Jane Seymour is believed to have been born between 1508 and 1509 probably at Wolf Hall near Savernake Forest in Wiltshire. She was the daughter of John Seymour and Margery Wentworth.
She was not well educated and could barely read let alone write her own name. Knowledge of household duties was considered far more important than a formal education and she was proficient in duties such as gardening and needlework.
Much of her early life before her arrival at Court remains in obscurity.
She was known to be a calm and gentle person with a modest, timid and compassionate personality.
Is it this that first attracted Henry VIII to her? She was certainly very different to his first two wives.
Jane was Maid of Honour to Henry’s first wife Queen Catherine in 1532 but may have been at Court and in the service of Catherine earlier than this.
She was also lady-in-waiting to his second wife Queen Anne and this is when Henry first became interested in her and in early 1536 she became his mistress.
The demise of Queen Anne was well underway at this time and Jane was already being spoken of as Henry’s third wife.
Queen Anne was beheaded on 19 May 1536 and Henry VIII was betrothed to Jane just one day later.
They were married on 30 May 1536 at the Palace of Whitehall in London.
Jane was never crowned Queen and no coronation ever took place due to a plague in London at the time, however the belief is widely held that Henry wanted to see if she could fulfil her duty and bear him a son and heir before crowning her as Queen.
Jane showed great compassion with regards to Henry’s daughter Mary. She wished to have her restored to both the Court and succession to the throne.
She failed to have her restored to the line of succession but she did however succeed in reconciling Mary to her father and also his other daughter Elizabeth.
During her marriage, Jane was a strict and formal Queen consort. She was conservative and reserved and banned the extravagance of her predecessors. She believed in decorum at Court.
Only once did Jane challenge Henry in public and that was to ask for pardons for the participants of the rebellion against the Protestant reforms then underway known as the Pilgrimage of Grace.
This Henry rejected and he also made sure she knew what could happen to her if she interfered again. She never did.
To great rejoicing Jane gave birth to a son, the future Edward VI, on 12 October 1537 at Hampton Court Palace and Henry at last had his male heir.
It had been a difficult labour, and not long after the birth Jane became seriously ill.
She died from complications on 24 October 1537 at Hampton Court Palace.
Henry felt her loss deeply; he had displayed a true and genuine affection for Jane.
Jane was the only one of Henry’s wives to be given a Queens Funeral and she was buried at St George’s Chapel, Windsor Castle on 12 November 1537.
Henry was later to be buried next to her.