Jane Seymour

Jane Seymour

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Jane Seymour, the eldest daughter of ten children of Sir John Seymour and Margery Wentworth, was probably born at Wolf Hall, Wiltshire, in around 1509. Her father had been knighted in 1497 by Henry VII after the Battle of Blackheath. In 1513 he accompanied Henry VIII in the French campaign. (1) Two of her brothers, Edward Seymour and Thomas Seymour, were both to become significant political figures.

Through the Wentworths, Jane claimed royal blood through descent from Edward III. Nothing is known of Jane's early life and education, but she was probably taught by her father's chaplain. (2) Jane first appeared at court in about 1529 and served as a lady-in-waiting to Catherine of Aragon.

Several contemporaries commented on Jane's intelligence. Polydore Vergil described her as "a woman of the utmost charm both in appearance and character". Ambassador Eustace Chapuys reported to King Charles V that she was "of middle stature and no great beauty, so fair that one would call her rather pale than otherwise". Hans Holbein gave her "a long nose, and firm mouth, with the lips slightly compressed, although her face has a pleasing oval shape with the high forehead then admired". Antonia Fraser has claimed that "the predominant impression given by her portrait - at the hands of a master of artistic realism - is of a woman of calm good sense." (3)

Henry VIII married Anne Boleyn on 25th January 1533. On 23 May 1533, Archbishop Thomas Cranmer declared Henry and Catherine's marriage null and void. Five days later, he declared Henry and Anne's marriage to be good and valid. Jane Seymour now became Anne's lady-in-waiting. Anne gave birth to Elizabeth on 7th September, 1533. Henry expected a son and selected the names of Edward and Henry. While Henry was furious about having another daughter, the supporters of his first wife were delighted and claimed that it proved God was punishing Henry for his illegal marriage to Anne. (4)

Retha M. Warnicke, the author of The Rise and Fall of Anne Boleyn (1989) has pointed out: "As the king's only legitimate child, Elizabeth was, until the birth of a prince, his heir and was to be treated with all the respect that a female of her rank deserved. Regardless of her child's sex, the queen's safe delivery could still be used to argue that God had blessed the marriage. Everything that was proper was done to herald the infant's arrival." (5)

The 17-year old Mary was declared illegitimate, lost her rank and status as a princess and was exiled from Court. She was placed with Sir John Shelton and his wife, Lady Anne. It has been claimed that "Mary was bullied unmercifully by the Sheltons, humiliated, and was constantly afraid that she would be imprisoned or executed." (6) Alison Plowden has concluded that the treatment Mary received "turned a gentle, affectionate child into a bigoted, neurotic and bitterly unhappy woman." (7)

Henry VIII continued to try to produce a male heir, but Anne Boleyn had two miscarriages. On 13th October 1534 Ambassador Eustace Chapuys reported to King Charles V that Henry was becoming romantically involved with an unnamed young lady. It is almost certain that this woman was Jane Seymour. Chapuys adds that the lady in question had recently sent a message to Princess Mary telling her to take good heart because her tribulations would end very soon. (8)

Antonia Fraser, the author of The Six Wives of Henry VIII (1992) has pointed out: "Jane Seymour was exactly the kind of female praised by the contemporary handbooks to correct conduct; just as Anne Boleyn had been the sort they warned against. There was certainly no threatening sexuality about her. Nor is it necessary to believe that her virtue was in some way hypocritically assumed, in order to intrigue the King. On the contrary, Jane Seymour was simply fulfilling the expectations for a female of her time and class; it was Anne Boleyn who was - or rather who had been - the fascinating outsider." (9)

Anne Boleyn was pregnant again when she discovered Jane Seymour sitting on her husband's lap. Anne "burst into furious denunciation; the rage brought on a premature labour and was delivered of a dead boy." (10) It has been claimed that the baby was born deformed and that the child was not Henry's. (11) In April 1536, a Flemish musician in Anne's service named Mark Smeaton was arrested. He initially denied being the Queen's lover but later confessed, perhaps tortured or promised freedom. Another courtier, Henry Norris, was arrested on 1st May. Sir Francis Weston was arrested two days later on the same charge, as was William Brereton, a Groom of the King's Privy Chamber. Anne's brother, George Boleyn was also arrested and charged with incest. (12)

Anne was arrested and was taken to the Tower of London on 2nd May, 1536. Four of the accused men were tried in Westminster ten days later. Smeaton pleaded guilty but Weston, Brereton, and Norris maintained their innocence Three days later, Anne and George Boleyn were tried separately in the Tower of London. She was accused of enticing five men to have illicit relations with her. (13) Adultery committed by a queen was considered to be an act of high treason because it had implications for the succession to the throne. All were found guilty and condemned to death. The men were executed on 17th May, 1536. Anne went to the scaffold at Tower Green on 19th May.

Archbishop Thomas Cranmer issued a dispensation from prohibitions of affinity for Jane Seymour to marry Henry the day of Anne's execution, because they were fifth cousins. The couple were betrothed the following day, and a private marriage took place on 30th May 1536. Coming as it did after the death of Catherine of Aragon and the execution of Anne Boleyn, there could be no doubt of the lawfulness of Henry's marriage to Jane. The new queen was introduced at court in June. "No coronation followed the wedding, and plans for an autumn coronation were laid aside because of an outbreak of plague at Westminster; Jane's pregnancy undoubtedly eliminated any possibility of a later coronation." (14)

