1537 - 1554 (17 years)
||Lady Jane Grey |
||(London, Middlesex, England) [1, 2]
||12 Feb 1554
||Tower of London, London, Middlesex, England 
||St Peter ad Vincula, London, England 
||The Hennessee Family
||26 Feb 2017 |
||Lady Jane Grey (1536/1537 - 12 February 1554)|
also known as Lady Jane Dudley or the Nine-Day Queen, was an English noblewoman and de facto monarch of England and Ireland from 10 July until 19 July 1553.
The Streatham portrait, discovered at the beginning of the 21st century and believed to be a copy of a contemporary portrait of Lady Jane Grey.
- Lady Jane Grey (1536/1537 – 12 February 1554), also known as Lady Jane Dudley or the Nine-Day Queen, was an English noblewoman and de facto monarch of England and Ireland from 10 July until 19 July 1553.
The great-granddaughter of Henry VII through his younger daughter Mary, Jane was a first cousin once removed of Edward VI. In May 1553, she was married to Lord Guildford Dudley, a younger son of Edward's chief minister, John Dudley, Duke of Northumberland. When the 15-year-old king lay dying in June 1553, he nominated Jane as successor to the Crown in his will, thus subverting the claims of his half-sisters Mary and Elizabeth under the Third Succession Act. Jane was imprisoned in the Tower of London when the Privy Council decided to change sides and proclaim Mary as queen on 19 July 1553. Jane was convicted of high treason in November 1553, which carried a sentence of death, although her life was initially spared. Wyatt's rebellion of January and February 1554 against Queen Mary I's plans to marry Philip of Spain led to the execution of both Jane and her husband.
Lady Jane Grey had an excellent humanist education and a reputation as one of the most learned young women of her day. A committed Protestant, she was posthumously regarded as not only a political victim but also a martyr.
Early life and education
Lady Jane Grey was the eldest daughter of Henry Grey, 1st Duke of Suffolk, and his wife, Lady Frances Brandon. The traditional view is that she was born at Bradgate Park in Leicestershire in October 1537, while more recent research indicates that she was born somewhat earlier, possibly in London, in late 1536 or in the spring of 1537. Lady Frances was the eldest daughter of King Henry VIII's younger sister, Mary. Jane had two younger sisters, Lady Catherine and Lady Mary; through their mother, the three sisters were great-granddaughters of Henry VII, grandnieces of Henry VIII, and first cousins once removed of Edward VI, Mary I and Elizabeth I.
Jane received a humanist education, studying Latin, Greek and Hebrew with John Aylmer, and Italian with Michelangelo Florio. Through the influence of her father and her tutors, she became a committed Protestant and also corresponded with the Zčurich reformer Heinrich Bullinger.
Jane preferred book studies to hunting parties and regarded her strict upbringing, which was well-meant and typical of the time, as harsh. To the visiting scholar Roger Ascham, who found her reading Plato, she is said to have complained:
For when I am in the presence either of father or mother, whether I speak, keep silence, sit, stand or go, eat, drink, be merry or sad, be sewing, playing, dancing, or doing anything else, I must do it as it were in such weight, measure and number, even so perfectly as God made the world; or else I am so sharply taunted, so cruelly threatened, yea presently sometimes with pinches, nips and bobs and other ways (which I will not name for the honour I bear them) ... that I think myself in hell.
In early February 1547, Jane was sent to live in the household of Edward VI's uncle, Thomas Seymour, who soon married Henry VIII's widow, Catherine Parr. Jane lived with the couple until the death of Queen Catherine in childbirth in September 1548.
Contracts for marriage
Lady Jane acted as chief mourner at Catherine Parr's funeral; Thomas Seymour showed continued interest to keep her in his household, and she returned there for about two months before he was arrested at the end of 1548. Seymour's brother, the Lord Protector, Edward Seymour, 1st Duke of Somerset, felt threatened by Thomas' popularity with the young King Edward. Among other things, Thomas Seymour was charged with proposing Jane as a bride for the king.
