I was so excited about ordering "Jane Seymour: Henry VIII's True Love" by Elizabeth Norton because it really is the only Jane Seymour biography available - all the other Jane Seymour books seem to be fictional accounts of her life. However, I wasn't impressed by the first few chapters because I thought they were very flimsy and talked about what Jane MAY have done and where she MAY have been. I understand that Jane Seymour is a hard character to research because there actually isn't much information about her before she became Henry's third wife but still, she could have been anywhere really!!
But, the good news is that the book gets better and is actually a great read and goes some way to dispelling those myths about how Jane was meek, mild and demure. Norton points out that "the real Jane was a shrewd politician and a strong character. Jane could not have won the king without a ruthless streak and her ambition was as great as Anne Boleyn's". What we need to remember is that Jane saw, by being a maid to both Catherine of Aragon and Anne Boleyn, how these women treated the king and how he treated them. She learned that she had to be the good, mild-mannered traditional woman to tempt the king after he had lost interest in the feisty argumentative Anne but she also learned from Anne that she needed to keep hold of her "virtue" if she was to hold the king's interest.
This book, in the end, really does give you a deeper understanding of this woman who history really has ignored and yet who was the "usurper", stealing the King from Anne Boleyn. The information on the Pilgrimage of Grace, Jane's religious beliefs and her horror of how Henry treated the uprising, her pregnancy, death and legacy, is all first class. A great read for Tudor history lovers.