Historians have claimed that Jane Seymour treated Henry's first daughter, Mary, with respect. "One of Jane's first requests of the King was that Mary be allowed to attend her, which Henry was pleased to allow. Mary was chosen to sit at the table opposite the King and Queen and to hand Jane her napkin at meals when she washed her hands. For one who had been banished to sit with the servants at Hatfield, this was an obvious sign of her restoration to the King's good graces. Jane was often seen walking hand-in-hand with Mary, making sure that they passed through the door together, a public acknowledgement that Mary was back in favour." (15) In August, 1536 Ambassador Eustace Chapuys reported to King Charles V that "the treatment of the princess Mary is every day improving. She never did enjoy such liberty as she does now." (16)

Jane Seymour gave birth to a boy on 12th October 1537 after a difficult labour that lasted two days and three nights. The child was named Edward, after his great-grandfather and because it was the eve of the Feast of St Edward. It was said that the King wept as he took the baby son in his arms. At the age of forty-six, he had achieved his dream. "God had spoken and blessed this marriage with an heir male, nearly thirty years after he had first embarked on matrimony." (17)

Edward was christened when he was three days old, and both his sisters played a part in this important occasion. In the great procession which took the baby from the mother's bed-chamber to the chapel, Elizabeth carried the chrisom, the cloth in which the child was received after his immersion in the font. As she was only four years old, she herself was carried by the Queen's brother, Edward Seymour, the Earl of Hertford. Jane was well enough to receive guests after the christening. Edward was proclaimed prince of Wales, duke of Cornwall, and earl of Carnarvon.

On 17th October 1537 Jane became very ill. Most historians have assumed that she developed puerperal fever, something for which there was no effective treatment, though at the time the queen's attendants were blamed for allowing her to eat unsuitable food and to take cold. An alternative medical opinion suggests that Jane died because of retention of parts of the placenta in her uterus. That condition could have led to a haemorrhage several days after delivery of the child. What is certain is that septicaemia developed, and she became delirious. Jane died just before midnight on 24th October, aged twenty-eight. (18)

It seems likely that the charm of her character considerably outweighed the charm of her appearance: Chapuys for example described her as "of middle stature and no great beauty". Her most distinctive aspect was her famously "pure white" complexion. Holbein gives her a long nose, and firm mouth, with the lips slightly compressed, although her face has a pleasing oval shape with the high forehead then admired (enhanced sometimes by discreet plucking of the hairline) and set off by the headdresses of the time. Altogether, if Anne Boleyn conveys the fascination of the new, there is a dignified but slightly stolid look to Jane Seymour, appropriately reminiscent of English mediaeval consorts.

But the predominant impression given by her portrait - at the hands of a master of artistic realism - is of a woman of calm good sense. And contemporaries all commented on Jane Seymour's intelligence: in this she was clearly more like her cautious brother Edward than her dashing brother Tom. She was also naturally sweet-natured (no angry words or tantrums here) and virtuous - her virtue was another topic on which there was general agreement. There was a story that she had been attached to the son of Sir Robert and Lady Dormer, a country neighbour, but was thought of too modest a rank to marry him (he then married a Sidney), even if true, the tale brought with it no slur on Jane's maidenly honour. It was told more as a Cinderella story, where the unfairly slighted girl would go on to be raised triumphantly to far greater heights. Her survival as a lady-in-waiting to two Queens at the Tudor court still with a spotless reputation may indeed be seen as a testament to both Jane Seymour's salient characteristics - virtue and common good sense. A Bessie Blount or Madge Shelton might fool around, Anne Boleyn might listen or even accede to the seductive wooings of Lord Percy: but Jane Seymour was unquestionably virginal.

In short, Jane Seymour was exactly the kind of female praised by the contemporary handbooks to correct conduct; just as Anne Boleyn had been the sort they warned against. Nor is it necessary to believe that her "virtue" was in some way hypocritically assumed, in order to intrigue the King (romantic advocates of Anne Boleyn have sometimes taken this line). On the contrary, Jane Seymour was simply fulfilling the expectations for a female of her time and class: it was Anne Boleyn who was - or rather who had been - the fascinating outsider.

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(1) Antonia Fraser, The Six Wives of Henry VIII (1992) page 234

(2) Barrett L. Beer, Jane Seymour : Oxford Dictionary of National Biography (2004-2014)

(3) Antonia Fraser, The Six Wives of Henry VIII (1992) page 235-36

(4) Patrick Collinson, Queen Elizabeth I : Oxford Dictionary of National Biography (2004-2014)

(5) Retha M. Warnicke, The Rise and Fall of Anne Boleyn (1989) page 168

(6) Philippa Jones, Elizabeth: Virgin Queen (2010) page 23

(7) Alison Plowden, The Young Elizabeth (1999) page 45

(8) Barrett L. Beer, Jane Seymour : Oxford Dictionary of National Biography (2004-2014)

(9) Antonia Fraser, The Six Wives of Henry VIII (1992) page 236

(10) Retha M. Warnicke, The Rise and Fall of Anne Boleyn (1989) page 191

(11) G. W. Bernard, Anne Boleyn: Fatal Attractions (2011) pages 174-175

(12) Retha M. Warnicke, The Rise and Fall of Anne Boleyn (1989) page 227

(13) Antonia Fraser, The Six Wives of Henry VIII (1992) page 254

(14) Barrett L. Beer, Jane Seymour : Oxford Dictionary of National Biography (2004-2014)

(15) Philippa Jones, Elizabeth: Virgin Queen (2010) page 27

(16) Ambassador Eustace Chapuys, report to King Charles V (August, 1536)

(17) Antonia Fraser, The Six Wives of Henry VIII (1992) page 278

(18) Barrett L. Beer, Jane Seymour : Oxford Dictionary of National Biography (2004-2014)

Jane Seymour - History

Jane Seymour was, and still is, an accomplished and well known Dutch American actress who was born in England. She did most of her acting in the United States, and became an American citizen on February 11, 2005. She was born as Joyce Penelope Wilhelmina Frankenberg. Her parents were John Frankenberg, a physician of Polish and German origin. Her mother was Mieke Frankenberg, Dutch born and living in England at the time of Jane Seymour’s birth.

