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?

Mary may have been added back into the line of succession after Edward by her father, Henry VIII, along with her half-sister, Elizabeth, in the Third Act of Succession but this act had not changed the girls’ status, they were still illegitimate. When the dying Edward VI came to make arrangements for the succession in 1553, he passed over his half-sisters, making it clear that he viewed them as “clearly disabled” from making any claim to the throne due to their status and the fact that they were “but of the halfe bloud”. He chose, instead, to name Lady Jane Grey as his successor, a girl who he deemed to be “whole blood” and his legitimate successor due to her descent from King Henry VII via Mary Tudor.

Hmmm… Henry VIII’s Act of Succession versus Edward VI’s Devise for the Succession, which one should have taken precedence?

Well, this is always going to be a subject of debate. People often point out that Edward’s wishes were not lawful because they went against his father’s and because he was still in his minority, but, as Eric Ives pointed out in his book on Lady Jane Grey, Edward VI had the law on his side whereas his father, in putting Edward’s half-sisters back into the line of succession, “had interfered with the common law of inheritance”. Ives goes on to explain that “Accepting Mary meant setting aside the inheritance rights of legitimate heirs in favour of a bastard. Accepting Jane meant a return to common law. That was the choice. True, Edward was asserting royal prerogative, but in doing so he was restoring the legitimate line of inheritance and that was what mattered.” Common Law, which had been recognised for hundreds of years, ruled that illegitimate children could not inherit, thus protecting the interests of legitimate heirs.

But what about the Third Act of Succession giving the monarch the power to change the succession through his will? Well, if it made it legal for Henry VIII to do that then it was also legal for his son to do the same. Henry could name his daughters as his successors after Edward, but then Edward could name Lady Jane Grey as his successor.

A point made by Beth von Staats, author of Thomas Cranmer in a Nutshell, in a discussion a group of us were having on this topic on The Anne Society Facebook page, is that Edward VI was crowned as Supreme Monarch and the powers invested in him at his coronation in February 1547 exceeded those of his father’s. He was referred to as “lawmaker”, so what Edward stated in his “devise” was law. Edward was the king and he had named Jane as his successor.

Whatever you think about the morality of it all, what was actually “right”, Henry VIII had not taken the step of having his daughters made legitimate once again; he had not protected their interests. Personally, I don’t believe that Mary and Elizabeth should ever have been made illegitimate. Even though their mothers’ marriages to their father had been annulled, they had been conceived in good faith and so should have been recognised as legitimate. However, the law had made them illegitimate and so this affected their claims. Jane had no such impediment; she was legitimate and she had Tudor blood.

My own view is that Jane was the rightful queen and should be known as Queen Jane. I see Mary’s actions as usurpation, however understandable they were.

What do you think?

By the way, if you’re a member of the Tudor Society then you can listen to the talk I gave last summer “Queen Jane or Lady Jane Grey” – click here. Kyra Kramer also wrote an article “Mary I, usurper and queen” on her blog – click here to read that. You can also read more about Edward VI’s devise in my article 21 June 1553 – Edward VI chooses Lady Jane Grey as his heir.

Notes and Sources

  • “Queen Jane or Lady Jane Grey”, talk by Claire Ridgway for the Tudor Society, July 2016.
  • Ives, Eric (2011) Lady Jane Grey: A Tudor Mystery, Wiley-Blackwell.
  • Third Act of Succession – this can be read at
  • Thank you to Conor Byrne, James Peacock, Beth von Staats and Catherine Brookes for the discussions on this topic.

50 thoughts on “Lady Jane Grey and Queen Mary I – who was the usurper?”

  1. AB says:

    I personally question whether Edward VI’s Devise overrode the 1544 Act of Succession. The Devise was not an Act passed by Parliament, so it is questionable whether it was legally binding, and there is evidence that many of the signatories were pressured to sign it and were not personally willing to do so. Even Cranmer’s involvement is debated; his religious views conflicted with those of Mary, but he respected the wishes of his master, Henry VIII, at whose deathbed he had attended.

    Irrespective of the legal situation in 1553, I do not believe Jane Grey would have been accepted as queen and although she reigned for thirteen days, a very short time, there is extant evidence that she was not popular. She was not cheered in London, she was not supported by many outside of her family and affinity, she was never crowned and the people quickly rallied to Mary, including members of the Privy Council. What is important is how people living in 1553 viewed the succession question: it is clear that they believed that Mary was the rightful heir to her brother, because she had been regarded during her lifetime as legitimate, regardless of her father’s bastardisation of her. In the eyes of the people, Jane was a usurper, and Mary was the true queen. The legal niceties did not matter, in their eyes.

    Jane Grey, had her coup proved successful, would have been in a similar position to Richard III. Neither was viewed by the common people at large as the rightful monarch, and Jane’s reign would probably have witnessed rebellions and insurrections aimed at deposing her and replacing her with Mary. Although Mary’s reign was undermined early on by Wyatt’s rebellion, the aim was not to replace her with Jane – only the duke of Suffolk appears to have wished for Jane’s restoration – but to replace her with Elizabeth who, like her half-sister, was illegitimate. To me, that speaks volumes: despite the fact that both women had been declared bastards by Henry VIII, they continued to be regarded as the rightful heirs to the throne. Mary’s heir was Elizabeth, just as, from this perspective, Edward’s heir was Mary.

    From a legal perspective, perhaps Jane was the rightful heir. I do think we should refer to her as Queen Jane, because she did reign – even if it was only for thirteen days, and even if she was never crowned. She clearly regarded herself as queen, signing letters as ‘Jane the Quene’ and ordering her councillors to fulfil her wishes. But, from the perspective of the common people and many of the nobility, gentry and privy councillors, Mary was the rightful queen and thousands flocked to support her. From our modern perspective, we may see Jane as Edward’s rightful successor, but in the sixteenth-century, Mary was viewed as his heir, the rightful queen of England, and surely that is what matters – not legal quibbles made in the twenty-first century by academic historians. You could argue that Elizabeth’s illegitimacy and the fact that she was the daughter of a convicted traitor should have barred her from the throne and the crown should have passed in 1558 to Katherine Grey (according to Henry VIII’s wishes), or to Mary Queen of Scots, but that is not what happened: as with Mary, Elizabeth was regarded as the rightful monarch, irrespective of her illegitimacy. It was the same situation in 1553.

    1. Claire says:

      But then even if it can be said that the devise wasn’t legal, the 1544 act made it legal for a king to change the succession via his will and so Edward’s wishes were legal according to the 1544 act. In a discussion on, “PhD Historian” commented “Edward had named Jane as his heir, and his action had been supported before his death by the Privy Council, the senior law judges, the aldermen of the City of London, and other leading officials. And there was a plan in place for Parliament to meet in September to make it law”.

      It’s impossible to say whether Jane would have been accepted as queen by the people. Attacking Edward’s devise wouldn’t have done anyone any good as his wishes were legal, he was actually correcting Henry VIII’s unlawful wishes, and challenging his devise would have been challenging long-established laws and really affecting the inheritance law that protected legal and legitimate heirs.

