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Jane Seymour (Hardback)

An Illustrated Life

P&S History > British History > Tudors & Stuarts P&S History > Humanities > Biography & Memoirs P&S History > Royal History Women of History

By Carol-Ann Johnston
Imprint: Pen & Sword History
Pages: 192
Illustrations: 100 mono integrated
ISBN: 9781399071611
Published: 30th August 2023
Last Released: 30th January 2024

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Jane Seymour is the wife of Henry VIII we know the least about, often written off as ‘Plain Jane’. Queen of England for just seventeen months, during her life Jane witnessed some of the most extraordinary events ever to take place in English history, later becoming a part of them. Jane ensured her place in Henry’s affections by giving him his much longed for male heir only to tragically lose her life twelve days later leaving behind a motherless son and a devastated husband. For the remainder of his life Henry would honour the mother of his only legitimate son and would come to regard Jane as his ‘true and loving wife’.

But who was Jane Seymour? Throughout this illustrated book we will find a woman who was neither saint or sinner, but a human being with her own beliefs and causes.

In the pages of this beautifully illustrated guide, readers are invited to delve into the life and times of Jane Seymour, Henry VIII’s third wife. Within this captivating narrative, the complexities of Jane Seymour's character come to life, shedding light on a figure often overshadowed by her predecessor, Anne Boleyn.

The vivid illustrations breathe new life into the Queen’s story, portraying her not as a distant historical figure but as a flesh-and-blood woman with her own set of beliefs, passions, fears and causes.

The book skilfully navigates through the layers of Jane Seymour's life, examining the influences that shaped her character and the challenges she faced as queen. From her early years to her rise as the third wife of Henry VIII, each chapter unravels a different facet of her personality, allowing readers to appreciate the woman beyond the famous Holbein portrait.

What sets this book apart is its commitment to presenting a balanced portrayal of Jane Seymour. Rather than idealizing or vilifying her, the authors acknowledges her flaws and virtues, presenting a more authentic and relatable picture of a woman navigating the complexities of the life at the Tudor court.

The illustrations in this guide are a true feast for the eyes, offering a visual narrative that complements the written content. From depictions of courtly life to intimate glimpses into Jane Seymour’s private moments, the illustrations add depth and texture, making this book all the more engaging.

“Jane Seymour: An Illustrated Life” is a must-read for history enthusiasts seeking a more nuanced understanding of this queen’s life.

Silvia Barbara Soberton, GoodReads

Every time I picked up "Jane Seymour", I was whisked back in time to the Tudor Era, and learning something new about Jane Seymour, those around her, and the lift and times in which she lived.

Carol-Ann Johnston's biography of Jane Seymour, who became the third wife of King Henry VIII, is very well-detailed and researched. I felt immersed in the history of the time period.

Jane was such a strong, kind, and brave woman. This book talks about the Seymour's family origin and some history, through Jane becoming Queen of England and her devastating death. So many historical figures are talked about throughout this non-fiction read, and how they are tied to Jane's story in one way or another is explored.

I found the images throughout to really add another layer to this book as well!

If you enjoy biographies, learning about Royalty, and / or anything dealing with The Tudor Era, I highly recommend this book!

NetGalley, Ashley Maimes

Jane Seymour is the least well-known of Henry VIII’s wives, frequently overlooked or characterized as the quiet, unexciting queen. Carol-Ann Johnston brings new attention to Jane’s story in Jane Seymour: An Illustrated Life. As the mother of Henry VIII’s only surviving son, Jane was of paramount importance to the Tudor Dynasty, with Johnston’s book providing a full account of the life of England’s lowest born queen.

Elizabeth Norton, Tudor historian and author of 'The Hidden Lives of Tudor Women'

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

Jane Seymour by Carol-Ann Johnston is a wonderful, engaging historical book set during Jane’s time at court and her short reign as King Henry’s wife and Queen. It is very clear the author meticulously researched this era and it made this book such a delight to read!

I appreciated the author’s comments as they were very helpful and interesting. I loved looking at the beautiful pictures included in this book as well. Overall, I highly recommend reading this book!

