- The day after Anne Boleyn’s execution her lady-in-waiting was rowed up the Thames to the royal palace
- Jane Seymour was to be Henry VIII’s new wife
- Anne Boleyn’s body was barely cold, but Jane was getting betrothed to the king who banished one wife and beheaded another
- There was a complete contrast between Anne and Jane
- Anne Boleyn was a dramatic brunette with dark eyes with a spirit and temper to match, arousing Henry to rage
- Jane was fair, almost pallid with pale blue eyes, a receding chin, and a doormat personality
- She had helped to engineer Anne’s downfall
- Could she really have been such a doormat to step over Anne’s body to the throne?
- To marry Anne Boleyn Henry made himself Supreme Head of the Church
- Traditional Catholics were appalled by Henry’s religious changes, including Jane
- Jane had served Katherine of Aragon
- As Henry flirted with Jane traditionalists wanted to take advantage
- Thomas Cromwell would always fight Jane’s influence
- Henry wasn’t taking Jane seriously at first, wanting her as a mistress
- He sent her a letter and purse of money, but she rejected the money and returned the letter unopened
- She flung herself on her knees, saying that she had no greater riches in the world than her honour – she would only accept a gift of money when she was married
- “Masterpiece of seduction”
- For Henry it was powerfully attractive
- Jane was coached by Nicholas Carew to play up her demureness
- Carew had chosen the right moment and the right woman
- Henry’s behaviour transformed from seducer to suitor, only seeing her with a chaperone
- Jane, her brother and her sister-in-law moved into an apartment beside the king
- 10 days after Anne Boleyn’s execution Henry and Jane were married in private
- She took as her motto ‘bound to obey and serve’
- She kept her traditional Catholic faith
- She put her own stamp on the court, with her ladies told to be demure and dress in the English style rather than the French
- “We have come from a hell into heaven”
- Religion was a key area where women had a certain freedom of action
- Anne had pushed that freedom for reform, but Jane’s beliefs were the opposite
- Would Jane be as persuasive as Anne had been?
- The first test of Jane’s influence was in defence of the Princess Mary, a devout Catholic who refused to accept the illegality of her mother’s marriage
- Nicholas Carew urged Jane to approach Henry directly
- Jane made Mary’s cause her own – even to name Mary heir was treason
- Jane’s position wasn’t secure, but she was prepared to risk everything out of conviction
- Jane begged Henry to restore Mary to the succession, saying that their children would only be safe if Mary was restored
- Jane was playing with fire as Henry still required Mary to surrender to his will
- Mary’s friends were summoned before the council and questioned about their activities on her behalf
- Mary confronted with a choice between her friends and her conscience gave in and submitted to the king’s will
- Jane had hoped Mary’s restoration would signal a Catholic resurgence
- This backfired, but she would try again whatever the risks
Talk by David Starkey @ Whitley Bay Playhouse 11/05/2016
A couple of months ago I went to hear a talk by David Starkey on the Tudor succession at my local theatre. These are the notes I took on the day:-
Similar to today?
Cromwell similar to David Cameron?
Death of a monarch – die publicly, semi-public, public proclamation.
Every Tudor death of a monarch is kept secret.
Intrigues, political struggles – characteristic over regime with autocratic rulers.
Henry VIII’s death replicates that of Henry VII.
Elizabeth I’s death = change of dynasty. Robert Carey rides to Edinburgh to tell James VI of Scotland he is now James I of England.
One smooth succession – death of Mary I, throne goes to Elizabeth I. Mary believed she was pregnant even on her deathbed.
English relations with Scots not good historically – Elizabeth militarily prepared over religion.
Henry VIII’s death – divided factional politics, like today – parties divided within themselves. Continue reading “The King is Dead: Royal Death and Succession under the Tudors”