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Queen Jane July 10 - 19 1533 – The road to the throne


Queen Jane July 10 – 19 1533 – The road to the throne

Adam Freeman

Queen Jane July 10 – 19 1533 – The road to the throne

Published by Adam Freeman at Shakespir

8,700 words

Copyright 2016 Adam Freeman

Shakespir Edition

About the author:

Growing up in Staffordshire Adam Freeman studies History all through his school years and after graduating with four A-Levels attended the University of Winchester, completing a degree in Ancient, Classical and Medieval Studies in 2014, this joint degree was in History and Archaeology. The Dissertation on the politics and decisions behind the construction of churches in Mercia in the mid to late eight century during the reign of King Offa, was the first e-book to be published on Shakespir. In 2016 the author completed a Masters Degree at the University of Birmingham (Ironbridge International Institute for Cultural Heritage) in International Heritage Management.

To contact the author go to – [email protected]


List of figures

Chapter 1 – Introduction – revisionist exercise

Chapter 2 – Literature review/ previous views

Chapter 3 – Queen of England, precedence?

Chapter 4 – Lady Jane Grey’s marriage to Dudley

Chapter 5 – Conclusion – should Jane Grey be seen as a Queen of England?

Chapter 6 – Bibliography

List of Figures:

Image 1 – (Front cover) Portrait of Lady Jane Grey

Image 2 – Plaque commemorating Mary Tudor at Framlingham Castle Image courtesy of www.castlesfortsbattles.co.uk

Image 3 – The changing line of Succession, the latter was the ‘Devise for the Succession’

Image 4 – Lady Jane Grey (‘Lady Jane Grey’s reluctance to accept the Crown’) National Portrait Gallery. Herbert Bourne published 1886

Image 5 – Edward VI’s devise for the Succession – in his own hand

Image 6 – Painting by Paul Delorche in 1833 titled ‘The execution of Lady Jane Grey’. Image courtesy of https://www.nationalgallery.org.uk/paintings/paul-delaroche-the-execution-of-lady-jane-grey

Image 7 – Lady Jane Grey letter as Queen


This book will analyse the mid sixteenth century politics of Tudor England looking at the middle three ‘monarchs’, Edward VI, Jane Grey and Mary I. The accession of Edward VI to the death of Mary I would encompass only an 11 year period, one which would see major religious change during a contentious European religious period of time between Catholicism and Protestantism. For England, the changing succession law which saw Edward’s half-sisters Elizabeth and Mary removed from the succession, this was crucial for the period with the contentious religious setting with the King and his allies still pushing through the Edwardian protestant reform.

This analysis will be supported by contemporary primary sources from the period and also later works, commenting on the period to analyse the Tudor and Marian propaganda that then became the authorised history of the period. In purely chronological order the first document is dated 1553, an important period in Edward’s health, is a letter held at the British Library of Princess Elizabeth’s letter to Edward VI, the letter shows the power struggle at play in the Tudor court, her protestations at her inability to visit him during his illness and her own feelings towards him as his half sister. With Elizabeth younger than both Mary and Jane it certainly wasn’t a move to make her his heir, there is no evidence of the crown being sought by Elizabeth only the inability of the two women mentioned above having children would bring herself to the throne. It is an insight into the paranoid sense of the court and the people around the young King that had become a characteristic of the Tudor regime, showing itself previously in Henry VII and his son Henry VIII’s regimes.

A few primary sources are published in James Taylor Junior’s, ‘Documents of Lady Jane Grey: Nine days Queen of England 1553’, the works were published in 2008. The earliest source is a letter from Jane Grey to Lady Anne dated around 1553; she is discussing her situation and for the first time her own thoughts on her marriage to Guildford Dudley, a look at . Along with this letter there is another correspondence dated to late April or early May 1533, it is a rare document wrote by the Duke of Northumberland himself to his friend the Duke of Suffolk where he sets out the current state inside the Tudor court and his plans after Edward’s death and Lady Jane Grey. The document also includes a cautious reply from the Duke of Suffolk to the earlier letter from Dudley, and shows the tension even within Dudley’s own supporters to the question of Mary’s succession, even with the alteration in the succession law. The letter was wrote after Lady Jane Grey’s marriage to Guildford Dudley amid rumours of the kings illness becoming common knowledge at court, it is as a result a tantalising look within the court and the internal power struggles already coming out to the front.

Another contemporary document is Edward VI’s ‘Devise for the Succession’ wrote only a few weeks before his death, that has included with his own handwriting the changes that he made that promoted Jane Grey from a possible successor to the official heir to the throne and as a result the removal of his half-sister Elizabeth I from the act of succession. This was changed as Frances wouldn’t have a child in time with Edward’s impending death. Jane Grey’s marriage to Guildford secured her position only further at court and the succession. Analysis of the original Henry VIII succession plan will also be undertook that was completed during his reign; to understand the thoughts and feelings of Mary, Elizabeth, Edward VI and Dudley.

Published in the first year of Queen Mary’s reign in 1554 is, ‘The Vita Mariae Angliae Reginae’ by Robert Wingfield. A supporter of Mary and her catholic sympathizers the book would need to be accommodating to Mary’s and her supporters propaganda on the events. It deals with Edward VI’s reign and the rise to power of Mary I and her subsequent move towards closer ties with the Roman Catholic Church in England. One of the major parts of the source that the author will be analysing is Lady (Queen) Mary’s march to London from Framlingham Castle in July after Edward VI’s death as shown in image 2. The book uses primary sources from the time to describe the timeline of events in July 1553.

