Lady Jane Grey

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Lady Jane Grey,

1553

Born:

October 1537, daughter of Henry Grey, Marquess of Dorset and Duke of Suffolk, and Frances Brandon, at Bradgate Manor, Leicestershire

Crowned:

not crowned, her claim to the throne was unsuccessful

Died:

12 February 1554 at the Tower of London (executed)

Buried:

St. Peter ad Vincula, Tower of London

Married:

25 May 1553 Guilford Dudley, at Durham House, London

Succeeded by:

Mary I (cousin)

ane was the granddaughter of Henry VIII’s younger sister Mary. Although Henry’s children, Edward, Mary and Elizabeth preceded her in the succession, Jane’s dynastic possibilities caught the attention of the ambitious courtier, Thomas Seymour. He bought Jane’s “wardship” from her even-more-ambitious parents, with the understanding that he would arrange her marriage to his nephew, the young Edward VI. Jane returned home after Seymour was executed for treason, but her parents still aimed high.

Jane, a bright and precocious child, developed an interest in theology and scripture. She was strongly Protestant, even corresponding with German and Swiss theologians. A short and slender girl (“but prettily shaped and graceful”) with auburn hair and freckles, she was far from the gentle girl of legend. Jane was forceful, committed, outspoken – even fierce to the point of rudeness.

Jane’s parents arranged her marriage, at age 15, to Guilford Dudley, son of the powerful Duke of Northumberland. As Edward VI’s health failed, Northumberland encouraged Edward to name Jane as his heir.

Jane was indeed proclaimed queen. Northumberland and Jane’s parents joined forces and did their best to prevent Henry VIII’s oldest daughter, the Lady Mary, from taking the throne. The populace and majority of the nobles, however, supported Mary. She gathered her friends and allies in force, and rode triumphantly to London to claim the throne.

Northumberland, Suffolk, Jane and Guilford were arrested for treason, found guilty and condemned. Only Northumberland, however, was executed.

Then, in January 1554, Jane’s father Suffolk participated in a short-lived uprising against Mary. After the uprising was quashed, Suffolk was executed; so too were his blameless daughter and her husband.

Guilford was beheaded on a public site outside the Tower’s walls. Jane was beheaded more privately, on the green inside the Tower. Both were buried in the Tower church, St. Peter ad Vincula.

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