10 July 1553 – Lady Jane Grey Proclaimed Queen

Posted By on July 10, 2011

On the afternoon of Monday 10th July 1553, Lady Jane Grey, her husband, Guildford Dudley, her parents and Guildford’s mother arrived by barge at the Tower of London, having travelled from Syon. They were greeted there by Guildford’s father, John Dudley, Duke of Northumberland, and other councillors, before they made their way through the Tower gates, Jane and Guildford walking under the canopy of state.

As the procession reached the Tower there was a gun salute and trumpets blasted to silence the crowd. Two heralds then proclaimed that Lady Jane Grey was now Queen of England before they moved on to proclaim their message in Cheapside and Fleet Street. At Cheapside, a boy declared that it was Mary who was the rightful queen and he was punished the next morning by having his ears cut off.

On this very same day, a letter arrived from Mary informing the council that she was the rightful heir to the throne, not Jane, and demanding their support. As Jane was proclaimed Queen in London, Mary was gathering support for her cause in East Anglia, Jane was going to have a fight on her hands.

Notes and Sources

17 thoughts on “10 July 1553 – Lady Jane Grey Proclaimed Queen”

  1. Dawn says:

    Okay, Claire, ladies and gents who all enjoy this great site, I need a bit of education on this lady,I know some:-
    A very well educated, highly intelligent young girl surpassing most males of her time, happier in her books than the ‘frivolous’ side of life.
    Had a very strict,if not brutal, up bringing. Brought to task over her short comings, though few, never praised for her academic achievements, though many.
    Found love, happiness, guidence, support and encouragement for her studies under the care of Katherine Parr.
    Returned to the loveless home from where she came, a part from the few monthes she stayed with Seymore, which seeems stranger to me considering there was no ‘lady’ of the house.
    Forced into marriage, though that was not unusual in those times.

    After that I become a little vague…. She seems to me anyway, that she had no compulsion to be Queen, yet she seems to accept the crown when it was given to her.
    Was it because she was bullied into it, after all she was bullied at home.
    Was it because her cousin Edward decreed it was to be so, therefore she was following his wishes.
    Was it because of her religious, humanist beliefs, thinking that England would fair better, rather than under catholic rule.
    Or a mix of the lot.
    I have seen the film, read the book that it was based on, with Helena Bonham Carter, and a very ‘pretty’ film/book they were, but I know that as usual there was ‘artistic’ licence and based loosely on fact, eg. Jane and Guilford eventually falling in love, or is that true?
    Any advise on a good factual book to read. Need your help folks……..
    What I do know though, wether she was willing or unwilling, it must have been a terrifing endevour to embrace, even will her education, knowing how fickle the men who supported her could change to the otherside at the blink of an eye to save their necks, and would have no hesitation on offering hers as a replacement, which they did.
    What a waste of a young life, and one with such a interlectual mind too…. so sad.

    1. Andy says:

      Dawn, there’s been an awful lot of propaganda and “spin” through the centuries that has obscured the realities a bit (for example, even her age at death is probably wrong because nobody has any accurate records and has been dependent on the early hagiographies). The fact and the fiction have become intertwined down the years. The film and book to which you refer are fiction based on these perceptions, and only now are historians getting to the bottom of the story to find the real woman. May i suggest the “Some Grey Matter” website, Leanda DeLisle’s “Sisters who Would Be Queen” and Alison Plowden’s “Lady Jane Grey” as starting points – and i’m sure more people will suggest others. Good luck with your interest.

    2. Christine says:

      There is also a book “Lady Jane Grey” by Prof. Eric Ives, which will be out in pb soon. But because Jane is not an important figure politically the best books are generally not on herself but on related themes.

