60 second history – Guildford Dudley

Posted By on September 28, 2017

Today’s 60-second history video is on Lord Guildford Dudley, consort of Lady Jane Grey, or Queen Jane.

As I’ve explained before, the idea of this 60-second history series is to give information about Tudor history in easy-to-digest 60-second chunks. Die-hard Tudor history fans don’t, of course, need these videos, but I hope they act as introductions to newbies or students.

My first seven videos were on the Tudor dynasty and Tudor monarchs, and then I moved on to queen consorts, covering Elizabeth of York, Catherine of Aragon, Anne Boleyn, Jane Seymour, Anne of Cleves, Catherine Howard and Catherine Parr. I’ve now moved on to king consorts.

You can catch this series of videos via 60 Second History playlist of the Anne Boleyn Files YouTube channel.

Next, I’ll be covering Philip of Spain before moving on to prominent Tudor people and Tudor history topics, all in 60 seconds!

Obviously 60 seconds doesn’t give you all the details of Guildford, the events of 1553 and his execution in 1554, so here are some links for further reading:

14 thoughts on “60 second history – Guildford Dudley”

  1. Laura says:

    Was Guildford Dudley related to Robert Dudley? There was an incident where Guildford said he fell asleep in the arms of a girl but he mentioned it to Lady Jane Grey? I don’t know how true that is. Pretty scandalous if it was.

    1. Claire says:

      Yes, he was Robert Dudley’s brother. I haven’t come across that story, do you know the source? Thanks!

      1. Laura says:

        It was in the film about Lady Jane Grey, with Helena Bonham Carter. It is different seeing H.B-C portraying a different queen. I am shocked that High born men visited brothels.

  2. Christine says:

    Guildford was said to be handsome and he had also inherited his family’s ambition, his father nearly succeeded in ruling England through him and his wife Queen Jane, it had been a bold attempt to keep England free from Catholic Mary but, he had reckoned without the common people who wanted Mary as their ruler and not some girl most of them had never even heard about or seen, he had also completely underestimated Mary who was determined to fight for her throne, she was Henry V111s daughter and viewed as the rightful queen whatever religion she was, the country flocked to her side and Dudley was thrown in the Tower along with most of his family, Guildford has been seen as a puppet like his tragic wife who perished with him, both young victims of their families ambition, yet he was no softie and wanted to be crowned with his wife, no doubt his parents had told him he was worthy of it but Jane put a spanner in the works and refused to even contemplate it, she would make him a Duke maybe but not a King consort, Guildford sulked and threw a tantrum and there is a story where Jane and her mother in law were hardly on speaking terms because of it, the Dudleys were a powerful family who like many families in that age paid with their ambition on the block, Guildford met his death with dignity and as his body returned from the scaffold Jane watching from her window lamented his passing, what she really thought of him we do not know but they had been thrown together by their parents unworthy plot and both suffered the consequences, they could well have found a rapport in the tragic circumstances they found themselves in after, it is true men wept at his death, to witness the execution of a young person must have been very sad and after his death it was Janes turn, RIP Jane and Guildford Dudley.

  3. Banditqueen says:

    Guildford Dudley was as innocent or guilty as Jane Grey Dudley, depending on your point of view. He was about the same age as Jane and their marriage was arranged, but not forced. They were not beaten until they agreed to marry, but the scheming John Dudley did arrange their marriage with that of her younger sister and his brother in, in agreement with her father, Henry Grey, Marquis of Dorset and Duke of Suffolk, in order to further his desire that Jane be named as Edward’s successor. Although the Devise was the work of the young King, it was John Dudley who had promoted the idea. He also sold it to the rest of the Council. There is no evidence that the young couple loathed each other and Guildford seems to have been quite amenable. Jane probably wasn’t in love, but she appeared to have some affection for her young husband. His father tried to get Jane to make him King but she wisely refused and he also showed signs as did she of a mature Christian faith, although Jane was more of a fanatic. Jane was bold and self assured and accepted her Queenship, despite her initial reluctance. At the end of the day, this young couple were victims of forces beyond their control. Their fathers have much to answer for, especially after Suffolk was pardoned. It was his support for a second conspiracy to assassinate Queen Mary and replace her with Princess Elizabeth, the Wyatt plot which was to lead to the sentence of death found against them at their trial being carried out. There is some evidence from the reduction in their detention terms, being allowed exercise for example, that before this they may have been pardoned. It is regrettable that they followed their fathers to their deaths, a fate which could not be avoided after this. Guildford made a brave speech and died well.

  4. Tamise Hills says:

    Bravo! An excellent summary.

    1. Claire says:

      Thank you! It’s so tricky in 60 seconds.