Joyce Penelope Wilhelmina Frankenberg took the stage name Jane Seymour at the age of 17, when she clearly already had her eyes set on an acting career. Jane Seymour was also the name of King Henry VIII’s third wife, and presumably that is where Joyce, later known as Jane, got the idea to adopt the Jane Seymour name.

At the time this bio was written, 2009, Jane had already been acting for 40 years. Her first acting role was in 1969, with a role for which she received no credit, in Richard Attenborough’s film version of “Oh! What a Lovely War”. During the 40 years of her acting career she has appeared in nearly 90 screen and television productions. The longest of the productions took place during the 1993 to 1998 period, when she appeared as Dr. Quinn in the television series, “Dr. Quinn, Medicine Woman”. She appeared as Dr. Quinn in 145 episodes of the television series.

Other notable productions Jane Seymour was involved in were, “East of Eden”, a miniseries, in 1981, “The Scarlet Pimpernel” in 1982, “The Phantom of the Opera” in 1983, “The Sun Also Rises”, in 1984 and “Onassis: Richest Man in the World”, in 1988. In the Onassis production she played the role of Maria Callas. In 1988, she played a role in “Jack the Ripper”, and in “War and Remembrance”, a television series consisting of 12 episodes. In 1995, she played Dr. Quinn in the movie “Dr. Quinn, Medicine Woman”, and in 1998 she played a role in “Quest for Camelot”. Please accept my apologies for the many other notable performances she has been involved in that were omitted from the above listing.

During her professional acting career, Seymour received four major accolades. In 1998, she received an Emmy Award for her acting in “Onassis: The Richest Man in the World”. In 1996, the Golden Globe was awarded to her for the role she played in the television series, “Dr. Quinn, Medicine Woman”. In that same year she also was awarded the Family film Award for the same television series, “Dr. Quinn, Medicine Woman”. And in the year 2000, Queen Elizabeth II awarded her the prestigious British national award, the “OBE—Officer of the British Empire”.

Jane Seymour has been nearly as active in her personal life as in her professional life as an actress. She has been married five times. Her first marriage was to Michael Attenborough, the son of Richard Attenborough, from 1971 to 1973. Her second marriage was to Geoffrey Planer, which lasted from 1977 to 1978. Her third marriage, to Christopher Demetriou, was just as short as her second marriage. It lasted from 1979 to 1980. Her fourth marriage, to David Flynn, was her first longer marriage. It lasted from 1981 to 1992. And her fifth and last marriage, to James Keach, appears to be her last and lasting one. It has lasted from 1993 to the present.

Jane Seymour had four children. With David Flynn she had a daughter Katherine, born in 1982, and a son, Sean born in 1986. Her two youngest children, twins, were born in 1995 while she was married to her current husband David Keach. The twins are boys named Johnny and Kris.

Jane Seymour is currently a celebrity ambassador for the non-profit organization “Childhelp”, an organization for the prevention and treatment of child abuse. In 2008, she was also honored by the Christopher and Dana Reeve foundation for her work with people with disabilities.





Early Life

Born Joyce Penelope Wilhemina Frankenberg on February 15, 1951, in Hayes, Hillingdon, England, Jane Seymour is best known for her performances in made-for-television dramas. Seymour earned considerable popular acclaim for her portrayal of Dr. Michaela Quinn, a Boston physician who moves to the post-Civil War frontier, on the hit CBS series Dr. Quinn: Medicine Woman.

Seymour, the eldest of three daughters, was raised on the outskirts of London. Her father, John Frankenberg, was a Polish obstetrician and her mother, Mieke, a former Red Cross nurse. Her first love was ballet and she trained rigorously toward a career in that field. She made her professional debut at the age of 13 with the London Festival Ballet. She then entered the Arts Educational Trust to receive additional instruction. Three years later, after a performance with the Kirov Ballet, Seymour suffered knee injuries that effectively ended her dancing career.

3. She Wasn’t Supposed to Be Queen

Things might have turned out completely differently for Jane Seymour. As a young woman, Jane almost snagged William Dormer, the son of Sir Robert and Lady Dormer. It came to a heartbreaking end. Ironically, William’s mother canceled their engagement because she thought Jane wasn’t noble enough. Bet she didn’t think so when she saw Jane’s next move.

The Tudors (2007–2010), Showtime Networks

24 October 1537 – Death of Queen Jane Seymour

On this day in history, 24 th October 1537, Queen Jane Seymour died after long and exhausting childbirth. She was the third wife of king Henry VIII, but they were married only for 1 year, 4 months and 24 days. But Jane was Henry’s most beloved wife, because she gave him what he desired since 1509 – a son, a male heir to succeed him in the future – Prince Edward Tudor.

Jane was never described as a great beauty. Chapuys wrote that she was ‘of middle height, and nobody thinks that she has much beauty. Her complexion is so whitish that she may be called rather pale.’ Additionally imperial ambassador noticed that she was ‘not very intelligent, and is said to be rather haughty’.[1] Jane was about 27-28 years old when Henry VIII took an interest in her, so by the standards of her age, she was considered to be an old maid. Chapuys expressed his doubts about Jane’s virginity, but here is no proof to confirm or deny that she lived an unchaste life before she became king’s new love. For some reasons, Henry VIII fell in love with Jane Seymour, neglecting his wife Anne Boleyn. Anne and Jane were so different – Anne was pretty and intelligent, with olive skin and dramatic black eyes while Jane was meek, ‘not very intelligent’ as Chapuys described her and she was pale blonde with not much beauty.