Image 2 – Plaque commemorating Mary Tudor at Framlingham Castle Image courtesy of www.castlesfortsbattles.co.uk

Another later source is Foxes Book of Martyrs, published about ten years after the event, the book of protestant history has a number of primary sources that date to the time of Edward VI’s death. Being published in the early years of Elizabeth I’s reign, this period brought about a new settlement with the church and the expansion of Anglicanism that would benefit protestant supporters like Foxe who had been persecuted and executes in the previous Marian regime. Two letters are included in the works, one dated July 9th wrote by Lady Mary after hearing of the death of her half-brother King Edward VI to the council proclaiming her right to the crown, and also included is a fascinating reply by a nervous council, who had already by this time officially acknowledged Jane as Queen and Monarch. This source will be helpful in analysing the mood of the court, from Edward’s death and the support that Jane had immediately from the council and the apparatus of the state to Mary’s accession to the throne.

The author will also consult with a number of recent works to assess the current debate in the historical world. Leandra de Lisle’s works for example, ‘Tudor. Passion, manipulation, murder’ published 2013 and ‘Tudor the family story’ from 2014 will be analysed. Her works help to form the current debate and reassess Lady Jane Grey’s character, it analyses the last months of Edward VI’s reign and his own attitude on the succession. Anna Whitlock, Chris Skidmore and Erickson will also be looked at to assess

As well as revisionist authors, to allow a balanced view to be discussed the author has analysed Derek Wilson’s informative study on the Dudley family through his book, ‘the uncrowned Kings of England’ published in 2004 will allow the short period of time be set within a larger struggle and challenging preconceived ideas of Dudley and his ambitions. Peter Ackroyd in his history of England volume 2 – The Tudors, also analyses Dudley seeing him as in control of the King and the man behind all his decisions, all the Kings decision’s and public displays were being controlled by Dudley, in echoes of the Earl of Warwick and more recent Somerset in Edward’s earlier reign.

This book will form another piece of the revisionist debate that has grown over the last few decades, a new perspective into the Tudor period, through a new perspective on the role of women and religion. It will be focused specifically on Jane Grey’s rise to the throne during Edward VI’s reign, to becoming his official heir to her arrest by Mary’s loyalists and her removal as ‘Queen’ in early July 1553. This paper will aim to squash later Tudor mainly catholic views that she was a puppet and a pawn of Dudley for his own dynastic ambitions, which she wasn’t up to the task to become Queen, supported by later Victorian sources.


Red – denotes the time when Jane Grey becomes heir to the throne and then Queen

1537 October – Lady Jane Grey is born, she is the great-grand daughter of King Henry VII and cousin to Edward VI. Jane is named after Jane Seymour

1537 October – Jane Seymour dies

1540 – Katherine Grey, Jane’s middle sister is born

1544 – Henry VIII passes Act of Succession – making Mary heir to Edward VI

1545 – Mary Grey, Jane’s youngest sister is born

1546 – Jane is sent to the court of King Henry VIII to serve his wife, Katherine Parr

1547 January – King Henry VIII dies, Edward VI becomes King

1547 May – Katherine Parr marries the Lord Admiral Thomas Seymour

1548 August – Katherine Parr gives birth to her daughter Mary

1548 September – Katherine Parr dies of compilations relating to the birth of her daughter

1549- John Alymer becomes Jane’s tutor

1551 – Jane’s parents become the Duke and Duchess of Suffolk. John Dudley is made the Duke of Northumberland. Dudley is also Chief Counsellor to King Edward VI

1552 – King Edward VI becomes ill with the measles. Shortly thereafter he also develops tubercoloisis

1552 – At this point Northumberland’s control over the King is stark – supports all his marriage proposals

1533 1 January – Edward gives Henry Grey (Jane’s dad) the Minories a Abbey near the Tower of London; another sign of the Greys closeness to the King

1533 1 March – King opens Parliament, his health seems to be getting better, he is encouraged by his closest advisers to write a new will

1553 26 May – Jane is married to Lord Guildford Dudley, son of John Dudley (Northumberland), on the same day another two marriages take place as part of Northumberland’s consolidation of power in case anything happens to the King

1553 26/27 May – Imperial Ambassador Jehan Schefve learns that Edward’s body has now been covered in ulcers and horribly swollen, bed ridden

1533 28 May – Edward’s doctors confirm to Northumberland privately that the King would not live beyond the autumn – he still hopes the King will live until September when a new Parliament could repeal the 1554 Act of Succession

1533 June – King agrees to rescind 1544 Act of Succession, Northumberland is able to bully physically and through threats to get the bill passed through Parliament, only four or five people vote against

1553 10 June – John Dudley convinces Edward VI to write a will in which Edward names Jane Grey as his successor to the crown, King crucially also decides to cross out his idea about Frances becoming Governor during the early period of his death, unsure over a possible future minority, happy with Guildford as King.

1553 27 June – After weeks of rumours, the King appears at his window to show the crowds he’s still alive, but all they saw was a thin and wasted boy – it would be his last public appearance

1553 2 July – With the court now acknowledging the King is close to death, they make the newly signed will public, enabling it to be broadcast at church

1553 3 July – Mary Tudor on her way to London to see her brother is warned of her imminent death and of a possible plan to seize her, she changed course and on 5 July was heading for her estates in Norfolk to enable her to flee to Flanders and to the protection of her cousin the Emperor.

