Lady Jane Grey: Wikis

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Lady Jane Grey
The Streatham Portrait, discovered at the beginning of the 21st century, is believed by some to be the only contemporary portrait of Lady Jane Grey.[1]
disputed Queen of England (more...)
Reign 10 July 1553 – 19 July 1553 (&-1-1-1-1-1-1-1-1-1-1-1-1-1-1-1-1.0000000 years, &0000000000000009.0000009 days)
Predecessor Edward VI
Successor Mary I
Spouse Lord Guilford Dudley
Father Henry Grey, 1st Duke of Suffolk
Mother Lady Frances Brandon
Born 1536/1537
Died 12 February 1554
Tower of London (executed)
Burial St Peter ad Vincula, London
Signature

Lady Jane Grey (1536/1537 – 12 February 1554) was a claimant to the Kingdom of England and Kingdom of Ireland. She was de facto monarch of England after the death of Edward VI for just over a week in July 1553. Residing in the Tower of London during her short reign, she never left the premises again. Her execution in February 1554 was caused by her father's involvement in Wyatt's rebellion.

Lady Jane Grey's rule of less than two weeks is the shortest rule of England in its history. Historians have taken either the day of her proclamation as queen, 10 July, or that of her predecessor's death, 6 July, as the beginning. Hence her popular names of "The Nine Days' Queen"[2] or, less commonly, "The Thirteen Days' Queen". She is sometimes reckoned the first Queen regnant of England.[3]

Lady Jane had an excellent Humanist education and a reputation as one of the most learned women of her day.[4] A committed Protestant, she was posthumously regarded not only as a political victim but also as a martyr.

Contents

Early life and education

Jane, the eldest daughter of Henry Grey, Marquess of Dorset and his wife Lady Frances Brandon, was born at Bradgate Park in Leicestershire. The traditional view is that she was born around October 1537,[5] but recent research has shown that she was born earlier, on an unknown date in late 1536 or early 1537.[6] Lady Frances was the daughter of Princess Mary, the younger sister of Henry VIII, and was thus the first cousin of Edward VI. Jane had two younger sisters, Lady Katherine Grey and Lady Mary Grey; through their mother, the three sisters were members of the House of Tudor: great-granddaughters of Henry VII and grandnieces of Henry VIII. Jane could claim descent twice from 15th century royal consort Elizabeth Woodville; paternally through Woodville's first husband, Sir John Grey of Groby, and maternally through her second husband King Edward IV. Jane received a comprehensive education, and studied Latin, Greek and Hebrew as well as contemporary languages. Through the teachings of her tutors, she became a committed Protestant.

Lady Jane Grey, engraving by Magdalena van de Passe and Willem van de Passe, published 1620, based on a painting in the collection of Lord Hastings.

Jane had a difficult childhood. Even for the harsher standards of the time, Frances Brandon was an abusive, cruel, and domineering woman who felt that Jane was weak and gentle, so held her under a strict disciplinary regime.[7] Her daughter's meekness and quiet, unassuming manner irritated Frances who sought to 'harden' the child with regular beatings. Devoid of a mother's love and craving affection and understanding, Jane turned to books for solace and quickly mastered skills in the arts and languages.[4] However, she felt that nothing she could do would please her parents. Speaking to a visitor, Cambridge scholar Roger Ascham, tutor to the Lady Elizabeth, she said:

For when I am in the presence of either 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, yes presently sometimes with pinches, nips and bobs and other ways ... that I think myself in hell.[8]

In 1546, at less than 10 years old, Jane was sent to live as the ward of 35-year old Catherine Parr, then Queen Consort of England, who married Henry VIII in 1543. At this time, Jane became acquainted with her royal cousins, Edward, Mary, and Elizabeth. Catherine was a sensible, maternal woman who was excellent with children, and with Jane, she was no exception. It is probable that Jane's days as Catherine's ward were the happiest of her life.

