Friday, April 18, 2008

Question from Taya - Jane Seymour and Henry before their marriage

Hey Guys! I'm 16 and just getting into all this Tudor mania! =)

I was watching a documentary and came up with this question: Did Jane Seymour "hold out" from sex with Henry before her marriage like Anne Boleyn or did she become Henry's mistress during his marriage to Anne?



Foose said...

I have my suspicions about Jane. Henry slept with Anne Boleyn before they were married, and Antonia Fraser has suggested rather convincingly that he also slept with Kathryn Howard while he was still married to Anne of Cleves. He appears to have considered it acceptable to have extramarital affairs when his wife (or wives) were pregnant, he liked to pick on maids of honor (they're conveniently accessible, when you're king), and he evidently took up with Jane during Anne's last pregnancy.

Henry also appears to have made the decision to get rid of Anne in a great hurry. While he was obviously meditating it in the wake of her last miscarriage, something prompted him to arrange her arrest rather suddenly in April. Could Jane have told him she was pregnant? Or just offered some vague symptoms that could be interpreted by Henry as pregnancy? He was desperate for a son.

Her reputed virtue appears to rest on (1) stagy announcements of her resolve to remain pure for marriage, much like Anne Boleyn, who still wound up sleeping with Henry before she was married; (2) strictness with her maids' dress after she was married (which may have been simple self-preservation); (3) kindness to Princess Mary, which may have been the result of a strategic political alliance with the conservatives, before her marriage; and (3) dying in childbirth after having a son, which ensured her sanctification by Henry.

She was older (about 25-26) when Henry took up with her. She had a mother, Margery Wentworth, who was lively and pretty enough to be the subject of a poem by bawdy poet John Skelton -- perhaps she inherited charm from her mother? Her father had been involved in an unsavory affair with his own daughter-in-law, which makes you wonder about an unhealthy sexual atmosphere at home. Her brother Tom was always considered highly attractive to women. Chapuys said she was "pale and nobody thinks she has much beauty," but maybe at close quarters she had her own brand of sexiness. And she'd been around court -- lady in waiting to Catherine in 1530, and lady in waiting to Anne Boleyn later on -- so she had plenty of time to observe Henry and his preferences.

So, maybe?

Anonymous said...

Foose's argument is very convincing. I haven't read another historian make the same case, they tend to accept Jane's behaviour at face value. I'm sure there was a lot more to her than has been portrayed. The evidence suggests she was as cunning as her predecessor.