      “Mary was viewed as his heir, the rightful queen of England, and surely that is what matters – not legal quibbles made in the twenty-first century by academic historians.” She was not viewed as Edward’s heir by Edward (the king), or by his government, or by the law, so I think that “legal quibbles” by the likes of Eric Ives and S.T. Bindoff do, in fact, matter. I’m looking at things from a modern perspective or basing my views on what you see as “legal quibbles”. It was Edward VI who named Lady Jane Grey as his heir and he was careful in citing his reasons for doing so and for passing over his half-sisters, he used the law.

      Re Elizabeth I, Mary actually named her as her successor.

      1. Charlene says:

        Ah, but did the Act make it possible for “the King” to change the succession by will or just Henry VIII? The claim that precedent would allow any king to change the succession in his will is an assumption that I don’t think holds water; from reading the Act it seems clear that such power was specifically given only to Henry VIII and not to kings in perpetuity.

        1. i still believe mary was the rightful queen, henry viii was legally married to catherine of aragon, and she was their legitimate child, how did elizabeth become queen after ann was executed? and why did elizabeth execute mary? was she mary stuart henry viii child ? i am so confused about this time in history and i love stories of the kings & queens in that era.

        2. Banditqueen says:

          Yes, probably for most people Mary was the legitimate child of Henry Viii and Katherine of Aragon, but Henry thought he was not as Katherine was previously married to his brother and was his widow. The Pope gave special permission for their marriage to take place. Years later, Henry realised he may not have a valid marriage as his children died and he had no male heir, which was what in this male dominated world he needed. He asked for divorce but Katherine said no and so did the Pope, so Henry got his own divorce and had Mary declared illegitimate. Henry married Anne Boleyn and the law made their children the heirs. After Anne was beheaded Elizabeth was also declared illegitimate and Jane Seymour became Queen. She had Edward. Henry made all of his kids his heirs.

          Mary became Queen as she had the support and the law, but Jane was made Queen by Edward. After Mary won she was Queen and she reluctantly agreed to name Elizabeth as Queen in the way that her father had named her to follow on if Mary had no children. Elizabeth also had support and so became Queen because of Mary making female queens acceptable.

          Elizabeth didn’t execute Mary Tudor, so I assume you mean Mary Queen of Scots.

          No Mary Stuart was not a child of Henry Viii. He was her great uncle. She was the granddaughter of his older sister Margaret, who married James iv of Scotland. Their son James V was her father. It’s certainly very confusing when everyone is called Mary or Margaret or Katherine.

          Elizabeth I executed Mary Queen of Scots in 1587 after she had been implicated in a plot to kill Elizabeth. Mary had fled to England 18 years earlier but Elizabeth imprisoned her. Several mad nobles used Mary for their own ends and she was allegedly involved in a few plots to get rid of Elizabeth. Mary denied all this. However, she was framed and set up and Elizabeth put her on trial. She refused to sign her cousins death warrant for a long time. Then it was signed and Mary executed. Elizabeth said she didn’t do this or know of the execution, but it is controversial as to whether this is true or not. We now think that she did know, but in any event she was upset but has also been condemned for this act.

          Hope this helps to clarify things. History can be confusing, even when you know who is who. It takes a lot of working out. Don’t worry, you are not alone in all these confusing names.

          Take care. Good luck.

  2. AB says:

    In fact, a further thought: you could even argue that, if Edward was to alter the succession to comply with the law and completely disregard his father’s wishes, then he should have nominated Mary Queen of Scots as his successor. She was the descendant of Henry VIII’s elder sister and, legally, the elder sibling always took precedence over the younger sibling. Mary was of untarnished legitimacy and was the daughter of a king of Scotland, and she was also the great-granddaughter of Henry VII. In my opinion, her claim to the English throne was far superior to that of the Greys – although, according to Henry VIII’s will, the Scottish line could not inherit the English throne.

    But I stand by my comment earlier: ‘uncillors, Mary was the rightful queen and thousands flocked to support her. From our modern perspective, we may see Jane as Edward’s rightful successor, but in the sixteenth-century, Mary was viewed as his heir, the rightful queen of England, and surely that is what matters – not legal quibbles made in the twenty-first century by academic historians. You could argue that Elizabeth’s illegitimacy and the fact that she was the daughter of a convicted traitor should have barred her from the throne and the crown should have passed in 1558 to Katherine Grey (according to Henry VIII’s wishes), or to Mary Queen of Scots, but that is not what happened: as with Mary, Elizabeth was regarded as the rightful monarch, irrespective of her illegitimacy. It was the same situation in 1553.’

    1. This is a great discussion and most of your points majority opinion. My thought is that given the powers handed to Edward upon his ascension, he could have named anyone he wished to succeed him. That does not mean his choice necessarily deserved the crown, nor that his people supported the choice. Once Edward was crowned with powers exceeding any monarch before or since his decisions freely made of mature mind were law. The debate actually is whether or not Edward’s device was composed by him and of his free will. We know that in fact, he wrote it, and we know in fact it was his will. Thus, Jane Grey (or anyone alternatively he may have chosen) was a legitimate Queen. Also, keep in mind that Mary’s victory was not predetermined. She staged World History’s greatest coups d’état and deserves full credit for her outstanding accomplishment.

  3. I also think that Lady Jane should be counted as a queen, she was a de facto queen if nothing less. Anyway, I believe that one person’s king/queen/president is another person’s tyrant, and I think it has always been like this. I was surprised to learn (while researching for my book on John Dudley) how keen some folks were to declare Edward’s Devise a forgery. King James even sought out the original letters patent and had them destroyed: You cannot be too careful!

    1. Banditqueen says:

      Hello Christine Hartweg..I am reading your book on John Dudley at the moment and am pleased to see a John Dudley who was a loving father and actually had a fair sense of justice, as opposed to the usual plotting baddie of the Victorian era. I don’t believe that he was merely plotting to put Guildford on the throne via his marriage to Jane Grey, although Jane did issue commands to ensure he wasn’t made King. I think Edward knew he was dying and as the Head of the Council Northumberland had to do something practical as the country needed an heir fast. As Elizabeth and Mary were not ideal…firstly as female, then as legally illegitimate, although Mary’s legitimacy has been argued well in other posts, but also because Mary was a Catholic…something had to be done. I also think Northumberland and Edward put the various drafts of the Devise together, in accordance with Edward’s wishes and he was not bullied. I still believe Mary was the lawful heir, for reasons stated below….but Edward obviously intended this to be made law in Parliament and it was confirmed by the judges and council. I can understand it being challenged when it was cancelled and destroyed in 1611, but it is definitely not a forgery. Would you really want to read a forgery to Parliament? That it has changes and crossed outs in Edward’s hand and numerous lawyers in the Inner Temple have authenticated it shows it’s not a forgery. It was actually believed to be a forgery back in the 1970s, I remember reading something years ago claiming it as a forgery, but most sensible historians seem to believe it is a remarkable document, well thought out and making sensible amendments as the situation deteriorated and Edward’s health began to decline. I agree about lawful King’s and tyrants. Support for Mary was as much dependent on popular support and a natural sense of justice, plus she was the daughter of a powerful King and popular Queen. Few people even knew who Jane was. Since 1400 six Kings had either been usurped or usurped (lawfully or not) their predecessors and on two other occasions the crown was regained and lost by the same two people.

