Lady Jane Grey

Eyridiki Sellou | Apr 15, 2023

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Jane Grey (Lady Jane Grey, 1537 - 12 February 1554), married 25 May 1553 Jane Dudley - uncrowned queen of England from 10 to 19 July 1553, popularly known as the "Queen of Nine Days". Great-granddaughter of King Henry VII, daughter of the Duke of Suffolk, she grew up in a Protestant environment and received an excellent education for her time. During King Edward VI's lifetime, as fourth in line of succession to the throne, she had only a ghostly chance of coming to power: the teenage king's heir was his older sister Mary. In 1553, at Regent John Dudley's urging, she married his son Guilford Dudley, despite Jane's opposition to the marriage. In June 1553, however, the terminally ill Edward and John Dudley removed the Catholic Mary from the succession and installed the sixteen-year-old Protestant Jane as heir. After Edward's death, she was proclaimed queen in London, and Mary led an armed rebellion in East Anglia. Nine days later the Privy Council, assessing the balance of power, deposed Jane and called Mary to the throne. Jane Grey and her husband were imprisoned in the Tower, sentenced to death for treason and beheaded seven months later.

The tragedy of Jane Grey has taken a very high place in English culture in comparison to its real significance in history, to judge by a wide margin. The origins of this discrepancy lie in the political climate of those years and subsequent events. We know that the legend began to take shape immediately after the execution: to the persecuted "Bloody Mary" Protestants, Jane was a martyr, the first victim of the English Counter-Reformation. Under Mary's successor, her half-sibling younger sister Elizabeth, who - despite her personal Protestant faith - was firmly on the path of reconciliation between Catholic and Reformed subjects, Jane's story entered the circle of spiritual reading as well as "high" secular literature and folk lore. Popular in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, the themes of martyrdom and love eventually receded into the background: in numerous nineteenth-century writings, Jane Gray is the perfect Victorian ideal of a woman. Historical accounts of her personality are scarce and are known chiefly from the accounts of her teachers and foreign diplomats. Not a single reliably attributed lifetime portrait has survived; the only "evidence" supposedly objectively describing her appearance is an early twentieth-century forgery.

The Tudor dynasty, which ruled England from 1485 to 1603, was sparsely populated. Sons were especially rare in the dynasty. Of the three legitimate sons of the founder of the dynasty, Henry VII (1457-1509), the eldest, Prince Arthur of Wales (1486-1502), died at the age of fifteen, and the youngest, Edmund (1499-1500), at an early age. The crown was inherited by the only surviving son, Henry VIII (1491-1547). His older sister Margaret (1489-1541) became queen of Scotland; his younger sister Mary (1496-1533) became queen of France, albeit briefly: her first husband Louis XII died three months after their wedding.

In the next generation, history repeated itself. Of Henry VIII's offspring, his father was survived by his heir Edward (1537-1553) and two daughters, Mary (1516-1558) and Elizabeth (1533-1603). Only son James (1512-1542) and daughter by her second marriage, Margaret Douglas (1515-1578), survive from Margaret's progeny. The few descendants of this, Scottish, branch of the Tudors dropped out of the struggle for the crown of England until the beginning of the 17th century. Of the descendants of Mary (Henry VII's daughter), who returned to England and married Charles Brandon as a second wife, two daughters survived to adulthood: Eleanor (1519-1547) and Francis (1517-1559) - mother of Jane Grey. The lack of male heirs in the family led to the dynastic crisis of 1553 and ruined Jane.

The outwardly attractive Frances Brandon, granddaughter of the king and daughter of an influential dignitary, was not an enviable bride. The Brandons, unlike the Tudors, were prolific (Frances had seven siblings in 1533), so suitors could not expect a rich dowry or inheritance. Charles Brandon failed to marry off his daughter to the most brilliant groom of his time; instead, he intrigued to upset an intended marriage between the already betrothed Henry Gray, Marquis of Dorset and the daughter of the Earl of Arundel. In 1533, fifteen-year-old Frances and sixteen-year-old Henry Grey were married; because of Brandon's unwillingness or inability to give his daughter a dowry, it was paid by the king himself. Of the children born of this marriage, Jane, born in 1537, and her younger sisters Catherine (1540-1568) and Mary (1545-1578) survived to adulthood.

The teenage King Edward VI was the third and last male of the Tudor line to the throne of England. Throughout most of his reign, the succession to the throne established by Henry VIII's last (third) law of succession and his will of 1546 was in force. Edward was succeeded by his sisters Mary and, after her, by Elizabeth; third in line were the unborn sons or grandsons of Frances Grey, followed by the descendants of Eleanor Clifford, who died in 1547. In this scheme, Jane Grey had only a slim chance of becoming not reigning queen or even queen-mother, but regent to the reigning king-son. With Edward's own children, they would be heirs, and the line of sisters and distant cousins would be of no practical use. But Edward was destined to die at the age of fifteen, and a chain of events in the last months of his life brought to the throne the "queen of nine days" Jane Grey.

Jane's date and place of birth are not known. According to legend, she was born at her father's hunting estate at Bradgate House near Leicester in October 1537, the same month as the future King Edward, and died in her seventeenth year. According to Eric Ives and Leanda de Lisle, it is more likely that Jane was born in the spring of 1537 at London's Dorset House on the Strand. According to Stephen Edwards, Jane may have been born even earlier, in the latter part of 1536.