But Jane Seymour managed to maintain king’s interest in her and only 11 days after Anne Boleyn’s execution, Jane stepped into her shoes and became Henry’s third wife and queen.

Pregnancy and delivery

The whole court rejoiced when rumors about queen Jane’s pregnancy, although no official announcement was made. Elizabeth Norton writes how

‘By late May it was noted that she would soon be appearing in an open-laced gown, signifying her status as a pregnant woman’ [2]

We can only imagine how Jane Seymour felt about her pregnancy. She knew exactly that two of her predecessors had failed to give Henry a male heir. Catherine of Aragon had 6 pregnancies and born only one healthy girl, and Anne Boleyn was pregnant 4 times and also gave birth to only one girl. Jane knew that her position is in danger until she would give Henry a long awaited son.

Sketch of Jane Seymour by Hans Holbein, Jane was believed to be in early stages of pregnancy

Jane’s pregnancy was not a private matter – she was now a public person, queen of England and wife of Henry VIII. The whole court anxiously awaited news about a prince, and Jane was certainly under high pressure. Henry VIII became king in 1509. He had two wives, and both of them failed to give him a son. His bastard son by Bessie Blout died in July 1536, leaving Henry without male heir, without heir at all since his two daughters were disinherited. So Jane’s pregnancy was very important and her success or failure was dependant on the sex of the baby she was caring in her womb.

‘As her pregnancy advanced, Jane found that Henry was unusually solicitous of her. It was probably in the summer of 1537 that Henry made Jane the gift of a great rich bed with a gilt bedstead. Henry also relaxed his insistence that Jane stay away from politics and when, in June, a new Imperial ambassador arrived to treat for a marriage between Mary and the brother of the king of Portugal, Jane was allowed to meet with the ambassador and discuss the negotiation for the match’[3]

Henry probably had a high trust in his wife, because she had a great relationship with Mary and she desired her to marry. Perhaps Mary told Jane that she wanted to get married and had children, and that is why the queen was allowed to negotiate the terms of marriage. Jane certainly felt confident about her role as a queen and peacemaker.

During her pregnancy, Jane Seymour had a craving for quails – a great delicacy – and Henry VIII made a diplomatic matter from it. He shipped quails from Calais to please his pregnant wife and also Lady Mary sent her some in June. Jane was certainly well taken care of.

On the 9 th October Jane Seymour went into labor. For three days and three night she suffered, but on 12 October she finally gave birth to a healthy baby boy. People of England rejoiced at the news of a Prince – the next morning Te Deums were sang in London, there was music and cannons where shot from the Tower. Elizabeth Norton describes how

‘That night there were bonfires lit in the streets, with music and impromptu feasts. Hogsheads of wine were distributed and further guns were shot in celebration of the news with the noise going on past 10 p.m. that night.’ [4]

Jane Seymour accomplished what her predecessors had failed – she gave birth to a son, a little prince named Edward who would later become a king of England, although his reign would be very brief. Because of her painful and exhausting delivery, the rumors spread though England that her belly was open and the boy was cut out, or that her limbs were stretched to ease the delivery. In later years there would be gossips that Jane underwent a Caesarian cut, but there is no evidence to prove this theory. Jane was able to play a public role in her son’s christening, and if she would have had the Caesarian cut she would not be able to do so.

Although Henry and Jane did not participate in their son’s christening, they awaited him in special chamber. Jane was ‘wrapped by her attendants in velvet and furs to guard against the cold and carried to the christening on a special sofa’[5] Little prince was named Edward because he was born on St Edward’s Eve and also to commemorate his great-grandfather, king Edward IV. Lady Mary stood as a godmother and even 3-year-old Elizabeth was present during the christening.

The Seymour family triumphed – Jane was safe and her brothers were being elevated by the king – Edward Seymour was knighted and proclaimed Earl of Hertford, and Thomas Seymour was knighted and become a member of king’s privy chamber. But the most important was Prince Edward, who was now an official male heir and his father’s greatest pride.

Unfortunately, two days after christening, Jane became ill. Her health deteriorated. On 23 rd of October the queen was very ill, and those around her knew that it was probably her last day. Duke of Norfolk wrote to Cromwell praying him ‘to be early here tomorrow to comfort our good master, for as for our mistress there is no likehood of her life, the more pity, and I fear she shall not be on lyve at the time ye shall read this’[6]

Elizabeth Norton writes how

‘On the morning her confessor came to her and spent the whole morning with her, providing some comfort , if Jane was aware of anything at all’[7]

Jane Seymour was dying and there was nothing anyone could do about it. It was very often when women died after childbirth, although Cromwell blamed Jane’s attendants that they neglected their mistress’s health by providing her with the wrong food and letting her catch a cold. But it was probably a childbed fever, which caused Jane’s death. For three days and three nights she struggled and she probably lost a lot of blood and was exhausted. She was left with wounds that might have caused an infection. Because of the long delivery, her placenta might not have been entirely expelled, causing an infection.

Posthumous portrait of Jane Seymour, 'Family of Henry VIII', 1545

Duke of Norfolk was responsible for funeral arrangements. Although Henry VIII was married twice before, none of his wives ever received a proper funeral. Catherine of Aragon was buried as a Dowager Princess of Wales and Anne Boleyn was buried in arrow chest. But Jane Seymour was about to have a funeral fit for the Queen and mother of the future king of England.

