to remember that she was an honorable woman. She would "rather die a thousand times" than tarnish her honor. Henry was impressed, "She has behaved in this matter very modestly."

At first, the king had no intentions of making Jane more than his mistress -- after all, his first wife, Catherine of Aragon, was still alive and to divorce Anne, his second wife and marry another woman would make him the laughingstock of Europe. But Catherine's death in 1536 made Henry, a widower -- since his only wife in the eyes of the Church had died. Anne Boleyn's miscarriage in 1536 and the king's conclusion that she could not bear him sons further convinced him to get rid of his second wife to marry Jane.

Anyone who favors Anne Boleyn among Henry VIII's wives waxes wroth at Jane Seymour. Viz this paragraph from the Luminarium biography:

Jane, being a woman of consummate art, and having already advanced to the very threshold of the throne, despised the threats, and disregarded the orders of her angry mistress. Aware that her star was in the ascendant, she scrupled not to obtain her elevation by the destruction of Anne and five unfortunate noblemen. Our historians laud her discretion, her modesty, and her virtue; but on what principles of morality it is difficult to conceive. She accepted the addresses of the husband of her mistress, knowing him to be such; and scrupled not to walk over the corpse of Anne to the throne. True, she retired to her maternal home, at Wolf Hall, whilst the tragedy which consummated the destruction of Anne was played out; but it was only to prepare the gay attire and the sumptuous banquet to celebrate her marriage with the ruthless King, whilst the blood was yet warm in the lifeless form of the ill-fated Anne.

Henry VIII doesn't come off that well, either:

On the morning of Anne's execution, Henry attired for the chase, and attended by his huntsmen, waited in the neighbourhood of Epping or Richmond—tradition points to both these places—and immediately he heard the boom of the signal gun, which was to assure him that she breathed no more, exclaimed in exultation, "Uncouple the hounds, and away!" and paying no regard to the direction taken by the game, galloped off with his courtiers at full speed to Wolf Hall, which he reached at night-fall. Early the next morning, Saturday, May the twentieth, 1536, and attired in the gay robes of a bridegroom, he conducted Jane Seymour to the altar of Tottenham church, Wilts, and in the presence of Sir John Russell, and other members of his obsequious privy council, made her his bride. From Wolf Hall, the wedding party proceeded through Winchester, by an easy journey, to London; where on the twenty-ninth of May, a great court was held, at which Jane was introduced as Queen. Feasts, jousts, and other entertainments in honour of the royal nuptials followed; and Sir Edward Seymour was created Viscount Beauchamp, and Sir Walter Hungerford received the title of Lord Hungerford.

Queen Jane evidently pleaded with Henry at some point to spare the monasteries, and she might have been a Catholic, which at this time in England could mean that although she accepted the king's supremacy in the Church she still believed in Catholic doctrines on salvation, the Sacraments, etc. Certainly her brothers adopted more Reformed religious ideas, for Edward Seymour would lead England in a more radical reformation as Edward VI's Lord Protector.

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