1553 July 6 – Edward VI dies, Northumberland had intended to keep the news secret for three days like had happened at the death of Henry VIII

1553 July 9 – Lady Jane Grey is called before the council and told she will be Queen

1553 July 10 – John Dudley declares Jane as the Queen of England

1553 July 19 – After many desertions Mary rides into London and Jane was ordered to resign the title of Queen by order of the newly appointed Queen Mary

1554- Lady Jane Grey the nine day Queen is executed

Chapter 2 – Literature Review

The position and the interpretations of Edward VI’s later months and years of his reign moving towards Lady Mary’s accession as Queen, has been set in stone for many centuries supported by Tudor (catholic) and later Victorian sources that all helped to support the claim. In 1553 there was at one stage three female heirs to Edward’s throne, Frances, Jane and Elizabeth; not to forget Mary who whilst had been barred from the succession was still regarded as the true heir by the people of England.

Over the years there have been historians who have re-interpreted the sources and the primary sources and with a strong degree of hindsight attempted to see the important events of the later years of Edwards’ reign within a wider Tudor and religious period. Leandra De Lisle who has wrote the most on Lady Jane Grey’s life and the crucial events of 1553, in one of her books, ‘the sisters who would be Queen’ looks at the primary sources and see’s, a look into the correspondence from envoy Giovannia Francesco Commendone that Jane was now the King’s heir; ‘it left her completely stunned and ‘deeply upset’’. The strength of her religious beliefs, and her refusal to accept even the gift of a dress from Mary, suggests she would have been content to see Mary excluded from the succession – but she had no desire to take her mother’s place’ (De Lisle), the alteration in Edward VI’s succession put Jane above her mother with the obvious reason that her mother who has passed marriageable age to have another child when monarch, along with the attractiveness of a young queen like Jane succeeding the young Edward. But was Dudley more involved in this change, the source continues, ‘the Grey’s however would take more convincing. Frances claimed later she had vigorously opposed the match between Guildford and Jane, and it is possible that she did so. She had previously indicated that she did not want Jane to marry while they were young. Her husband may also have had political concerns about the proposal’ (De Lisle) for Jane’s parents the idea that Guidford would be King and thus control a younger Jane would make their daughter vunerable to the Duke of Northumberland who was crucially president of the Council and thus in control of the council, court and the country.

This suggestion of the shadow of Dudley hanging over everything is for some historians a wild exaggeration and misinterprets the situation. Derek Wilson lays out the situation, ‘had Dudley been aiming for royal power the simplest way of achieving his objective would have been to marry Catherine Dudley to the King. The Howard’s and the Seymours had both schemed to place female relatives in the royal bed. Perhaps that is the point. Had Dudley seriously entertained royal pretensions he had only to think of the old Duke of Norfolk now repining in the Tower and the two Seymour brothers recently perished under the axe to conclude that such a game was not worth the candle’ (Wilson 215). On the crucial change in succession, this fits with a wider view that Edward has long held, that his reign would be undone by a catholic succession. ‘it may or not have been Dudley who thought of this compromise, although people would assume, as many have assumed since, that he was the brains behind it and that his objective all along was to establish all along was to establish a Dudley royal dynasty. Whoever was possible, the King still had to be persuaded to accept the qualification of his original device. It gave him an assured Protestant succession but at the cost of placing a woman on the throne’ (Wilson, 221). Dudley was the Lord Protector for Edward, for any monarch who was a minor it is easy to see the monarch as the puppet of the protector, but as has been shown with correspondence from the time from Edward’s own hands that he was intelligent and knowledgeable person by a young age, who could not be easily swayed by anyone.

The redrawing of the succession has gained the most space in textbooks and books over the decades. The survival of the ‘devise for the succession’ of 1553 and the handwritten note by the King himself has shown it was supported by Edward himself, and was something he thought about especially when he was going in and out of his bouts of illness. Peter Ackroyd in his book remarks, ‘in the early summer of the year a change in the order of the succession was planned by Northumberland and the King. It has been suggested that the plot was devised by the Duke alone, but there is no reason to suppose that the ‘godly imp’ would have calmly anticipated the reversal of religious reform. The salvation of the country depended on its survival. Northumberland himself seems to have grown tired and weary of governance. ‘I have’, he wrote, ‘entered into the bottom of my care’ (Ackroyd, 235) Northumberland put his political career on protecting Edward’s succession, whilst his own ambiguous religious views were put on the side. Erickson supports Edward’s own independence by commenting, ‘that Edward should redraw the plan for the succession was not as unorthodox as it might seem. His father had changed the succession several times, until it seemed more of a matter of the royal will than the royal blood’ (Erickson, 284). The prerogative of the monarch to change the will, Edward’s own education was versed in Protestant teachings and it was not a surprise to anyone that a protestant heir was sought either through his own children or another family member.

The biggest defender of any reports of the King being in control of Dudley is reports of the King speaking and writing about his own personal views. Skidmore notes ‘despite his evident weakness, Edward ‘with sharp words and angry counteance’ addressed the room. He was convinced that Mary ‘would provoke great disturbances’ and would leave ‘no stone unturned’ in her efforts to gain control of the throne. More importantly, ‘it would be all over for the religion whose fair foundation we have laid’. He therefore resolved to ‘disown and disinherit her together with her sister Elizabeth, as though she were a bastard and sprung from an illegimate bed’ (Skidmore, 250) this later point is important as a change in succession would not only affect Dudley but many of the other Protestant councillors. Alfrod in his 2002 book continues this point, ‘the crown simply went to Jane by default. For centuries this has been read as the supreme example of Dudley cunning, because John Dudley’s son, Lord Guildford, married Jane Grey on 21 May 1553. But although Dudley enforced the King’s will, it was Edward himself who set out to preserve his godly legacy and, implicitly, his political establishment. It is likely that Edward took faith wide counsel from the men around him, men like Thomas Wroth and Henry Sidney of the Privy Chamber, John Cheke, and perhaps William Petre (Alfrord 2002, 172) did the councillors simply change their mind once Mary arrested Jane and her supporters, once she was proclaimed Queen. Within this period of uncertainty it is not surprising that councillors would position themselves as victims of Dudley’s scheming, even if they themselves were only supporting Edwards’s wishes.

