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The Death Of Queen Jane

  • Trad / Child #170

    Queen Jane lay in labour for six weeks and more
    The women grew weary and the midwife gave o'er

    King Henry he was sent for; on horseback and feet
    King Henry came to her in the time of her need

    O Henry, good King Henry, if that you do be
    Please pierce my side open and save my baby

    Oh no, Jane, good Queen Jane, that never could be
    I'd lose my sweet flower to save my baby

    Queen Jane she turned over, she fell all in a swoon
    Her side was pierced open and the baby was found

    How bright was the morning, how yellow was the room
    How costly the white robes Queen Jane was wrapped in

    King Henry he grieved, he wrung his hands to their sore
    The flower of England will never be no more

    As sung by Joan Baez

Susannes Folksong-Notizen

  • [1959:] The story is a legendary re-working of historical fact. Jane Seymour, wife of Henry VIII, died on 24 October 1537, twelve days after the natural birth of her son, who later became Edward VI. Some said her death was due to clumsy surgery. We do not know how old this ballad is, nor if it derives from a piece called The Lamentation of Queen Jane, licensed for publication in 1560. The ballad has been collected in Devon and Somerset [...]. (EFS113)

  • [1966:] It is strange that the story of the Caesarean birth was accepted so soon after the Queen's death, as the royal births at that time were usually viewed by the Court to make sure that the newcomer was really royalty, and to ensure that (should he be stillborn) no substitutions could take place. (Peggy Seeger, Reprint Sing Out 9, 138)

  • [1967:] [...] the makers of the celebrated Charles Laughton picture, 'The Private Life of Henry VIII', followed the same fiction [the Caesarean]. Picturesque and sentimental detail has kept the ballad green [...] in Dorset (and elsewhere). (Lloyd, England 138)

  • [1979:] It seems likely that the common experience among women of suffering and even death in childbirth is not only what caused the making of these ballads but also kept them alive in the sung tradition for so long. (Henderson/Armstrong 96)

  • [1982:] Royalty rarely features in folksong. [...] However, one royal death, that of Jane Seymour, evidently caught the imagination of the public, for The death of Queen Jane survived long enough to be collected by Hammond in 1907, and by others. Popular memory preferred a romantic deathbed scene to the historical truth, and the song has Jane pleading for her right side to be opened so that the baby, at least, will live. A reluctant Henry VIII finally agrees, and Jane dies. In truth, the birth of the future Edward VI was normal, and his mother died about a fortnight later. (Pollard, Folksong 35)

  • [1986:] There seems little doubt that many of the ballads found in Scotland now, and probably current in the sixteenth century - for example, The Death of Queen Jane (Child 170) [...] came to us from England. (Henderson, Alias MacAlias 93)

Quelle: England, Scotland

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