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Jane Seymour

Real name: Joyce Penelope Wilhelmina Frankenberg
Birthdate: February 15, 1951
Status: Married
Partner: James Keach

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Jane Seymour (1507/1508 – 24 October 1537) was the third wife of Henry VIII. She died of post-natal complications following the birth of her only child, Edward VI. She was also King Henry VIII's fifth cousin three times removed.

Jane Seymour was the daughter of Sir John Seymour of Wiltshire and Margaret Wentworth. Her exact birth date is debated; it is usually given as 1509, However, in The Six Wives of Henry VIII, Alison Weir noted that at her funeral 29 women walked in succession. Since it was customary for the attendant company to mark every year of the deceased's life in numbers, this moves Jane's birth back to 1508.

After serving as a lady-in-waiting to both Catherine of Aragon and Anne Boleyn, Henry's first two queens, Jane caught the king's eye. His desire to marry her may have motivated him to believe (or pretend to believe) the false accusations of adultery and witchcraft against Anne. Henry became betrothed to Jane on 20 May 1536, and he married Jane on 30 May, only shortly after Anne's execution. Jane was publicly proclaimed queen on 4 June. She was never crowned because the plague had reached epidemic levels in London where the coronation was to take place. Henry was deathly afraid of contracting the plague and obviously had the same fears for his new bride. It is also said that Henry wouldn't crown Jane until she had fulfilled her duty as a queen by bearing him a son and heir.

The English ballad The Death of Queen Jane (Child #170) is about the death of Jane Seymour following the birth of Prince Edward. The story as related in the ballad is historically inaccurate, but apparently reflects the popular view at the time of the events surrounding her death. The historical fact is that Prince Edward was born naturally, and that his mother succumbed to infection and died twelve days later.

From version 170A:The baby was christened with joy and much mirth,Whilst poor Queen Jane's body lay cold under earth:There was ringing and singing and mourning all day,The princess Elizabeth went weeping away

The song Lady Jane by the Rolling Stones also holds some connection. The song can be interpreted as Henry's sadness over the loss of Jane, because she was the only wife who actually gave him a much-wanted son, and yet her life was the price of the achievement. The song also mentions a 'Lady Anne' and that fact that the narrator can't be expected to love her when he has, or had, Lady Jane. Anne of Cleves followed Jane Seymour, and Henry quickly divorced her (on the much more fickle ground that she was not attractive).

Jane was widely praised as "the fairest, the discreetest, and the most meritous of all Henry VIII's wives" in the centuries after her death. One historian, however, took serious umbrage to this view in the 19th century. Victorian scholar Agnes Strickland, author of encyclopaedic studies of French, Scottish, and English royal women, said that the story of "Anne Boleyn's last agonised hours" and Henry VIII's swift remarriage to Jane Seymour "is repulsive enough, but it becomes tenfold more abhorrent when the woman who caused the whole tragedy is loaded with panegyric."

Modern historians, particularly Alison Weir and Lady Antonia Fraser, paint a favourable portrait of a woman of discretion and good-sense -- "a strong-minded matriarch in the making," says Weir. Others are not convinced.


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