Elizabeth Norton provides details about Jane’s funeral

‘Soon after her death, Jane was embalmed, and carried to the presence chamber where she lay in state, dressed in a gold and jeweled robe. Once in the presence chamber, Jane’s ladies took off their rich clothes and, instead, wore ‘mourning habit and white kerchers hanging over their heads and shoulders’. Mass was heard and a vigil was kept around Jane both day and night, with tapers burning around her. On All Saints Day, Jane was carried through the galleries of Hampton Court, all hung with black cloth. She was taken to the chapel and laid on a hearse decorated with banner rolls showing Jane’s descent and that of her husband and son. The chapel itself was also hung with black cloth and images appropriate to Jane. ‘[8]

Lady Mary was a chief mourner but she did not attend on religious services at 1 st November. Perhaps she was too grief stricken after Jane’s death, remembering her mother’s death in January 1536. Mary again lost her mother and found herself in mourning. Jane did everything to promote Mary’s interest, and Mary certainly remembered and appreciated her kindness. She paid for masses to be sung for late Queen’s soul and took charge of her household.

On 12 th of November Jane’s funeral went ahead. It was a great ceremony, ‘designed to match the grand funeral procession of Elizabeth of York over thirty years before.’[9]

Jane Seymour was buried at Windsor. Henry VIII did not participate in her funeral, as was customary, but he was very much depressed after her death. Jane was his beloved wife who gave him a son, he waited for 27 years. But however grief stricken the king was, he still had in mind that his sons is only a boy in a cradle, and in life anything can happen. So Henry knew he will probably remarry. And he did. Three times.

The most beloved wife?

Jane Seymour's death in tv series 'The Tudors'

Had Jane lived, she might have been the most influential and celebrated wives of Henry VIII. The king would never cast aside woman who gave him a son, and perhaps he would glorify her even more. We can only assume that Henry would try to beget more heirs by Jane. Some people claim that Jane Seymour died too soon and Henry VIII did not have time to get bored with her. Perhaps there is a little bit of truth in this statement, but is it really true? Henry loved Jane Seymour because she was a good and obedient wife. With her, he enjoyed a peaceful and happy family life. Her motto was ‘Bound to obey and serve’ and she lived in accordance to this motto. Although we do not know if it was Jane’s clever tactic to play the role of obedient and meek wife, she proved to be a good wife to Henry, and a good stepmother to his two daughters, although she was more attached to Lady Mary than to little Elizabeth. But it is not a strange thing – after all Jane served as Catherine of Aragon’s lady-in-waiting and she shared her mistresses’ religious (catholic) beliefs.

Although I would like to think that Henry’s one true love was Anne Boleyn, I think it was Jane Seymour whom Henry loved the most. This marriage brought him happiness, stabilization and peace.

Although Henry remarried three times after Jane’s death, none of his marriages proved to be as successful as his marriage to Jane. Elizabeth Norton writes how

“During the last decade of his life, Henry frequently looked back on his marriage to Jane with longing and, whilst he had not always treated her kindly when she was alive, after her death she became his one true love. It is Jane who appears as Henry’s wife in the great dynastic portrait painted in 1545, showing the king with his three children, and Jane also appears in other representations of the Tudor dynasty. It was with Jane that Henry asked to be buried as he lay on his deathbed and it was with her that he wished to spend eternity. Jane died giving Henry exactly what he wanted and she passed away in all her glory”

I think that Jane Seymour died a horrible death and she suffered before she finally passed away. In this article I wanted to commemorate Henry’s most beloved wife. When he died, Henry was buried beside her.

What do you think about Jane? Do you think Henry truly loved her more than any of his wives?

Look Inside Jane Seymour‘s House in England

The couple have spent the eight years since they bought the house meticulously restoring and renovating it. "We've always had local people to help with the work," says Jane Seymour. "They have a love for the house it's part of their landscape." Bath-stone steps and a balustrade that encloses the front garden lead toward the house's projecting entry bay.

This article originally appeared in the January 1991 issue of Architectural Digest.

Jane Seymour first saw St. Catherine's Court on a winter's day in 1982, while making the television movie Jamaica Inn. “We had one day's filming here, and by evening David and I had fallen in love with the place.” Her husband, David Flynn, recalls his impressions: “It was late October, early November. The house was dark and moody inside, and the leafless vines creeping up the exterior made it look really Gothic. But it is a spectacular place, and one of the few English manors that still retains its own church, tithe barn and cottages.”

The house is set on the western slope of a steep valley in Avon, and its woods and pastures would not look unfamiliar to Prior Cantlow and his Benedictine monks, who lived at St. Catherine's in the fifteenth century. After the dissolution of the monasteries by Henry VIII in 1540, St. Catherine's became one of three manors the king gave to his illegitimate daughter Etheldreda. Through her it passed to Sir John Harington, a writer in the reign of another of Henry's daughters—Elizabeth I. The ancient priory forms the core of the present house, whose architecture is mainly late Tudor and early Jacobean after extensive construction in the 1600s by the Blanchard family. A new wing and an orangery were added in the early 1900s.

Although another offer for St. Catherine's had been made and accepted, the owner decided to sell it to the Flynns. Jane Seymour likes to think that their daughter played a part in that decision. “The owner told us there had always been a redhead or a Katherine at St. Catherine's Court, and when she saw our diminutive, redheaded Katie.…” David Flynn says with a smile, “She liked us because, unlike the others, we weren't going to split up the property.” “Well, yes, I know,” replies Jane Seymour, “but Katie was the lucky symbol.”

The work to be done was daunting. “We had about four hundred years of deferred maintenance to catch up with” says David Flynn. “We didn't know what we were letting ourselves in for.” Besides the repairing of the house and the replanting of the gardens, there was the problem of furniture. “The only things left when we took over were the library curtains, a grand piano and one teaspoon,” he adds. “And a house this size, empty, is really frightening.”

