The Tudor Society

Lady Jane Grey

Woman thought to be Lady Jane Grey

Birth: 1537
Death: 12 February 1554
Rule: 6 July 1553 to 19 July 1553
Marriages: Guildford Dudley, son of John Dudley, Duke of Northumberland
Issue: None

Queen Jane, commonly known as Lady Jane Grey, was born in 1537 (May or October) at Bradgate Park in Leicestershire. She was the eldest daughter of Henry Grey, Duke of Suffolk and Frances Brandon, daughter of Charles Brandon, Duke of Suffolk, and Mary Tudor, Queen of France. She was an intelligent girl and received a top-class education. Her main tutor was John Aylmer but she also met the top scholars of the day during her time living with Thomas Seymour, as his ward, and his wife Dowager Queen Catherine Parr. She also met famous reformists and humanists. She loved Greek and was a linguist with a knowledge of Latin and Hebrew, on top of the usual modern languages.

In May 1553, Jane married Guildford Dudley, son of John Dudley, the Duke of Northumberland and Edward VI's chief adviser. It was a triple marriage – Jane's sister married Lord Herbert and Guildford's sister, Catherine, married Lord Hastings. Before his death in July 1553, Edward VI wrote his “devise for the Succession” and named Lady Jane Grey as his heir. Edward VI died on the 6 July 1553 and on the 7 July the Mayor of London and other city officials were called to Greenwich to swear an oath of allegiance to Queen Jane. Jane was proclaimed queen on 10 July but Mary had already proclaimed herself as queen at her home in Norfolk and was busy raising support. On 19 July the Earls of Pembroke and Arundel persuaded the privy council to swap sides from Jane to Mary and Mary was proclaimed queen. Jane and Guildford were arrested.

On 13 November 1553, Guildford and Jane were found guilty of high treason and sentenced to death. It was thought, however, that Mary would spare Jane's life. The nail in Jane's coffin was Wyatt's Rebellion of January 1554. Although Jane was not involved in any way, her father, the Duke of Suffolk, was involved and Jane was used as a figurehead. Mary was then pressurised by her husband, Philip of Spain, to get rid of Jane who could be used again as a focus of rebellion. Jane and Guildford were executed on 12 February 1554 and laid to rest in the Chapel of St Peter ad Vincula, Tower of London.

Although Jane is often referred to as “The Nine Day Queen” she actually reigned for 13 days, from Edward's death on 6 July to when Mary I was proclaimed queen on 19 July.

(Taken from Illustrated Kings and Queens of England by Claire Ridgway, Tim Ridgway and Verity Ridgway)

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