Artworks
Jane Seymour, Queen of England
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Jane Seymour’s life as queen consort seems straight out of a fairytale.

Her wedding gifts included 104 manors, a far cry from the standard Bed Bath & Beyond gift certificate or matching plate set. During her pregnancy, her royal husband shipped quail from Calais to London to satisfy her cravings. There’s just one catch: Jane’s life was miserable. Her husband was the head chopping hellion himself, His Royal Highness King Henry VIII.

Before Holbein painted Jane in all her stiff, virtuous glory, she was queen Anne Boleyn’s attendant. Unfortunately for Anne, Henry was sick and tired of a wife with a personality. Boleyn’s requests for his fidelity were grating on him. Enchanted by Jane’s demurity, Henry gifted the attendant with a locket. When Jane showed the queen her necklace, Anne snatched the chain from Jane’s neck, bloodying her fingers and giving the court gossips weeks of fodder.

Eager to prove himself utter scum, Henry accused Anne of adultery, incest, and treason. In a gesture of goodwill, he requested that the executioner use a sword to topple his wife’s head in a clean stroke. Henry VIII proposed to Jane the day after Anne’s head rolled, proving that when you’re king, “tasteful” doesn’t have to be in your vocabulary.

Jane would never have a coronation, due to a plague in London. She would, however, make her mark on court: Jane banned the ostentatious garb favored by Anne Boleyn, generally did her best to outlaw merrymaking, and found a bosom buddy in Bloody Mary herself. Jane would even defy her husband by arguing on behalf of rebels responsible for the Pilgrimage of Grace riots. Henry sweetly reminded his wife of Anne’s ghastly end, a fate that she might share. If you’re looking to Jane for a new feminist icon, though, think again. Her motto? “Bound to obey and serve.”

Bearing Henry a healthy son didn’t save Jane from a macabre fate. After a torturous three days of labor, Jane sickened and died, leaving Henry again a widower.

Holbein, who depicted the king himself in 1537, would go on to paint a number of Henry’s conquests. After Jane’s untimely death, Henry was again in search of a young life to ruin. When Holbein’s portrait of Christine of Milan captured Henry’s interest, he pursued the beauty. Her response? “I have only one head.” Puzzled by the rejection— who wouldn’t marry an abusive king on a power trip?— Henry turned his attention to Anne of Cleves, again painted by Holbein. When he observed his new wife, Henry was horrified, insisting that an erection was out of the question in the presence of a “fat Flanders mare.”

Henry would never forget his third wife, probably because he never had the chance to behead her. Jane Seymour's legacy lives on to this day, renowned through history for her abysmal taste in husbands.

Sources

Sources

  1. “Jane Seymour.” Wikipedia. September 21, 2017. Accessed September 29, 2017. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jane_Seymour.
  2. “Anne Boleyn.” Wikipedia. September 24, 2017. Accessed September 29, 2017. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Anne_Boleyn.
  3. “The Six Wives of Henry VIII.” PBS. 2003. Accessed September 29, 2017. http://www.pbs.org/wnet/sixwives/meet/js_handbook_king.html.
  4. Jones, Jonathan. “The Monstrous in the Magnificent.” The Guardian. August 16, 2003. Accessed September 29, 2017. https://www.theguardian.com/culture/2003/aug/16/1.
  5. Parisian Illustrated Review. Volume 3. 1897. Accessed August 23, 2017. https://books.google.es/books?redir_esc=y&id=FwIZAAAAYAAJ&dq="i have o...