Contracts for marriage

After Henry VIII died, Catherine Parr married Thomas Seymour, 1st Baron Seymour of Sudeley. Catherine died shortly after the birth of her only child, Mary Seymour, in late 1548, leaving the young Jane once again bereft of a maternal figure. Jane acted as chief mourner at Catherine's funeral. Jane returned to her parents after Catherine Parr's death, yet Seymour showed continued interest in her, and she was again in his household for about two months when he was arrested at the end of 1548.[9] Seymour's brother, Edward Seymour, 1st Duke of Somerset, who ruled as Lord Protector, felt threatened by Thomas' popularity with the young King Edward, and was charged, among other things, with proposing Jane as a royal bride.[10]

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 Privy Council, he proposed his daughter Jane as a bride for the Protector's eldest son, Lord Hertford.[11] Nothing came of this, however, and Jane's next engagement, in the spring of 1553, was to Lord Guilford Dudley, the fourth son of John Dudley, 1st Duke of Northumberland.[12] Her prospective father-in-law was then the most powerful man in the country.[13] According to tradition, Jane stated her preference for a single life, but her mother made her submit to the arrangement. On 21 May 1553, the couple were married at Durham House[14] in a triple wedding, in which Jane's sister Catherine was matched with the heir of the Earl of Pembroke, Lord Herbert, and another Catherine, Lord Guilford's sister, with Henry Hastings, the Earl of Huntingdon's heir.[12]

Claim to the throne and accession

According to male primogeniture, the Suffolks—the Brandons and, later, the Greys—comprised the junior branch of the heirs of Henry VII. The Third Succession Act restored Mary and Elizabeth to the line of succession, although the law regarded them 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 then declared that, should none of his three children leave heirs, the throne would pass to heirs of his younger sister, Mary Tudor, who included Jane. Henry's will excluded the descendants of his elder sister Margaret Tudor, owing in part to Henry's desire to keep the English throne out of the hands of the Scots monarchs, and in part to a previous Act of Parliament of 1431 barring foreign-born persons, including royalty, from inheriting property in England.

At the time of Edward's death, the crown would pass to Mary, the elder daughter of Henry VIII, and her male heirs. If she died without male issue, the crown would pass to Elizabeth and her male heirs. If she also died without male issue, the crown would pass to any male issue of Frances Brandon. In the absence of male children born to Frances, the crown would pass to any male children Jane might have.

When Edward VI lay dying in 1553 at age 15, his Catholic half-sister Mary was still the heiress presumptive to the throne. However, Edward named the (Protestant) heirs of his father's sister, Mary Tudor as his successors in a will composed on his deathbed,[15] perhaps under the persuasion of Northumberland. Edward and Northumberland knew that this effectively left the throne to Edward's cousin, Lady Jane Grey, who (like them) staunchly supported Protestantism. This may have contravened customary testatory law because Edward had not reached the legal testatory age of 21. More importantly, many contemporary legal theorists believed the monarch could not contravene an Act of Parliament, even in matters of the succession; Jane's claim to the throne therefore remained obviously weak. Other historians believed that the King could basically rule through divine right. Henry VII had, after all, seized the throne from Richard III on the battlefield.

Edward VI died on 6 July 1553. Four days later, Northumberland had Lady Jane Grey proclaimed Queen of England after she had taken up a 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.

Portrait after Robert Smirke showing Lady Jane Grey being asked to take the throne.

A Genoese merchant, Baptista Spinola, who witnessed Jane's stately procession by water from Syon House to the Tower of London, describes her in these words, "This Jane is very short and thin, but prettily shaped and graceful. She has small features, and a well-made nose, the mouth flexible and the lips red. The eyebrows are arched and darker than her hair which is nearly red. Her eyes are sparkling, and reddish brown in colour."[16] He also noticed her freckled skin, and sharp, white teeth. On the day of her procession she wore a green velvet gown stamped in gold.[16]

Northumberland faced a number of key tasks in order to consolidate his power after Edward's death. Most importantly, he had to isolate and, ideally, capture Lady Mary in order to prevent her from gathering support around her. 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. Within nine days, Mary had found sufficient support to ride into London in a triumphal procession. Parliament declared Mary the rightful queen and denounced and revoked Jane's proclamation as having been coerced. Mary imprisoned Jane and her husband in the Gentleman Gaoler's apartments at the Tower of London, although their lives were initially spared. The Duke of Northumberland was executed on 22 August 1553.