      Henry of Bolingbrook, son of John of Gaunt replaced Richard ii, deposed and starved him to death. His grandson was deposed and defeated as Henry vi by firstly as Lord Protector Richard Duke of York as he was mad and ill, then by York’s son Edward Earl of March, who defeated him and replaced him as Edward iv in 1461. Edward was forced from the throne in 1470 and into exile and Henry vi restored. After two battles the following year, Barnet and Tewkesbury, the Prince of Wales being killed at the latter, Edward iv was back and a captured Henry vi done away with on his orders. Those who fought on either side if defeated were declared traitor, called beautiful names, and their leaders executed. When Edward died suddenly in April 1483 he left two sons, Edward V and Richard who although accepted at first were subsequently shown to be illegitimate by a witness to their father marrying Eleanor Talbot before he married their mother Elizabeth Woodville. Bishop Shillington came to the Lord Protector, Richard, Duke of Gloucester and apparently showed him evidence and gave testimony about the above. This was investigated and evidence presented to the Council. Although a matter of dispute today among historians, it was upheld at the time and later verified by Parliament 1484. Whatever, the absolute truth, Edward V found himself publicly declared a badtard and disinherited. So now we had another so called usurped throne by the now famous Richard iii, although he was actually offered the crown by the three estates and accepted as King and popular. ( Yes, there were rebellions, including Buckingham but on the whole these were not widespread and easily put down). Finally we have the biggest usurped success of all…the rebel and traitor as the proclamation calls him…Henry Tudor, Earl of Richmond. To Henry he was the true Lancastrian heir coming to deliver the people. To Richard he was an upstart to be defeated and seen off and those who supported him traitors. Henry post dated his reign to before Bosworth, so anyone fighting him was considered a traitor. Henry Tudor was lucky enough to win and Richard killed, so although a usurper, he was lawfully accepted by right of conquest and his marriage to Elizabeth of York. He also had the Act of Parliament declaring her and her brothers and sisters bastards repealed and all copies destroyed. It is ironic, therefore and possibly not surprising that another usurped crown happened as a result of Henry Viii, the second Tudor and his need for a male heir. Mary saw herself as Queen because she should never have been declared illegitimate and believed her parents were truly married. She had a higher authority and also said that Edward’s work was that of his council. She was the natural heir of Henry Viii as his daughter, next after Edward, plus God and the Pope abreed. Jane was the lawful heir as she was assured because the Device had been confirmed by a legal process, the judges and council had witnessed it and it was the will of a legitimate King. All of these so called usurping monarchs had some legitimate verification for their claim and actions and you accepted them or not depending on which side you were on. For historians though we have to evaluate everything neutrally, which in some cases is a complete nightmare. In the end though Mary won and the Tudors continued. But we cannot simply dismiss Jane as a Queen. She issued her own papers and signed herself as Queen and showed leadership. She had a strong, intelligent and independent mind. Even for 13 days, perhaps she could claim her title.

  4. Ophelia says:

    Whichever way you put it, this story is still a tragedy. A brother casting aside his sisters. A teenager being forced to become Queen and a wife, only to be usurped by Mary. This is one of the most dramatic family stories in history, but it’s also one of the most saddest and heartbreaking too. I say we call Jane Grey Queen Jane and acknowledge her as Edward’s successor, but place Mary as Jane’s successor. Rest in piece Jane, rest in piece.

    1. Carol Ward Dudley says:

      Totally agree with you – so far as I know her family really screwed this one up with the hope of having her on the throne.

  5. Maryann Pitman says:

    There is another little twist to this tale-the marriage of Brandon and Princess Mary was of
    questionable legitimacy-Wolsey had to do some work on the quick and quiet to straighten it
    all out…….if Papal authority is invalid, then does that mean Frances Brandon was illegitimate as well as Mary and Elizabeth?

    Jane was as much Queen as Edward could make her. Plainly, the English thought Mary should be Queen, and perhaps that is what really matters. When she died, they wanted Elizabeth. Done deal. As to whether Mary would have kept her crown, we’ll never know.

    There were other forces at work here as well. All three of Henry’s children died at periods when there was widespread economic disruption and change was wanted.

  6. Esther says:

    I think it ironic that all the doubts about legitimacy come from a line descended from someone known as William the Bastard. Also, I don’t see how Mary could be a usuper, if Elizabeth wasn’t. IIRC, Mary did not leave the crown to Elizabeth by name, but instead, as the heir designated by law … which Elizabeth would not be if Edward’s will validly disinherited both his half-sisters . Furthermore, the case for Elizabeth’s bastardy is much stronger than the case for Mary’s illegitimacy … there being no “Deuteronomy exception” applicable in Elizabeth’s case. Finally, I think that the tragedy of Lady Jane Grey is due to the fact that the lesson of Richard III wasn’t learned … claiming the throne based on the technical illegitimacy of the long-accepted rightful heir isn’t going to work.

    1. Christine says:

      Well William was the bastard son of Richard Duke of Normandy and a tanners daughter but he had a claim to the English throne being the second cousin of Edward the Confessor, the latter promised him he would inherit the throne but decided to leave it to Harold Godwinson, which of course led to the Battle of Hastings, William as we know was victorious but he was a warrior and the Norman army far outranked the English in numbers and experience, however the scenario between Mary and Jane was not that different between Harold and William, Harold was English and was familiar to his subjects, William was regarded as a foreigner and Mary was extremely popular with her subjects, particularly in the north whearas Jane was virtually unknown except to her family and those at court, Mary was Henrys eldest and at one time was thought to be the only heir possible, a lot of the country sympathised with her when she was bastardised in favour of Elizabeth, there were many who thought she was her fathers only true heir before Edward was born, Edward was fond of Jane who was about his own age and they had often had lessons together, she was highly intelligent and maybe one of the few people he found he had a rapport with, being exceptionally gifted himself, they were both grave serious little people and of the same religion, this was very much in Janes favour as far as he was concerned and Dudley and his cronies it was also to prove Janes undoing, for it thrust her unwillingly or otherwise in froth of the succession before Catholic Mary, Henrys will debarred the descendants of his elder sister inheriting which some legal experts could argue was not lawful either as Princess Margaret was Henrys elder sister, many years later his daughter Elizabeth left her crown to Margarets great grandson so when alls said and done it was upto the monarch to leave their throne to whoever they wished (within reason not any old Tom Dick or Harry) where according to Henrys will it should have gone to her cousin Katherine Greys offspring, they did not contest James for the crown when it was left to him, in Janes case it gets really tricky because if the act of 1544 did give the King the power to name his own successor in theory you could say Jane was legally the rightful queen then, especially as the council and his legal team had discussed it with him beforehand and it was not a snap decision Edward had made on his own without consulting any of them, and if they were going to pass it in parliament then Janes accession I don’t feel can be classed as an usurpation, and in that case why was she ever imprisoned in the Tower and the charge of treason stamped on her forehead, she hadn’t had Mary imprisoned and put in the Tower like in the case of Edward V and his brother, Mary had not been named as queen when Edwards death was known, and Jane had not styled herself queen and contested it, after Edwards death Jane was bought before members of the council and they fell on their knees and addressed her as ‘your majesty’, it was a complete shock to her and there were both her parents and Dudley telling her what to do and her husband Guildford demanding he should be King consort like a sulky teenager, Ives calls her the rightful queen of England but it’s very difficult, morally and for sentimental reasons her supporters had no doubt that it was Mary whose throne was usurped, she had been raised as Princess of Wales till she was cast aside for her baby sister but for Henrys Catholic subjects she was the true heir, his only heir and Elizabeth was just the bastard daughter of a harlot, the witch Anne Boleyn, for Henrys Protestant subjects also she was popular, her mother had been much loved and their sympathy was with her and her daughter over the long years of the legal wrangling of the divorce, so yes Mary as far as the people were concerned was the one they wanted, they didn’t want someone who they had never seen before, it was said as she made her way to the Tower the crowd was curious and there were few cheers, one said rather disparagingly how short she was and that she was made to wear wooden soles to give her extra height, so yes morally by right of descent Mary had more of a claim to the throne even though her legitimacy had been called into question yet by the legal writing on the act of 1544 and Edwards right as Englands sovereign and his signature on his will made Jane his legal successor, I would not like to say Mary usurped her cousins throne and she herself did not believe it either, she was sure the throne was hers by right and the country was behind her, yet in law did she, was she guilty of transgression? Who ever had the better claim Mary emerged the victor like William of Normany five hundred years before and poor Jane was led to the scaffold, another victim of unscrupulous people’s bid for power.

