Welcome to Tudor Cast, a podcast dedicated to Tudor History.
Hello, and welcome to Tudor Cast for October 2007. I’m your host, Lara Eakins owner of tudorhistory.org and the TudorTalk email list at YahooGroups.
Let’s get started with a recap of some of the Tudor news since the last podcast.
It was a fairly light news month since the last podcast, so here’s the quick round-up. “Elizabeth: The Golden Age” was released here in the States on October 12th, but I still haven’t had a chance to see it myself, but if you’ve seen it and would like to comment there is an open thread on the news blog.
Although it is now closed to tours, English Heritage opened Apethorpe Hall to the public to show some of the restoration work they’ve done over the past three years. The hall dates from 1470 and had fallen into disrepair. It was purchased by English Heritage in 2004 and work began to restore it to its former grandeur. They expect to have the work completed in 2008. Be sure to check out the link to the restoration project website on the news blog.
The last news link for the month was to the Embroiderer’s blog at the Plimoth Plantation website. The embroiderers are recreating an early 17th century women’s jacket all the way down to the embroidered designs and motifs. Being a needlework enthusiast myself, I found this project fascinating and I’ve been enjoying reading about their progress and the historical fashion research they’ve been doing.
For links to source articles and other past Tudor news, please see the archives of the news blog at tudorhistory.org/blog
And now for This Month in Tudor History, where I feature some well known and maybe not as well known events that took place during this month.
On the 12th of October, 1537 Jane Seymour gave birth to the future Edward VI, Henry VIII’s long hoped-for male heir. Just 12 days later, Jane would be dead from complications of the birth.
Jane Seymour’s birth date is not known for sure, but is thought to be around 1508 or 1509 and she was probably born at her family estate of Wolf Hall in Wiltshire. Her father was Sir John Seymour a courtier and soldier and her mother was Margery Wentworth, daughter of Sir Henry Wentworth and through her Wentworth ancestors, Jane was a fifth cousin of her future husband, Henry VIII.
Not much is known about Jane’s childhood or early adult life before she came to court and caught the eye of the king. She first came to court as a lady in waiting to Queen Catherine of Aragon in around 1529, but then moved to serve Anne Boleyn. It is not known for sure when Henry began to look for a potential replacement for Anne Boleyn, but it may have been as early as October 1534. It was then that an unnamed woman, perhaps Jane, was mentioned in a letter from the Imperial ambassador, Eustace Chapuys, as being “attached” to Henry VIII. Jane was the eldest daughter in a family of ten children, including six boys, which was regarded as a good sign that Jane herself would produce a male heir. Chapuys described her as “of middle stature and no great beauty, so fair that one would call her rather pale than otherwise”, making her a contrast to the dark Anne Boleyn.
Henry VIII visited Wolf Hall in September 1535 and by February 1536 the king was sending presents to Jane. There was a famous incident in April, again reported by Chapuys, where Jane refused a letter and a purse of money from Henry and asked the messenger to tell the king: “to consider that she was a well-born damsel, the daughter of good and honorable parents, without blame or reproach of any kind; there was no treasure in this world that she valued as much as her honor, and on no account would she lose it, even if she were to die a thousand deaths. That if the king wished to make her a present of money, she requested him to reserve it for such a time as God would be pleased to send her some advantageous marriage.”
Jane asked that the King only visit her in the presence of her family. Whether or not Jane was sincere or playing the part she was asked to by the growing anti-Boleyn faction, we will never know for sure. Events began to move quickly and Anne Boleyn’s enemies saw in Jane the chance to remove “the concubine” and replace her with a new Queen. Anne was arrested on May 2 and was executed two and a half weeks later on May 19th. The same day of Anne’s death Archbishop Cranmer issued the dispensation for Jane and Henry to marry, and the next day, on the 20th, their betrothal was announced. On the 30th of May, in the Queen’s closest at Whitehall, Henry VIII married for the third time. Because both Catherine of Aragon and Anne Boleyn were now dead, there was no question of the legality of this marriage and of the legitimacy of any children Jane would bear the king.
Two of Jane’s brothers, Edward and Thomas, benefited from their sister’s new position as Queen - Edward became the Earl of Hertford and was made a privy councilor in 1537 and Thomas was knighted. Jane also was on good terms with her step-daughters, Mary and Elizabeth and she is generally credited with having been responsible for Mary’s reconciliation with her father.
In February or March 1537, it was announced that the Queen was pregnant and her quickening was celebrated on the 27th of May, Trinity Sunday. The quickening was the term given when a pregnant mother first feels the movement of the unborn child. On September 16th, Jane began her confinement at Hampton Court Palace. The confinement was a period of time that a pregnant woman would withdraw to her chamber to await the birth of a child.