Invaluable assistance came from Sir Seton Wills, who had met the English actress some years before when she was filming at his home, Littlecote House. “He had a fine collection of Elizabethan furniture, some of which was for sale,” she says. “We showed him what we liked at Littlecote, and he showed us what he thought we ought to have. Then he put it all in a truck and sent it over, so that we could move it around and see what we wanted. Most of the furniture in the dining room comes from Littlecote, since the front half of the house is Elizabethan. The dining room has no electricity, which our American friends find astounding, but we use it every evening, lit entirely by candles.”

At the top of a spiral staircase that winds around a ship's mast is a short paneled gallery that ends in an oriel window looking onto the church. The gallery, and a guest room known as the Blanchard Room with seven-teenth-century paneling and a plaster frieze, demanded Tudor or Jacobean furniture. But the couple had no intention of forcing the whole house into that period. “The previous owner tried to do so,” says Jane Seymour, “and started ripping out the Victoriana.” That was how the ballroom lost its chimneypiece, though the room still retains an ornate plaster ceiling, hiding an earlier domed ceiling. A grand piano, a few eighteenth-and nineteenth-century portraits and a fine Mortlake tapestry are practically the only objects there. “We keep it purposely empty because it has four-second-return sound, which makes it better than any recording studio,” says Jane Seymour.

The couple planned the decoration together on the principle that every room “should be comfortably itself.” The library, which is their main living room, has walnut furniture offset by dark green walls and paneling that Jane Seymour feels “gives the room something of a traditional English look.” Books share shelf space with photographs, polo trophies and objects bought in the markets and antiques shops around Bath. “I've found everything I want here,” says the actress. “I've never had to go to London for anything.”

The library is in the early-twentieth-century part of the house, as is their bedroom, which looks out onto a hillside that Jane Seymour calls Watership Down. The four-poster bed and windows are hung with a floral fabric that is soft without being overly feminine. “Wandering around Bath one day, we saw this fabric in a shop window and we both said, ‘That's it.’ We didn't look any further,” she says. A Victorian looking glass on the windowsill with some makeup beside it takes the place of a dressing table. “I spend too much of my working life in front of mirrors,” says the actress. “If I put on any makeup here, it takes five minutes, but usually I don't bother.”

The master bedroom and nursery wing were among the first priorities when they moved in. “This house was done from the top down,” says David Flynn. The nursery, now an airy expanse of white walls and toy-bestrewn gray carpet, was once the old staff quarters one of its windows looks out onto a balustrade, on which sits a little stone dog. “We think this is Bungie,” says Jane Seymour. “He was a dog who belonged to Sir John Harington and used to take messages to and from the court.”

Life at St. Catherine's is lived outdoors, and much of it on horseback. David Flynn, who is on the St. Catherine's Court Polo Team and plays three days a week during the season, says, “It's a passion that has almost extended into a vice, but I keep it in perspective. It's a sport that for part of the year I really get involved in.” The polo ponies live near the fields where they work, but in the newly restored barn are the couple's hunter-jumpers and their children's ponies.

Their schedule means that they can be at St. Catherine's for only a few months a year, but Jane Seymour's family uses the house while they are away, and when they are there, the couple entertain on a generous scale. They have two kitchens, and the supply of guest rooms and baths is worthy of a small hotel. Do they use every room? “Every single inch,” is Jane Seymour's emphatic response. “There are times when we've had people sleeping on the floor.”

She admits that the pace at St. Catherine's is slower than when she and her family are in their main house in California. “Sometimes I go for a walk, pick some wildflowers, and then I sit down here with the children and sketch.” She is standing in the family dining room, its fireplace festooned with bunches of flowers she has dried from the garden. “This is one of the cozy, cottagey bits of the house,” she says. “What I love about St. Catherine's is that you can live here and pretend you're a farmer, and you never need to get out of your jeans and boots, which is how we usually live here. Or you can be extremely grand and dress up for dinner in another part of the house.” Houses reflect their owners, and St. Catherine's Court has adapted extremely well to its many roles.

Jane Seymour - History

Who Do You Think You Are: Jane Seymour

Jane Seymour visits the grave of her great uncle Herman Temerson, where she is also introduced to a long lost relative. Eleven series have been broadcast, with the eleventh airing from August to October 2014.

/>Jane Seymour at the 2015 Cannes Festival

Jane Seymour, OBE (born Joyce Penelope Wilhelmina Frankenberg 15 February 1951) is a British-American actress best known for her performances in the James Bond film Live and Let Die (1973), Somewhere In Time (1980), East of Eden (1981), Onassis: The Richest Man in the World (1988), War and Remembrance (1988), the 1989 political thriller La Révolution française as the ill-fated queen Marie Antoinette, Wedding Crashers (2005), and the American television series Dr. Quinn, Medicine Woman (1993–1998). She has earned an Emmy Award, two Golden Globe Awards, and a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. She was made an Officer of the Order of the British Empire in 2000.

Joyce Penelope Wilhelmina Frankenberg was born 15 February 1951 in Hayes, Greater London, England, the daughter of John Benjamin Frankenberg, an obstetrician, and Mieke van Trigt, a nurse. Her father was a British citizen of Jewish heritage whose family was from Poland (village of Nowe Trzepowo). Her mother was a Dutch Protestant (with family from Deventer) who was a prisoner of war during World War II, and who had lived in Indonesia. Jane’s paternal grandfather had come to live in the East End of London after escaping the Czarist pogroms when he was 14. He can be found in the 1911 census for Bethnal Green listed as a hairdresser and he eventually went on to have his own company.

Seymour was educated at the Arts Educational School in Tring, Hertfordshire. She took on the stage name “Jane Seymour” after King Henry VIII’s third wife, as it seemed more saleable.