      As you asked about Guildford & Jane:
      there is a version of her letter to Queen Mary where Jane subscribes herself as “a wife who loves her husband”. This version was printed 1560; all versions of this and some other material only survive as Italian translations from English texts which were circulated after her execution. So, you see for the events most people are interested in there is only doubtful material … Guildford also wrote a letter to Jane’s father into her prayerbook, so she must have allowed him to, probably shortly before their executions. She also insisted that a baby be christened Guildford on the last day of her reign (she was godmother), and was angry at her mother-in-law when the later told Guildford no longer to sleep with her. So, it’s probably not true that she didn’t like him at all, as is often claimed. We don’t know anything about him, btw.

  2. Annefan says:

    Hi Dawn

    I must admit I haven’t read as much about Jane as I have about some of the other characters on this site. But one thing that strikes me about her is how important she thought worshipping in the ‘correct’ manner was. Henry and the following generations lived in a time of religious revolution and so religion was important in a way that many of us living int he 21st century simply can’t comprehend. Even so, Jane’s religious fervour seems to have been beyond the norm as it was remarked upon by many of her contemporaries. She probably saw queenship as a duty.

    As she was only 16 the men around her saw her queenship as an easy way to retain power. I suspect they were in for a shock – she was a Tudor, after all.

    Mary didn’t have the same antipathy towards Jane that she had towards Elizabeth and did try to let her live, albeit as a prisoner. Unfortunately, Jane’s father rebelled again and Mary realised that Jane was a figurehead and so she had no choice but to execute her. I don’t recall that Jane had much time for Guildford except in fiction – but I think that’s probably one of those areas where we’ll never really know.

    I think there were plenty of people trying to hedge their bets until they saw whether Mary would win or not. In an age where there was an executioner on call, that’s probably a reasonable stance to take. Jane’s misfortune was that the people who really did back her lacked the common sense to know when they’d failed.

    1. Dawn says:

      Thanks for that folks, very helpful, seen the book ‘Sisters who would be Queen’ before Andy, so on your recommendation will buy/get it from library soon. And will put in my order for E.Ives book on Jane (xmas pressie list) Christine, how long had Jane been married to Guilford before she was declared Queen? Just trying to work out if they were together long enough to strike up some kind of relationship,indifference,or friendship, understanding or maybe love, I would like to think they did, the poor things….
      Yes, Annefan, I too can see how important her religion and humanist beliefs were to her from the little I have read, and it is a strong possibility that this is what made her accept the crown, as you say ‘her duty’ . As I said above, I hope they did form some kind of relationship, but I would imagine that with Jane having such a hard up-bringing and burying herself in study, that natural emotions would be deeply buried inside and difficult to reach. It must have been quite daunting for Guildford marrying such an acedemic. It is such a tragic story, it almost seems Shakespearian… thanks again 🙂

      1. Christine says:

        Hi , Dawn,

        they were married 25 may 1553; and the row with Guildford about declaring him king after which his Mom commanded him no longer to sleep with her must have occurred around mid-July (this is all written by Jane herself in one of these letters which only survive in Italian!). So, they had about 50 days of “married life” (she was part of that time at her mother’s house without Guidford, but all that is not too clear chronologically and too much should not be read into it). There is really no reason to claim they were “estranged” and there is no hint whatsoever that Guilford was a disagreeable boy (we simply don’t know much about him); he was very probably handsome, as were all the other men of his family! And as you point out he may have been uncomfortable with such a learned wife! For a bluestocking she was. The story that she was beaten into marriage is 19th century Agnes Strickland stuff, though. It is also important to remember that Jane & Guildford would certainly not have been complete strangers but would have known (of) each other for some years before the marriage, for the fathers were good friends (and second cousins once removed — John Dudley’s mother’s maiden name was Grey).

      2. Andy says:

        Dawn; Jane and Guildford were married on the 25th May 1553, and allowing for betrothal time that means they probably hadn’t known each other for long. Bear in mind that very few marriages weren’t for love, but were for political or dynastic reasons; and both of them would have been fully aware of their status and their use to their parents as political leverage. It strikes me that Jane may well have considered herself to be marrying below her station as a royal and a Tudor, even though she’d been raised to follow her parents wishes, and i suspect that feelings (if any at all) came out of the fact that they were both in the same boat together. They just got on with it, and, to put it bluntly – they both knew the score.