Trial and execution

Jane and Lord Guilford Dudley were both charged with high treason, together with two of Dudley's brothers.[5] Their trial, by a special commission, took place on 13 November 1553,[5] at the Guildhall in the City of London.[2] The commission was chaired by Sir Thomas White, Lord Mayor of London,[2][17] and included Edward Stanley, 3rd Earl of Derby[18] and John Bourchier, 2nd Earl of Bath.[19] The two principal defendants were found guilty and sentenced to death.[5] Jane's sentence was that she "be burned alive [the traditional English punishment for treason committed by women] on Tower Hill or beheaded as the Queen pleases."[2] However, the imperial ambassador reported to Charles V, Holy Roman Emperor, that her life was to be spared.[5]

The Protestant rebellion of Thomas Wyatt the younger in late January 1554 sealed Jane's fate, although she had nothing to do with it directly. Wyatt's rebellion started as a popular revolt, precipitated by the imminent marriage of Mary to the Roman Catholic Prince Philip (later King of Spain from 1556 to 1598). Jane's father (the Duke of Suffolk) and other nobles joined the rebellion, calling for Jane's restoration as queen. Philip and his councillors pressed Mary to execute Jane to put an end to any future focus for unrest. Five days after Wyatt's arrest, Jane and Guilford were executed.

On the morning of 12 February 1554, the authorities took Guilford from his rooms at the Tower of London to the public execution place at Tower Hill and there had him beheaded. A horse and cart brought his remains back to the Tower of London, past the rooms where Jane remained as a prisoner. Jane was then taken out to Tower Green, inside the Tower of London, and beheaded in private. With few exceptions, only royalty were offered the privilege of a private execution; Jane's execution was conducted in private on the orders of Queen Mary, as a gesture of respect for her cousin.

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:[20]

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,[20] and handed her gloves and handkerchief to her maid. John Feckenham, a Roman Catholic chaplain sent by Mary who had failed to convert Jane, stayed with her during the execution. The executioner asked her forgiveness, and she gave it.[20] She pleaded the axeman, "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 had resolved to go to her death with dignity, but once blindfolded, failing to find the block with her hands, began to panic and cried, "What shall I do? Where is it?"[20] An unknown hand, possibly Feckenham's, then helped her find her way and retain her dignity at the end. 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!"[20] She was then beheaded.

"The traitor-heroine of the Reformation", as historian Albert Pollard called her,[21] was merely 16 or 17 years old at the time of her execution. Apparently, Frances Brandon made no attempt, pleading or otherwise, to save her daughter's life; Jane's father already awaited execution for his part in the Wyatt rebellion. Jane and Guilford are buried in the Chapel of St Peter ad Vincula on the north side of Tower Green.

Henry, Duke of Suffolk, Jane's father, was executed a week after Jane, on 19 February 1554. His widow, Frances Brandon, did not make a good impression at court by marrying her Master of the Horse and chamberlain, Adrian Stokes. They married in March 1555, not as often said, three weeks after the execution of the Duke of Suffolk.[22] She was fully pardoned by Mary and allowed to live at Court with her two surviving daughters.

Cultural depictions

After the violent attempted suppression of Protestantism by Mary I, Jane being one of her first victims, and the succession of the Protestant Elizabeth I in 1558, Jane became viewed as a Protestant martyr for centuries. The romantic tale of Lady Jane grew to legendary proportions in popular culture.