5 Stars!

NetGalley, Renee' McMichael

Jane Seymour is perhaps Henry VIII’s most overlooked and underestimated wife, so any new biography that brings attention to this woman is always welcome in my book.

One of the things I admire about Johnston’s work is that she admits to the gaps in the source material; often, authors try to gloss over these gaps by filling them in with general information about life in the 16th century, or by theorising based on the scantest of evidence. Whilst the author does do the work of the historian by analysing and interpreting the sources we do have, she acknowledges that there are things that we simply do not, and perhaps cannot, know.

There are some fascinating details that Johnston sheds light on, which I had not really read anything about previously. In an early chapter, there is an interesting discussion about evidence that suggests Jane had at least one or two suitors prior to capturing the King’s interest. I also was unaware that Edward inherited some of his mother’s possessions, which is such a touching detail.

Finally, I must talk about the illustrations. They bring new life to the biography, allowing readers to feel like they know Jane and the people around her that little bit more.

Overall, this biography of Jane Seymour was an enjoyable, informative read.

NetGalley, Jessica Carey-Bunning

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

I love everything about Tudor history. There is really not a lot of books about Jane Seymour and also Katherine Parr. So I was excited to read this book. The author did a great job with the research and I learned a few new things about his 3rd wife. I highly recommend this novel for all history buffs especially Tudor history fans.

NetGalley, Heather Michael

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

History was never my best subject at school. This is what surprises me when I find history so very, very interesting. This book satisfied that interest. Well written and researched. Believable and clear. Well worth the read.

NetGalley, Ian Ford

In this latest book about Henry VIII’s third wife, Carol-Ann Johnston brings Jane Seymour to life with both words and contemporary images from the sixteenth century. Johnston, in Jane Seymour: An Illustrated Life, brings the spotlight to the eclipsed Jane Seymour and focuses on her life before and after her marriage to the infamous English king. Johnston appropriately dedicates much of the book to Jane Seymour’s life before she catches Henry VIII’s eye, focusing on her service at court and her family history before pivoting to her life at the center of Tudor court life in the 1530s. The images interspersed in the text add to the book’s character, and the captions are incredibly helpful and informative, providing clarifying contextual information for the reader. Johnston’s familiarity with Jane Seymour’s history and her love for the topic adds to the depth and quality of this interesting insight into this quietly powerful woman. Johnston’s prose is strong and powerful, and her contextual information places Jane Seymour at the center of the historical narrative and explains elements of Jane Seymour’s life and lived experiences in greater detail. Johnston’s book about Jane Seymour places this important historical woman at the center of her own history and unravels some of the mystery surrounding this English queen consort.

NetGalley, Lily Amidon

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

I bear much good will to Jane Seymour, and I beg you will approve of her for my wife.’

This book focuses on Henry III’s third wife.

I thoroughly enjoyed this, your not only learning about Jane Seymour but all of his wife’s with Jane being the main focus. I’ve always wondered if Jane had survived how would history have turned out?

Knowing Henry, I still believe he would have got bored despite Jane proving him with his long awaited heir.

The pictures provided were great!

‘At this time Jane was more focused on the excitement of becoming queen and how quickly this had come about; Anne had waited years, Jane months.’

NetGalley, Georgi Lvs Books

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

Jane is the wife of Henry VIII who is often forgotten about. This is surprising, considering that she was the only wife who managed to give Henry the longed-for son who actually survived! She is not regarded as being as interesting as the other wives, so she has been rather neglected, although she was portrayed as saintly and beautiful in "The Tudors".

Pale and generally regarded as plain, she may even have been the original 'plain Jane'. People were surprised when she caught the King's eye, but she was the opposite of Anne Boleyn, being docile and demure. The King probably regarded her as not likely to argue, and she was the perfect girlfriend for him. Anne -supporters often think that she seems pretty sly, deliberately playing her cards perfectly to marry Henry when she was one of Anne's ladies, but as the author points out, she only did what Anne did herself. She would not have played any part in Anne's death, and, as a devout Catholic, she was probably convinced that Anne was guilty.

