Lady Jane Grey and Queen Mary I – who was the usurper?

Posted By on February 20, 2017

With it having been the anniversary of the birth of Queen Mary I on 18th February, there have been lots of discussions on blogs and social media regarding Mary, her reign and also her accession.

Mary I became queen on 19th July 1553 after she successfully deposed her first cousin once removed, Lady Jane Grey, or Queen Jane. Jane had been proclaimed queen following King Edward VI’s death on 6th July 1553, having been named as Edward’s heir in his “devise for the succession”, but her reign was to be only thirteen days. Mary proclaimed herself queen, rallied support and won this game of thrones, imprisoning Jane and eventually executing her.

Jane has gone down in history as “Lady Jane Grey” or “the Nine Days Queen”, rather than Queen Jane, and is seen as either a tragic victim, a pawn of the Greys and Dudleys, or as a usurper. Mary I hasn’t been treated kindly by history, being labelled “Bloody Mary”, but her accession is not often seen as usurpation.

How can Mary not be a usurper though?

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20 February – A christening and a coronation

Posted By on February 20, 2017

Two important Tudor “on this day in history” events took place on 20th February. On 20th February 1516, two-day-old Princess Mary, daughter of King Henry VIII and Catherine of Aragon, was baptised at the Church of the Observant Friars, Greenwich.

On 20th February 1516, two-day-old Princess Mary, daughter of King Henry VIII and Catherine of Aragon, was baptised at the Church of the Observant Friars, Greenwich.

Here is an excerpt from Letters and Papers based on an account of Mary’s christening the British Library’s Harley MS 3504 (folio 232):

“The Princess was born on Monday, 18 Feb. 1515, 7 Hen. VIII. at four in the morning, at Greenwich; christened on Wednesday next. From the court gate to the church door of the Friars was railed and hung with arras; the way being well gravelled and strewed with rushes. At the church door was set a house well framed of of timber, covered with arras, where the Princess, with her godfather and godmother, adobe. There she received her name Mary. Then they entered the church, which was hung with cloth of needlework garnished with precious stones and pearls. She was preceded by a goodly sight of gentlemen and lords. Then followed the bason, borne by my Lord of Devonshire, supported by Lord Herbert; the taper by the Earl of Surrey, the salt by the Marquis of Dorset, Lady Dorset bearing the chrism. The Lord Chamberlain followed, with the Lord Steward on his right. Then the canopy, borne by Sir David Owen, Sir Nich. Vaux, Sir Thos. Aparre, and Sir Thomas Boleyn, under which was the Princess, borne by the Countess of Surrey. The Princess was assisted by the Duke of Norfolk at the head, and the Duke of Suffolk at the feet. Next, the Lady Katharine, the Duchess of Norfolk, &c. The Lord Cardinal, godfather, Lady Katharine and the Duchess of Norfolk, godmothers, at the font. The Countess of Salisbury at the bishopping. Then Te Deum sung by the King’s chaplain. Order of returning to court described, in which Lord Burgevenny, the Archbps. of Armagh and Dublin, the Bps. of Durham and Chester, and the Earl of Derby, took part.”

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