References

  1. ^ Higgins, Charlotte (2006-01-16). "Is this the true face of Lady Jane?". The Guardian. http://www.guardian.co.uk/uk/2006/jan/16/arts.research. Retrieved 2008-05-11.  
  2. ^ a b c d "Factsheet: Lady Jane Grey, Nine Days Queen" (PDF). Tower of London. Historic Royal Palaces. http://www.hrp.org.uk/Resources/Lady%20Jane%20Grey.pdf. Retrieved 2008-05-11.  
  3. ^ Mary I was the first undisputed Queen regnant. Jane and the Empress Matilda were both de facto monarchs for short periods, but Matilda used the title "Lady of the English", not queen.
  4. ^ a b Ascham 1863, p. 213
  5. ^ a b c d e Plowden, Alison (2004-09-23). "Grey, Lady Jane (1534–1554), noblewoman and claimant to the English throne". Oxford Dictionary of National Biography. Oxford: Oxford University Press. ISBN 0198613628.  
  6. ^ Ives 2009, p. 299 note 2
  7. ^ Waller 2006, p. 44
  8. ^ Waller 2006, p. 45
  9. ^ Ives 2009, pp. 45–47
  10. ^ Ives 2009, pp. 47–49
  11. ^ Ives 2009, pp. 47
  12. ^ a b Loades 1996, pp. 238–239
  13. ^ Loades 1996, p. 179
  14. ^ Plowden 1998, p. 151
  15. ^ Anonymous (1997) [1850]. "Will of Edward VI". in Nichols, John Gough. Chronicle of Queen Jane and of Two Years of Queen Mary. The Camden Society; Marilee Hanson. http://tudorhistory.org/primary/janemary/app1.html.  .
  16. ^ a b Plowden 1998, p. 155
  17. ^ Shepard, Alexandra (2004-09-23). "White, Sir Thomas (1495?–1567), founder of St John's College, Oxford". Oxford Dictionary of National Biography. Oxford: Oxford University Press. ISBN 0198613628.  
  18. ^ Knafla, Louis A. (2004-09-23). "Stanley, Edward, third earl of Derby (1509–1572), magnate". Oxford Dictionary of National Biography. Oxford: Oxford University Press. ISBN 0198613628.  
  19. ^ Lundy, Darryl (2009-11-19). "John Bourchier, 2nd Earl of Bath". ThePeerage.com. http://www.thepeerage.com/p11719.htm#i117183. Retrieved 19 November 2009.  
  20. ^ a b c d e Anonymous (1997) [1850], "1554, The Execution of Lady Jane Grey and Lord Guildford Dudley", in Nichols, John Gough, Chronicle of Queen Jane and of Two Years of Queen Mary, The Camden Society; Marilee Hanson, http://englishhistory.net/tudor/exjane.html  
  21. ^ Pollard, Albert J. (1911). The History of England. London: Longmans, Green. p. 111. http://www.questia.com/read/58544100.  
  22. ^ Ives 2009, p. 38

Bibliography

  • Ascham, Roger (1863). The Scholemaster. London: Bell and Daldy.  
  • Ives, Eric (2009). Lady Jane Grey: A Tudor Mystery. Malden MA; Oxford UK: Wiley-Blackwell. ISBN 9781405194136.  
  • Loades, David (1996), John Dudley Duke of Northumberland 1504–1553, Oxford: Clarendon Press, ISBN 0198201931  
  • Plowden, Alison (1998). The House of Tudor. Stroud: Sutton.  
  • Waller, Maureen (2006). Sovereign Ladies: Sex, Sacrifice and Power: The Six Reigning Queens of England (First St. Martin's Griffin ed.). New York: St. Martin's Press. ISBN 0-312-33801-5.  
  • Weir, Alison. Children of England: The Heirs of King Henry VIII.  

Further reading

  • Bradford, Karleen. The Nine Days Queen.
  • Cook, Faith (2005). The Nine Day Queen of England. Evangelical Press. ISBN 9780852346136.
  • de Lisle, Leanda (2009). The Sisters Who Would be Queen: The Tragedy of Mary, Katherine & Lady Jane Grey.
  • Plowden, Alison (1985). Lady Jane Grey: Nine Days Queen.

