Monday, 1 April 2013

Jane Popincourt

Jane Popincourt was the very first mistress of Henry VIII. She was French and had previously served as a maid-of-honour to the Queens of Louis XII and Francis I. Jane arrived at the English court to teach Princess Margaret and Princess Mary French - after all it was her native language. When she first arrived, England was ruled by Henry VII who died not long afterwards. When Henry VIII became King of England in 1509 she was promptly made a lady-in-waiting to Queen Catherine of Aragon. Just five years later she was known to be the King's mistress.

Before Jane became Henry's mistress she had engaged in other love affairs at the English court. Her countryman, Louis I d'Orlèans (Duke of Longueville), had been a prisoner ever since the Battle of the Spurs in 1513 - but he still functioned as an ambassador. One of his main tasks was to secure the marriage between Princess Mary and Louis XII in which he succeeded. But the romance with the French Duke seriously damaged Jane's reputation - it has been speculated that she was always in the middle of her twenties and still unmarried. However, the Duke returned to France and Jane stayed behind. With a tarnished reputation, it would seem that Jane was not very popular with the English courtiers. Apparently even the French court had heard of Jane's "adventures". When she was appointed to accompany Princess Mary to France, Louis XII refused to have her serve his new wife - allegedly he thought her behaviour too immoral! 

It was at this time that her affair with Henry VIII began. The affair itself was very short-lived but not due to the ever-changing moods of the King (as could be expected). Jane decided to return to France in 1516 and it is likely that she continued her affair with the Duke of Longueville. 

1 comment:

  1. I think Jane was ahead of her time in that she had affairs just like the king and courtiers, but of course there was, and in many ways still is. A double standard. I would love to know haw she fared back I France and how she ended her days. Also, how a single woman in the 16th century prevented pregnancy, if she did. Perhaps she did have infants but gave them up. It was not unusual for wealthy women to surrender their unwanted babies to convents along with a "donation" so the nuns would care for them until they decided whether to become nuns or work as "lay workers" in the convent. The only other option was to leave and become prostitutes.