- The Death of Queen Jane
"The Death of Queen Jane" is an English
balladthat describes the events surrounding the death of a Queen Jane. Many now believe that the Queen is Jane Seymour, the third wife of Henry VIIIof England. However there is no evidence to support this assumption. Historically, Jane Seymour gave birth to a son who became Edward VI of Englandon October 12, 1537. The birth was difficult but natural. She died twelve days later from infection resulting from the birth. It is cataloged by Francis James Childas Child #170. Some of the versions given are Scottish, in which the queen's name is Jeanie or Jeany.
There are several versions of the song given by Child, but they are consistent in the basic tale. Queen Jane is in difficult labour - the time given ranges from 3 days to an astonishing 6 weeks - and asks a succession of people to cut open her sides and save her baby. Each refuses her in turn, understanding that this would cause her death. She asks for others to be sent to her - variously her mother, a surgeon or doctor, and King Henry - and of each she makes the same request. Finally someone - King Henry in most versions - succumbs to her pleas and the surgery is done, whereupon she dies. The song ends with descriptions of the mourning, and most versions contrast the joy of the birth of a male heir with the grief over the death of the queen.
The relationship between Queen Jane and King Henry is described as a loving one in the ballad. In the versions in which he is sent for to hear her plea he is shown as first refusing:
:King Henry was sent for, and sat by her bedside::'Why weep you, Queen Jeany? your eyes are so red.':'O Henry, O Henry, do this one thing for me,:Let my side straight be opend, and save my babie!'
:'O Jeany, O Jeany, this never will do,:It will leese thy sweet life, and thy young babie too.':::::::--"Version 170C"
Only when she falls into a swoon - presumably interpreted that she was going to die anyway - are her instructions followed.
:She wept and she wailed, till she fell in a swoon::Her side it was opened, the babie was found.:::::::--"Version 170C"
Version 170D makes this explicit:
:The surgeon was sent for, he came with all speed,:In a gown of black velvet from heel to the head;:He gave her rich caudle, but the death-sleep slept she,:Then her right side was opened, and the babe was set free.
Many versions describe King Henry weeping, his grief for his wife overcoming his joy for his son. One version mentions Princess Elizabeth, who became Elizabeth I as the one who "goes weeping away." Interestingly, there is no mention in any version of Princess Mary (later Mary I), although she and Jane Seymour shared their loyalty to
Roman Catholicismrather than Henry's new Protestantism. Some historians believe that Jane's relationship with Mary was a close one; her one political adventure that prompted Henry to remind her of the fate of Anne Boleyninvolved support for Mary and Catholicism.
Text of version 170B
The text is given with the original spelling as Child gives it. This version is one of the more complete ones, and contains most of the story elements found in any of the versions.
There are a few words which may be unfamiliar to modern English speakers.
;traveld :laboured, travailed;meikle : great;ha : hall
:Queen Jeanie, Queen Jeanie, traveld six weeks and more,:Till women and midwives had quite gien her oer::O if ye were women as women should be,:Ye would send for a doctor, a doctor to me.'
:The doctor was called for and set by her bedside::'What aileth thee, my ladie, thine eyes seem so red?':'O doctor, O doctor, will ye do this for me,:To rip up my two sides and save my babie?'
:'Queen Jeanie, Queen Jeanie, that's the thing I'll neer do,:To rip up your two sides to save your babie:':Queen Jeanie, Queen Jeanie, traveld six weeks and more,:Till women and midwives had quite gien her oer.
:'O if you were doctors as doctors should be,:Ye would send for King Henry, King Henry to me:':King Henry was called for and sat by her bedside,:'What aileth thee, Jeanie? what aileth my bride?'
:'King Henry, King Henry, will you do this for me,:To rip up my two sides, and save my babie?':'Queen Jeanie, Queen Jeanie, that's what I'll never do,:To rip up your two sides to save your babie.'
:But with sighing and sobbing she's fallen in a swoon,:Her side it was ript up, and her babie was found;:At this bonnie babie's christning there was meikle joy and mirth,:But bonnie Queen Jeanie lies cold in the earth.
:Six and six coaches, and six and six more,:And royal King Henry went mourning before;:O two and two gentlemen carried her away,:But royal King Henry went weeping away.
:O black were their stockings, and black were their bands,:And black were the weapons they held in their hands;:O black were their mufflers, and black were their shoes,:And black were the chevrons they drew on their luves.
:They mourned in the kitchen, and the mourned in the ha,:But royal King Henry mourned langest of a'::Farewell to fair England, farewell for evermore!:For the fair flower of England will never shine more.
* [http://www.sacred-texts.com/neu/eng/child/ch170.htm The complete text of all the versions given by Child.]
* [http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B000001Q9M Sound clip available of CusterLaRue singing a version of this song (titled Queen Jane)]
Wikimedia Foundation. 2010.
Look at other dictionaries:
The Execution of Lady Jane Grey — is an oil painting by Paul Delaroche completed in 1833. It is currently housed in the National Gallery in London. The painting portrays, erroneously in some regards, the moments preceding the death of Lady Jane Grey, who was executed in 1554.… … Wikipedia
Jane Seymour — Infobox British Royalty|majesty|consort name =Jane Seymour title =Queen Consort of England reign =30 May, 1536–24 October, 1537 spouse =Henry VIII issue =Edward VI royal house = othertitles = father =John Seymour mother =Margery Wentworth date of … Wikipedia
The Joan Baez Lovesong Album — Infobox Album Name = The Joan Baez Lovesong Album Type = compilation Artist = Joan Baez Released = 1976 Recorded = Genre = Length = Label = Vanguard Producer = Reviews = Last album = This album = Next album = The Joan Baez Lovesong Album was a… … Wikipedia
Jane Barker — (1652 – 1732) was an English poet and novelist of the early 18th century. The Amours of Bosvil and Galesia (1713) was considered her most successful work. A staunch Jacobite, she followed King James II of England into exile at Saint Germain en… … Wikipedia
Jane Grey — Möglicherweise Lady Jane Grey Dudley (Künstler unbekannt) Lady Jane Grey (* 1536/1537 in Bradgate in Leicestershire (Mittelengland); † 12. Februar 1 … Deutsch Wikipedia
Queen Victoria — For other uses, see Queen Victoria (disambiguation). Victoria … Wikipedia
Jane Boleyn, Viscountess Rochford — (c. 1505 ndash; February 13 1542) was an English noblewoman who lived in the reign of Henry VIII. She was a sister in law of Henry s second wife Anne Boleyn and lady in waiting to his fifth wife Catherine Howard, with whom she was executed. Early … Wikipedia
Jane Loftus, Marchioness of Ely — Jane Loftus ( née Hope Vere), Marchioness of Ely (1821 – 11 June 1890) was an English lady of the bedchamber and a close friend of Queen Victoria. Her parents were James Hope Vere and Lady Elizabeth Hay, and through her mother she was a cousin of … Wikipedia
Death of Diana, Princess of Wales — The entrance to the Pont de l Alma tunnel, the site where Diana was fatally injured On 31 August 1997, Diana, Princess of Wales, died as a result of injuries sustained in a car accident in the Pont de l Alma road tunnel in Paris, France. Her… … Wikipedia
Jane Fellowes, Baroness Fellowes — The Right Honourable The Lady Fellowes Born The Honourable Cynthia Jane Spencer 11 February 1957 (1957 02 11) (age 54) Nationality British Educat … Wikipedia