In the course of Thomas Seymour's following attainder and execution, Jane's father was lucky to stay largely out of trouble. After his fourth interrogation by the King's Council, he proposed his daughter Jane as a bride for the Protector's eldest son, Lord Hertford. Nothing came of this, however, and Jane was not engaged until the spring of 1553, her bridegroom being Lord Guildford Dudley, a younger son of John Dudley, 1st Duke of Northumberland. The duke was then the most powerful man in the country. On 25 May 1553, the couple were married at Durham House in a triple wedding, in which Jane's sister Catherine was matched with the heir of the Earl of Pembroke, Lord Herbert, and another Katherine, Lord Guildford's sister, with Henry Hastings, the Earl of Huntingdon's heir.
Claim to the throne and accession
See also: Third Succession Act
"My devise for the Succession" by Edward VI. The draft will was the basis for the letters patent which declared Lady Jane Grey successor to the Crown. Edward's autograph shows his alteration of his text, from "L Janes heires masles" to "L Jane and her heires masles".
The Third Succession Act of 1544 restored Henry VIII's daughters, Mary and Elizabeth, to the line of succession, although they were still regarded as illegitimate. Furthermore, this Act authorised Henry VIII to alter the succession by his will. Henry's will reinforced the succession of his three children, and then declared that, should none of them leave descendants, the throne would pass to heirs of his younger sister, Mary, which included Jane. For unknown reasons, Henry excluded Jane's mother, Frances Grey, from the succession, and also bypassed the claims of the descendants of his elder sister, Margaret, who had married into the Scottish royal house and nobility.
When the 15-year-old Edward VI lay dying in the early summer of 1553, his Catholic half-sister Mary was still his heir presumptive. However, Edward, in a draft will composed earlier in 1553, had first restricted the succession to (non-existent) male descendants of Frances Brandon and her daughters, before he named his Protestant cousin Jane Grey as his successor on his deathbed, perhaps under the persuasion of Northumberland. Edward VI personally supervised the copying of his will which was finally issued as letters patent on 21 June and signed by 102 notables, among them the whole Privy Council, peers, bishops, judges, and London aldermen. Edward also announced to have his "declaration" passed in parliament in September, and the necessary writs were prepared.
The King died on 6 July 1553. On 9 July Jane was informed that she was now queen, and according to her own later claims, accepted the crown only with reluctance. The next day, she was officially proclaimed Queen of England, France and Ireland after she had taken up secure residence in the Tower of London, where English monarchs customarily resided from the time of accession until coronation. Jane refused to name her husband Dudley as king by letters patent and deferred to Parliament. She offered to make him Duke of Clarence instead.
Official letter of Lady Jane Grey signing herself as "Jane the Quene"
Northumberland faced a number of key tasks to consolidate his power after Edward's death. Most importantly, he had to isolate and, ideally, capture Lady Mary to prevent her from gathering support. As soon as Mary was sure of King Edward's demise, she left her residence at Hunsdon and set out to East Anglia, where she began to rally her supporters. Northumberland set out from London with troops on 14 July; in his absence the Privy Council switched their allegiance from Jane to Mary, and proclaimed her queen in London on 19 July among great jubilation of the populace. Jane was imprisoned in the Tower's Gentleman Gaoler's apartments, her husband in the Beauchamp Tower. The new queen entered London in a triumphal procession on 3 August, and the Duke of Northumberland was executed on 22 August 1553. In September, Parliament declared Mary the rightful queen and denounced and revoked Jane's proclamation as that of a usurper.
Trial and execution
Jane and Lord Guildford Dudley were both charged with high treason, together with two of Dudley's brothers and the former Archbishop of Canterbury, Thomas Cranmer. Their trial, by a special commission, took place on 13 November 1553, at Guildhall in the City of London. The commission was chaired by Sir Thomas White, Lord Mayor of London, and Thomas Howard, 3rd Duke of Norfolk. Other members included Edward Stanley, 3rd Earl of Derby and John Bourchier, 2nd Earl of Bath. As was to be expected, all defendants were found guilty and sentenced to death. Jane was found guilty of having signed a number of documents as "Jane the Queen"; her sentence was to "be burned alive on Tower Hill or beheaded as the Queen pleases" (the traditional English punishment for treason committed by women). However, the imperial ambassador reported to Charles V, Holy Roman Emperor, that her life was to be spared.