External links

Jane of England
House of Grey
Cadet branch of the House of Tudor
Born: 1537 Died: 12 February 1554
Regnal titles
Preceded by
Edward VI
disputed Queen of England
10 July – 19 July 1553
Succeeded by
Mary I
English royalty
Preceded by
Lady Mary Tudor
Heir to the English and Irish Thrones
as heiress presumptive
21 June – 10 July 1553
Succeeded by
Lady Catherine Grey
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1911 encyclopedia

Up to date as of January 14, 2010

From LoveToKnow 1911

LADY JANE GREY (1537-1554), a lady remarkable no less for her accomplishments than for her misfortunes, was the great-granddaughter of Henry VII. of England. Her descent from that king was traced through a line of females. His second daughter Mary, after being left a widow by Louis XII. of France, married Charles Brandon, duke of Suffolk, who was a favourite with her brother King Henry VIII. Of this marriage came two daughters, the elder of whom, Lady Frances Brandon, was married to Henry Grey, marquess of Dorset; and their issue, again, consisted of daughters only. Lady Jane, the subject of this article, was the eldest of three whom the marquess had by Lady Frances. Thus it will appear that even if the crown of England had ever fallen into the female line of descent from Henry VII., she could not have put in a rightful claim unless the issue of his elder daughter, Margaret, had become extinct. But Margaret had married James IV. of Scotland; and, though her descendant, James VI., was ultimately called to the English throne, Henry VIII. had placed her family after that of his second sister in the succession; so that, failing the lawful issue of Henry himself, Lady Jane would, according to this arrangement, have succeeded. It was to these circumstances that she owed her exceptional position in history, and became the victim of an ambition which was not her own.

She was born at her father's seat named Broadgate in Leicestershire about the year 1537. Her parents, though severe disciplinarians, bestowed more than ordinary care upon her education, and she herself was so teachable and delighted so much in study that she became the marvel of the age for her acquirements. She not only excelled in needlework and in music, both vocal and instrumental, but while still very young she had thoroughly mastered Latin, Greek, French and Italian. She was able to speak and write both Greek and Latin with an accuracy that satisfied even such critics as Ascham and her tutor Dr Aylmer, afterwards bishop of London. She also acquired some knowledge of at least three Oriental tongues, Hebrew, Chaldee and Arabic. In Ascham's Schoolmaster is given a touching account of the devotion with which she pursued her studies and the harshness she experienced from her parents. The love of learning was her solace; in reading Demosthenes and Plato she found a refuge from domestic unhappiness. When about ten years old she was placed for a time in the household of Thomas, Lord Seymour, who, having obtained her wardship, induced her parents to let her stay with him, even after the death of his wife, Queen Catherine Parr, by promising to marry her to his nephew, King Edward VI. Lord Seymour, however, was attainted of high treason and beheaded in 1549, and his brother, the duke of Somerset, made some overtures to the marquess of Dorset to marry her to his son the earl of Hertford. These projects, however, came to nothing. The duke of Somerset in his turn fell a victim to the ambition of Dudley, duke of Northumberland, and was beheaded three years after his brother. Meanwhile, the dukedom of Suffolk having become extinct by the deaths of Charles Brandon and his two sons, the title was conferred upon the marquess of Dorset, Lady Jane's father. Northumberland, who was now all-powerful, fearing a great reverse of fortune in case of the king's death, as his health began visibly to decline, endeavoured to strengthen himself by marriages between his family and those of other powerful noblemen, especially of the new-made duke of Suffolk. His three eldest sons being already married, the fourth, who was named Lord Guilford Dudley, was accordingly wedded to Lady Jane Grey about the end of May 1553. The match received the full approval of the king, who furnished the wedding apparel of the parties by royal warrant. But Edward's state of health warned Northumberland that he must lose no time in putting the rest of his project into execution. He persuaded the king that if the crown should descend to his sister Mary the work of the Reformation would be undone and the liberties of the kingdom would be in danger. Besides, both Mary and her sister Elizabeth had been declared illegitimate by separate acts of parliament, and the objections to Mary queen of Scots did not require to be pointed out. Edward was easily persuaded to break through his father's will and make a new settlement of the crown by deed. The document was witnessed by the signatures of all the council and of all but one of the judges; but those of the latter body were obtained only with difficulty by threats and intimidation.

