Sunday, 15 May 2011

The Fall of Anne Boleyn (Day 14): Jane Seymour is brought out of hiding

Above: Emilia Fox as Jane Seymour in the two part British television drama, Henry VIII (2003).

"... in all fairness, it seems as unnecessary to blame Jane for Anne's unhappiness as it is to blame Anne for Katherine of Aragon's. The unifying factor, after all, is not Katherine, Anne or Jane, but Henry, whose persecution of his eldest daughter, Mary, actually got worse after Anne died and he married Jane, which suggests to me that the old Spanish-propagated chestnut that Anne was responsible for Mary Tudor's misery whilst Jane was responsible for her restoration is at best wishful thinking, at worst outright lies... Jane Seymour was, quite simply, a woman of her times who found herself unexpectedly hand-picked by the King of England to succeed his disgraced wife in a time of chaos and intrigue almost unprecedented in British history and, whatever one might think about her background or accomplishments, she was apparently the woman best-suited to become Henry VIII's third queen in the terrible summer of 1536. How happy she was to be in the days after she was waited on hand and foot in her Chelsea mansion, however, is another matter entirely."

In the post I wrote last year on Jane Seymour's return to London, I stated that Anne Boleyn's use of crimson clothing throughout her downfall was deliberate and a nod at medieval colour coding of martyrdoms. Looking back on it now, I take the point of a friend that I may have been wrong and the Queen may, quite simply, have liked the colour. I don't know, but it's good to be reminded that sometimes we can look too hard at history. 

Anyway, here is the post for May 14th 1536.


  1. I don't know, Gareth. It is just that colors were so symbolic in those days, on the liturgical calendar and otherwise. And at such momentous occasions of her life I cannot see Anne doing anything on a whim, knowing that she was always thinking of Elizabeth her daughter whom she hoped would someday be queen and would have no recollection of her mother except what was told her by others. I think the red was chosen very carefully.

  2. You're right Elena Maria and I'm still going back and forth about the idea that she chose the colours on May 2nd, 15th and 19th deliberately. When you lay the days out like that, it does seem unlikely that she would have been totally unaware of what she was doing.

  3. She knew. She was brought up in courts, she'd seen some of the greatest performers in the French court, and then the English. She wouldn't have done anything in public without due consideration, especially at this fraught time in her life.
    When do you think she realized she was doomed to die?


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