  5. Christine says:

    I think the film ‘lady Jane’ starring Helen Bonham Carter is very good and Cary Ewles as Guildford, in the film he was shown frequenting brothels but some high born men did, I think Jane would have been spared but for her fathers ill fated coup with Wyatt, it was an attempt to rescue her and depose Mary but it failed and sealed her fate along with Guildford, the Spanish ambassador said Philip would not contemplate coming to England unless she was dead, her very presence was a font for rebellion, but I find it very sad that Mary could not find it in herself to stand upto Philip and save her young cousins life, whose only crime was to have been named Edwards successor, Jane wrote her father a poignant letter from the Tower where she mentioned he as her father should have preserved her life instead of shortening it, but that she forgave him as a daughter should, he must have been racked with guilt, Guildfords father had been executed immediately and some of his sons were in the Tower, but later released, neither Jane Dudley or Janes mother France’s Brandon were held to account yet they were all in the plot to put Jane on the throne, Frances had been very close to Mary, growing up in the court of Henry V111 and her mother had been a supporter of Katherine, they were friends as well as cousins and Mary accepted her apology and she was welcomed back at court, but her young daughter perished and all she had done was obey her parents which was expected in those days and she had had no influence in Edwards will, but she was a focus for rebellion and as years later, so Mary of Scots was to prove to her sister Elizabeth, their very presence caused unrest in the land, Guildford was only about twenty when he died and Jane around seventeen/ eighteen, they were the youngest victims of the Tower to succumb to the axe, both Jane Dudley and Frances must have been distraught, they had lost their husbands and now were going to lose their children, we can spare a thought for those two wretched mothers as well.

  6. Banditqueen says:

    I noticed that some people refer to the film with HBC which was well dine but (although I can’t comment on visits to brothels) I must point out that much in this film belongs in the trash can with so many legends about Jane Grey and her parents, especially her mother. For one thing it played up the myth that Jane was beaten into agreement to the Dudley match. Lady Frances was shown as a grasping cold fish only out for her own ends and Jane was even minting her own silver shillings, all of which we have only dubious oh dear poor Jane, evidence for, dismissed by all modern historians as nonsense and only repeated from one melodramatic biography to another without checking back to the sources. The film also plays into the overly romantic ideal of Jane from the Victorians and the real young woman gets lost somewhere along the way. There are two modern biographies which are closer to the truth, by Leanne de Lisle and Nichola Tallis. The film may be well done dramatically, but most of it like the Tudors and the Other Boleyn Girl should be enjoyed with a huge pinch of salt. Young nobles did go to brothels, either to learn the art of sex or if they were not satisfied at home. The evidence from Jane herself in a letter to Mary shows that she was regularly sleeping with her husband. Other evidence supports this and letters already mentioned by Christine point to a respectful and healthy relationship to both sets of parents, even if duty came first. You had to obey your parents and King and husband but that didn’t mean you were not cared for or loved or at least esteemed, even if disciplined. Frances Brandon has been shown as unfeeling but there is no real evidence to support this. Yes Jane did find herself abandoned at first when her brief reign collapsed, but her mother did plead for her with Mary and although her father foolishly got her killed, it wasn’t his purpose and her letters show she held him in affection, even towards the end.

  7. Christine says:

    Yes I didn’t buy the coins bit and like the Tudors a lot of what they put in the film just didn’t happen, but I loved it for the beautiful costumes and scenery (which sounds a bit frivolous), it’s true the Victorians did romanticise Jane a bit rather like they did Anne Boleyn, Jane was a very precocious girl and we only have evidence about her parents harsh treatment towards her in the letter she wrote to her tutor Roger Ascham, whearas she describes the nips and slaps and rebukes she gets if she so much as sits on the wrong chair, but as proved when she became queen, she showed a rather spirited character, and the truth could be that when at home she could have been rather cheeky towards her parents, a highly intelligent girl she could well have gone onto write her own books, as Catherine Parr had, that queen had been very fond of Jane and had resided with her and her foolish husband at Sudeley when the princess Elizabeth had been there, it’s so very tragic that a young girl with so much promise perished on the scaffold, it was said that the flow of blood that poured from her corpse was excessive, and what is also so sad is that her skeleton has never been discovered, possibly because she was so young her bones dissolved in the limestone that was under the chapel floor.

    1. Banditqueen says:

      Yes, Christine, she was very intelligent, naturally so it appears and she appeared to be quite a lively presence, sometimes serious in her love of learning, sometimes independent in her actions and thought, quite an impressive young lady. It was indeed a real shame that such a talented young woman and a potentially successful young man perished on the alter of Tudor politics in such an awful way. Her bones haven’t yet been identified, that is true, and it was also believed that Katherine Howard’s bones have dissolved with time due to her youth, although they at least have a memorial to mark where they did lay. Of course she could be further over. The painting of her execution is very dramatic and moving, but there are certainly aspects from contemporary sources. May Queen /Lady Jane Grey Dudley and Sir Guildford Dudley rest in peace.

