As we know, during the entire downfall of Queen Anne, who had been arrested at the beginning of May and beheaded only weeks later, Jane had been sitting along the sidelines, as the King had willed. She had moved houses to be closer to Henry (at his command) and virtually waited quietly for the day when she would be summoned back to court for the purpose of marriage to the (new) most eligible bachelor in England. As with mostly everything in Jane's life, her feelings about this match are unclear - but we can assume that her joy in becoming the Queen of England was mingled with the nerves and trepidation that went along with becoming the wife of a borderline tyrannical, wife-killing King. Jane had certainly seen the way Henry had treated not only Anne Boleyn, but his first wife Katherine of Aragon. Although she had managed to avoid the executioner's axe, her fate had not been much prettier. She had been dismissed and subjected to a lowly life in the country until her death four months prior, having been swiftly replaced by a lady-in-waiting. Weren't things now looking awfully familiar? Queen Anne Boleyn had suffered imprisonment and execution, but she had also been replaced by a lady-in-waiting, and now it was Jane's turn. Can you imagine the emotions that must have been running through her head at the thought of this marriage? Surely it was an exciting experience, to be courted by a King and to be planning a royal wedding - but with Henry's marital history and fickle romantic interests, one would certainly understand if Jane was fearful.
Although we can certainly agree that it was in poor taste to marry so quickly after the previous queen's death, we can perhaps give Henry a bit of credit for insisting that his new marriage be kept secret for a time, in an effort to control the amount of talk against it. (I'm sure we can also assume that this was not done out of respect for Anne Boleyn, whom the King was quite clearly glad to be rid of...). Elizabeth Norton, Jane's biographer in Jane Seymour: Henry VIII's True Love, suggests that this secrecy may have frustrated Jane - who was so close to becoming Queen, yet now had to wait for it to be made official. However, despite the efforts to keep the court tight-lipped about the wedding, news quickly began to leak out. Of course, Jane did not attract the same public hostility that Anne had, but there were still mutterings about the indecency of the situation, which must have frustrated them both. One man, named John Hill of Eynsham was even charged with claiming that "the king, for a frawde and a gilt, caused Master Norrys, Mr. Weston, and the other Queen to be put to death because he was made sure unto the Queen's Grace [Jane] that now is half a year before," (p. 81). For all we can tell, Jane and Henry did their best to ignore the whisperings and enjoy their new marriage despite the unrest of some people. There would be no official announcement of the wedding, and Jane would gradually be introduced to the people as their new Queen
So, although on this day in 1536, the wedding ceremony was performed and kept a secret, it was a happy and promising day for their future together. Jane had successfully paved her way to the top and gained the hand of the King who had proven himself to be a less-then-terrific husband, but a powerful husband nonetheless. Despite the initial secrecy of the marriage, Jane was also given the opportunity to spend her wedding night with Henry - which may or may not have been the first time that they consummated their relationship. (Some speculate that it was, but I would be willing to bet that the deed had already been done...)
A very happy 477th wedding anniversary to King Henry VIII and his "true" wife, Jane Seymour, who would give him the greatest belated wedding present he could ever ask for in October 1537 - a prince!