On this day in 1536, Sir Richard Sadler arrived at Windsor (where King Henry VIII and Queen Jane Seymour were then in residence) to deliver letters from Cromwell. There was plague in Westminster, even in the Abbey itself. Queen Jane’s coronation must be postponed. Again.
The first postponement had occurred around July 1 – Spanish Ambassador Eustace Chapuys speculating that they wanted to see whether Jane was with child. When it was clear that she was not, the coronation was rescheduled for October 29, and Henry and Jane were said to gleefully proceed with preparations (Henry already had carpenters preparing Westminster Hall for the coronation banquet) until fear of the plague quashed the plans. There was no question of rescheduling until the fear of pestilence had completely died down – before which time the Pilgrimage of Grace had broken out. As part of settling the uprising, the King assured the rebels that Jane would be crowned at York – a promise he had no intention of keeping and so never began to plan for. And then of course Jane was pregnant for real and there was no question of taking any chances with her health.
So many people were speculating then – and still do today – that after so many delays, the King came to decide that Jane would not be crowned unless and until she had borne him a son. The big debate was and remains whether this was due primarily to the state of the royal treasury or because he wanted to keep his options open…
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