    2. Sonetka says:

      I agree with this. Henry VIII set a terrible precedent by trying to have his cake and eat it too — refusing to re-legitimize his daughters but stating in his will that they remained heirs was an open invitation to Edward (or his advisors) to start getting creative with the rules of succession themselves. There’s also the fact that despite Edward’s best efforts, England was not 100% Protestant at this point or even close to it. There would have been a substantial percentage of the population which would not have seen Mary as having been illegitimate at any point.

      It’s been a while since I read Ives’s book on Jane Grey, but if I remember correctly, his description the “devise” is that it was elaborate but poorly thought-out in many respects. If it had actually been followed it could have led to even more intra-familial strife than actually happened.

  7. Christine says:

    Henry did cause problems for both of his daughters due to his marital adventures, first he was married to Marys mother then had the marriage annulled in favour of Anne Boleyn, having Mary declared a bastard then to rid himself of Anne he done the same thing, by doing this he had effectively endangered both his daughters chances of inheriting his crown and even though he later had them legitimized and put in the succession their right to inherit was open to debate amongst many, there were no questions on Janes legitimacy and that’s why she was the ideal candidate to inherit after Edward.

    1. Esther says:

      IIRC, there was doubt about Jane’s claim because Charles Brandon had a checkered marital history of dispensations and annulments before marrying Henry’s sister. The only claimant who had an unimpeachable claim was Mary of Scotland.

  8. Janice Bone says:

    What an interesting discussion, well done on this topic, I have enjoyed reading it.
    Thank you Claire

  9. Veronuca says:

    If the argument is that Jane was the legal successor one must remember that Henry VIII had an older sister–Margaret who for some reason Henry chose to not include her or her heirs in the line of succession. Certainly Elizabeth I recognized that line of succession and James Stuart became king over Jane’s two surviving sisters.

    If the Church of England was legitimate, then Henry had three legitimate children whether he liked it or not. His first marriage would have to be considered as a divorce but he had a legitimate daughter (Mary), he was also legally married to Ann Bolyen and had a legitimate daughter and nothing could alter that fact. Therefore, Jane had no right to the succession before Henry’s children and even Jane knew that.

    1. Tidus Jecht says:

      I totally agree with you Veronuca,

  10. Beth says:

    I think we today do not view Mary as a usurper because we view Henry VIII’s chopping and changing of wives rather cynically. Although I do think Anne and Henry’s was a true love (and not a grasping scheme), there’s no denying that Henry treated Katherine terribly unkindly. His later turnabout over Anne is positively chilling in its self-righteousness and denial of the facts. So I think the modern audience, seeing this and knowing that at the time Mary and Elizabeth were born both marriages were ongoing with good faith, tends to not accept the grounds that Henry had for declaring his daughters illegitimate. We think of them as ‘not really illegitimate’ because they were born in wedlock in good faith.

    Yes, you can argue that technically by law they had been declared such and that Edward VI was only restoring the Common Law by choosing Jane… but I think most people simply feel that their declaration as illegitimate was a crock in the first place and not justified. Maybe you could call that modern sentimentality/sensibility, but from our point of view, our modern sense of justice and fairness, you can see how we tend not to accept the notion that Mary and Elizabeth were illegitimate.

    1. Esther says:

      It isn’t just our modern sense of justice; Mary’s contemporaries never accepted the idea that she was illegitimate, either. That is one reason why so many Protestants supported Mary against Lady Jane Grey.

      1. Hilda Hilpert says:

        Also don’t forget that Mary’s mother Catherine of Aragon was still beloved by the people long after her death too.

    2. Tidus Jecht says:

      I totally agree Beth.

  11. Clara says:

    From my point of view, Mary was daughter of a true marriage, daughter of king and queen, and legitimate Queen of England. She fought for her legitimate crown and then, respecting her father’s will, appointed heiress to Elizabeth. Other question … ¿the marriage of Edward IV to Elizabeth Woodville was legitimate or he had a legal precontract of marriage to Eleanor Talbot? . Margaret Pole, Lady Salisbury, could be the true Queen of England.

    1. Christine says:

      The pre contract with Eleanor Talbot was never proven and she had been dead many years when this piece of news surfaced, it’s widely believed that Edwards enemies namely his brother Clarence had this circulated in order to prove Edwards marriage bigamous and his children bastards, Clarence wanted to rule and he was the second youngest therefore the crown would go to him, this is widely believed, after Clarence was executed the bill of attainder would have barred his daughter Margaret from inheriting anyway, and after Henry V11 was crowned parliament passed a bill making him the legal king of England in his own right and his heirs, the Greys and the Stuart’s not Margaret Pole who was his wife’s, Queen Elizabeths cousin.

      1. I don’t know. The Tudors had a way of going after potential Plantagenet heirs anyway, and don’t tell me that was not the case with the Poles. Strictly speaking the entire Tudor dynasty should never have existed, considering their descent from a family who were not supposed to inherit, but I guess Henry VII’s argument would be “Remember the golden rule – whoever has the gold makes the rules.” Bah – Edward III had too many sons! 😉

        1. Tidus Jecht says:

          I agree with you Sue.

  12. C says:

    Where’s Banditqueen when you need her? Lol

    1. Banditqueen says:

      Recovering from a migraine and enjoying an entertaining discussion with interest. I will be back in a day or two, but thanks for your kind concern.

  13. Vermillion says:

    It’s an interesting question – when the issue of the succession was in as much flux as it was in the mid-sixteenth century, it’s possible to argue it both ways.

