Christine de Pizan

Christine de Pizan
The Writer Christine de Pizan at Her Desk

Saturday, May 30, 2015

Jane Seymour, "Bound to Obey and Serve"

Jane Seymour, queen of England (married 30 May 1536)

Jane Seymour, born about the year 1508, was the third wife of Henry VIII. 

Jane Seymour, 1536,
portrait by Hans Holbein the Younger
When she married in 1536, she selected "bound to obey and serve" as her motto. She did obey and serve, giving birth to the king's longed-for son, Edward, on 12 October 1537. She was dead twelve days later--her days of obeying and serving ended on 24 October 1537. 

She was probably twenty-eight years old.

There are two credible biographies of Jane Seymour, but they both suffer because there is really not that much surviving primary-source information about her--thus both books tend to be more about the men surrounding her than about the woman herself.

If you can overlook the title, Elizabeth Norton's Jane Seymour: Henry VIII's True Love is fine, and there are inexpensive used copies available. David Loades is a very respected Tudor scholar, but his biography, Jane Seymour, suffers from the same problem--not enough information about Jane herself.

You may be better off with one of the multiple biographies of Henry VIII and his six wives, for example Antonia Fraser's The Wives of Henry VIII.