So most of you reading this will be expecting me to focus on how Jane was proclaimed Queen quite formally at Greenwich Palace. I hate to say it, but that’s not much more to say about this day…oh, there was a procession. They were still taking things slowly, so most of the celebrations occurred in the week afterwards. Today’s announcement was the first of a set of measured steps on Jane’s path out of obscurity. On Monday, Jane presided with the King as her brother Edward was elevated to Viscount Beauchamp of Hache (Thomas Seymour was not left out, he was made a gentleman of the Privy Chamber). On Tuesday, Jane was presented to court at a formal dinner. For a few days after that there were pageants and masques that she presided over from a raised dais. The weekend after the spectacle moved to the river and culminated in Henry’s riding to open Parliament in a full procession from Greenwich to Westminster. Cheering Londoners lined the banks and littered the Thames, and then more than a thousand courtiers and foreign dignitaries crowded Westminster’s Great Hall.
But back to today, and the heart of this post: the way the rest of the country would have heard the news. This was Whitsunday, and every man, woman and child in the land would be expected attend mass to celebrate the descent of the Holy Spirit. What better way to communicate news like this but through the Mass? Indeed, three years earlier, in 1533, this was the way the King announced that Anne Boleyn had replaced Catherine of Aragon. During the Eucharistic prayers, parishioners were asked to pray for “King Henry and Queen Anne,” rather than “King Henry and Queen Catherine.” Many people grumbled, some walked out in protest. That didn’t happen this time around, when they were asked to pray for “King Henry and Queen Jane.” Of course, this time people had a couple of weeks to prepare, the weeks after Anne’s execution during which they prayed for King Henry alone…but still. It reminds us how much people of the time hated Anne – her redemption began at her death but didn’t really gain any steam until her daughter Elizabeth took the throne and Gloriana’s reign allowed history to be reinterpreted. I know there are many of you out there who hate Jane Seymour, but without the son she provided, Elizabeth might never have come to the throne. That alone should get people raising their glasses to the woman who provided England with the heir it needed.
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