Edward VI. died on the 6th July 1553, and it was announced to Lady Jane that she was queen. She was then but sixteen years of age. The news came upon her as a most unwelcome surprise, and for some time she resisted all persuasions to accept the fatal dignity; but at length she yielded to the entreaties of her father, her father-in-law and her husband. The better to mature their plans the cabal had kept the king's death secret for some days, but they proclaimed Queen Jane in the city on the loth. The people received the announcement with manifest coldness, and a vintner's boy was even so bold as to raise a cry for Queen Mary, for which he next day had his ears nailed to the pillory and afterwards cut off. Mary, however, had received early intimation of her brother's death, and, retiring from Hunsdon into Norfolk, gathered round her the nobility and commons of those parts. Northumberland was despatched thither with an army to oppose her; but after reaching Newmarket he complained that the council had not sent him forces in sufficient numbers and his followers began to desert. News also came that the earl of Oxford had declared for Queen Mary; and as most of the council themselves were only seeking an opportunity to wash their hands of rebellion, they procured a meeting at Baynard's Castle, revoked their former acts as done under coercion, and caused the lord mayor to proclaim Queen Mary, which he did amid the shouts of the citizens. The duke of Suffolk was obliged to tell his daughter that she must lay aside her royal dignity and become a private person once more. She replied that she relinquished most willingly a crown that she had only accepted out of obedience to him and her mother, and her nine days' reign was over.

The leading actors in the conspiracy were now called to answer for their deeds. Northumberland was brought up to London a prisoner, tried and sent to the block, along with some of his partisans. The duke of Suffolk and Lady Jane were also committed to the Tower; but the former, by the influence of his duchess, procured a pardon. Lady Jane and her husband Lord Guilford Dudley were also tried, and received sentence of death for treason. This, however, was not immediately carried out; on the contrary, the queen seems to have wished to spare their lives and mitigated the rigour of their confinement.

Unfortunately, owing to the general dislike of the queen's marriage with Philip of Spain, Sir Thomas Wyat soon after raised a rebellion in which the duke of Suffolk and his brothers took part, and on its suppression the queen was persuaded that it was unsafe to spare the lives of Lady Jane and her husband any longer. On hearing that they were to die, Lady Jane declined a parting interview with her husband lest it should increase their pain, and prepared to meet her fate with Christian fortitude. She and her husband were executed on the same day, on the 12th of February 1554, her husband on Tower Hill, and herself within the Tower an hour afterwards, amidst universal sympathy and compassion.

See Ascham's Schoolmaster; Burnet's History of the Reformation; Howard's Lady Jane Grey; Nicolas's Literary Remains of Lady Jane Grey; Tytler's England under Edward VI. and Mary; The Chronicles of Queen Jane, ed. J. G. Nichols; The Accession of Queen Mary (Guaras's narrative), ed. R. Garnett (1892); Foxe's Acts and Monuments.


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File:Catherine
An inaccurate painting of Lady Jane Grey

Lady Jane Grey (also known as Queen Jane) was born in 12 October 1537 at her family home of Bradgate Park, Leicestershire, England.

Contents

Family

She was the daughter of Henry Grey, Duke of Suffolk, and Lady Frances Brandon[1] (16 July 1517 – 20 November 1559), the daughter of Henry VIII's sister, Mary. Jane's exact date of birth is not known. She was probably named after Jane Seymour (c. 1508 or 1509 – 4 October 1537). Jane had two younger sisters, Catherine (b. 1540) and Mary (b. 1545).

Early Life

Jane's parents were very strict and often hurt Jane at a young age. This was possibly because they were disappointed that Jane was not born a boy. Her strong and mean mother, Frances, was upset because Jane was calm, shy, and not interested in sports. Jane was educated from the time that she was about four years of age. But if she made mistakes in her studies or had any other normal troubles, her mother would slap her or beat her. She found love with her nurse Mrs. Ellen but otherwise lived a sad childhood.

