30 January 2011

Jane Seymour: A Pheonix

Then entire persona of Jane Seymour is a bit mystifying.  It is difficult to judge as to whether Jane was a rather passive bystander, or if she was actually an ambitious, almost cruel woman.

Though Jane is often described as having been a bland woman, both in looks and personality, she seems to have been far more complex.  Jane had certainly evidenced traits of mercy and kindness in her brief lifetime.  But Jane had also witnessed Anne Boleyn's tragic undoing, and may have even been directly, or indirectly involved in her former mistress's downfall.

Though Jane has been portrayed as being the new kid in town as far as court life was concerned, she was hardly a newcomer.  Jane had actually served as Catherine of Aragon's ladies.

The king's involvement with Jane was confused with a number of significant events.  Catherine had died in her lonely household at Kimbolton Castle.  Though Catherine had not been well for years, her death was still shocking and unexpected.  The Boleyn faction rejoiced as the doors finally seemed wide open for the legitimacy of Anne and Henry's union. Anne was at last queen, the only queen.  The festive mood would be short-lived.

On 24 January, Henry's horse fell in the tilt yard, nearly killing the him.  He was unconscious for about two hours.  Medically speaking a lapse of consciousness lasting more than a few minutes, due to trauma, is significant. That Henry was unconscious for two hours is a virtual guarantee that he suffered some degree of brain injury.  More bad news was on the horizon, and on 29 January, Anne suffered a devastating miscarriage.  Anne's loss of her child sparked rumors and talk throughout the court, as to the cause of her miscarriage, and even claims that the fetus had been malformed.  The latter was undoubtedly little more than a vicious rumor as Anne had not been at a level of gestation where any malformation would have been evident.

Jane's place during that miserable year is unclear.  Jane's having been described as the Phoenix is certainly appropriate as she rose in Henry's esteem as Anne plunged. Henry's daughter Mary was becoming a far stronger threat to Anne, and her supporters did include Jane's family. Jane was not thought to posses any remarkable intelligence, however, she was probably not the milquetoast that she is assumed to be. It is very likely that the Seymour faction was actively pushing Jane towards Henry, and telling her exactly what she should say, how she should act to more effectively win the King's affections. Jane's famous overly-prim refusal of a gift offered to her by the king is likely proof of some sort of encouragement she received by those who were more than eager to topple Anne over.  


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Carla W. Kennedy said...

Jame may not have been characterized as a milquetoast but she probably appealed to Henry VIII because she was most probably an obvious contrast to Anne Boleyn. Also, Jane’s rising to prominence in spite of the spite of Anne Boleyn sure characterizes her as a true phoenix rising from the ashes from Annes destructive path. . That probably made her a strong personage in the eyes of Henry VIII and his entire court.