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The Tudor Society

Queen Jane or Lady Jane Grey

In today's Claire Chats video I discuss whether Lady Jane Grey should actually be called Queen Jane. By the way, the panting in the background is our labrador Baxter, he was rather hot and bothered!

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  1. B /

    A great video Claire, exploring this concept. I’m in the camp of Queen Jane. The current monarch chose her as his heir and she was accepted as the rightful monarch so for me she is a Queen. Not being crowned shouldn’t be used as an argument because as you said Edward V was never crowned nor was Edward VIII but they are still considered monarchs. You did well buying that ruler, when I was purchasing souvenirs from England, if the product didn’t include Jane I put it back on the shelf. LOL. I guess we will need another Jane to ascend to the throne to put this issue to rest.

    1. < / Post Author

      It’ll be interesting if a Jane ever does come into the line of succession. I wonder what would happen.

  2. < /

    I’ve been calling her Queen Jane ever simce I watched a documentary by Suzannah Lipscomb who made a very good point. People argue well she didn’t have a coronation so she wasn’t queen (which i think is rubbish) but, if you take that point, why is Edward V called king? He wasn’t crowned, he was passed over very much like Jane for Richard III, yet somehow Edward is called a king and Jane isn’t a queen. Yes okay maybe she wasn’t the obvious choice for Edward VI’s successor but still they were both nominated on the deathbed of a king. I’m so glad you addressed this issue!

    1. < / Post Author

      It’s just something that’s been niggling me for a while. I really think she deserves the title of queen.

  3. K /

    Claire,
    Fantastic talk. I agree with the others. Moreover the Merton component makes me even more pro Jane. Your talk also brought to light the import of full blood royal. The other thing that sticks with me is the presumption that one soverieign couldn’t make change for the benefit of the realm after another. I was under the impression that Henry putting the other back in the succession in essence had restored their status as legitimate. I didnt realize they were not formally restored by parliment.

    My only other concern was that Edward was so young and so very ill.. I know he was a prodigy and very strong in his convictions as a prodestant so it doesnt trouble me too much. I am certain he knew what he was doing.

    All this said, from my humble perspective that both Mary and Elizabeth had blood worthy of the crown too. But I’m an 21st Century American, a “feeble woman”, and no scholar! I cannot imagine a History without Elizabeth or Mary.

    1. < / Post Author

      Oh, yes, I completely agree about Mary and Elizabeth and I don’t believe they should ever have been made illegitimate as they were conceived in good faith whatever Henry’s later views on his marriages, but some people hold the view that what Edward did was illegal or that hs father’s instructions over-rode his, but that just isn’t true.

  4. L /

    Thanks Claire, very insightful and thought-provoking talk. I find Jane’s whole story very tragic, and this point of her not rightfully being called “Queen Jane” is just another reflection of the unfortunate outcome of this sad historical event..

    1. < / Post Author

      Yes, a very tragic story and such a courageous young woman.

  5. R /

    Wonderful talk. The answer possibly lies in the fact that Mary recognized herself as the legitimate heir as she always maintained her mother and father as legally married. Even though she signed a set of articles under protest, she made a protest apart to the pope and maintained privately that she was fully legitimate. Mary Tudor did not recognize Jane as being lawfully queen, but there are as the legal documents seem to indicate excellent reasons for calling her Queen Jane. Mary also reversed the laws that declared her illegitimate and turned the clock back. Mary Tudor could also appeal to a higher authority even than her father, the Roman Catholic Church, which she restored in a mostly Catholic country. Edward wanted a Protestant heir, but he also wanted a legitimate one. The Device for the Succession is a well thought out document, clearly drawn up with some legsl research and legitimacy was at its heart, as was the lawful succession as Edward and statute does support this. However, Henry Viii was probably attempting to make sure that this situation did not arise with his will and 1544 Act of Succession. He was also hoping I assume that Edward would grow up, have kids and secure the succession himself. His will makes provision for a Tudor Dynasty to continue. Edward had a different vision and obviously the question of whether Elizabeth and Mary are legitimate or not is covered by the Acts of Parliament. By these arguments if they were legally illegitimate then they cannot succeed.

    However, Mary Tudor was legitimate. This is how she saw things and she soon made the legislation that supported this. Mary Tudor could argue that Henry Viii had no right to have her declared illegitimate. She could also argue that Thomas Cranmer and Dunstable had no rightful power and as her parents marriage had been declared lawful by the Curia in Rome, this outdid anything Henry Viii did for his own convenience. There is no question that Mary recognized Edward as the male heir, but she was definitely reluctant to recognize Elizabeth. If her own parents marriage had been questioned, the marriage of Anne Boleyn and Henry Viii was definitely dodgy and Elizabeth illegitimate, legally and morally. Katherine of Aragon was still alive when Henry married Anne, when Elizabeth was born and Mary did not recognize her half sister as legitimate. Elizabeth was also the wrong religion. By the time of Mary’s death, Elizabeth had been implicated in a plot to replace her, so she was not ideal for a successor. However, sense often plays a part in reason and making Elizabeth her heir a few days before she died was common sense. Mary made her heir as she was a Tudor. She did not want her to face the same crisis that Mary had, with a challenge for the throne. The status quo was upheld. I believe that Henry Viii wanted to avoid a crisis that led to Jane becoming Queen, he wanted what made sense and the security of his realm. I believe that Henry knew Mary would fight for her rights, so he did what at the time made sense. Forgetting to repeal the old laws may not have been clever, but then again, he was Henry Viii, he believed that what he said was law and his will would simply be followed, even with the legal framework for it to be changed.

