"You should be more like your brother... he takes what he wants."- Anna Stanhope to Thomas Seymour, on her husband (and his brother) Edward Seymour
Sir Edward Seymour, Earl of Hertford is the eldest brother of Jane Seymour. He is introduced in the second season as a part of the ambitious Seymour family, and is also the brother of Thomas Seymour. He is married to Anne Stanhope, who later ends up cheating on him with Sir Francis Bryan and later his brother Thomas because the relationship between the two is a cold one. Despite his lack of regard for his wife, Edward values her advice and issues threats Bryan for his interest in her. Edward Seymour is played by English actor Max Brown.
He is portrayed as greedy, indifferent and sometimes extremely cruel (similar to his opponent Lord Thomas Boleyn) but politically shrewd, especially in terms of working with potential rivals and enemies until their usefulness expires. Although it is not shown on the series, Edward's first wife, Catherine Filliol, had an affair with his father John Seymour. Edward and Catherine married in 1527, although the marriage was annulled circa. 1537; he had a number of children from his second marriage to Anna. Edward and his brother Thomas both gained immense royal favor after the fall of the Boleyn family and Jane's marriage to the King; Edward is named Earl of Hertford, and in Season Four he and Thomas are both invested as Knights of the Garter. Unlike their sister, who was a devoted Catholic, Edward and Thomas Seymour were actually reformists, and Edward initially expressed admiration for the cleverness of the King's First Minister, Thomas Cromwell- who, like himself, rose from a low-born position to become a champion of Protestantism. However, Edward's lust for power means he hopes to take Cromwell's place, and at the end of Season Three he plays a major role in plotting Cromwell's downfall.
After Jane's death, Edward takes on a larger role in the series, alongside his brother. He begins appearing more frequently, becomes a Privy Council member and plays an active role in court, especially when Henry becomes ill; if his nephew were to take the throne as a minor, Edward Seymour would be Lord Protector of England. Even before Henry's death, Edward shows great protectiveness around his nephew, the Prince of Wales. As the series progresses, he becomes more and more power hungry and ruthless, even telling Lady Salisbury to have dignity before her execution- though he shows some regret when arranging the execution of her young grandson, gently telling the little boy to "come along" and leading him by the hand. In the Season Three finale, he allies with Charles Brandon, Sir Francis Bryan and Bishop Gardiner (despite Gardiner being a fanatical Catholic and Bryan being his romantic rival) to bring about Cromwell's fall from power and execution.
Seymour, Brandon and Bryan are also responsible for jointly bringing Katherine Howard to court in order to appease the King, though they later regret it in episode 4.05 when Katherine's previous sexual history- and adultery while married to the King- are revealed. Seymour shows particular vindictiveness and cruelty when interrogating- and torturing- Katherine's former lovers, though he maintains to Thomas and his wife Anna that he does so in order to prevent Henry from becoming angry with him for encouraging the King to take an interest in Katherine in the first place. The Seymour brothers also form a strong rivalry with Katherine's cousin the Earl of Surrey, who regards them with contempt because of their low birth; nonetheless, they initially have to condescend to him because he carries the King's favor.In Season Four, with Cromwell dead, Edward's Protestant faction begins to loose influence and Bishop Gardiner, sensing this, attempts to find a way to charge him with heresy in Season Four. Edward ultimately triumphs, however, when Gardiner is banished from court in the Season Finale, and he remains one of the most powerful members of Henry's court due to his connection to Prince Edward. Seymour also manages to triumph over his rival the Earl of Surrey, and after a show trial for treason Surrey is condemned to execution; however, the farce of the charges (despite having some basis) causes a slight rift between Edward and his former ally, Charles Brandon. As his death approaches, King Henry names Edward Seymour Lord Protector until Prince Edward is of age, creating a coalition government headed by Edward Seymour and Archbishop of Canterbury Thomas Cranmer.
Historical role Edit
Historically, Edward was born around 1506, studied at Cambridge University and was one of Wolsey's proteges. He was knighted in 1522, and accompanied Henry and Anne to Calais in 1532. Edward and his family benefited from the fall of Anne Boleyn, as it meant Jane Seymour was able to rise to power. His family were lower-born than the Boleyns, but both he and his brother Thomas increasingly dominated King Henry's government in the latter part of his reign. Contrary to what is shown in the third season, Edward was not involved in the attempt to usurp Thomas Cromwell and have him executed; rather, he and Cromwell were on friendly terms, as both were low-born and strong supporters of the Reformation. In fact, Cromwell's son, Gregory Cromwell, was married to one of Edward's sisters, Elizabeth Seymour. Although extremely ruthless (as depicted in the series) Edward was a much less effective politician than portrayed in The Tudors, which helped bring about his eventual downfall.
At the death of Henry VIII, Edward rose to power himself, becoming Duke of Somerset. Henry's son, Edward, was much too young to rule, and Edward Seymour was named Lord Protector. This meant he virtually served as King of England. Although he was a skilled military commander, Seymour's policy of continuous war with Scotland (with his nephew's reluctant approval) irked many of the nobility. Several factions worked against him, his brother Thomas Seymour being one of them. Edward then brought about his brother's downfall for treason. However, Edward soon fell swiftly not longer after, John Dudley's faction arresting Seymour on charges of treason. Edward was executed and died similarly to his brother.
- James Frain, the actor who plays Thomas Cromwell, in the Showtime TV series The Tudors, describes Edward Seymour as "a bit of a wild card".