Saturday, June 13, 2015

Jane Seymour: Henry VIII's True Love


Rating: 4 Stars


There's a reason that this is the only biography ever written about Jane - there's barely enough info known about her to fill a chapter in a book about all of Henry's wives, let alone a whole book. That aside, Norton does well with what little information she has to go on. There are a lot of assumptions and supposings, but that's to be expected, given the lack of source material. I was pleasantly surprised to find that Jane was a bit more involved in her own rise than previously presented.

I've always felt a bit sorry for Elizabeth - at least as a child. She lost her own mother at two, but surely remembered her for a short while at least and what information we do have indicates that Anne Boleyn was a devoted mother - as much as she could be, while still performing her duties as queen. That's why it's unfortunate to learn that Jane likely paid little attention to Elizabeth, and instead focused on Mary entirely. It makes sense, given Jane's devotion to Catherine, but still, Elizabeth was still a very young child who deserved to be cared for.

That tangent aside, it's a well-written book that's sheds a little more light on the queen we know the least about. At first I was annoyed by the title of Jane being Henry's true love, but discovered that is how Henry viewed her, after her death and was not just the author making grand statements. I do disagree with Norton's assumption in repeatedly saying Jane was safe once she'd given birth to a son. That is in no way true, and is only assuming the best possible outcome. If Edward had died in infancy, or at least before Henry, and Jane had lived, yet had no other sons, I have no doubt she would have been tossed aside like those who came before her.

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