Saturday, April 18, 2009

Question from Katlyn - Affair between Anne Stanhope and her father-in-law


I have heard - I believe I read it in Joanna Denny's book on Anne Boleyn (which I realize is viewed as rather partisan) - that Anne Stanhope, Edward Seymour's wife, had an affair with Sir John Seymour, her father-in-law, and produced a child with him. And that this was (understandably) a huge scandal.
My questions are: Is this true?
If so, why isn't it more prevalent of a piece of information?

I find this so interesting. I feel like the Seymours are always portrayed by historians (and the popular opinion at the time) as being thoroughly English, honest, et cetera, whereas the Boleyns were easy to see as grasping and Frenchified (nevermind that most noble families were grasping and likewise most of them spent time in France) - and thus, this little detail would conveniently never have been mentioned.

Anyone? Is this true?



5 Comments:

Blogger Foose said...

It wasn't Anne Stanhope -- it was Catherine Filliol, her husband's first wife, who allegedly had the affair with her father-in-law and was divorced as a result.

As to the second question - I don't know. It was probably hushed up as much as possible -- the Filliols appear to have kept quiet from mortification and self-interest, and the children of that marriage were disinherited, although in practice there appears to have been efforts to find offices and pensions for them under Elizabeth. Once Jane Seymour had a son destined to be king of England, I think few people would have seen it as advantageous to themselves to publicize the scandal and denounce his relations -- an attitude probably intensified when Edward Seymour, the wronged husband, became Lord Protector and a kind of de facto king during Edward's minority.

You may have a point that there is a bias on the part of some (particularly Victorian) historians to avoid addressing the scandal as well -- the nature of Sir John Seymour's transgression was pretty shocking to the sensibilities of previous centuries.

It does turn up in books in this century, even popular historical fiction. Frances Clark's paperback Jane Seymour, part of a set of 6 books on Henry's wives published in the '70s in the wake of the mass popularity of the TV show "Henry VIII and his Six Wives" presents the scandal, although gingerly.

April 18, 2009 8:35 PM  
Blogger Elizabeth M. said...

It was Edward's first wife, Catherine Fillol. She had an affair with Sir John Seymour, her father-in-law, and had possibly two children by him. Edward Seymour did not acknowledge these children, had the marriage annulled, and I think she was sent to a nunnery, though I am not 100% on that bit. His second wife was Anne Stanhope.

April 18, 2009 8:54 PM  
Blogger Foose said...

This century? I mean the 20th century, of course!

April 18, 2009 9:00 PM  
Blogger Katlyn R. said...

Thank you both! Of course it makes more sense that it was Catherine. I read that it was his "first" wife but then I read somewhere that it was Anne Stanhope. I was shocked because I couldn't imagine a marriage withstanding that, for reputation's sake, and that Anne could set herself up so high at court during Edward's LP period after having done that.

April 19, 2009 11:23 AM  
Blogger Bearded Lady said...

Katlyn, I am not sure if you are still going to be researching Anne Stanhope. But if you are...I just wanted to add that I am not sure history has been completely fair to her. She was an extremely strong willed woman with perhaps a little too much pride. The 16th century didn't take too kindly to these qualities in women and the Victorians obviously condemned such qualities.

Anne may have been rude to Katherine Parr, but very often strong willed women also got labeled as immoral and loose.

April 20, 2009 8:59 AM  

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