    Should Jane Grey be called Queen? Yes if you believe that she was legally appointed heir apparent and had the best claim. She was not the next legal heir, her mother was. Frances was summoned to the palace and forced to set aside her own right in favour of her daughter in order for a son to be born as soon as possible. Jane, according to traditional stories was horified that Mary was not queen but she was actually talking about her mother. Jane signed herself Quene in legislation and proclamations, she issued coins, she gave orders to the army, so here is another reason to accept that she was a Queen. The main argument for her not being the legitimate heir is how should we see the legitimacy of Queen Mary. All the legislation points to the Tudor sisters being still legally illegitimate, but the Act of 1544 and the superior authority of the Church in the matter of her parents marriage make her lawfully legitimate and morally legitimate. This is how Mary saw things herself. Her only legislative process backed up her claim and it could be argued that Mary Tudor also had justice, popularity and the Tudor name on her side. Mary did not just win the argument, everyone rallied to her side so it could be argued that as with her grandfather, Mary won her crown in the field, a legitimate way to claim the crown.. In other words Mary won the throne as the will of the people and God supported her, rather than a young quarter royal who nobody had heard of.

    Why do we recognize Edward v? Well for one thing his successor recognized him. The fact that Edward had two royal parents who were King and Queen makes it easier to recognize that he was next in line. The question of his legitimacy arose several weeks into his short reign, which is why Richard iii, legally recognized him as being King from 13th April 1483 until 22nd June 1483 when he was formally announced as illegitimate in public and the legislation that confirmed this, the famous or infamous Titulas Regis also recognized this short time. Richard iii only had him declared illegitimate after an investigation and receiving information about the marriage of Edward iv to Eleanor Talbot Butler before his marriage to the boys mother, Elizabeth Woodville, whom he married while Eleanor was still alive. Richard as Lord Protector had sworn allegiance to his nephew and had the other lords do the same. There is nothing to indicate in the contemporary records that Richard had any intention of acting to the contrary at this point. By June 13th, however, the day of the fatal council meeting in the Tower of London, things had changed. Richard, it is argued by Peter Hammond and Peter Hancock, had received the news that his nephews were possibly illegitimate the day before, hence the suspected plot by Hastings, who he had executed for treason that day, again acting in the national interest as High Constable of England. In was not until he had consulted with various learned churchmen and investigated that the boys were declared illegitimate on 22nd June at the Cross in front of Saint Pauls that Richard was offered the crown later in the Guildhall and then at Westminster. Richard iii was King from this time, but recognized his nephew as the information about his legitimacy did not come to light or his attention until weeks after his proclamation as Edward v. Having declared his allegiance to Edward, Richard acknowledged his claim and kingship, this could only change with the question of his legitimacy or if he died, he could not undeclare his allegiance and say he was not King at the time of his ascension. He could only do so legally after the date that Edward was declared illegitimate. As Richard iii recognized Edward as King and later on Henry Tudor repealed the Titulas Regis and had it destroyed, declaring that all the kids of Edward iv were now legitimate. Had he not done so, then his wife Elizabeth of York would have been illegitimate. As the next Yorkist heir, that would be difficult.

    The answer with Edward Viii who abdicated before his coronation is we don’t count a reign from the day of the coronation but their ascension. The legitimacy of Edward Viii was not an issue, there was no question that he was next in line or that his brother was not the next rightful heir. Whether or not a monarch is crowned is irrelevant as far as recognition of line of succession. The coronation, however, gives the monarchy the power and confers their undisputed right to rule. Once the crown is on the head the King or Queen is sacred, before this they traditionally could be legitimately challenged. This is why the King’s champion stands forth, in order to meet with anyone who challenges the King or Queen in mortal combat. If the lords and ladies are content they also day Yea and God save the King or Queen. After this they may fight for the crown, as with Richard iii and Henry Tudor, but it is now treason to try to replace them. Mary Tudor did not have much time, but as she acted quickly and with popular support, she was able to gain the crown which she knew was rightfully hers.

    There is a great case for calling both Mary Tudor and Jane Grey Dudley Queen but it depends on how you see the legislation that confirmed or declared Mary legitimate and illegitimate as to whether she had the superior authority to get the crown or not. Personally I side with Mary as I believe that her parents marriage was legitimate.

    1. R /

      P.S Should we not actually call Jane Grey Queen Jane Dudley as she was now married?

  6. D /

    I actually live in the town of Dudley in the west midlands. Dudley castle and the town of Dudley have a strong historical bond with the Dudley family and especially that of sir John Dudley. It is also said the ghost of sir John still live in his castle.
    During the war between the armies of Jane and Mary the townsfolk took up arms to fight for and defend our rightful queen that of course being queen Jane.
    The legacy of the Dudley’s and that of Queen Jane are deeply remembered in Dudley.
    Visit Dudley castle, you will see the Tudor modernization that sir John built and a special commemorate plaque to honour queen Jane.

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Queen Jane or Lady Jane Grey