    However, my issue is that even if Edward’s Device for the Succession could take precedence over Henry VIII’s will, the fudged logic behind it completely undermined its authority – by skipping the next ‘hereditary’ heir according to the Device, Frances Grey, and settling on Jane as heir, it took a worryingly elective turn. Of course, I don’t think Edward really intended either Frances or Jane to be his heir – the whole idea was that there would be a male heir of the Suffolk line who would then outrank them both, but the problem was that his health was declining so fast that this was never going to be possible, and thus Jane was chosen almost out of necessity.

    As such, she didn’t really have any real ‘right’ to the throne other than that Edward seemingly nominated her. That’s all well and good, but if it goes completely against the hereditary order, then it a) sets a worrying precedent (which Henry VIII had already encouraged with his own changes to the succession) and b) is likely to lack the support of anyone other than those who came up with the idea, which is exactly what fatally compromised Jane’s ‘reign’.

    Had Jane been male, perhaps that could have been used as a stronger justificiation for choosing her, but to debar the female heir (Mary) only to select another female heir (Jane) whose hereditary claim was much weaker seems almost illogical.

    It does raise a few interesting thoughts though. Was Edward’s Device purely the result of him knowing that he might be dying and thus finding a way to subvert Mary’s accession, or was it something that he might have tried in any case if he had lived longer? It’s hard to imagine his and Mary’s positions being in anything other than near-constant friction as he got older, so unless he had an heir of his own, this might have been how he would have proceeded.

    Also, is Jane offically considered a queen of England? Her ‘reign’ is so short and lacking in consensus that I wonder if she really could count in this respect – the only other such short reign of Edward V doesn’t do much to help answer this, as a) he was the natural heir of his father and b) at least initially, there was no dissent as to his right to succeed, so there was no other possibility than him as king, even if he was deposed before being crowned.

    1. Christine says:

      It was because Jane was Protestant and Edward feared that the country would become Catholic again that’s what it was all about, Dudley was his chief adviser and I think this was a case of passive bullying on his part, Edward himself said he wanted to defend his country from papists, I think he should have honoured his fathers will not drawn out a new one, the shock waves it caused throughout the country reverberated abroad and it stunned the Catholic world, it caused a lot of ill feeling as when nearly sixty years before Richard 111 had taken the throne from the young Edward V, yes it’s odd that Frances was not named Edwards heir as she would logically come before Jane, again you can read Dudleys hand in this, he had married his son to Jane so he would then rule through them, I wonder how the council and the lawyers had been persuaded to accept Edwards will in the first place but Dudley was known to be a brilliant politician as well as an able general and admiral, he had a powerful personality and presence yet when Mary rallied the people to her cause and marched onto London the members of the council one by one deserted him and Jane, as soon as the reigning monarch dies the heir is immediately proclaimed king or queen yet it’s not until the actual crowning takes place that they are officially recognised as the true ruler, that was why Richard 111 was in such haste to get crowned after little Edward V was seized, had Jane been crowned I believed it would have made Marys claim more flimsy and she possibly would have had to flee abroad as Jane would had the whole army behind her, she could well have fled to Spain and that country could have declared war on England on her behalf, that would have caused a huge dilemma for Northumberland and parliament, not to mention Jane herself, anyway none of that happened but it could well have, we could have had two wars with Spain instead of one.

      1. Claire says:

        In the original draft of his “devise” he stipulated that the Crown would descend through the male heirs of Frances, Duchess of Suffolk, if he died childless but as his health worsened he made changes to it, leaving the crown “To the Lady Fraunceses heirs males, if she have any such issue before my death to the Lady Jane and her heirs males.”
        I think Edward really did view his sisters as illegitimate and therefore “disabled” from claiming and he was also worried about them marrying a foreign prince – which, of course, Mary did – and the impact that would have on the country. Leaving the crown to Jane was lawful in his eyes and she was married to an Englishman. She was also Protestant, and that certainly helped.

        1. Christine says:

          Yes as far as Edward was concerned she was the ideal candidate, but both he and Northumberland totally underestimated that Mary would fight and the backlash against Jane, Edward had called Marys mother ‘the Spaniard’ and commented that it was Elizabeths misfortune to have Anne Boleyn as a mother who chose to couple with men other than the King, that shows that whilst Edward was fond of his sisters he did not view them as worthy successors to his kingdom, it is also proof of how Annes name had been irretrievably blackened as there was no question of her guilt and what Edward and his young contemporaries had been told, Edward was a bit of a fanatic like Mary and he abhorred the thought of the country going back to Catholicism again.

  14. In a sense, Mary I took the throne ‘by right of conquest’ – with less bloodletting than Henry VII, but with the same result.
    Clearly, Mary I had a master plan; she skedaddled north and gathered up her supporters before riding to London.
    Not even Lady Jane Grey believed she was meant to be the queen, and she said as much.
    Didn’t save her tender neck, though, but to be fair, Mary I likely didn’t initially intend to behead her.

  15. Carol Hornby Clements says:

    Wasn’t Edward dying when he wrote his will? . Was he manipulated by Northumberland who had married his son Guildford to Jane so he could hang on to power thinking his son would be king? I think there is some truth in this. Jane did not want the crown anyway.
    Interesting discussion.

  16. James Harris says:

    Under the canon law of the Roman Catholic Church, the children of a subsequently annulled marriage are fully legitimate and eligible to inherit from both parents provided that at least one of the parents had entered into the marriage in good faith. So far as I’m aware, the law on this subject was not changed by the Church of England even after Henry VIII’s break with Rome.

    It’s not just modern people who take exception with Henry’s bastardisation of his daughters – it was a flagrant violation of 16th century law. I don’t think there is any real legal doubt as to Mary being the legal successor, although obviously Jane Grey was acting in good faith according to the ruling of the previous reigning monarch.

    That doesn’t of course preclude Jane Grey from being recognised as Queen Jane – numerous previous monarchs had come to the throne under legally controversial circumstances – every English monarch of the 15th century could be arguably considered a “usurper” from a certain point of view.

  17. Pamela Stith says:

    Mary I was the legitimate queen; Jane was technically a usurper, but in actuality a pawn of her older male relatives (and where else did we see that scenario?)
    Edward was a sickly 14 year old, and his uncles had been running the country since he was 9; then Dudley helped eliminate them and tried to establish his own power base. I do not believe little Edward really understood what he was signing off to (rather like our insane current president). The older Protestant lords did not want a Catholic with ties to Spain and the Pope.
    I have often wondered why the Protestants did not try to place Elizabeth on the throne; I think they knew she was no way as malleable as Jane Grey.

    1. James Harris says:

      It was Edward VI himself who vetoed the idea of declaring his “illegitimate” half-sister Elizabeth as the next heir. Presumably because he realised that it would be rather difficult to justify passing over Princess Mary on account of her alleged illegitimacy, while overlooking the exact same objection to Elizabeth’s claim. Disbarring both of his sisters, and leaving the succession to his Grey cousins was at least a little easier to make a legal case for.

