Thursday, January 03, 2008

Question from Leigh - Jane Seymour was Henry VIII's only love?

Hi, I've heard many times now that Jane Seymour was the only wife whom Henry VIII really loved. I've been unable to find any evidence to support this, but I've always been under the impression that Henry didn't even bat an eyelid when Jane died. Is it true or false? Or was it simply because they weren't married long enough for him to tire/get bored of her?

Many thanks!

19 comments:

PhD Historian said...

Considering the extreme lengths to which Henry went to win Anne Boleyn, I think we can safely assume that his feelings for her were intense, though it isn't really possible for us today to know with certainty whether Henry felt "love" toward any of his various wives. Worse, his feelings seem to have changed with time (you refer to him "tiring" of them). That said, we CAN make deductions based on his behavior. Chief among those is that when it came time for Henry to settle his affairs and to plan for his own funeral, he chose to be buried next to Jane Seymour beneath the choir in St George's Chapel, Windsor. If his choice of companion in death is any evidence, I'd have to assume his most lasting feelings (gratitude?) were for the only wife who ever provided him with a much-sought-after son. Your impression that Henry did not mourn Jane's death may stem from the fact that he did not attend her funeral in mid-November 1537. But it was against royal custom for the monarch to attend funerals, so his absence was entirely "normal" for the time and circumstances. He DID grieve at her death, nonetheless. He expressed that grief in a private letter to the king of France, noting the "bitterness" he felt at losing the mother of his only legitimate son ("Letters and Papers of Henry VIII," Vol 12, Part 2, item 972). Your impression that Henry "didn't even bat an eyelid when Jane died" is false.

monica said...

Jane may well have gone on a pedestal in Henry's mind as time went on, both as he didn't have enough time to tire of her and because she was the only one who gave him a legitimate son.

He seems to have loved Katherine of Aragon dearly in the first five years of marriage. He was prepared to move heaven and earth for Anne Boleyn and Katherine Howard, until they displeased him, when the intensity of his love was superseded by the intensity of his hatred. He had a very good relationship with Katherine Parr, based on love, respect and friendship, but probably less passion than his other marriages. He was in love with all his wives at the time, except Anne of Cleves. But at his death, he considered that he had only legally had two wives: Jane Seymour and Katherine Parr, so it was from these two he was choosing who to be buried with. Katherine Parr had had other husbands and there was a good chance she would - as she did - marry again. It made sense therefore for Henry to be buried next to Jane. It also meant that the parents of the next monarch, Edward VI, were buried together.

If you see Anne Boleyn's fall as Henry being desperate to marry Jane at all costs, then this showed an intense love, but these events were caused by far more complex matters than Henry's affection for Jane.

mteemroyal said...

Did henry VIII love Anne Boleyn the most???? He was the most passionate about her for the longest period of time. And you are right...he sacrificed a lot for her. Unfortunately she had almost an entire kingdom against her. Did he ever speak of her agan after her death? Even to her daughter Lady Elizabeth?

Anonymous said...

Henry VIII never spoke Anne's name after she was executed. As far as Elizabeth went he ignored her for sometime and her governess had to beg for material to make her clothes as she grew. I think this was mostly due to Cromwell's power at the time. His last wife - Catherine Parr - encouraged Henry to welcome Mary and Elizabeth back to court. Both of his daughters held affection for their stepmother. Most of what I have read said that Henry had ups and downs with his relationships with his daughters, but both held love for him and respected him. And I think we can all agree that Elizabeth learned from her father's mistakes and never married and devoted herself fully to England.

Christina said...

I also think that even though Henry did mourn Jane for a long time and probably thought of her as the wife who has done her duty,he also didn't have another choice about who he wanted to be buried with.After all,his marriage to Catherine of Aragon was declared invalid,and the same thing happened to Anne of Cleves,so there was no chance for him to be buried next to his "illegal" wives.Anne Boleyn and Kathryn Howard were declared traitors,so again,it would've been impossible,to be buried with them also.In the end he ended up with two strongly legal wives(well,according to his views anyway...),and since Katherine Parr outlived him,and was more like a companion to him,not a lover or the mother of a legal child of his,it really came down to the conclusion,that the obvious and only choice was Jane,the mother of the future king,and the wife who has been wise enough to obey,and most importantly,managed to keep her mouth shut after her failed attempts to openly "meddle in Henry's affairs".

Anonymous said...

I am amazed by the mopvie :The Boleyn girls: I was amazed but my maine question was he IN LOVE WITH Anne or was it his desire to have her because she didnt give in that easy?

