10 July 1553 – Queen Jane

Lady Jane GreyOn 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.

If you’re interested in finding out more about Lady Jane Grey I’d recommend Tamise’s blog – The Lady Jane Grey Reference Guide and the books Lady Jane Grey: A Tudor Mystery by Eric Ives and The Sisters Who Would be Queen by Leanda de Lisle.

Notes and Sources

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6 thoughts on “10 July 1553 – Queen Jane”
  1. Thank you Claire for introducing me to Leanda de Lisle. her book on the Grey Sisters is one of my favorites. I truly feel like I got to know each of those women or should I say young girls because they were so young! Yes, Jane was manipulated by her family & circumstances and she did die a ‘martyr’ yet I do not think she was a victim. She was bright and strong willed and made her own choice to live and ultimately to die.

  2. There is some debate as to whether because Jane Dudley Grey was actually declared Queen and signed official documents as such as to whether or not we should count her amongst the list of kings and queens. I do not believe we should as she was not lawfully Queen and was placed into the role, being removed before she could be crowned. King Edwards long and complex device for the succession named Jane as his heir but it did so unlawfully. It was not ratified by Parliament, but only by the council. Several versions where drawn up; as Edward did not want his two sisters to rule as they were both women and illigitimate; and he also needed a Protestant heir. Jane was female, but the original draft said to Jane and her heirs male; with the intention that Jane would produce a son and he would succeed. By the time the final draft is drawn up Edward is so ill this will not do; it has to have a female ruler. So it is changed to read so that Jane can become Queen and his sisters are excluded.

    John Dudley, Duke of Northumberland and Warwick; the mastermind. Dudley has four sons: Guildford is the eldest and he marries Jane. So the succession now goes through his own family. He is also the mastermind who helps the King to draw up the wording for the device. Finally the council approve the fourth draft and it is written up officially. Jane will succeed as Queen. Edward dies, Jane is proclaimed Queen and has to be explained who she is in lenthy terms; the true Queen writes to council, rallies troops, gains popular support, all is lost, council rally to Mary and Jane and Guildford do not leave the Tower alive again. John Dudley is beheaded after leading a second rebellion against Mary who spares the traitors and her father also for leading a rebellion. In February 1554 Jane and Guildford follow as she is considered too dangerous to leave alive.

    Jane was not manipulated by her parents; she freely consented to being Queen even though she tried to refuse she did not do so loudly enough and acted as Queen. She was not a helpless victim, she was a fanatic; just as Mary has been called. She was a sincere young Christian and it is easy to say she died for her faith. She may have believed that she did but she actually died for treason. She was far too young to die and had much promise; could have remained under arrest perhaps; Mary did not want to execute her but she was advised that she should do as she would never be safe. It was another case of the deposed relative ending up on the block. Her story is sad in a sense as she was a clever young woman with much potential. Had Dudley who had no noble or royal blood whatsoever left well alone, who knows we may be reading of a famous female Tudor scholar who led a long and happy life instead of tragically being executed so brutally at the age of 16.

    1. Yes,she was executed for treason but ultimately she died because she would not convert to the catholic religion.Mary, in fact, said she would spare her life if she would convert.Jane refused and then she was executed.

      You also have to take into account the times.Children(which Jane was)did not disobey their parents in those times.I believe both of her parents absolutely wanted to see her crowned and so took it upon themselves to see that she was whether she wanted it or not.Also, like you mentioned she did at first refuse the crown and to my mind there’s too much hesitation.If she really wanted it for herself I don’t believe she would have refused when the opportunity was finally offered to her.That just doesn’t make sense.

      1. Jane did not refuse for very long; once she got over the initial shock and made the right noises, she quickly accepted and went on to issue dozens of orders in her name Jane the Queen. Had she wanted to remain outside of the plot she would have also have gone on to continue to refuse and declare for Mary, even if it meant her parents had to lock her up. Jane knew she had no right to the crown while Mary was alive and did protest this, but by the end of the day, she was content to accept and even issued the first proclaimations in her new title. She was also careful to make sure that Guildford was not made King and excluded him. She issued orders asking for defenders of her title and claim when Mary was raising troops. She held council in state and prepared to be crowned. Jane, once she bit the bullet was in for the duration. As the grand-daughter of Mary Rose, sister of Henry VIII and the Duke of Suffolk, Charles Brandon, she had a claim, but after the three children of Henry VIII and her mother and aunt Eleanor of course. Eleanor was dead but Frances had to put aside her own claim in order to agree for Jane to succeed.

        Jane was not executed for her faith. There is no evidence of this and authors that promote this are not using the sources and just copy of each other. While it is true that Mary did not want to execute her and made an offer of mercy if she converted to the Catholic Faith, this was not unusual. Rulers often made such offers. It some how seemed to make people less dangerous, but the sad truth is that Jane would not have remained a passive cousin in prison. There were already two rebellions in her name while she was in jail and her own father was involved and commanded one of them. Whether or not she consented is a debate that could take up an entire forum, but she may well have been innocent, but rulers did not take chances in those days. Jane was too close for comfort and sadly excluded the Dudley-Grey-Brandon claim to the throne for ever. Never again would they be trusted and this act would have far reaching consequences for her sisters and their children for generations to come.

        Jane was part victim but she was no martyr; just unfortunate that she accepted the wrong side. Mary was reluctant to have her executed as Mary saw her as a victim, it was two rebellions later and her wiser council that had her change her mind and give in. The same thing could be said about Elizabeth and Mary Queen of Scots. The most tragic thing about Jane’s execution was her youth. Jane was 16/17 and just out of childhood; she was also very well educated which is another reason she should have known not to accept the title of Queen, she had great potential as a scholar and she had potential as a noblewoman of royal blood. However, the one thing she waa not was an innocent dupe or pawn of a Protestant martyr.

        1. I agree we could probably argue about whether she wanted to be queen or not all day.All I want to add is that once Jane was queen there was every indication that she wanted to keep being queen.I suppose she knew the alternative so I think she went with it.There was no turning back after she consented.

        2. To put it simply Mary won, Jane didn’t. Mary was the natural successor and as Queen she did show Jane mercy but ultimately her family rebelled a second time. Mary was not safe while Jane was alive and had no choice but to ultimately execute her. That was the dilemma of all monarchs, especially one who ruled after overcoming invasion, challenge and rebellion.

          It was the same for the Medieval Kings on either side of the Wars of the Roses, it was treason to fight against the other side. Mary was intending to pardon Jane, her father changed that and from Mary’s point of view, her life was in danger. That was treason, regardless of how we feel, end of the story. That’s how it was.

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