Whilst analysis of the last few months and days of Edward VI has been extensively wrote and analysed on, on July 10th Lady Jane Grey was proclaimed Queen by the council as the official heir of the former King. ‘On 10 July 1553, Queen Jane was proclaimed in London, as the citizens looked on, grim and silent. The Duke of Northumberland seemed to hold all the resources of power. The Council had signed the letters patent which bestowed the crown on Lady Jane, who was married to his son; he had the dying King’s blessing; the Archbishop of Canterbury, the Lord Canterbury, many of the court, the mayor and aldermen of London, and leading judges had, however unwillingly, given assent to Edward’s ‘device’, he controlled the capital, the Tower, the Great Seal, the navy and many troops. Yet despite all this, Lady Mary was proclaimed queen in London on 19 July’ (Bridgen 2000). It is this nine day period that brought Mary to the throne, but how much was this Jane’s fault, was she unfortunately Queen at the wrong time; within a power struggle which she could not control or change.

This leads us to the most interesting aspects of the time and one that has confused historians for a long time. Was the support for Mary a purely religious choice or did the majority of people simply believe her the rightful heir no matter her views and foreign alliances. It is clear then that the chain of events was not premeditated, nor was it a natural result of the period. Derek Wilson follows the proceedings, ‘on 6 June a substantial grant of land was made to Princess Mary; which suggests that the Council were already looking to the future and seeking to ingratiate themselves with the Lady who would soon be their mistress. As usual everyone looked to Dudley to give a lead and he cannot have found it easy to decide what to do. The simplest course of action would have been to promise to obey the king’s dying commands while secretly arranging for the peaceful transfer of power to Mary’ (Wilson 220/21) as leader of the council Dudley would have known and even supported the transfer of land to Princess Mary (she still held the title Princess), by this time

The claim that Jane Grey could not have been Queen without the support of the Duke of Northumberland, and her marriage to Guildford as part of this alliance is worth analysing. Once Jane was confirmed as Queen, Dudley was perfectly placed to secure Jane’s place on the throne; in echoes of 1451 and 1460. Erickson comments on the works from Renard, ‘what Renard and the others did not take into account was the power of popular feeling. Dudley was hated, Mary was adored. As earl of Warwick, the dark presence behind Edward, and now as duke of Northumberland, father-in-law of the spuriours queen they did not take accept, John Dudley was the ‘tyrant’. The ‘bear of Warwick,’ the man many suspected of poisoning the king in order to bring the crown into his own family. ‘The Duke’s difficulty is that he dares trust no one, for he has never given any one reason to love him,’ the ambassadors admitted in a dispatch written while Dudley’s army was camped in Cambridge’ (Erickson 292) Whilst Dudley might have had the military support, the support of the capital, the bullying tactics of Dudley all made Jane’s position vunerable. ‘To quell public venom, Jane tried to advertise her independence from the Dudley’s by signing documents in her own hand, and by insisting she would make her husband a duke, not a King. Despite these efforts, the Dudley name damaged her cause and contributed to her overthrow’ (moreintelligantlife.com ) It is interesting to think that if the succession of Jane was supported by Edward, and thus the removal of Mary; a more shrewd and tactical position taken up by Dudley could have persuaded more support for Jane within the capital and beyond and enabled her to reign long enough for support for Mary to be removed.

Chapter 3 – Queen of England:

The literature review chapter has given a taste of the changing opinion and analysis of Jane Grey and the wider Tudor regime, from 1483 to 1603. In recent years there has been a new approach supported by feminist historians into the position of females at the Tudor court and especially their rise to power. In connection to Henry VIII’s many wives, three who became mothers to future monarchs, including Mary and Elizabeth, who lived in a male dominated world where they tried to carve out an existence in their own right with various degrees of success. Supported by primary sources this chapter will

Not for the first time in English history the 1550’s saw the emergent of the line of succession dominated by females, the two half sisters of King Edward VI, the Grey family and even the Howard family. Figure 4 and 5 are helpful insights into the growing importance they had during Edward VI’s life. The first family tree dates to 21st June 1553, the first of the kings illness where a change in the succession saw Mary and Elizabeth barred due to perceived illegitimacy, and the throne then passing to the Grey family, but ignoring Frances Grey and focusing on any sons she may have. With Jane Grey’s marriage to Guildford Dudley a few weeks earlier amongst other marriages it gave the possibility of a male heir being born before Edward death. Skidmore remarks, ‘Edward had probably made a start on the original draft early in the year. His writing is bold and clear – hardly the work of someone with an advanced debilitating illness – and Edward made it perfectly clear that he might still marry and have heirs of his own’ () he goes on and condemns any idea of Dudley forcing the King to do anything, the primary sources are also clear that Edward was still in control of all his senses.

