On July 19th, 1536 Henry VIII may have been playing a game of real tennis, but he certainly was at Hampton Court Palace when he was told Anne Boleyn's execution was a done deed.
On to his third wife: Jane Seymour.
Exactly as he did with Anne Boleyn, Henry spots a young lady in service to the Queen.
King presses her to sleep with him.
She plays the Anne Boleyn card and holds out for a wedding.
They get married.
She has a son.
She dies of childbed fever less than two weeks later.
The baby lives.
Jane Seymour played a short, but critically important, role in English history: she gave Henry VIII a living, healthy son.
Better yet, a legitimate son, with no ex-wives or little bastard issues.
She did not light up a room like Anne Boleyn had; Jane Seymour was more like the mirror to reflect back to Henry VIII the glory of his own awesomeness. Naturally, Henry adored her for it.
She was a spouse who knew her place and – game-changer! - a wife who’d produced a male heir.
Her legacy for Henry was Prince Edward, dozing in his cradle and, later, clamoring around like a normal little kid.
|Jane Seymour, Henry's Salvation|
|Prince Edward - cute as a bug's left nut|
It’s my boy!
So, by extension, the wife who gifted Henry such a wonder, was elevated above all other women, all other wives.
Her death left him wholly, dramatically bereft; crying, depressed, incapable of being amused, maudlin even.
Perhaps her very gentleness in the face of the roaring lion of England did finally resonate with the King.
Perhaps for the first time he felt a deep grief where his being a king counted for nothing.
Perhaps in that grief he found out he had feet of clay and a heart that was broken just like any other poor slob in the late 1530’s.
Of course, quite quickly one must move along, mustn’t one? – and those close to the King wasted no time lobbying him with their pick(s) for his newest wife.