The Nine Day Queen: Lady Jane Grey

On the 6th July 1553, King Edward VI of England died at Greenwich Palace.  On the 9th July, Bishop Ridley stated that contenders to the English throne, Mary and Elizabeth were illegitimate by right of birth.  Then on the 10th July, proclamation of the death of King Edward VI was announced.

So who was going to be the next King or Queen of England?

Lady Jane Grey was born in October 1537 at Bradgate Manor, Leicestershire to parents Henry Grey, Marquis Dorset and great grandson of Queen Elizabeth and her mother was Frances Brandon, Duchess of Suffolk.

In 1546, she entered court life as the ward to Catherine Parr, the then wife of Henry VIII, at the suggestion of Thomas Seymour, the Lord Admiral.  On the 21st May 1553, she married Lord Guildford Dudley, not by choice, but by request of her mother.

The Dudley’s were Protestant nobles. And held much power in court, due to their wealth, attained through the Dissolution of the Monasteries.  As Protestant’s they feared, Mary a devout catholic, could become Edward’s successor, and so it was under pressure, his will was changed to include Lady Jane Grey as his Protestant heir.

Edward died on the 6th July 1553, and Lady Jane Grey made her claim to the English throne, by right of Edward’s will and that her grandmother; Mary Tudor was the sister of Henry VIII.

Jane’s education included Latin, Greek, Hebrew and modern languages, yet her childhood was dominated by strict and domineering parents.

Mary gathered support from her followers in East Anglia, and the Duke of Northumberland’s army had been dispatched to stop Mary.  It was useless, councillors and nobles believed Mary was the rightful heir and defected in support of her.

On the 23rd July, the Duke of Northumberland surrendered to Mary at Cambridge; not a drop of blood was spilt, for the battle was over before it started.

On the 3rd August 1553 Mary and her followers entered London; she was dressed in purple velvet and satin, receiving rejoicing from the people who had lined the streets to greet her… their new Queen.

She attended the Tower of London, releasing political prisoners.

On the 8th August King Edward VI was laid to rest at Westminster Abbey in accordance with Protestant tradition.  On the 18th August proclaimed to her subjects that they follow her faith the Catholic religion.

The Duke of Northumberland was beheaded on the 22nd August as a conspirator.  On the 21st September Mary was crowned Queen Mary of England. On the 12th February 1554, Lady Jane grey and her husband Lord Guildford Dudley were beheaded at the Tower of London.

An extract of Lady Jane Grey’s final words at the scaffold, prior to being beheaded from the “Chronicle of Queen Jane.”

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 procurement and desire thereof in innocence, before God, and the face of you, good Christian people this day.

Lady Jane Grey’s body was buried in the chapel of St.Peter ad Vincula within the Tower of London.

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