The best way to understand the importance of change of the succession is to analyse the family tree and the line of succession, before Edward changed the succession and afterwards as shown in image 3. The first decision was to bar Elizabeth and Mary from the succession, due to the perceived illigamacy of their mothers marriages, and especially for Mary her catholic sympathies that would directly challenge Edward and his courts protestant reforms. As a result of this the next heir of age is Frances Grey, she would be Governess if Edward died without a heir and Frances herself was not able to give birth to a son. Jane was second in line; crucially this stayed the same through both changes, although the later indirectly promoted her. This point is important as it shows that even before her marriage to Guildford she and her family were prominent as the second family at court and in the succession, Jane’s ability to become Queen whilst still a teenager is supported by her knowledge that it would be her destiny.

The devise of the Succession that saw a change in the line of succession, was altered by the King in his own handwriting and the original is shown in the next chapter. The King had another bout of illness, one which would soon kill him; he was obviously nervous of his legacy especially in a religious context and worried by the ambiguous line of succession that could once he died see his court revert back to Henry VIII’s old succession (something that would happen). The succession had to be sorted out by the current situation, so if France had any sons born before Edward died that would be his successor, but with this now unlikely with Frances age, Jane grey was named as the heir in the unlikely event that the above would happen. In a clear nod to Jane Grey’s marriage and her strong position all of her successors were sons of the closest royal women

Image 3 – The changing line of Succession, the latter was the ‘Devise for the Succession’

During the time between the first and second change in the act of succession, the summer ‘saw a number of marriages at the time of 1553, is seen by many observers at the time as simply a historic process of sweeping up the vacant royal houses. Jane’s marriage to Guildford Dudley on May 21, with no public announcement of the altered succession’ (Erickson 284) only helped her be positioned with the Kings impending death. It is tough to see how Jane could have been Queen without Dudley’s support, even if the King did change the succession of his own accord and according to his strict religious outlook, there were other women in line who had been marriage and could have positioned themselves at a more advances stage than Jane. This paradoxical position that Jane encountered once Edward had died, was trying to be independent of Dudley, but as her father in law and father of the next King, made her vulnerable to the associations and unpopular feeling that Dudley had, that now extended to Jane as well. It is in this corridor that later views of the time promoted Jane Grey as a victim of Dudley’s machinations and a pawn in placing his own son on the throne. The image below is dated 1886 and shows Jane’s reluctance to accept the crown, but there is no evidence of Guildford being at her side when hearing of the kings death, only nervousness accompanied the news, there was no need for persuasion.

Image 4 – Lady Jane Grey (‘Lady Jane Grey’s reluctance to accept the Crown’) National Portrait Gallery. Herbert Bourne published 1886

An insight into the thoughts of Dudley is shown in a letter dated April or early May so before the first change of succession that he wrote to the Duke of Suffolk, as President of the council he was an important ally to keep on side incase of future changes. Commenting on the unsuitability of the other heirs due to catholic and foreign associations he comments, ‘What I wish your concurrence in, is to persuade the Duchess to accept the crown, should Edward be prevailed on to appoint her his successor, or in case of her refusal, to urge her daughter, Lady Jane Grey, to accept it. This, my lord if you can accomplish, we will endeavour to prevail on Edward to make such a destination, and get the patient ready for him to sign immediately. I am aware that it is not without a prospect of difficulty, that this plan can be executed, but the love of religion and my country, will enable me to undertake the most arduous pursuits, to procure the happiness of the one, and the firm establishment of the other’ (Taylor 2008), this is an insight into the thoughts of Dudley even before the official change of succession, throughout Edward’s reign he kept on good terms with Mary, and by this letter and other later pronouncements he still hoped for Mary to succeed her half brother, in all of this the countries security seems to be important to Dudley.

Jane herself did not aim for the throne neither was she taught at a young age to expect the crown, but she was educated well for the age and a clever girl. By the time of her promotion to heir, ‘she was about sixteen, had matured into a remarkable young woman, only averagely attractive, but with far better than average brains. She spoke Latin, Greek, French, Italian and some Hebrew. She was patron of the first pastor of London’s ‘Stranger’s Church’ for European Protestant exiles, and was admired amongst a circle of clever Protestant women that included William Cecil’s intellectual wife, Mildred’ (De Lisle 261) Cecil himself would rise and became a major figure in Elizabeth I’s reign. To anyone who must have met Jane Grey at this time there would have been little difference between her and any other royal woman of her age, and certainly would not have been overawed by her cousins Mary or Elizabeth. Five years earlier when marriage to Guildford Dudley was discussed, a eleven year old Jane commented, ‘already, my Anne, have they been talking to me of marriage; informing me of the names of lovers who have seen and sought me; but only hinting at the rest, leaving it to time to expatiate on the merits of Lord Guildford Dudley, and of the advantageous alliance it will be for me. Lord Guildford I have never seen, nor have I ever yet seen any man, who has for a moment engaged my attention as a lover. I have admired sense and merit where ever I have found it, in the circle of my acquaintance, as far as my weak judgement would allow me to discriminate, but the name of love has ever been dreaded by me’ (24) assuming Jane is making reference to her parents, it was their wishes to see her married and to Dudley, at this time the son of Northumberland Guildford was an important pawn in the advancement of royal ladies and their families.