    2. Banditqueen says:

      Edward vi was not sickly until he was 15, he was very astute and although Northumberland came to him with the alternative as an idea as his health was failing, it was Edward who worded and devised the document himself. It is written in his own hand. Mary he excluded as she was as he saw it legally illegitimate and a Catholic and Elizabeth because she was also illegitimate. Henry Viii had not reversed their status even though the Act of 1544 restored them to the Succession. Edward was not the sick innocent child victim he is often shown in films, but bright, extremely well educated, extremely self aware and very much of his own mind. He was becoming strong willed and assertive.

  18. Banditqueen says:

    Thanks Henry lad for leaving such an interesting and confusing legacy. I am certain both of your daughter’s appreciated it.

    Mary Tudor was the moral and legitimate natural heir, Jane Grey technically the legal heir.

    Henry Viii 35 The Third Succession Act 1544 is responsible for one of the most complex and contested rights of succession historians have battled with ever since. While Henry had declared his two girls bastards in 1536, he didn’t do so until both of their mothers were dead. His First Act of Succession 1534 invested the succession in the children of Henry Viii and Anne Boleyn. Henry, however, still hoped to have sons with Anne and was still in reasonable health himself. He had annulled his first marriage to Catherine of Aragon because he believed it was cursed and illegal as she first married his late brother, Arthur. Because the Holy Father did not grant Henry his wish, the principle of good faith, where two parties don’t realise that they are married invalidly, to protect the legitimacy of their children, did not come about. Henry got his own divorce, plus he made his own rules and didn’t uphold his daughters legitimacy. Mary refused to acknowledge her parents were not married invalidly and Henry dismissed her from his life. Catherine also upheld her belief that she was legally married to Henry and was also banished and mistreated.

    The Pope in 1533/1534 declared the marriage of Henry Viii and Katherine of Aragon good and valid and ordered him to abandon Anne Boleyn or be excommunicated. It is this that Mary depended on, she was naturally legitimate and morally legitimate….she was the people’s heir, the heir in the eyes of the Catholic world and the heir in her own eyes as she was her parents first born, their marriage was lawful and she had a higher authority to appeal to in order to establish her claim…her faith. As far as Mary was concerned, her father had no right to divorce her mother. Just as her mother had appealed to the Pope, Mary did in theory, declaring that only the Pope could make such a decision. Even when Mary was forced to submit to Henry and sign a document agreeing that she was illegitimate, she asked for absolution and made an official protest to the Holy See. Essentially, this means that she crossed her fingers so what she signed didn’t count.

    It could be argued that Henry didn’t have the power to declare his own daughter illegitimate, but the succession was essentially his own business. Henry made a new Act of Succession in 1536, making both Mary and Elizabeth illegitimate as he wanted only to have the children of his new third wife, Jane Seymour succeed him. It has been suggested on the Chicago Law Library website that has extensively looked at these Acts and their legitimacy that Mary would not have been declared illegitimate had Henry had a son with Anne Boleyn. It’s the fact that Anne was later executed for false charges of treason and adultery that made Henry decide on a clean sweep approach to his new succession vision…thus by declaring both marriages and children illegitimate…he had no living challenges to the offspring of Jane Seymour.

    Things, however, had changed dramatically by 1544. Jane Seymour had given Henry a living, healthy son, the now almost seven years old Prince Edward, but had died twelve days later. No further children were born to either his six months Queen Anne of Cleves or to the young Katherine Howard. So far, his sixth and final wife, Katherine Parr was not pregnant, but Henry had two important reasons to settle the succession. Firstly, Henry was fully aware that his health was failing. Secondly, he was about to embark on a campaign in France and it was possible he may not return or die shortly afterwards. The 1544 Act of Succession is an extraordinary document and one that used legal trickery to control the next two generations succession. Henry restored Mary and Elizabeth to the Succession, after Edward, should he not have children, of course. However, he didn’t reverse their status as legally illegitimate. Now for the clever bit. The law allows Henry to nominate anyone he likes in his will and by Letters Patent. It gives him a legal method to leave the throne to all three siblings, to their cousins and to let him even exclude lines. He wanted to ensure the rival houses knew that no Plantagenet line would succeed and no foreign line either…this excluded Scotland. Henry’s will backed up his Act of Parliament. Although the Act also did not forbid anyone changing and naming their own succession, it makes clear the natural and legitimate order to follow. Mary was to follow Edward..end off if he died childless.

    There was, however, to be a legal twist. In 1553 Edward Vi was fifteen. He had been in good health, he was betrothed to a French Princess, but now he became ill. His lead councillor, John Dudley, Duke of Northumberland devised an alternative to the two Princesses as heirs to the throne. He did not force anything on Edward, but put his suggestion to him. Firstly, his son was proposed as a match for Edward’s cousin, Lady Jane Grey, granddaughter of Henry’s sister, Princess Mary, the French Queen and her husband, Charles Brandon, Duke of Suffolk. He also had a match with Katherine Grey and William Herbert suggested. He then suggested that as Princess Mary was a Catholic and had badly fallen out with her brother, plus was declared illegitimate by Henry Viii, that the Greys as legitimate and a reformers that they would make alternative heirs.

    Edward was getting sicker and not likely to live beyond Christmas 1553. He agreed and devised his own documents and plan for the succession. The document is called My Device for the Succession and is in Edward’s own hand. There were about four drafts as all the cross outs show. Lady Frances Brandon, married to Janes father, Sir Henry Grey, the new Duke of Suffolk and Marquis of Dorset was excluded, as in the will of Henry Viii. The next part names Jane Dudleys heirs, lawfully begotten, but as time went on it was changed to read…Lady Jane Dudley lawfully begotten and her heirs male. Frances was summoned to Court and forced to renounce her own superior claim for that of her daughter. Edward excluded Mary as illegitimate and Elizabeth, also as illegitimate. Northumberland then had the Council agree or rather bullied them into agreement. He got Suffolk and Lady Frances to agree and the stage was set. Lord Edward Montague disagreed and found the process dubious. The document was verified by Papers Latent, but not backed by Act of Parliament. In July 1553_Edward died and Jane was made Queen.

    Now we all know what happened next. Jane was declared Queen, made a protest that she wasn’t the true heir, so even she knew Mary was the true heir, but accepted all the same. Jane went to the Tower to be prepared for her coronation, Mary finds out what has happened, writing to the Council, declaring herself Queen and then raised an army in Suffolk. Mary marches on London, Jane raises own army, Northumberland is defeated and surrounded, her father and everyone abandoned her and joined the triumphant Mary. Mary forgives Jane and family, but six months later her father joins Wyatt rebellion and after that fails, Mary realised that Jane was too dangerous. Jane, her father and Northumberland and Wyatt were all executed for treason. However, it is the opinion of some that Jane should be regarded as a Queen for that 13 days in charge, even if she was not the true heir.