Acting Career

In 1969, Seymour appeared uncredited in her first film, Richard Attenborough’s Oh! What a Lovely War. In 1970, Seymour appeared in her first major film role in the war drama The Only Way. She played Lillian Stein, a Jewish woman seeking shelter from Nazi persecution. In 1973, she gained her first major television role as Emma Callon in the successful 1970s series The Onedin Line. During this time, she appeared as female lead Prima in the two-part television miniseries Frankenstein: The True Story. She also appeared as Winston Churchill’s lover Pamela Plowden in Young Winston, produced by her father-in-law Richard Attenborough.

In 1973, Seymour achieved international fame in her role as Bond girl Solitaire in the James Bond film Live and Let Die. IGN ranked her as 10th in a Top 10 Bond Babes list. In 1975, Seymour was cast as Princess Farah in Sinbad and the Eye of the Tiger, the third part of Ray Harryhausen’s Sinbad trilogy. The film was not released until its stop motion animation sequences had been completed in 1977. In 1978, she appeared as Serina in the Battlestar Galactica film, and in the first five episodes of the television series. Seymour returned to the big screen in the comedy Oh Heavenly Dog opposite Chevy Chase.

Seymour at the Emmy Awards, 1988

In 1980, Seymour was given the role of young theatre actress Elise McKenna in the period romance Somewhere in Time. Though the film was made with a markedly limited budget, the role enticed Seymour with a character she felt she knew. The effort was a decided break from her earlier work, and marked the start of her friendship with co-star Christopher Reeve.

In 1981, she appeared in the television film East of Eden, based on the novel by John Steinbeck. Her portrayal of main antagonist Cathy Ames won her a Golden Globe. In 1982, she appeared in The Scarlet Pimpernel with Anthony Andrews and Ian McKellen. In 1984, Seymour appeared nude in the film Lassiter, co-starring Tom Selleck, but the film was a box office flop. In 1987, Seymour was the subject of a pictorial in Playboy magazine, although she did not pose nude.

In 1988, Seymour got the female lead in the 12-part television miniseries War and Remembrance, the continued story from the miniseries The Winds of War, in which she played Natalie Henry, an American Jewish woman trapped in Europe during World War II. That role had been played by Ali MacGraw in the first series, but Seymour campaigned for the role when the continuation was planned, and made a screen test which convinced the director and producer Dan Curtis that she was better suited for it.

In 1989, on the occasion of the 200th anniversary of the French Revolution, Seymour appeared in the television film La révolution française, filmed in both French and English. Seymour appeared as the doomed French queen, Marie Antoinette the actress’s two children, Katherine and Sean, appeared as the queen’s children.

Seymour at the Emmy Awards, 1994

In the 1990’s, Seymour earned popular and critical praise for her role as Dr. Michaela “Mike” Quinn in the television series Dr. Quinn, Medicine Woman and its television sequels (1993–2001). Her work on the series earned her a second Golden Globe Award. While working on the series Dr. Quinn, Medicine Woman, she met her fourth husband, actor-director James Keach.

In the 2000s, Seymour continued to work primarily in television. In 2004 and 2005, she made six guest appearances in the WB Network series, Smallville, playing Genevieve Teague, the wealthy, scheming mother of Jason Teague (Jensen Ackles). In 2005, Seymour returned to the big screen in the comedy Wedding Crashers, playing Kathleen Cleary, wife of fictional United States Secretary of the Treasury William Cleary, played by Christopher Walken. In spring 2006, she appeared in the short-lived WB series Modern Men. Later that year, Seymour guest-starred as a law-school-professor on an episode of the CBS sitcom How I Met Your Mother, and as a wealthy client on the Fox legal drama, Justice. In 2007, she guest-starred in the ABC sitcom, In Case of Emergency, which starred Lori Loughlin and Jonathan Silverman. She also appeared in ITV’s Marple: Ordeal By Innocence, based on the Agatha Christie novel. She was a contestant on season five of the US reality show, Dancing with the Stars she finished in sixth place, along with her partner, Tony Dovolani. In “One Life to Lose” Jane Seymour guest starred in a soap opera-themed storyline of the ABC crime-dramedy Castle.

Seymour appeared in the Hallmark Channel film Dear Prudence (2008) with Jamey Sheridan and Ryan Cartwright, the romantic comedy Love, Wedding, Marriage (2011) with Mandy Moore, and the Hallmark Movie Channel film Lake Effects (2012) with Scottie Thompson and Madeline Zima.

Jane Seymour

Jane Seymour, the mother of Henry VIII's only surviving legitimate son, King Edward VI, was the daughter of Sir John Seymour and Margery Wentworth, daughter of Sir John Wentworth, of Nettlestead, in Suffolk and was born at Wulf Hall in Savernake Forest, Wiltshire. Her exact date of birth is not known, but it is believed to have occurred between 1507-1508.

Jane was the eldest of a large family of children. The Seymour's were a well-respected gentry family, who rose to prominence at the court of Henry VIII. The surname is thought to derive from a corruption of the St. Maur family of France who originated either at St. Maur des Fossées, near Paris, or St.Maur sur Loire, at least one member of the family came over to England with Wiliam the Conqueror.

Jane Seymour

Jane's father, Sir John Seymour, served in Henry VIII's French campaign of 1513 and accompanied the king to the Field of the Cloth of Gold in 1520. He was made a knight of the body and later a gentleman of the king's bed-chamber.

Through her mother Margaret Wentworth, Jane could claim a royal descent. One of her ancestors was Elizabeth Mortimer, the granddaughter of Lionel of Antwerp, Duke of Clarence, third surviving son of Edward III and Phillipa of Hainault. Elizabeth Mortimer had married the famous Harry 'Hotspur' Percy, who was killed at the Battle of Shrewsbury by King Henry IV. Hotspur and Elizabeth Mortimer were to become the grandparents of Jane's maternal grandfather, Sir Henry Wentworth. Margery Wentworth was also the first cousin of Elizabeth and Edmund Howard, the parents of Anne Boleyn and Catherine Howard.

