Jane Seymour, perhaps the original Plain Jane if Chapuys comments are to be believed, became wife number three on 30th May 1536. She was another descendent of Edward III via Hotspur. She’d also been a lady-in-waiting to Catherine of Aragon and also to Anne Boleyn. One story said that Anne was deeply distressed to encounter Jane sitting on Henry’s lap. Her chosen motto was “Bound to serve and obey” – a wise choice given Henry’s complaints about wife number two and presumably wife number one’s implacable logic and argument. Her emblem is the phoenix rising from a tower surrounded by those burgeoning roses reflecting both a Plantagenet and Lancastrian inheritance. The pheonix is a symbol of love and renewal. Jane is the renewed Tudor hope for an heir.
Jane would also be the queen who oversaw Henry’s return to a more traditional set of beliefs. She tried to reconcile him to Princess Mary and also interceded on behalf of the catholic pilgrims who’d revolted during the Pilgrimage of Grace. Her clemency wasn’t welcome so far as Henry was concerned and she swiftly retreated from the political field.
It was February 1536 when word of Henry’s interest in Jane Seymour was first mentioned in ambassadorial dispatches and it wasn’t long before her brothers found themselves being rewarded with important posts and preferments.
In 1537 Jane fell pregnant, a fact recorded by Edward Hall. The rejoicing must have been a little bit cautious given all the previous disappointments but on the 12 October she produced a boy, Edward, and then promptly died from complications on 24th October. Cromwell would later blame her attendants for giving her rich food and sweets but in reality it was likely to have been childbed fever that carried Jane off.
Jane was very different from her predecessor, although Anne’s leopard was very swiftly adapted into Jane’s other symbol – the panther. The panther, heraldically speaking, is a more gentle animal than a leopard and can also represent Christ. He was also white and covered in multicoloured spots rather than being black. Examples can be found at Hampton Court looking rather splendid but it should also be remembered that Henry VI used a panther as a symbol as did the Beauforts. Double click on the image of the panther to find out more about the garden at Hampton Court. Jane wasn’t particularly well educated and reverted to older fashion styles when she became queen. Perhaps she thought that the higher neck lines would stop Henry being too attracted to her own ladies-in-waiting, she had after all had plenty of opportunity to watch what went on at court. Historians can’t agree as to whether she was an active player in inveigling Henry away from Anne or whether she was a pawn in the hands of her family. She kept her own counsel and did not live long enough to prove a disappointment to Henry.