      1. Banditqueen says:

        I actually watched the film last night and it’s much better than I remember with so many fabulous houses from the period and costumes. Of course had Jane been actually crowned she would have issued a new coin and the coinage had been debased under Henry, but it is unlikely she had a brand new silver shilling done in that nine or rather thirteen days, especially as she had bigger concerns. Jane is also shown giving the entire royal wardrobe to the poor, which although she preferred sober modest dress this is unlikely. Guildford was shown as the misfit of the family, in taverns and a brothel, from which he gets collected to go and meet his bride, which although it is possible, as young men could be a bit wild, this is probably dramatic license. Patrick Stewart made a fantastic Duke of Suffolk and was a commanding presence. The relationship between children and parents is shown as very cold and severe, but there is evidence in reality that while no doubt as with any other wilful teenagers of their day, they were corrected with corporal punishment, their relationship with their parents was far closer and more affectionate than in the film. The fact is both did their duty and became a fully married couple who shared their lives in every way. Jane intimated in her letter to Mary, explaining herself that she slept with Guildford, who seems to have been very supportive of his new wife.

        There is an interesting scene in the film which is used as a critique of the end of the monastic system which left so many people without homes, farms, work, food, income and social support. Our loving couple are on their way to a property which used to be a priory belonging to one of their parents and they are stopped by a group of people who want their land back, made homeless and poor and forced to beg. One has been branded with a V for vagrant because he was caught begging but has been forced to do so because when the monastery closed he lost his means and his tenancy as people worked on monastic land, had homes provided and they grew their own food and traded there. When the lands were lost they had nothing. Guildford in the film explains all this to a fervant Jane who is babbling on about corruption and idolatry but has no idea why these people are begging. She just doesn’t understand how the world works or that nothing replaced the monastic system. She can’t get why they have no farms. Guildford and Jane are not on the same page religiously in the film, but she becomes concerned to right the wrongs done to those who have lost everything. Eventually in return, Guildford is converted to her faith and they fall in love. Now the romantic turn the film takes from now on may be nonsense, but it does point out that not everything was rosy in the new world of the reformation. The lands of the religious orders did end up as part of gentry estates rather than conversation for social farming, education and so on.

        The rest of the film follows more or less the known facts, but there is of course more dramatic license after their arrest as they are allowed a great deal of contact and spend their last night together. The Guildford who emerges is strong and supportive and caring and the last night is a nice touch and who would not want that. Unfortunately, we don’t have much evidence for intimate contact in the Tower, although it is possible they met on their walks during the weeks they had the freedom of the Tower. Both Jane and Guildford made an emotional but good death, but it is ironic that they both may have lived had they not been again possible targets for rebellion and Jane’s own father had not led that rebellion. It was moving that at the end her only friend was the Catholic priest who tried to save her and with whom she disputed aptly, Father Feckingham who showed her kindness and stayed with her at the very end.

        These were not innocent sacrifices but they were vital young people with a lot of potential, who fell victim to the game of political power, played out by forces they could not control.

        Guildford and Jane Dudley have gone to the land which is invisible and are there in paradise. Rest in peace.

        1. Christine says:

          I thought Cary Ewles was a very dishy Guildford Dudley, and it made me laugh when they were breaking all those glasses, yes Father Feckingham came to respect Jane for her very stalwart belief in her faith and he was grieved that he could not save her from the block, they had many lengthy discussions on her converting to the catholic faith but Jane was a bit of a fanatic like Mary was herself and could not renounce her faith, even if it meant losing her life, it is hard for us in these days when girls of seventeen are thinking about boys and make up and going clubbing, to ever imagine that one persons life several hundred years before was in a sense dominated by religion, but here we have the context again, religion did have influence in those early years and Jane believed hers was the truth faith and Mary only knew the catholic religion she had been bought up in, the mass which she had took so seriously like any good Catholic, and which she so sorely missed when Edward had been on the throne, which she was forbidden to celebrate as it had been banned, Edward was as fanatic just like his sister and cousin, Mary was hoping against hope that Jane would listen to Feckingham and adopt Catholicism and thus her life would be spared but Jane equally tenacious refused to budge, it was so very tragic and a rather odd friendship had struck up between this serious young girl and the old priest, her execution was harrowing as she misjudged the distance between herself and the block and cried out in terror, after her death there couldn’t have been a dry eye in the crowd, Feckinghams included, I agree they were all important people in their own way, and Jane was the third queen whose blood stained the grass in the Tower grounds, what was worse she had actually been named queen by Edward, a rightful sovereign of England so was it justified to condemn her to death? Was she really a traitor an usurper or rightful lawful Queen of England? Whatever the truth I think her death was shocking.

        2. Banditqueen says:

          Yes, I completely agree, shocking, but as you say, this was how it was, everyone believed they knew the truth and believed the truth just as strongly as each other. Daily life was strongly dictated every action and decision, it was deeply rooted in their lives and it is hard for us to see, but it was there way. A difficult and foreign time indeed.

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