Jane’s labor began on October 9th and did not end until the birth of her son, named Edward, at two in the morning on October 12th. Contrary to later stories, Edward was not born by caesarean section. Edward was baptized in the chapel at Hampton Court three days later with Archbishop Cranmer and the Duke of Norfolk as godfathers and the baby's half-sister Mary as godmother. The four-year-old Elizabeth attended the christening, carried by the Queen’s brother Edward Seymour. Not surprisingly, the celebrations of the prince’s birth were extensive and on the 18th Edward was given two traditional titles of the heir to the throne Prince of Wales and Duke of Cornwall.
Within a few days of Edward’s birth, Jane fell ill with an infection often called “child-bed fever”, and is also known as puerperal fever. Jane developed septicemia and descended into delirium and by the 24th, she was not expected to live. She died just before midnight that night. Jane was buried at St. George’s chapel at Windsor Castle on the 13th of November with Princess Mary as the chief mourner.
Henry seems to have genuinely mourned the loss of Jane and remained clothed in black until early February 1538. In later family portraits, Jane was the wife pictured with Henry - presumably because she was the mother of the heir to the throne, but perhaps because he also enjoyed his time with her. It is interesting to note that Jane was also the wife that Henry chose to be buried alongside. Their grave marker, a simple black stone in the floor of the chapel, can still be visited today.
As an added note, I will try to start recording what the main sources for this section are in the future. Most of my information this month came from Jane’s entry in the Oxford Dictionary of National Biography and Antonia Fraser’s “The Six Wives of Henry VIII”.
And now for a page from the Tudor History glossary. We’re up to “J” for jointure. Jointure is a legal term giving a widow more rights to property and money after her husband’s death than would be guaranteed by common law.
When a woman entered a marriage with lands and money of her own (usually referred to as a dowry or dower) her property would join that of her new husband. If the husband died before the wife, if no jointure had been made, the widow would entitled to one-third of her late husband’s estate under common law or whatever pre-arranged amount had been contracted for her dower upon her husband’s death.
However, if a jointure had been created, then the wife gives up the right to get her own dower back, but will hold the estate with her husband jointly while they are alive. And upon her husband’s death, the widow would be entitled to more than the one-third due to her under common law.
To tie into our subject from “This Month in Tudor History”, Henry VIII gave Jane Seymour a jointure of lands and manors, including Suffolk Place in London when they were married.
Of course, there are a lot more technicalities and special circumstances involved in the creation of jointures, especially when titles and vast estates were at stake. And sometimes, despite the legal agreements, the dower lands of powerful women were seized or disputed for political purposes. An example would be Elizabeth Woodville’s lands as the Dowager Queen, which Henry VII eventually took and gave to her daughter, Elizabeth of York, his wife and queen.
Now it’s time for a segment where I feature a text from the Tudor period.
I’ve selected a couple of poems this month. The first is the poem about the death of Jane Seymour. The history is not very accurate in the poem, as you will notice. I looked around for more information on the poem, such as a possible date or origin, but I wasn’t able to find anything conclusive. I found several references to it having been written from a song being sung by a gypsy girl, so it might just be best classified as a traditional ballad whose origins are now lost to us.
This second poem is a little more cheerful. It is “The Hunt is Up” by William Gray, who died in 1557.
And now for some closing comments…
This month’s featured website is actually two sites, Google Book Search and the Internet Archive’s Text Archive. Google book search is good for searching for current books on topics you might be looking for, but what I want to highlight with both sites is how they can be helpful in finding history books that are now in the public domain. I used to browse the stacks in my university’s library for Tudor primary source texts for the website and have scanned several for myself originally with the intention of getting them up on the web. Anyone who has been waiting for me to finish putting “The Chronicle of Queen Jane and Two Years of Queen Mary” online has figured out how long it takes me to proofread the text recognition software output and get it into a well-formatted page for the website. But, now anyone can download their own scans of that book and many, many others like it. The Camden Society publications were the first that I came across when I was looking for primary source texts. In the early 19th century, they started printing books from old chronicles, manuscripts, letters, etc. and are a good source for finding texts without having to try to read the old handwriting! One of the best ways to find texts is to just type in the name of a person you’re interested in and start browsing. Before you know it, you will have wasted an hour and downloaded PDFs of a dozen or so 19th century books. The addresses for the sites are books.google.com and www.archive.org/details/texts
I’ve extended the “Tudors” give-away and survey two weeks because I ended up just not having time to finish that up properly. I’ll close the survey at noon US central time on Sunday the 28th. If you haven’t already taken the survey, you can still do so at tudorhstory.org/contest. If you want to be in the drawing, just leave your email address. You can take the survey without entering the give-away.
If you want to comment on this podcast, you can do so at tudorhistory.org/podcast or send me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org A transcript of this and previous podcasts are also available at the website as well as links to mp3s of all the episodes.
Logon to magnatune.com to listen to and purchase music from the artists that you heard featured in this podcast. I’ll have a complete rundown of which albums I used in the podcast notes.
Until next month, fare the well!