Anonymous said...

It's thought that Henry DID love Anne Boleyn at the beginning of the marriage, and even before they were married, but I believe that Henry VIII was a fickle man. This would mean that he did 'love' (or as I believe it was 'lust') Anne in the beginning, but I do think that it was more of the chase that led Henry to desire Anne so much. Then one can argue that he loved Anne the longest and still denied his marriage to Katherine of Aragon as being valid, even when Anne Boleyn refused to become his mistress. So I guess since we'll never know, it's really what YOU want to believe.

Anonymous said...

in my views henry loved his first wife the most. the only reason he dropped her was because she became baron. he went to great lengths to get her and even went against the bible as it was against the religious law to marry your brothers wife. he desperently needed a son and Anne was young and should be able to provide for him but Anne had one girl and two dead babies. henry was getting worried now and thought god was puishing him for getting rid of katherine. then jane appeared. she was younger then anne and beautiful. jane had a son and died.

hoshi_sae said...

Though all of these assumptions are easily made and understood by most, the truth died with all involved. As we all well know, as time passed, records were lost, and not kept as well as they are now. Yes, I believe that Henry VIII went to great lengths to please Anne Boleyn. Yet, Thomas Boleyn, Anne's father, clearly had an agenda of his own, to move up in status, along with his family. Daughters might as well have been sold off into status, as they were nothing unless they could marry into money and bear sons. Henry VIII felt that he was cursed not to have any sons. If he did love Jane Seymour the most, it was indeed a tragedy, that she died giving birth to Edward. I find irony in that, since Henry wanted/needed a son for so long, but possibly lost, the only one he truly love?!? Is that not an interesting question?!? Mary like that of her mother, Catherine, wanted to establish Catholicism within the Kingdom and all of England. Although, I believe she wished for it to be permanent. There was also the limbo going on between allies, Holy Rome and France being involved with that, of England. Is it also not hard to say, that Henry could have felt some measure of caring or love for most of his wives, to some degree?!? Catherine for example, was not executed, but the marriage was annulled. As everyone well knows, this was most probably due to Catherine not bearing any living sons (the ones she bore were miscarried). It is sometimes mentioned that it was also due to the fact, Catherine was first married to Henry's brother. Though I believe that was only presented in order for the annulment to be successful. Like many, I find this all fascinating, but know it is subject to be twisted into fiction, more so than fact. As mentioned above, it is a great difficulty to discern the facts, as they cannot present themselves any longer. They are lost with time. Henry VIII is probably more well known for divorce, beheading his wives, and his notorious temper. Mary Tudor seemed to handle diplomatic relations better than Henry. Elizabeth was fortunate to learn from her father, and the queens before her. I for one, cannot blame her for never marrying. Imagine growing up as a princess, and seeing all of the queens before you disappear. Not a comforting feeling, when you try to place yourself at the future of England, and look forward. So, Elizabeth became thus, the Virgin Queen and married England instead of a man. I am compelled to admire Elizabeth for taking her commitment all the way through. PhD Historian was also right about the tradition of the Monarchs not attending the funerals of those close to them. This was done so, in order for those on the throne, not to be extremely, grief stricken. It is easy to take that to offense, and say that Henry did not mourn Jane. Everyone mourns in their own way too though. Henry did not marry anyone after Jane, for quite some time. One could deduct from this, that Henry did love Jane, for he did not marry right away after her death. Take this as you well. For I am not sure that it shall help. Only keep the enthrallment rolling on forward.

Heather said...

Kings didn't avoid going to funerals "so they wouldn't be grief stricken". They didn't attend funerals because, back then, it was a treasonous act to even imagine the death of a monarch. If one when to a funeral and say the King there, it made sense that their might might wander and imagine the King being dead.

Just sayin'. Had nothing to do with the "grief" factor.

Anonymous said...

The one truth I see of Henry, was that he was ruled by his passion's. If he wanted to do something he did it. He really never cared what anyone thought. So by evidence of a life time, if he wanted to attend Jane's funneral he would have.

Anonymous said...

Well you could say this, henry was buried next to her but i think that this has gone done in history because she bared him a son he really loved Catherine Parr.

Anonymous said...

I think the thing that most people leave out of the equation is that Catherine of Aragon were married for 24 years before he even thought of divorcing her. also people took the bible literally back then and it says in the new testament that a man should not marry his brothers widow, So when Catherine had stillborn sons Henry thought that God was punishing him. Besides Henry went though a lot to get Catherine to as his father had banned him from marring him her and he waited till he died to Marry her. Nobody wanted Henry to marry her as she was so old (32)

Anonymous said...