        1. Dawn says:

          Thanks again Andy and Christine. No matter how much history I read, which is almost every book I pick up, it still amazes me how much I still don’t know (or remember with the old grey matter in decline ha ha). I know that the social climbing/power that families obtained was on the the back of who they could marry their children to, and that children were raise to accept this as the norm, it is still quite hard to envisage what it must have been like. Though I suppose that not looking at a relationship through rose tinted glasses, there were no major let downs on a personal level, and as you say as long as they weren’t going into a abusive marriage, they would soon learn to ‘rub’ along together and busy themselves with life. Jane annd Guilford had such a short time together, and much of it in turmoil, I dont suppose they really have the chance to Really get to know each other. It still seems to me to be very much like a Shakespearian Tragedy, and quite a brutal story, with two innocent victims. History seems to have a lot of brutality doesn’t it, and that includes the history we make now in our time…..Cheers!!

  3. Anne Barnhill says:

    I’ve always wondered how much of the Jane Grey/Guildford Dudley marriage and Jane being named successor was Edward’s idea and how much was John Dudley’s. I know the general feeling is that Dudley coerced this in some way but I wonder…any ideas?

    1. Andy says:

      Anne, i’ve been of the opinion for a while that Dudley was Edward VI’s Wolsey; he advanced himself by carrying out the King’s wishes, but was prepared to line his own pockets in the process. I’m sure naming Jane as heir was Edward’s idea, but if Dudley marrying his son into the process meant becoming effectively “Prime Minister” running the country, and “Queen Father in law” as it were, then that was too good an opportunity to miss. I suspect he saw Jane as a malleable girl who he he could dominate via Guildford (the son, not the place!), run the country to his will and, effectively, hijack the royal line with his own grandchildren. A typical 15th/16th century opportunistic power grab, in other words. But i could of course, be wrong.

  4. Anne Barnhill says:

    Thanks, Andy. I agree that it was Edward’s idea, mainly because he didn’t quite approve of Elizabeth (her notorious mother and the rumors about Seymour) he completely disagreed with Mary’s religion and he loved Jane, having been educated with her. And Dudley was always looking for a way to line his pockets! What an interesting man he must have been. I wonder if he was as handsome as Robert? Anyone know?

    1. Christine says:

      Hi, Anne!

      According to the data about his remains, John Dudley was around 6 ft — as tall as Robert Dudley was. According to a French eyewitnesses from the embassy he had an agreeable voice and a very charming manner. Practically all specialists on Edward in academia think now that Edward was behind the succession thing, or at least that it was his original idea, and that he pressed much for it. Of course to be father-in-law to a queen is very appealing; especially when the alternative is to lose your head — and one should not forget the ideological element for these people: Imagine communists in 20th century in the face of Nazis or extreme capitalists taking power — or the other way round, it’s just to understand the point.

      That he changed back to his childhood faith afterwards is no excuse to overlook this question; he (and his wife!) had been reform-oriented for nearly 20 years. People always smear him because he changed his faith, but they ignore the pressure he was under — all his sons and his brother were in danger to be executed, for example, and there is also a thing called brain wash, although I think he simply got a “natural brainwash” through all these events. He probably really though that the new preachers were harmful, he really knew who he was speaking about, and he was no theologian. — It’s interesting to see that at the time only the Protestants claimed his conversion was insincere; small wonder.

      He was not particularly greedy btw., Somerset had enriched himself even more, and William Cecil was also very corrupt (master of the wards, lord treasurer …).