In her youth, Jane was betrothed to William Dormer, son of the wealthy Sir Robert and Lady Dormer. Lady Dormer, however, felt that Jane's social status was not sufficient for her son and the engagement was broken off.

Marriage to Henry VIII

Jane Seymour had first come to court as a lady-in-waiting to Catherine of Aragon and later fulfilled the same post to Anne Boleyn. She was of fair complexion, had a pointed chin and was of medium height, modest and gentle natured. A contemporary described her as:-

'She is of middle height and nobody thinks she has much beauty. Her complexion is so whitish that she may be called rather pale.'

Never an acknowledged beauty, Perhaps Jane's attraction for Henry VIII grew from the fact that she was the very antithesis of the dark, argumentative and voluble Anne Boleyn.

As Henry VIII tired of heated arguments with the strong-willed Anne he was drawn to the gentle and submissive Jane. Henry stayed at Wulf Hall in the September of 1535, and it may have been there that he first became attracted to Jane. In any event, Henry's growing affection for Jane soon came to the notice of Anne Boleyn, and a rivalry developed between the Queen and her maid. When Anne noticed a jewel that Jane wore, containing a portrait of the King, which had been presented by Henry, she snatched it jealously from her neck. Queen Anne was not of a nature to bear such insults patiently, but Jane's star was in the ascendant, Anne's in decline.

During Henry VIIII's courtship of Jane, she was advised by one of the leaders of the conservative Catholic faction at court, Sir Nicholas Carew, who coached her in the intricacies of religious politics. The recent death of Catherine of Aragon had rendered it possible for Henry to be rid of Anne without anticipating the prospect of again being married to Catherine. Ironically, while Catherine had lived, Anne remained safe in her position, Anne herself had long recognised the fact, declaring "she is my death and I am hers".

Anne was arrested and tried on a trumped-up charge of treason, for adultery with five men including her own brother. It is unlikely that the charges against her had any basis in fact. A court controlled by Henry and presided over by Anne's uncle, the Duke of Norfolk, pronounced her guilty. Anne was sentenced to be burned or beheaded at the King's pleasure. Anne was beheaded at the Tower of London on 19th May, 1536. Henry and Jane were then duly betrothed on 20 May, 1536, and married on 30 May. Jane, who adopted the motto 'bound to obey and serve' was never crowned.

Henry VIII, Jane Seymour and Prince Edward, posthumous portrait of Jane

Once married to Henry, Jane attempted to mend the rift between himself and Catherine of Aragon's daughter, Mary, of whom she grew fond. Jane involved herself in state affairs only once, in 1536, when she asked for clemency for the participants in the Pilgrimage of Grace rebellion, her husband reacted by reminding her of the fate of other queens when they had meddled in his affairs.

Edward VI

The birth of an heir

In early 1537, after seven months of marriage, Jane announced herself pregnant. Great care was taken throughout the pregnancy and the king was to prove himself indulgent to her every whim. Throughout the last months of Jane's pregnancy, churches across the country prayed for the queen's safe delivery. After a difficult and protracted labour, Jane fulfilled the first duty of a queen and gave birth to a son, the future Edward VI on 12 October 1537 at Hampton Court Palace.

Edward's christening in the chapel royal at Hampton Court was a long and elaborate ceremony followed by a grand reception for nearly four hundred guests. His arrival on the Vigil of St. Edward the Confessor decided the Prince's name and his elder sister, Mary, stood as the child's godmother, his other sister, Elizabeth also took part. Jane also participated, although she had to be carried into the chapel on a portable bed.

Jane was never to see her son grow up, she contracted puerperal fever (or childbed fever) infection of the uterus following childbirth, and died in her sleep twelve days later, on October 24th. Henry VIII is reported to have mourned the loss of his third wife sincerely, she was accorded a magnificent state funeral at which Princess Mary, Henry's elder daughter who Jane had done much to reconcile with her father, acted as a chief mourner. Queen Jane was interred at St. George's Chapel, Windsor Castle.

When Henry died in 1547, he requested that he be buried at Windsor with Jane, his best-loved wife. He was succeeded by Jane's son King Edward VI, died at the age of fifteen on July 6th, 1553 after reigning for six and a half years.

Birth of Edward VI

Clearly, Henry married Jane Seymour primarily to bear a male heir. He was successful in this when, on October 12, 1537, Jane Seymour gave birth to a prince. Edward was the male heir Henry so desired. Jane Seymour had also worked to reconcile the relationship between Henry and his daughter Elizabeth. Jane invited Elizabeth to the prince's christening.

The baby was christened October 15, and then Jane fell ill with puerperal fever, a complication of childbirth. She died on October 24, 1537. The Lady Mary (future Queen Mary I) served as chief mourner at Jane Seymour's funeral.

Further Reading

Fraser, Antonia, The Wives of Henry VIII, Alfred A. Knopf, 1993.

Fraser, Antonia, ed. The Lives of the Kings & Queens of England, University of California Press, 1995.

Hackett, Francis, Henry the VIII: The Personal History of A Dynast and His Wives, Liveright Publishing Corporation, 1945.

Starkey, David, ed. The Lives and Letters of the Great Tudor Dynasties: Rivals in Power, Toucan Books Ltd., 1990.

Jane Seymour-The Six Wives of Henry VIII, (videocassette series) BBC TV, New York: Time-Life Media, 1976.

Watch the video: Jane Seymour Dishes on Dr. Quinn Drama and Co-Star Romances (June 2022).