Saturday 12 October 2013

Happy Birthday Edward VI

Another ‘on this day in history’ post today. Several years ago, I wrote a book about Jane Seymour, Henry VIII’s third wife. Jane is an interesting character and I wish that there were more sources available on her. She could have been an important political figure, if only she had lived.

12 October 1537 was the happiest day of Jane Seymour’s life. She had taken to her chamber at Hampton Court on 16 September, in order to await the birth of her son. Finally, on 9 October, she went into labour. Things did not progress as they should and, on 11 October, a procession was ordered through London to pray for the queen’s safe delivery. It was this prolonged labour that soon led to rumours circulating that Jane gave birth by caesarean section. This was, of course, false, since a sixteenth century caesarean would always result in the rapid death of the mother and such an operation was only carried out after a woman died in labour as a desperate attempt to save the child. Instead, Jane finally gave birth naturally to a healthy son on 12 October, to great rejoicing.

After two days and three nights in labour, Jane must have been exhausted, but she was also jubilant. She had succeeded where her two predecessors as queen had failed – provided, of course, that her son survived infancy. Jane seemed to recover well from the birth and, on 15 October, attended the celebrations for her son’s christening. The following day, however, she began to feel unwell…

You can read more about Jane Seymour in my book, ‘Jane Seymour, Henry VIII’s True Love’, which was published by Amberley in 2009. There is also a section on her in ‘England’s Queens: The Biography’ (Amberley, 2011). I will do a few more posts on her in the coming days to mark the anniversary of her death. Happy birthday Edward VI!

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