BOOK REVIEW, NON-FICTION – Very little is known about Henry VIII’s third wife and we all know that she died of what was probably puerperal fever after the birth of Prince Edward, so I wondered how David Loades would fill a complete volume writing on Henry’s favourite wife, Jane Seymour, the one he is buried alongside.
Indeed, the first chapter which attempts to trace Jane’s ancestry ‘with the aid of some imaginative speculation’ confirmed my suspicions that this could not have been an easy volume to fill. Nor did Jane provide us with scandalous gossip during the years she served as a lady in waiting for both Queen Mary and Queen Anne Boleyn. David Loades stresses that she was no great beauty but a virgin of ‘good breeding stock’.
Nevertheless, for those of us who enjoy the texts on Tudor history that have appeared in great number over the last couple of decades, this is an attractive addition which touches on the queens who came before and after Jane, with pleasing illustrations, and goes at some length into the early years of Prince Edward, the short-lived Edward VI.
The book’s back cover gives us Holbein’s portrait of the young Edward, who, Loades tells us, was ‘very much his father’s boy’.