When looking at the Tudor family, it is worth noting Elizabeth came to the throne without being married and heir to a childless monarch. Jane Grey was the eldest daughter of the prominent Grey family, who had their own historical position at court and the line of succession. In the original succession that barred Edwards’ half sister as illegitimate, Frances Grey as the next heir of majority was given the duty of Governor if Edward died, with the plan that Jane would get married at a suitable time and thus produce a male heir. The change in succession which the King spent a while contemplating and seeking advice, crucially not just from Dudley but amongst a inner circle of advisors made the idea of a catholic succession destroying his legacy and his religious ideas and Frances clearly not able to produce another heir due to her advanced age. Edward’s own personal experience with a Governor and a Lord Protector when he first became king, Dudley wisely never asked for the tile Lord Protector nor was he given it.

Chapter 4 – Lady Jane Grey’s marriage to Guildford

The major question of this book deals with Jane’s marriage to Guildford Dudley, it is a question that has caused major debate amongst historians for many decades. Could she have become Queen off her own right, and survive, or was the marriage to Dudley needed to give her a husband and thus the possibility of producing a male heir and protecting and extending the royal line for another generation. But on the other side is the long term distrust and hatred that the Dudley’s especially the Duke of Northumberland had with the English public and the internal leavers of powers, once Jane was proclaimed Queen the question of her female being was less discussed than who would be her ‘King’ and so rule the country on her behalf, a continuation of the Dudley regime, remanisint of the problems of the Earl of Warwick with the support to Edward IV and Henry VI (twice) and the positioning of Richard III marrying his daughter, stopped him being able to fully break free from his grip and crucially the public’s perceptions of the new regime.

In a reply to a letter from the Duke of Northumberland to the Duke of Suffolk, Suffolk responds to Northumberland’s wish for Jane to be put on the throne and his son to be her King, ‘thence am I recalled to the ideal of Mary, placed on that Throne, and fraught with superstition, dealing with her tyranny and persecution. The miseries of an ordered people! The reformation, which cost her father so much difficulty to establish, destroyed in blood! and liberty, the parent of every virtue, and of every comfort, to a nation for ever crushed!’ () Suffolk is worried of what will happen if Mary ascends to the throne and the damage it could have to the protestant reformation and also to the people – including to himself, he is though scpetical of Jane’s suitability to the throne, and concludes, ‘these considerations have their weight with me, in realtion to your proposal of setting Mary aside; but not entirely in favor of my daughter, since the Princess Elizabeth is a worhy Lady, and a Protestant’ (Taylor 2008) for Northumberland the idea of Elizabeth as Queen was out of the question, as a royal princess the likelyhood of her marriying his son and keeping his own interests at court are unlikely, it is harded to rule a woman who is the duaghter of a previous King and one that already at that time was expressing independent thoughts on a variety of subjects. It is interesting to think what Mary would have done if Elizabeth had msterfully put herself on the throne before her, and then the subject of mariage and a heir.

Already by the time of Jane Grey’s eleventh birthday, marriage and her suitor was discussed, her parents would have wanted her to marry a man who could provide for her and enable her in these times to enable to maybe one day become Queen or at least a mother of one. It is no surprise that Guildford Dudley who had been discussed with other women including Jane’s own sister; as the son of the current ‘Lord Protector’ he was an important pawn to marry off. In a letter to Anne she explains her feelings, ‘Already, my Anne, have they been talking to me of marriage; informing me of the names of lovers who have seen and sought me; but only hinting at the rest, leaving it to time to expatiate on the merits of Lord Guildford Dudley, and of the advantageous alliance it will be for me. Lord Guidlford I have never seen, nor have I ever yet seen any man, who has for a moment engaged my attention as a lover. I have admired sense and merit where ever I have found it, in the circle of my acquaintance, as far as my weak judgement would allow me to discriminate, but the name of love has ever been dreaded by me’ (Taylor, 23) Jane herself had no particular wish for a husband or even the crown at this time, but over the years up to her official proclamation to Queen she saw her religious beliefs and her love for the King as strong enough for her to accept her position at court and in the succession. It is important to point out if Jane rejected the chance to marry Guildford Dudley another woman possibly her sister would have been married to him, her parents understandably wanted to position Jane in the best possible position.

Image 5 – Edward VI’s devise for the Succession – in his own hand

To understand and witness the road that Northumberland, Dudley and Jane Grey went down after the latter two married, is to witness what happened once Edward died. As President of the court and in charge of the succession, it was Northumberland who now wielded power; this would have happened if Edward had died at any point without a blood heir. Dudley had the largest private army to call upon in the country, as well as the apparent support of the council and the major players at Edward’s now deceased court, it was the city of London, and the quiet catholic support that Dudley and his supporters misunderstood and the real views of the court that was still pro-catholic.

The marriage to Guildford Dudley and thus association with the Duke of Northumberland was crucial in Jane not only becoming heir but enabling it to be accepted. Later reports of members of the council being bullied and threatened into accepting the change of succession must be taken simply as a way for those members to escape punishment from the new Marian regime, not to forget it was the King’s wish for the change in succession to happen, any refusal would have rightly been seen as treason. This support saw Jane encompass a paradoxical position, grateful for the support from Dudley, although acknowledging it was more for him to further his own family’s connections and his son position on the throne, not to mention financial necessity it was for Dudley to stay as the dominant Duke. In this pursuit of Jane’s succession, it is natural that others would be left behind, one of those was the King’s half sister Elizabeth, who struggled to see the King in his final months, in a letter to Edward VI in 1553 she remarks her inability to see him; ‘like as a shipman in stormy weather plucks down the sails turning for better winds, so did I, most noble King, in my unfortunate chance on Thursday pluck down the high sails of my joy and comfort and do trust one day that as troublesome waves have repulsed me backward, so a gentle wind will bring me forward to my haven’ () with maritime references Elizabeth is nervous of what ills the King and his survival within what must have been seen to a 20 year old a highly political and dangerous time at court.

