After a hit season on West End, ‘Six’ recently debuted in Australia and Broadway. A historically inspired musical, ‘Six’ reimagines Henry VIII’s wives as a pop group, exploring their humorous yet equally heart-wrenching stories through song. In this series, discover more about the real-life figures behind the show, with “Six Facts” for each of the Six Queens.
The third Queen, and Henry VIII’s third wife, is Jane Seymour.
The only one he truly loved, when my son was newly born I died, but I’m not what I seem or I am? Stick around and you’ll suddenly see more.”
(Jane Seymour in the musical ‘Six’)
Jane Seymour was an English gentlewoman and lady in waiting to Henry’s first two wives, Katherine of Aragon and Anne Boleyn. Henry began courting her while growing discontented with his second wife and then married Jane after having Anne executed. Jane successfully gave birth to a male heir, the future Edward VI, but died a few days later from birthing complications. This resulted in significant political influence for her family, especially when her son became King at just nine years of age.
Fact 1 – Related to Henry, twice
Jane was related to Henry through multiple branches of her family. Firstly, she was descended from King Edward III through her maternal grandfather, making Jane and Henry fifth cousins. In addition, they shared a common ancestor in Sir John Stourton, a judicial officer, and were therefore also fourth cousins once removed.
Fact 2 – Actively pursued the Crown
Despite her common depiction as innocent and modern, historians usually consider Jane’s submissiveness to be calculated, contrasting herself with the hot tempered Anne in order to win the King’s affections. For example, when Henry offered her a purse of money, she theatrically returned it, falling to her knees and insisting that, as a virtuous woman, she could only accept such a gift after marriage.
Fact 3 – Fought with Anne Boleyn
Jane eventually rose high in the King’s favour and began to flaunt her new status, frequently leading to blows with the Queen. Once, when Jane wore a portrait of Henry, Anne ripped it from her neck with such force that it left behind welts.
Fact 4 – Married Henry 11 Days after Anne’s Execution
Anne Boleyn was executed on the 19th of May 1536 and less than two weeks later Jane Seymour became Queen. Archbishop Cranmer married Jane and Henry on the 30th of May, in a private ceremony at the Queen’s Closet in Whitehall.
Fact 5 – Reconciled Henry and Lady Mary
The King had been estranged from Lady Mary, his daughter by Katherine of Aragon, since before his marriage to Anne Boleyn. Jane, a friend of both Katherine and her daughter Mary, encouraged Henry to reconcile with her and also unsuccessfully attempted to restore her place in the succession.
Fact 6 – Petitioned Henry to spare Religious Rebels
Within months of their wedding, a Catholic uprising began in Northern England, protesting against the Reformation of the Church. Jane, likely a secret Catholic, sympathised with the rebels and petitioned her husband to spare their lives. In response, the King exploded, ordering her to remember the fate of other wives who tried to ‘meddle in his affairs’.
In ‘Six’ Jane is a strong and resilient woman who is both deeply in love with her husband and keenly aware of his fickle and changeable nature.
‘Heart of Stone’ describes her ‘unbreakable’ heart, built to withstand the trials of a relationship with Henry. She acknowledges that his love is temporary and based upon the birth of their son, but she still chooses to love him unconditionally. Check out the Studio Cast Recording featuring Natalie Paris on Spotify.
“I have a lot of time and respect for everyone on board this show. I am so glad this is part of my story.”
Loren Hunter is playing Jane Seymour in the currently postponed Australian Tour of ‘Six’. She trained at the Western Australian Academy of Performing Arts and graduated in 2011, earning the Finlay Award for Music Theatre during her studies. Her credits include such starring roles as Elphaba in ‘Wicked’ (Free-Rain Theatre Company), Mimi in ‘Rent’ (Highway Productions) and Liza Minnelli in ‘The Boy from Oz’ (The Production Company). Loren has also performed a variety of roles in new musicals including Vanessa Cronin/Fran in ‘Strictly Ballroom’ (Global Creatures), Jean in ‘American Psycho’ (Hayes Theatre) and, most recently, the titular role in ‘Evie May’ (Hayes Theatre Company).
For more on ‘Six’, you can follow the musical on Facebook and Instagram, listen to the cast recording on Spotify or see the National Tour in Melbourne, Adelaide or Wellington, which will recommence at an unconfirmed date. To learn about Jane Seymour, check out the historical fiction novel ‘Jane Seymour: A Haunted Queen’ by Alison Weir, as well as the television series ‘The Tudors’.
Photos sourced via Facebook and the Daily Art Magazine.