Far from being a doormat, it seems that Jane played her husband perfectly
There’s a gap in the historical record where Jane Seymour’s personality should be. But could the secret of Jane’s success be her restful, passive nature? As her personal motto stated, Jane felt “bound to obey and serve”. Perhaps Henry was glad to avoid the high drama he’d put up with from Catherine of Aragon and Anne Boleyn. And quiet Jane Seymour was one of 10 siblings: she looked likely to be a good breeder.
Historians have built up the best picture they can with only a tiny handful of clues to Jane’s character. There was an incident prior to marriage when she refused a gift of gold coins from the king, possibly an attempt to ‘play’ him by standing up to him. Then, there were her pleas for the monasteries to be spared destruction: perhaps she was making the case for the old religion. But both may also be seen simply as aspects of the traditional role of a queen – virtuous, focused on marriage, interceding on behalf of the vulnerable.
Whatever the nature of Jane’s charm, there is no doubt that the story that she died following a Caesarian is anti-Henrician propaganda. Henry’s Catholic enemies believed that he was capable of cutting open his wife to get at his baby. But the reality is that Jane probably succumbed to straightforward septicemia (a matter of days after giving birth to the future Edward VI in October 1537). This cemented her image as the perfect wife, who died before Henry could get bored with her. In this case, the myth might really be the reality.