Once Queen Jane spent time to position as separate from the Dudley’s and a Queen in her own right, the refusal for Guildford to be named King and signing her letters as Jane the Queen, no mention of her husband. Looking further a few hundred years, Jane had great visions to rule in her name and have Dudley as a Duke like Victoria and Elizabeth II have, the major stumbling problem was Dudley wasn’t foreign and his positioning as a Duke, which it is believed she would have done wouldn’t have placated the calls for the removal of the Dudley’s from manipulating power for their own financial gains. It is clear Jane found herself inside a melting pot of feeling and thoughts, which Mary as the daughter of Henry VIII and a member of the old guard even with her obvious catholic sympathies was more attractive than the dysfunctional and dictatorial regime that Dudley would have continued with once Guildford was on the throne as well.


“Then the hangman kneeled down, and asked her forgiveness, whom she gave most willingly. Then he willed her to stand up on the strawwhich doing, she saw the block. Then she said ‘I pray you dispatch me quickly’ ” (Marilee, H. The [_executions of Lady Jane Grey & Lord Guildford Dudley, 1554 englishhistory.net) these were the final words of Lady Jane Grey before her execution on the orders of Queen Mary, her crime? To be the heir to Edward VI and becoming Queen once he died, Mary’s supporters saw this as an illegal act and contrary to the original Henry VIII succession where Mary was heir as Katherine of Aragon’s daughter. But ignoring the change of succession that as King, Edward had every right to do

. this text is shown in the form of a Victorian painting by Paul Delorche as shown in image 6.

Image 6 – Painting by Paul Delorche in 1833 titled ‘The execution of Lady Jane Grey’. Image courtesy of https://www.nationalgallery.org.uk/paintings/paul-delaroche-the-execution-of-lady-jane-grey

The critical analysis of primary sources during Edward VI’s reign and the nine days preceding up to Jane Grey’s arrest, from catholic and protestant sympathetic sources, supported by primary sources, has been assessed in this book.

The History of England volume 2 has been analysed in the literature review, especially on the period of Edward VI’s reign describes a King whilst ill still able to make decisions himself, with Northumberland as a trusted advisor. ‘In the early summer of the year a change in the order of the succession was planned by Northumberland and the King. It has been suggested that the plot was devised by the Duke alone, but there is no reason that the ‘godly imp’ would have calmly anticipated the reversal of religious reform’ (Ackroyd, ) whilst the King was young he was already running the country effective as a young teenager, especially after the removal of Somerset his former Protector. This whole period must not be seen as one simply about the succession and getting it secured, it was set within a major religious stage across England and Europe. Less than a decade after his father died, the young King would not want to allow a catholic to come to the throne and thus destroying his and his father’s work on the religious outlook and the relative peace of the country.

Writing in the early years of the twentieth century in the United Kingdom which is still officially an Anglican country, supported by the Protestant Windsor family at the head of the Monarchy, and Her Majesty as head of the Church of England and Defender of the Faith, times are changing. Since the millennium, times have been changing at a quick rate, from 2006 there were the first time in more than 500 years more practising Catholics than Protestants in England. Even in 2013 the publication and later supported by all crown commonwealth states passed the Succession to the Crown Act 2013, which amongst many things allowed a non-protestant i.e a Catholic to marry a member of the royal family and succeed to the throne.

This has allowed historians over the last few decades to look again at the Tudor period, the role of women and the religious perspective of the major figures of the time. This paper has gained favour in these new ‘revisionist’ approaches that has seen Jane grey as a Queen in her right, why should she be ignored by historians and the current monarchy, just because she was removed as Queen as nine days. When Edward VI died she was his heir and rightly accessed the crown after gaining the support crucially of the Council, who are the highest body to pronounce the succession. The abdication of Edward VIII in 1936 before he was crowned, and subsequently succeeded by his brother is a comparison. For six months he was the monarch and was gaining royal writs was seen as the King, historians then as they do today still record him as a monarch and the successor of George V. It is also worth saying as a result if a Prince Edward in the future ever succeeded to the throne he would be known as Edward IX. Why is Jane not called Queen Jane and seen as the successor of Edward VI.

The revisionist approach to Richard III supported his body to be uncovered in 2013 has allowed the official history at royal.uk to remove any reference to King Richard as an usurper. This website does put Jane Grey between Edward VI and Mary I, but only refers to her as Lady Jane Grey not Jane I, and there is no mention of her in Mary I’s biography. She should be seen as the first Queen Regnant of England in her own right, a title still seen by many as belonging to Mary I. No historian sees Edward IV as any less of a King due to the support he gained from the Earl of Warwick in his claim of the crown during the Wars of the Roses. In 1553 there was no Dudley coup, there were certainly a need to see Dudley’s son become King, not a lot of difference to Warwick’s daughter becoming Richard III’s Queen in 1483. Jane Grey’s problem is she came within a power struggle that she as a teenage girl had no control off and wasn’t able to disassociate or stake a claim for herself, although her refusal to give her husband the title of King as shown in the primary sources could be the first sign that she was becoming her own woman and could have successfully ruled in her own right.

