|Though no confirmed portrait of Jane |
survives, this one by Hans Holbien is
inscribed "The Lady Parker" and could
Regardless of their happy or unhappy marriage, Jane played a role in George and Anne's quick fall and deaths. According to some contemporary sources and modern historians, it was Jane's testimony that Anne and George had a sexual relationship which helped convict both of incest and treason. She also implied that George had been the biological father of the deformed foetus Anne had miscarried early in 1536. There was no truth in her statements, according to the majority of contemporary witnesses as well as the trial itself. In fact, many placed wagers that George would walk free!
So why did she do it? According to contemporary sources, it was an act of malice against George due to the difficulty in their marriage from his affairs and possibly due to her jealousy of his close relationship with Anne.
Because of her supposed backstabbing nature and dramatic end, Jane Boleyn has been painted throughout history as an ugly, jealous woman. However, biographer Julia Fox disagrees.
On the matter of Jane's appearance, she points out that because Jane was chosen for quite a few pageants about court, she would have most likely been quite pretty.
As for the role in her husband and sister-in-law's downfall, Fox states
Jane Rochford found herself dragged into a maelstrom of intrigue, innuendo and speculation. For when Cromwell sent for Jane, he already had much of what he needed, not only to bring down Anne and her circle, but to make possible the King's marriage to Jane Seymour... The questions to Jane [Rochford] would have come thick and fast... Faced with such relentless, incessant questions, which she had no choice but to answer, Jane would have searched her memory for every tiny incident that occurred to her... [But] Jane had not been quick to tell tales, but she had buckled under the pressure of relentless questioning... And it was her weakness under interrogation that gave her future detractors - happy to find a scapegoat to exonerate the King from the heinous charge of callously killing his innocent wife - the ammunition to maintain that it was her evidence that had fooled Henry and destroyed Anne and George..."
After their deaths, Jane was absent from court due to the loss of her lands and income. She was eventually able to return to court and served Henry's later wives as a lady-in-waiting.
She quickly became a favorite of the young Katheryn Howard. Once Katheryn's affair with Culpepper was discovered (thanks to a letter found which she wrote him), she and Lady Rochford were detained. The letter mentioned Jane by name in aiding the young lovers, which led to her arrest.
After months of being interrogated in the Tower, Jane had a nervous breakdown as was declared insane. Henry VIII had a special law passed which allowed him to execute an insane person. On Feb. 13th, 1542, Jane followed Katheryn Howard to the scaffold and was beheaded. She was buried near Anne and George in St. Peter Ad Vincula within the Tower of London.
So, what do you think? Was Jane an innocent bystander caught up in several bad situations, or a true Tudor Tart?