Maybe Henry the Eighth was thrust into Kingship far too soon.

As far as most people were concerned, his elder brother Arthur was supposed to be King.

His father, Henry the Seventh had to fight for the throne after returning from exile.

Henry was desperate to have a son, and continue the Tudor line. He loved Jane Seymour for giving him his ultimate wish.

yasminxxx said...

I believe that he had loved Katherine of Aragon the most due to the fact he waited 7 years to marry her and when he did he truly did care for her. If she had gave him a son then he wouldn't have to go through another 2 wives to get a son. Also, when they were married for the first few years they were truly in love. And remember he was married to her for 23 years. The simple fact is that she could not provide a son for England.

Unknown said...

I agree that he loved Katherine of Aragon the most. She was the first one he fell for. All the others were infatuations similar to what he'd had with mistresses. Some of his marriages were simply friendships. But I agree that Katherine of Aragon was the one Henry truly loved.

Anonymous said...

Henry truly loved Katherine he fell in love with the he exoptical princess at 10 and went against his father and married her. She was an amazing wife and he was her sir loyal heart in jousts and it was known that he was lucky with her ribbon. He even left her to go war with France in her pregnancy and had to fight with the Scots and won none of his other wives had that privilege. The fact that she had one daughter and was now her 40s mademail Henry find another wifew to give him a son. Deep down he knew that Mary could rule but he didn't want to be a disappointment to all and be the one to let down history byou giving the crown to a girl so his proud side tookover yo get him the son. This allowed the Boleyns to have access to the throne. Anne was young and pretty and Henry only saw her as a object that would give him a son buy many disapproved buy nonetheless married after 3 pregnancies and one living daughter he actually killed her doubt he would have the heart to do that Katherine (you would say it cuz she is royal) but think about it she was his wife for 24 years he had all the time to get rid of her but no he kept her until a later point in life. If they divorce and both agreed earlier they couldve married other and had children but he loved her and still belived in her giving him a son. When he died he could have been buried next to Katherine (remember her grave is unmarked in my opinion probably because of Anne) but that would mean in the eye of the people accepting the Catholic religion and Mary as heir as she should've and Katherine being legally his wife but buried next to Jane Seymour because she gave him his son and heir but he didn't really love her she was just young andrivers pretty and barely knew her about 1 year and 10 months so he couldn't love her. This is my opinion some of you may disagree but that's okay to me Katherine of Aragon is his true love

Anonymous said...

I'm sorry for the incorrect grammar exoptical is exotic. Buy is but. andrivers was meant to and.

Anonymous said...

I believe that Henry showed he 'loved' nearly all of his wives (excepting of course Anne of Cleeves who he din't find attractive) with the various pieces of evidence that do exist such as letters and people's accounts of what they winessed him say and do. However, whether any of this was true love we may never know for certain.

In his youth he was obsessed with chivalric and romantic notions and fantasies such as courtly games of love, knights and maidens and the King Arthur legend and his court was often required to conform to such ideals. Many of his behaviours were likely as a direct result of these intrigues.

Henry was also renowned for his petulance and pride and many of his decisions were guided by these traits. He grew up spoiled and privilaged and was never supposed to reign. He was therefore not exactly ready for it when he came to the throne and people came to fear him since his temper was so changeable and his nature so volatile. He needed to be pleased by those around him and needed things his way and whilst Anne Boleyn was exciting when he was younger, she became too difficult for him to bear in later life. Afterall, in those times, she was just his wife and a mere woman and in the wooing stages, all her headstrong behaviour was acceptable, but as a wife and queen she was duty bound to serve and produce heirs. I believe he thought he loved her and most of his wives but perhaps he was incapable of love in truth. He killed or ruined many of his close beloved friends as well as his wives.

These traits were mild in his youth but got increasingly worse in later life. Some experts believe that Henry suffered from a peronality/mood disorder and there are various suggestions as to which one he may have had. One thing is certain, he had a huge sense of entitlement and sense of grandiose self importance and those who displeased him became victims of his wrath no matter who they were.

He probably believed he loved Jane the most because she had little time to disappoint him but given the length of their marriage and the kinder nature of the king in his youth, he probably loved Catherine of Aragon the most truly and lusted for and was infatuated the most by Anne Boleyn.