The Protestant rebellion of Thomas Wyatt the Younger in January 1553/4 sealed Jane's fate, although she had nothing to do with it. Wyatt's rebellion was a revolt precipitated by Queen Mary's planned marriage to the future Philip II of Spain. Jane's father, the Duke of Suffolk, and his two brothers joined the rebellion, which caused the government to go through with the verdict against Jane and Guildford. Their execution was first scheduled for 9 February 1553/4, but was then postponed for three days so that Jane should get a chance to be converted to the Catholic faith. Mary sent her chaplain John Feckenham to Jane, who was initially not pleased about this. Though she would not give in to his efforts "to save her soul", she became friends with him and allowed him to accompany her to the scaffold.
The Execution of Lady Jane Grey, by the French painter Paul Delaroche, 1833
On the morning of 12 February 1553/4, the authorities took Guildford from his rooms at the Tower of London to the public execution place at Tower Hill, where he was beheaded. A horse and cart brought his remains back to the Tower, past the rooms where Jane was staying. Seeing her husband's corpse return, Jane is reported to have exclaimed: "Oh, Guildford, Guildford." She was then taken out to Tower Green, inside the Tower, to be beheaded.
According to the account of her execution given in the anonymous Chronicle of Queen Jane and of Two Years of Queen Mary, which formed the basis for Raphael Holinshed's depiction, Jane gave a speech upon ascending the scaffold:
Good people, I am come hither to die, and by a law I am condemned to the same. The fact, indeed, against the Queen's highness was unlawful, and the consenting thereunto by me: but touching the procurement and desire thereof by me or on my behalf, I do wash my hands thereof in innocency, before God, and the face of you, good Christian people, this day.
She then recited Psalm 51 (Have mercy upon me, O God) in English, and handed her gloves and handkerchief to her maid. The executioner asked her forgiveness, which she granted him, pleading: "I pray you dispatch me quickly." Referring to her head, she asked, "Will you take it off before I lay me down?", and the axeman answered: "No, madam." She then blindfolded herself. Jane then failed to find the block with her hands, and cried, "What shall I do? Where is it?" Probably Sir Thomas Brydges, the Deputy Lieutenant of the Tower, helped her find her way. With her head on the block, Jane spoke the last words of Jesus as recounted by Luke: "Lord, into thy hands I commend my spirit!"
Jane and Guildford are buried in the Chapel of St Peter ad Vincula on the north side of Tower Green. Jane's father, Duke of Suffolk, was executed 11 days after Jane, on 23 February 1553/4. Her mother, the Duchess of Suffolk, married her Master of the Horse and chamberlain, Adrian Stokes, in March 1555 (not, as often said, three weeks after the execution of the Duke of Suffolk). She was fully pardoned by Mary and allowed to live at Court with her two surviving daughters. She died in 1559.
Main article: Cultural depictions of Lady Jane Grey
"The traitor-heroine of the Reformation", as historian Albert Pollard called her, was only 16 or 17 years old at the time of her execution. During and in the aftermath of the Marian persecutions, Jane became viewed as a Protestant martyr for centuries, featuring prominently in the several editions of the Book of Martyrs by John Foxe. The tale of Lady Jane grew to legendary proportions in popular culture, producing romantic biographies, novels, plays, paintings, and films, one of which was the 1986 production Lady Jane, starring Helena Bonham Carter.
Jane Grey is the only English monarch in the last 500 years of whom no proven contemporary portrait survives. A painting in London's National Portrait Gallery was thought to be Jane for many years, but in 1996 it was confirmed to be of Catherine Parr, Henry VIII's surviving widow with whom Jane lived for a time. A portrait believed by some experts to be of Jane was discovered in a private home in 2005. Painted 40 to 50 years after Jane's death, the "Streatham portrait" (so called after the area of London in which it resided for decades) depicts a young woman dressed in a red gown, adorned with jewels and holding a prayer book.
- [S10471] "Thomas Grey, 1st Marquess of Dorset" biography, which was abstracted, downloaded and published Saturday, February 25th,.
- [S10490] "Lady Jane Grey" biography, which was abstracted, downloaded and published Sunday, February 26th, 2017 by David A. Henne.
- [S10586] "Mary Tudor, Queen of France" biography, which was abstracted, downloaded and published Sunday, March 5th, 2017 by David.