This is a good defence of Jane, who was well-loved, generous and amiable. Apparently, she did show some spirit, pleading on behalf of some of those who took part in the Pilgrimage of Grace. However, she soon gave it up - as you would, if you were likely to get your head chopped off! She was also influential in reconciling Henry with his daughter Mary, and she was quite kind to Elizabeth, as well. It's sad that she died so tragically, and young, because she would have been a good Queen.

I enjoyed this book, especially the author's own story of her search for Jane, and the trivia about Jane. I recommend this for history-lovers.

NetGalley, Lisa Sanderson

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

Another amazing book on the Tudors era. This time about the less known third wife of Henry VIII. The author extensively shows the historical background and how Jane became the excellent wife for the temperamental monarch. Highly recommended book for all lovers of history especially of the Tudor's time.

NetGalley, Meg Gajda

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

I have always loved history especially about the Tudor Dynasty. Henry VIII and his six wives has especially interested me. Jane Seymour was the wife who gave Henry VIII the son he wanted so badly; However, very little is known about this woman who died 12 days after giving birth.
Her research appeared thorough and factual. The drawings and photos were magnificent.
I would recommend this book to anyone interested in British history especially the Tudor era.

NetGalley, Gail Allen

I would recommend this book to any Tudor history lover or anyone who enjoys learning more about women throughout history. Johnston did an excellent job using the historical record to examine Queen Jane Seymour's life and filling in the blanks when the records don't exist. Johnston's work will make you question what you may think you know about Jane and that is the best kind of history book in my opinion.

NetGalley, Shana Needham

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

Oftentimes finding books or resources about Jane Seymour can be disappointing, as all information about her seems scarce.
Maybe that's why I never really cared about her. But this book has 100% changed my mind.
It's tactful and it's a complete collection of information regarding every aspect about Jane's life and afterlife. It even has a trivia facts chapter at the end. It's full of pictures and the writing is magnificent.
If like me, anyone feels confused and lost when thinking about Jane, they should read this book.

NetGalley, Sira Barbeito

Apparently there isn’t much documentation to be found about Jane Seymour. After having read another historical account on Anne Boleyn and Elizabeth I, the contrast was so stark!

I felt that the author did a good job despite the limitations that perhaps made it necessary to include more details about the characters that surrounded Jane Seymour at that time. I enjoyed reading Ms Johnston’s educated views on various controversial matters about the queen. It was also nice to see illustrations and portraits of Queen Jane as well as the people and structures relevant to her at that time..

4 stars from me.

NetGalley, Flora Fung

This is a fantastically well-illustrated biography of Jane Seymour, third wife (by our count anyway) of Henry VIII of England and the mother of his long-awaited male heir, the future Edward VI. The images alone make it worth a read even for people already familiar with her story. All speculation is clearly marked as such and there is ample discussion of the interpretation challenges associated with certain primary sources from the period, which makes it particularly useful as a biography... Overall, this is a great biography and definitely one I will recommend to my students.

NetGalley, Kat Otis

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

Carol-Ann Johnston does a great job in writing a biography of Jane Seymour. It had everything that I was looking for from a good biography. It had everything that I was hoping for and thought it gave a good picture of Jane Seymour.

NetGalley, Kathryn McLeer

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

Arranged into 10 chapters and including endnotes, a bibliography, and an index, author Carol-Ann Johnston provided both the genealogical and historical origins of Jane Seymour, Henry VIII’s third wife. I especially appreciated that Johnston was able to reach back into the pre-1066 era to reveal the Seymour family origins in France.

The one thing that I can say about this book is that the author did a fabulous job writing it. I have read a lot of non-fiction books. While many of them are well written, Johnston’s book was a step above: it was a pleasurable read. I read every single word and the book was so enjoyable that it was like reading a fact-filled novel. Johnston is a good, solid writer and through her, I learned a lot about Jane Seymour’s short but eventful life.

I really appreciate that Pen & Sword books chose to scatter the various images throughout the book. With the addition of generous white space, the images gave me a good reason to pause, allowing the information that I’d previously read to sink in.

