13 November 1553 – The Trial of Lady Jane Grey, Archbishop Cranmer and Ambrose, Guildford and Henry Dudley

Lady Jane GreyOn 13th November 1553, Lady Jane Grey, her husband Guildford Dudley, his brothers Ambrose and Henry, and Archbishop Thomas Cranmer were tried for treason at a public trial at London’s Guildhall. They were led from the Tower of London, through the streets on foot, in a procession led by a man carrying an axe turned away from the prisoners, to show that they had not yet been found guilty of a capital crime: treason.

The trial opened with a Catholic liturgy and the commission chosen to try Jane and the men was headed by Sir Thomas White, the Lord Mayor, and also the Duke of Norfolk, both staunch Catholics. Jane, Guildford, Ambrose, Henry and Cranmer were all charged with high treason. Jane and Guildford were charged with treason for taking possession of the Tower of London and proclaiming Jane as queen, Cranmer was charged with proclaiming Jane as queen and sending forces to Cambridge, and Jane was charged with ‘signing various writings’ as queen.

Cranmer, at first, pleaded ‘not guilty’, but after the case had been presented, and before the jury delivered their verdict, he changed his plea to ‘guilty’, like the others. They were all found guilty as charged, with the men being sentenced to being hanged, drawn and quartered, and Jane to be burned alive, or beheaded. Michel Angelo Florio recorded that Jane remained cool and calm during the proceedings, and did not react at all to the sentence.

Lady Jane Grey and Guildford Dudley were executed on 12th February 1554.

You can read a more detailed account of the trial in my article The Trial of Lady Jane Grey.

(Extract from On This Day in Tudor History by Claire Ridgway)

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2 thoughts on “13 November 1553 – The Trial of Lady Jane Grey, Archbishop Cranmer and Ambrose, Guildford and Henry Dudley”
  1. I’ve just always wanted to know if Jane had converted to the Catholic religion would Mary have spared her life?I’ve always thought even if she did it still would have been too risky for Mary to let her go.

    1. I think that is an interesting question and one difficult to answer; Mary did not want to execute Jane, but pressures and more rebellions by members of her family persuaded her to agree to her execution on the grounds that she was too dangerous. Had she converted it is possible that Mary may have spared her, but would this have made her or her sisters any less of a threat or perceived threat? With her father and Northumberland out of the way I suppose that Mary could have found someone to trust to take her under their wing and given them authority and control over her and her estates. Getting rid of Guildford Dudley or ending their marriage she could have married her off to a Catholic nobleman and ensured that she towed the line. There are a number of possible senarioes that become open with her conversion, but how dangerous was she in fact; would she still have been a target for the throne or was it merely as a Protestant heir that she was of value? I would suggest that as Mary sent Fetherington to attempt to convert Jane and he went several times that she was indeed hoping to save her life and not just her soul; so if we say Mary saw a Catholic Jane as less of a threat; then it is possible that she would have spared her; but her good behaviour would have to be guaranteed and any breaking of it may have sent her straight back to the Tower.

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