Image 7 – Lady Jane Grey letter as Queen

The author hopes this study will form another piece of the revisionist approach to the Edwardian Tudor period, and the conclusions mentioned in the above sections analysed. The road to the throne for Queen Jane was as contentious as other medieval successions, the only difference is she was unsuccessful in keeping her crown and a woman, similarities with the times of the ‘Glorious Revolution of 1688’ where many rightful successors were ignored and so airbrushed from history for a more convenient Protestant monarch. Image 7 is a letter that Jane wrote and signed as Queen, evidence that in the days after Edward’s death she was the legitimate Queen of the country, something that Mary needed to alter when she arrested Jane. But she will be known as the first Queen regnant of England. Queen Jane I July 10th – July 19th 1533.


Secondary Sources:

Ackroyd, P (2013) Tudors: A History of England Volume II. London. Pan; main market Ed. Edition

Bridgen, S. (2001) New Worlds, Lost Worlds: The Rule of the Tudors 1485-1603 (The Penguin History of Britain) London. Penguin.

Caroll, P (2013) Lady Jane Grey Queen of misfortune. Copperhill Media Corporation.

De Lise, L (2010) The Sisters who would be Queen: The tragedy of Mary, Katherine and Lady Jane Grey. London. Harper Press

De Lise, L (2013) Tudor the family story. London. Chatto and Wandus

Dorman, S. Freeman, T (2011) Mary Tudor: Old and New Perspectives. Palgrave Macmillan

Edwards, J.S (2015) A Queen of a New Invention: Portraits of Lady Jane Grey Dudley, England’s Nine Days Queen. London. Old John Publishing

Erickson, C (2001) Bloody Mary. London. Robson Books

Loades, D.M (1996) John Dudley, Duke of Northumberland 1504-1553. Oxford. OUP Oxford

Plowden, A (2004, 2014) Lady Jane Grey. Gloucestershire. The History Press.

Porter, L (2007) Mary Tudor: The first Queen. London. Portrait

Skidmore, C (2007) Edward VI the lost King of England, London , Weidenfield and Nicolson

Whitelock, A. (2009) Mary Tudor. London. Bloomsbury

Wilson, D. (2005) The uncrowned Kings of England: The black legends of the Dudley’s. Constable,

Lady Jane Grey: A Tudor mystery, Eric Ives, Wiley, Blackwell 2012

English Historical Documents: Volume 5 1485-1558: 1485-1558 Vol 5 C.H Williams

Taylor, J Jr. (2008) Documents of Lady Jane Grey: Nine days Queen of England 1553. London. Algra Publishing

Life of Lady Jane Grey and of Lord Guildford Dudley, her husband by Theophilus Marcliffe, William Godwin, 2012 (originally published in 1923)

J.G Nichols (ed) The chronicles of Queen Jane and Queen Mary, Camden Society, 48 (London, 1850), p.3.

Williams, P (1995) The later Tudors 1547-1603

Bolland, C Cooper, T (2014) The real Tudors: Kings and Queens Rediscovered

Borman, T (2016) The private lives of the Tudors

The life of Lady Jane Grey, and of Lord Guildford Dudley, Her Husband, by Theophilus Marcliffe – Primary Source Edition Paperback, William Godwin – 22 Feb 2014

Taylor, I (1822) Lady Jane Grey and her times. University of Michigan

Alford, S (2002) Kinship and politics in the reign of Edward VI.

Web based Sources:

[+ http://www.luminarium.org/encyclopedia/edward6devise.htm+] LadyJane grey.info

[+ http://moreintelligentlife.com/content/leanda-de-lisle/lady-jane-grey7+]


The Chronicle of Queen Jane: And Two Years of Queen Mary, and Especially of …

 edited by John Gough Nichols – could be Primary source

Hanson, M (2015) The executions of Lady Jane Grey & Lord Guildford Dudley, 1554. [+ http://englishhistory.net/tudor/executions-of-lady-jane-grey-lord-guildford-dudley/+]


[[Primary Sources:

Edward VI’s ‘devise for the succession’

Princess Elizabeth’s letter to Edward VI 1553

Foxes Act and Monuments book – 1563

A letter of the Lady Mary, sent to the lords of the council, wherein she claimeth the crown after the decease of King Edward.


[+ http://www.innertemplelibrary.org.uk/library-history/Lady%20Jane%20Grey%20letter%20as%20Queen.JPG+] – Letter from Jane signing herself as Queen

Documents of Lady Jane Grey: Nine days Queen of England 1553, James Taylor Jr., 2008

p<>{color:#000;}. Including letter from Northumberland to Suffolk

p<>{color:#0D0D0D;}. Reply from Suffolk to Northumberland

p<>{color:#0D0D0D;}. Letter from Jane Grey to Lady Anne about her marriage

The Vita Mariae Angliae Reginae,” Robert Wingfield, (1554); Mary’s ride to London from Framlingham Castle



Queen Jane July 10 - 19 1533 – The road to the throne

This book will assess the early years of the 1550’s during the later years of King Edward VI’s reign and the ensuing constitutional crisis that resulted in Lady Jane Grey’s accession as Queen which lasted only nine days and the crowning of Mary Tudor as Queen in July 19 1553. I will be most concerned with Lady Jane Grey’s rise to power, her marriage to Guildford Dudley on 26 May, being named as heir on Edward VI’s revised bill of succession in March of the same year and her confirmation of Queen by her father in law the Duke of Northumberland three days after Edward’s death. Approaching it through a revisionist angle and promoting the fact that Jane was the first Queen regnant of England.

  • ISBN: 9781370489374
  • Author: Adam Freeman
  • Published: 2016-10-24 19:05:14
  • Words: 8809
Queen Jane July 10 - 19 1533 – The road to the throne Queen Jane July 10 - 19 1533 – The road to the throne