    The Device legally made Jane Grey Queen, because Mary and Elizabeth had been declared illegitimate by Henry Viii and the terms of the Third Act of Succession (Henry Viii 35) don’t forbid his son from naming his own heir. However, the original Act names the two Princesses in direct lawful line of Succession and his will was backed by Letters Patent. The Act of Parliament 1544 gives legal weight to the rightful succession going to Edward, then Mary and then Elizabeth. So who is right? Henry or Edward. Eric Ives makes powerful arguments for the Device of Edward vi having the supporting legal weight as Edward was undoubtedly legitimate, but his sister’s were both of dubious legitimacy as Henry didn’t reverse their status. There has always been a questionmark over the inheritance rights of illegitimate heirs to the throne. In English Law it is true that bastards didn’t have the right to inherit property or titles. However, the law also allowed any child of the King to be declared legitimate and to succeed. There are precedents for illegitimacy not being a barrier to succession, such as William the Bastard, Duke of Normandy, but then he conquered and was King through right of conquest. Then we have a reversal with Edward V and his brother Richard, Duke of York being identified as illegitimate and the throne being offered to their uncle by the three estates…known as Richard iii as the next, legitimate adult male, not barred by Attainment from the throne. The young King and his brother were declared illegitimate because their father had been married to Lady Eleanor Talbot and then to their mother, Elizabeth Woodville bigamously. It could be argued that Mary, even if legally illegitimate, was now Queen by right of conquest as it was for her grandfather, Henry Vii. Mary saw herself as legitimate by virtue of true birth, virtue of her parents marriage and coronations and virtue of law…the Act of 1544. The entire Catholic world and her own people agreed.

    The Device has legal difficulties. David Loades points out that it was never backed up by Act of Parliament. He also points out that it was only agreed upon under duress. The Device may not be legal as Edward was not as yet of age, although he had shown he had his own mind. The Device was objected to by the Chancellor. Although in theory Edward vi had the right to draw up such a document, given under the Act of 1544, the Treason Act 1547 made it treason to alter the line of Succession drawn up by Henry Viii. Edward had not repealed this Act, nor had Parliament had time to validate his Device. So, even though he had done his best to protect the new succession, Edward had in fact made it more problematic. Mary was well aware of this, as were his council and her swift action and popular support had ensured her victory. Mary reversed all of the legislation that questioned her legitimacy or her parents marriage. Although she was tempted to name her other cousin, Margaret Douglas as her own heir, Mary was persuaded to wisely name Elizabeth, possibly to prevent another coup by another relative. If Mary’s legitimacy was really ever in question, Elizabeth’s certainly was and interestingly she never changed her status. The law of her father was probably good enough as was her name…Tudor. (The illegitimacy of the sons and daughters of Edward Iv was confirmed by one Act of Parliament, in January 1484, the Titular Regis and reversed in the first Parliament of Henry Tudor, 1485. In the 17th Century another Succession crises arose after William iii excluded first all Catholics from the throne and then more specifically the legitimate son of James ii…later called the Old Pretender and the George’s were forced to fight him in 1715, and his son, Bonnie Prince Charlie in 1745 and 1746.)

  19. Tidus Jecht says:

    First, I don’t think that Henry annulling his marriages should have made any difference at all.
    At one time or other, he was married to all of their mothers.
    I also think it should have been law from day one, that the oldest (no matter what sex, would inherit first, then the next oldest etc.
    Which would mean Margaret should have come before Henry.

    1. Banditqueen says:

      This would of course be so now, but it wasn’t so at the time. To put it in GOT terms…the law was the King and the King was the law. While a daughter was of value for their dynastic value as brides and if an heiress for the lands and wealth they transferred to the holdings of their husband, they were not seen as able to rule. Oh they could act as a regent in the name of the King, their husband or their sons, but to rule in their own name…this was not something the world accepted. Henry was born into a world that may as well be alien to our modern ideas. His grandmother had set her own lawful claim to one side in order to promote her son, Henry, Earl of Richmond ‘s claim first. Henry wasn’t the only legitimate Lancastrian claimant….two senior lines superseded his, but both represented a female line….from Catherine of Lancaster. Margaret Beaufort gave Henry Tudor his fragile claim, but in logical modern thinking were you succeed if you are born first, Margaret could have claimed the throne. Alternatively, the illegitimate Elizabeth of York could have claimed the crown as Edward ivs eldest daughter and reversed the Parliamentary Act that had declared her a bastard. However, her current status and disposition made this impossible. Even if Elizabeth could have gained support, she was at a disadvantage. England already had a King in Richard iii and Elizabeth was sequestered in the Midlands out of the way awaiting the outcome of Bosworth. Had Richard won Elizabeth would have married Manuel, heir to the throne of Portugal, Richard was betrothed to Joanna of Portugal. However, she was promised to Henry Tudor if he won the Battle, but as his Queen, not to rule in her own right. Henry’s support and Kingship depended on his marriage to the Yorkist heir, but Elizabeth had to accept him both as her husband and King in order to confirm her own claim. Henry had won the right by his victory on the battlefield, a valid lawful way to gain a crown, but technically his accepted right was due to his wife and his mother.

      Our modern mind may say exactly what you quite rightly point out that as Elizabeth had the better claim she should succeed, but as with Mary, she had been declared illegitimate and had to rely now on Henry’s Parliament reversing this. By the same logical thinking, Henry Viii, the second son and successor of these two should have been content with his lot. Henry Viii was indeed married to the mother’s of his three legitimate children. Modern logic and canon law would argue that his annulment of Katherine of Aragon should not have affected his children, as they married in good faith. As he had no wife alive to challenge Jane Seymour, there is no doubt over Edward or any other children of the marriage. The second marriage to Anne Boleyn is the one that causes the most complications. For most people Henry created even more problems by marriage to Anne while still married to Katherine of Aragon. Even though his marriage was annulled by his Archbishop Thomas Cranmer and his council, Henry Viii technically had two wives between January and May 1533. It’s his own laws that then firstly make Elizabeth and his children by Anne his only heirs, then himself Head of the Church of England, then after he conveniently had poor Anne executed, his laws wrongly had his daughters declared illegitimate. The Act of 1544 to some extent could be seen as correcting his illogical errors by restoring Mary and Elizabeth to the Succession. Henry will not declare them legitimate because this would mean his earlier laws were wrong. The part of the Act that lets Henry nominate his own succession, regardless of lawful legitimacy, you can say is a get out clause.

      Had our laws applied back then, yes, the oldest child does make more sense, regardless of sex, but this is only very recent even in modern royal succession. Had the Tudors, Stuarts, Plantagenets been of our minds, with sexual equality, indeed Henry’s older sister Margaret would have ruled England, with her own mixed success in marriage and Mary would have succeeded her father, no problem. His marriage to his other children’s mothers would have been more orderly and certainly nobody would be executed. They would have the same rights of succession. If they had our mind and laws, illegitimate children could also inherit if no other children were born. Henry would be much more answerable for all of his poor marriage decisions. However, we don’t have the same mindset and male heirs were preferred over female. Henry had a dilemma and just couldn’t accept that a woman could rule. I don’t believe he even thought for one moment that Edward would not grow up and have his own sons. In restoring Mary and Elizabeth to the Succession he was being cautious, but by not amending their legitimate status, he caused the problem that gave rise to Lady Jane and other rivals for their throne.