      1. Andy says:

        … the Seymours, and the Howards, the Greys themselves married into royalty, etc, etc, etc… Yep, you’re definitely right Christine – they were all at it.
        My point was basically that the “devise” was Edwards, but i can’t help thinking the skipping of Frances Grey in favour of Jane was a bit odd. I’ve never been able to work out the thinking that not only bans Mary and Elizabeth on legitimacy grounds, but also his own next in line, Frances. My guess is that Edward believed Jane would begat a line of male heirs in an age where ruling Queens weren’t looked on favourably. However, naming Jane as heir was very convenient for Dudley – and if he was involved in the decision i think that can only have been for his own ends because he knew Frances would rule under her own control, not his instruction. Ultimately the buck stops with Edward as King.

        1. Dawn says:

          They certainly were all at it, not only the ones that were lucky enough, (or unlucky enough) to marry into royalty. Favourites, councillors, clergy, anyone who danced to the Regents tune were rewarded hansomely, and in some cases helped themselves, Wolsey for one, but so many paid the ultimate price, a one way ticket to the block… suppose you had to take it while it was there, life was so short and perilous in those times. In some respects who could blame them….

    2. Christine says:

      Well, the buck stops with Henry, I’d say, he started all this nominating of heirs and Edward clearly felt inspired; Andy, the going over of Frances Grey seems to have to do with the fact that already Henry VIII had specifically excluded her from the throne in his will of 1546; of course you could say if Henry’s marriages and strange acts were invalid, you should continue with primogeniture, but then the Scottish line would have been first. Even in the final version, the letters patent of 21 June 1553, Edward nominated Jane and her two sisters only as an exception to male rule, i.e. if Jane & Guildford would have had only daughters, the crown would next have passed to Katherine Grey, then to her sister Mary if no sons were available. In Edward’s scheme their cousin Margaret Clifford could not inherit the crown herself, just her sons.

      Anne, according to the French ambassador John Dudley was ‘avide de gloire’—‘desirous of glory’. Another anonymous eyewitness wrote of Dudley’s ‘liberality’, his grace and affability, his ‘great presence’. As I said he was also impressed by his voice. Of course J.D. also had quite a temper and was “a fearless soldier” (Hoak). It is interesting to compare with Robert Dudley, who did NOT “put his passions in his pocket” but also had quite a temper in reality (Elizabeth definitely liked this). From the portraits, there is resemblance around the eyes and the mouth between them, and they were of the same height. Of course John Dudley was much more melancholy than Robert, but probably both suffered from severe stomach problems.

      1. Andy says:

        Thank you Christine, the overlooking of Frances had always intrigued me. I’d always felt Edward’s power as King would have over-ridden any influence of Dudley’s, but the overlooking of Frances in favour of Jane sometimes made me wonder.
        Fundamentally then, we seem to have two Kings, father and son, who felt it was in their power to change the succession to whoever they saw fit. If i’ve understood your explanation correctly then, Jane (presumably intended to be advised by Dudley) was pretty much Edward’s only option after he chose to follow his father’s lead, nominate his own heirs, and disinherit all and sundry to try to acheive a male line, as it were. Once Edward had made his intentions clear, presumably Dudley’s thought was to carry out the King’s wishes. Dudley wouldn’t have needed to influence Edward, on that basis – It just happened to hand him the chance to sit tight and maximise the opportunity via the marriage – and hope it didn’t rebound…

  5. Michele Villafana says:

    I am reading a very good book on Lady Jane Grey “The Nine Day Queen of England:Lady Jane Grey” by Faith Cook. It seems to be very factual. The author brings out some interesting points. One point she mentioned was that Edward VI was murdered by Lady Jane’s father in law. Edward was very sick, but the author explains that arsenic may have been involved. I have studies the tutors for about 40 years now. My fascination with this clan began shortly before the series “The Six Wives of Henry VIII” came out with Keith Michell. Since that time I have read every book I could get my hands on and watched every movie, tv show about the Tudors and Stewarts. I have been to Enland twice and I am planning another trip soon. I just love everything British!

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