When Jane was nine, she was sent to the royal court to learn etiquette and manners with Henry VIII's sixth wife and eventual widow, Catherine Parr. Jane liked Catherine a great deal and found love with her, which she had not got from her parents. It was clear that Catherine was very fond of Jane in return.

Jane also found friendship with her cousin and future king Edward VI. They often studied together.

Jane was well educated as a child and learned to read in Latin, Greek, French and Italian, as well as English. Later in her life, she also learned Hebrew.

Parents' political ambitions

Jane's parents, especially her mother, wanted to gain more political influence. For that reason, they wanted to marry her to someone important.Jane had two sisters, Catherine born in 1540 and Mary, born in 1545. After her sisters were born, her parents tried to marry Jane to her cousin King Edward VI. They went Catherine Parr's new husband, Thomas Seymour, to try to prepare this royal marriage. It is likely that King Edward loved Jane. However, he decided to arrange a marriage with a foreign princess instead.

In 1548, Jane was sent to Chelsea to be with Catherine Parr and Thomas Seymour. Catherine Parr became pregnant that same year and the family moved to Sudeley Castle in June, taking Jane with them. Tragedy struck when Catherine Parr died while having the baby in August of that year and Jane served as chief mourner in her funeral.

Jane was dealt another blow in 1549 when Thomas Seymour was arrested on charges of treason. She was sent back to her angered parents. They knew that their hopes of her marriage to the king were ruined; they punished her cruelly for this, even though it was not her fault.

Youth

In 1551 Jane's mother's two half-brothers died of the Sweating Sickness. Since Frances's father was dead, she became Duchess of Suffolk. Jane's father also became Duke of Suffolk. In the same year John Dudley was made the Duke of Northumberland and the chief councillor to Edward VI of England.

John Dudley's plot

In April 1552 Edward became sick with the measles and caught tuberculosis as well. By next year, Edward was so ill that he was weak and spitting up blood or something that was greenish-yellow. It was clear that he was going to die soon.

Dudley knew that if either of Edward's half-sisters, Mary or Elizabeth, became queen, he would not be powerful anymore.[1] Dudley plotted with Jane's equally ambitious parents and planned that Jane became his ward, and also that she marry his son, Guildford Dudley. Jane's mother decided to give up her claim to be queen for Jane. This did not mean that Frances was any less greedy, however. This meant that Jane would become Frances and Dudley's puppet and do what they wanted. Now Jane would be the next in line to the throne if the rights of the princesses Mary and Elizabeth were ignored.

Marriage

When Jane's mother and father told her that Jane was going to get married, Jane refused. She said that Guildford was ugly, stupid, and rude. She also hated John Dudley. When Jane refused, Frances and Henry swore at Jane and slapped her. This did not work, so Frances gave Jane a brutal whipping. Finally, Jane agreed. The wedding between Jane and Guildford happened on 25 May, 1553. This became a triple marriage because Jane's sister, Katherine, was married at this time to Lord Herbert, and Guildford's sister, Katherine, was also married to Lord Hastings. At first, they were all forbidden to "consummate" (or to have sex) their marriages. This probably made Katherine Grey and William Herbert unhappy. It is not known if they liked each other, but it was obvious that they wanted to consummate the marriage. On the other hand, Jane and Guildford hated each other. They ignored each other for most of the time. But they consummated the marriage later (Some scholars think that Guildford did it so violently that Jane described it as rape).[who?]

Accession

On July 6, 1553, King Edward VI died. Dudley's plan to make Jane queen was starting to take place. Edward's death was kept secret for a few days until Jane could be proclaimed queen.

Jane was told by her parents and John Dudley that she was queen. She became sick with fright and fainted. She refused to take the crown. "The crown is not my right. It pleaseth me not. The Lady Mary is the rightful heir," Jane said. Her parents swore at her and John Dudley told her that she "doth wrong to herself and her house". Under pressure, Jane finally relented. But she never forgave herself for doing this.