Overall, this is an excellent book. The author’s wonderful writing style made reading this book so easy and enjoyable that I can’t imagine anyone **not** enjoying it. I recommend this book, without reserve, to all libraries and would love to see this book in every university library in the United States and beyond, including public libraries.

NetGalley, Matal Baker

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

Over the years much has been written about Henry VIII's first two wives. However, Jane Seymour his third wife and the one wife to give him a son is a bit of an enigma.
Carol-Ann Johnston has certainly done her research into the life of this woman. Finishing the book I felt i knew more about the woman.
Jane Seymour married the King whilst Ann Boleyn's body was still warm. She gave birth to his longed for son but only knew her child for 12 days before succumbing to her death as a result of complications. By birthing a son she had secured her position as Queen and her life would have been mapped out. Her death also meant she was never crowned. Henry had obviously wanted to make sure she could do her duty first.
How different the monarchy could have been if she had survived and produced a nursey full of lusty boys.

NetGalley, Catherine Harrold

A well researched and fascinating read about Henry VIII's 3rd wife and the only one to provide him with a living son in his marriages.
I have read many books on the Tudor dynasty but it was a great to read one on what is said to have been his one true love ( although tragic for Jane ).

NetGalley, Angela Thompson

The book is written in an easy, conversational style, not at all dry. It is accessible to all readers, I recommend it for all lovers of Tudor history, the late middle ages, or just history fans in general. Notes and a bibliography is included for those who would like to further explore the subject.

NetGalley, Joyce Fox

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

If you're interested a royalty, British history or just history in general you’ll love this book on Jane Seymour. It’s all about her with little tidbits of other history that happened as we go along, I absolutely enjoyed this book and highly recommend it.

NetGalley, Janalyn Prude

Jane Seymour often gets overshadowed and labeled as the meek, plain third wife of Henry VIII. This book uses images throughout and attempts to expand on the limited information that is known about her. The author does a good job highlighting Jane's life.

NetGalley, Stephanie Peterson

A very detailed description of Jane Seymours life, before and during her time at court. This book is perfect for everyone who wants to freshen up their history knowledge - I especially liked the trivia Chapter towards the end.

NetGalley, Cleo Müller

I really enjoyed this book and I thought that it gave a good insight in to Jane Seymour and her life, which as most people who have an interest in The Tudors or the Royal Family through the ages will know, was tragically cut short when she passed away after giving birth to her son, Edward, the future Edward VI.

Jane herself was never destined to be a Queen so there is quite a bit of her early life that has not been documented. We don’t know when she was born, there is a rough and approximate date but that is all. The book covers from the time she started being courted by the King through to her death in more detail but even the time when she first entered Court is not particularly detailed – there is a lot we still need to learn about Jane.

I liked the insight in to her character, and it does make you wonder if she was really as meek and mild as she was portrayed to be, I think personally that she was a little in over her head and really did as she was told, with the few times that she did speak out, about the monasteries and dissolution, she was ignored, it would be interesting of this dynamic of the relationship between her and Henry VIII changed as she gave him the heir that he so wanted.

I liked that the book was illustrated and that was the focus, the images do help tell the story and I do love this type of book that gives the insight in to the past. There is still quite a bit about Jane that is not known, but I think that may be the case unless an amazing discovery is made in the future.

I thought that the book was well laid out and I liked the different focusses of the chapters.

It is 4 stars from me for this one, highly recommended!

NetGalley, Donna Maguire

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

While, unfortunately, not much is known about Jane Seymour, Carol-Ann Johnston takes what is known about her life, family, and the happenings around her and gives these facts to us in an interesting, easy to read format. Much of Jane's existence is often speculated, twisted in unfair narratives (in my opinion), so it's nice to read about what kind of woman she really was.

NetGalley, Christina Childers

About Carol-Ann Johnston

Carol-Ann Johnston was born and raised in Carlisle where she developed a love of Tudor history, especially Henry VIII’s wives. She runs the Facebook page Jane Seymour: Henry VIII’s Third Wife page on Facebook when she is not working for the NHS as a Patient Care Advisor.

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