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The Cover
December 28, 2011

Portrait of a Lady, Probably a Member of the Cromwell Family

JAMA. 2011;306(24):2647. doi:10.1001/jama.2011.1751

The reign of His Majesty Henry VIII, by the Grace of God, King of England and France, Defender of the Faith, and Lord of Ireland, lasted from 1509 to 1547. Although the Tudor monarch has been dead for 464 years, he and his court continue to fascinate. Among the foremost players in the intrigue were the members of the Howard family: the Howards produced 2 of Henry's queens and populated the manors and households involved in the vicissitudes of court life. Anne Boleyn, whose womanly wiles attracted the married monarch, belonged to the House of Howard through her mother; Catherine Howard, Henry's fifth queen, was Anne's cousin, and one of the many Howard girls who attended Henry's spouses as ladies-in-waiting. The opposing faction, the Seymour family, supplied ladies-in-waiting to Queen Katherine of Aragon and to Anne Boleyn; Jane Seymour succeeded Anne Boleyn as the Queen Consort after Anne's execution. The Seymour clan's rise to power became cemented after Jane gave birth to Prince Edward, Henry's one legitimate male heir. Jane died less than two weeks after Edward's delivery, one of thousands of women who succumbed to puerperal infection—even the vast wealth of the royal household and the attention of the best physicians and midwives available to the court could not save her from the fate of complications of a difficult labor and childbirth.

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