Meanwhile, news was spreading the Jane had been proclaimed the new queen. Although the people liked Jane, they loved Mary and Elizabeth more. They also hated John Dudley. In East Anglia, Mary was gaining support and planning to march into London. Dudley tried to enforce a counter-attack but to no avail. On July 19 Mary became queen. Jane was queen for nine days.

Imprisonment

Jane returned all the crown jewels and clothes. She was then brought into the Tower of London. There, she was kept in a cell for the next few months. She was allowed to walk in the garden, however. She wrote many letters and read many books while at the tower of London. She wrote a letter to Queen Mary saying that she never wanted the crown. Queen Mary believed Jane and refused to execute her cousin. Many people pressured Mary, but she was stubborn. During her sentence, she had allegedly gave oral pleasure to numerous guards in return for alcohol and food. She still ordered that a trial be held for traditional purposes. Jane was found guilty but the Queen pardoned her.

But the next year, 1554, a group of rebels under Thomas Wyatt, including Jane's father Henry Grey, led a rebellion against Queen Mary because she was planning to marry prince Phillip II of Spain. It was quickly put down. Although Jane had nothing to do with it and Mary did not want to kill her cousin, her advisors told her that Phillip would only come if Jane was killed. So, with a heavy heart (sadly), Queen Mary signed the death warrant. Jane was going to be beheaded.

Effects

When Jane was told that her head was going to be cut off, she was very scared. Nonetheless, she was happy that her "sad and woeful days" of life were finally coming to an end.

Meanwhile, Mary still did not want to kill her cousin. So she sent a Catholic priest Dr. Feckenham to try to convert Jane to Catholicism. That way, Jane wouldn't be a threat. But Jane was a firm Protestant and refused to become a Catholic. Jane's execution was postponed from February 9 to February 12 to try and make her a Catholic. The night before the execution, Jane wrote many letters to her family and prepared her neck for the block. The next morning, her hair was tied back and she watched Guilford go very unwillingly to the block. Then, nervously, it was her turn.

Execution

[[File:|thumb|A bystander helps Jane find her way to the block. Meanwhile, the executioner gets ready to swing the axe on Jane's neck.]]

On February 12, 1554 at the Tower of London, Jane was sent to the scaffold. She calmly climbed the scaffold and said a speech. She said the Psalm 51 in "the most devout manner". She then knelt by the block and tied a piece of cloth around her eyes.

When the executioner told her to put her head on the block, she reached out but could not find the block since she was very scared. She cried for help until someone grabbed her hands and helped her find the block. Jane then put her neck above the block and slowly lowered it onto the block, pressed her neck against the wood and fit her chin in the hold. Then she brought her arms around her. Before she was executed she cried out "Lord, into thy hands, I commend my spirit!"

Beheading

The crowd watched as the executioner raised the axe high in the air. Jane was shivering badly but her neck stayed perfectly still. Then, the executioner quickly swung the axe down perfectly at the middle of Jane's neck, which was severed in a single stroke. Jane's severed head fell to the straw in front of the block while huge amounts of blood splattered across the scaffold. The executioner then grabbed Jane's head by her red hair and lifted it up to show the crowd. He shouted "So perish all the Queen's enemies! Behold the head of a traitor!"

Burial

After the crowd left, the blood was removed, and Jane's body and it was brought to the church St. Peter ad Vincula.[1] Since the church had just become Catholic and Jane was a Protestant, they had to get permission from Queen Mary to bury her. It was four hours until her maids were allowed to prepare her body for burial. Jane's body was buried between former Queens Anne Boleyn and Catherine Howard. It is unknown what happened to her severed head.

References

  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 "Factsheet: Lady Jane Grey, Nine Days Queen" (PDF). Tower of London. Historic Royal Palaces. http://www.hrp.org.uk/Resources/Lady%20Jane%20Grey.pdf. Retrieved 2008-05-11. 

Further reading


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