    2. Micki Forrester says:

      It was only in the late 21st century that the law which allows younger brothers to take precedence over older sisters changed in England. Elizabeth II changed it when her grandson (next in line after Charles) was expecting his first child. You can’t look back at “should have been”. You have to go by what was law then

  20. Michael Bayus says:

    As I read all of this, and as one who has come to love the Lady Jane Grey very much, and in fact, was once actually in love with her, as I was her age when I first knew about her, I wonder what would have happened if she remained Queen. Would there have been an American Revolution? and would I have even heard of LJG? and, as I am a Church Organist, and LJG or one of her Sons might have had all Church Organs removed, and Would I be living in Hungary as I am of Hungarian descent? As it is, She didn’t, I did, I am, they aren’t, I don’t, and she does. Just something to think about. To my beloved gentle Jane:
    I think of you with every breath I take,
    And every breath becomes a sigh;
    Not a sigh of despair
    But a sign that I care for you.
    I hear your name with every breath I take,
    On every breeze that wanders by,
    And your name is a song
    I’ll remember the long years through.
    Even though I walk alone you guide me,
    In the darkness you light my way,
    And all the while inside me,
    God seems to say, “Some day, some day!”;
    And when I sleep you keep my heart awake,
    But when I wake from dreams divine,
    Every breath that I take
    Is a prayer that you will be mine.
    te amo Joanna Graia

  21. Graham says:

    I am replying to this several months after the discussion above. I just wanted to thank everyone who participated in this civil, erudite, and fascinating discussion of a complex issue.

  22. Charlie says:

    HI, my name is Charlie and I am 11 years old and I have read all the information on this website and although it answers all my questions, it doesn’t answer this: Is Mary really bloody?
    I have done some research and some articles say that she did in fact burn 300 protestants as a sign that if you don’t turn Catholic you burn. I also read that Mary, who wanted to turn England Catholic again, asked a powerful Catholic leader for advice. He said burn some to set an example, and that he was the one that orchestrated these killings, not Mary, and used the phrase ‘turn or burn’.
    If anyone could reply to this confirming which one is true ( or if neither are ) that would be amazing!

    1. Banditqueen says:

      Hello Charlie, hope you enjoyed the site. Claire is the expert to ask but we all have our different views on these interesting subjects. Actually the way it worked meant that although Mary reintroduced the Catholic Faith by Act of Parliament and a public service of formal going back to Rome, she didn’t do anything different than any other monarch of her day. England was still a majority Catholic country but because her brother had officially made England follow a reform faith, there were now a large minority of Protestant people in England. It is also an error to really talk about Protestant people in England at this time and the word did not exist.

      In Germany there was a larger group of people who followed the reforms of either Martin Luther, John Calvin or a preacher called Zwingle who was more radical. People who followed him wanted to destroy the alters in church and wanted to make everything more pure. A lot of people wanted to force the German Princes to have a social reform and a church for the people. They went to war over this and many were killed. We call these German protesters Protestant. A lot of different religious beliefs came from France, Germany and Scotland that we call reforms, which people wanted in England. Henry Viii got involved in reform because of his divorce from his first wife and because his second was interested. He had new men advise him called Thomas Cranmer and Thomas Cromwell, who pushed through reforms in England. As Archbishop Cramner made a new prayer book under Edward Vi and new ways of worship but in fact what the reformers believed varied widely. Mary was a Catholic but she was also Evangelical in her outlook and didn’t go right back to before the Reforms. She kept many of the things Henry had kept and accepted some of his reforms. She accepted the agreement of 1529 but also took England back to Rome.

      Laws already existed in England that radical people called heretics which means to choose, many of whom followed reform, but also their own ideas, if they continued to practice or lead other people to their ways that they were condemned to death and the reason fire was used is that it purified and because people believed in a place of punishment after death, they were being spared this by being punished now. However, you got a few chances to say your belief was wrong and if you did, you got off with a fine, beating, penance or prison or being let go with a warning. It was normally for a second or third offence that you could face death, if you didn’t repent. You always received a trial and time to consider first. Mary’s Parliament made these laws official again although her brother also burned people. What makes Mary stand out is the number in such a short time, but people were now more open and so more people were arrested.

      Mary’s Government did not set out to burn people. In fact they took a slower approach at first, wanting to educate people first of all and they had a preaching and information campaign. In fact Mary was not even involved in most prosecutions because they were dealt with locally, by local magistrates and by local courts. Most people were told on by their neighbours and then questioned and far more people were let go than tried or executed. Where the Queen was involved was in the state trials of the leading clergy who were targeted because they had led the rest of the country into what Mary saw as darkness. These leading Bishops like Hugh Latimer and Thomas Cranmer were held responsible for the reforms in the first place and Cranmer had divorced Mary’s parents. Some people think Mary wanted revenge on Cranmer but other evidence suggests she saw him as a traitor as he had campaigned to keep her from the throne and afterwards. A recent letter to Cranmer in his private papers from Mary as a Princess suggests her relationship with him was not as bleak as we might think and she had respected him at one time. Mary did intervene in the case of Cranmer who was given a long time to repent after his trial and he did so, several times, but he changed his mind again. Then he repented again and it should have saved him but because of his treason Mary ordered his death.

      Mary was actually quite a merciful Queen and she pardoned thousands of people who rose in a rebellion against her, executing only the leaders. She also at first pardoned those who put Jane Grey on the throne and would have pardoned Jane and her husband but she was caught up thanks to her father in another attempt to remove and kill Mary and Mary was persuaded by her advisers to execute her, but did so reluctantly. Mary also abolished certain cruel practices which saw people killed even if they didn’t plead but it was reintroduced by Elizabeth. Other cruel practices were also repealed such as being boiled alive for poison. It is very unfortunate that because of the number of People executed for not repenting for heretical or reformed beliefs, but she didn’t get this name until much later when England was much more Protestant. She was more tolerant of even traitors and she only used the death penalty very reluctantly. She even personally pardoned over 500 people she saw being taken to prison after the rebellion one morning and freed them.

      If we say Mary was bloody we have to say her father was, her sister was, her brother was and every European leader was. Mary is unfairly singled out and many leading authors agree with this and see her reign as far more successful than it is given credit for. Mary only ruled for five years, with Elizabeth ruling for 45 but she was only 25 and Mary had cancer which killed her. She is also a tragic figure and she suffered much as a child. Assessment of her reign is always difficult and controversial but if we put aside the myths then we see her as a troubled, merciful, determined, religious, intelligent, forward thinking, if very firm in her faith and as a woman who draws debate all at the same time.

      I hope I have been of help but if you don’t understand anything just ask.

      Good luck.

  23. Micki Forrester says:

    For those claiming Edward should have named Jane Grey as his successor due to her descent from Mary Tudor remember that Lady Jane’s mother was alive at the time. Using that logic Francis Brandon Suffolk should have come before her daughter.

  24. Michaele says:

    There are arguments for both ladies, although one suspects that Edward did not want to put a Catholic on the throne, lest bloody religious civil wars follow (as they did). But whichever queen had the stronger legal claim, Mary wouldn’t have prevailed without support. Who in the court turned the country suddenly toward Mary

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