The surviving Lady Jane's Tower in Bradgate has no connection with the historic Jane: the main house where Jane grew up was completely rebuilt and then destroyed by fire in the 18th century. Nor has any information survived about Jane's early childhood, except that in 1545 her education was taken over by John Elmer, a Cambridge graduate and protégé of Henry Grey. The private life of the young family, effectively in disgrace, was of no interest to contemporaries. The king still regarded Frances and her sister as "beloved nieces", but Henry Grey was not allowed to hold public office. The rights of Frances and her descendants were not mentioned in any of Henry VIII's three laws of succession. It was not until 1546 that he put Frances' descendants back in line for the throne and gave Gray his first significant commission - command of infantry at the siege of Boulogne. Henry Gray's real career began only under Edward VI, under the patronage of Thomas Seymour - uncle of the new king, younger brother and political rival of regent Edward Seymour.

A few days after Henry VIII's death, Thomas Seymour invited Gray to place his daughter in his own home. Raising children in wardship was then the order of the day: the child gained connections and experience of social life, the tutors gained an opportunity to arrange their own matrimonial plans and, if the parents died, a share of their inheritance; the parents took money from the tutors in exchange for that share. It was unheard of for a bachelor to offer his daughter to the house: in January 1547 the unmarried Seymour had only solicited the hand of the widowed Queen Katherine Parr. Grey resolutely refused, at which point Seymour (according to Henry Grey at the inquiry) revealed his plan to marry Jane Grey to Edward VI and promised Grey a loan of two thousand pounds. After thinking for a week, Grey relented, and Jane moved into the house of Seymour and Parr for a year and a half. The scandal of Seymour's courtship of his other ward, fourteen-year-old Elizabeth, had no effect on the Gray's relationship with Seymour. Henry Grey did not try to win his daughter back until September 1548, after Katherine Parr's death, but Seymour managed to keep the girl to himself: control over her was a crucial political asset. Jane herself, judging by the surviving correspondence, preferred the free regime of Seymour's home to the rigid rules of her father's house.

In January 1549 the Privy Council arrested Thomas Seymour on charges of coup d'état. Henry Grey, the fallen admiral's closest ally, bought his freedom after five interrogations with a promise to marry his daughter to the son of regent Edward Seymour. In the summer Edward Seymour was also arrested, and Henry Grey successfully joined the party of the new regent, John Dudley, and gained lucrative positions at court. Jane was introduced to the court, taking part in palace ceremonies on several occasions, but spending most of her time on her father's estates. The humanist writer Roger Ashem, who visited Bradgate House in August 1550 on the day her father and mother went hunting, caught Jane reading Plato's Phaedon in Greek. The girl, according to Ashem, was burdensome to life in her parents' house and complained of severe punishments for any faults and Megan Hickerson, Ashem's account shows the development not only of a well-read and intelligent, but also of a willful, sarcastic, arrogant nature.

A book education was most likely the initiative of his father, who was considered a patron of the sciences in academia. Henry Grey, related to the royal family through his great-grandmother Elizabeth Woodville, was brought up with Henry VIII's son Henry Fitzroy and received a superb education in the humanities. After laying his head at the age of thirty-seven in the same adventure that killed his daughter, Grey is remembered as "the most stupid peer in England" but in his lifetime he was known as a witty, literate, power-hungry man. Having inherited the title of Duke of Suffolk in 1551, Grey became the most titled aristocrat of his time and attracted the attention of numerous Protestant theologians who sought the Duke's favour and openly called Jane "England's first evangelist" and the future bride of Edward VI. English, Germanic, and Swiss scholars regularly corresponded with Gray; Jane had no shortage of books or mentors.

By the age of fourteen, however, she had lost any interest in book learning: she was more preoccupied with dressing up and playing music. John Elmer repeatedly asked the Zurich theologian Heinrich Bullinger to instruct Jane in her mind, for example, by modeling the appearance and behavior of the familiar Princess Elisabeth. The admonition probably worked: according to Elmer, Jane refused to wear Princess Mary's rich gifts.

Jane and her sisters belonged to the first generation of Englishmen, brought up from infancy in the spirit of the Evangelical Reformation (the concept of Protestantism emerged in England later, in the mid-1550s). Her whole life was spent among the Evangelical Reformers: probably in her private life she never came into contact with traditional Catholicism at all. The religious terror of Henry VIII, who to the end of his life regarded denial of transubstantiation as a mortal sin, did not extend to members of the royal household. King Edward VI grew up a convinced Protestant; Catherine Parr was an active reformer, translator, and publisher of Protestant literature (paradoxically, in 1543-1546 her theological circle included a Catholic, Mary). Henry Grey not only encouraged reformed scholars, but personally promoted Protestant doctrine from the rostrum of the House of Lords. The third spiritual authority after her father and Catherine Parr, according to Jane herself, was the radical reformer from Strasbourg, Martin Bucer, who preached in Cambridge in 1549-1551. It was he who instilled in the girl an aversion to the Catholic understanding of communion and the holy gifts. The influence on Jane of an old acquaintance of the Grays, Princess Mary Tudor, is uncertain. John Fox reports that the breakup between them occurred in late 1549, when the twelve-year-old Jane deliberately spoke harshly of Mary's religiosity. According to Leanda de Lisle, Fox's preconceived notion is incorrect: Mary maintained good relations with the Grey sisters in later years.

Many accounts of Jane's education have survived, but it is difficult to assess objectively its level and the degree of her giftedness because of the partiality of the witnesses. Ashem claimed that she was intellectually superior to Elizabeth; Fox considered her more gifted than Edward VI. What is certain is that by the age of fourteen, Jane was fluent in Latin and could write ancient Greek. French, Italian, and Hebrew were taught to her by guest Protestant émigrés; according to James Taylor, it is appropriate to speak not of Jane's knowledge of these languages, but of a superficial acquaintance with them. Thomas Challoner's claim that she spoke eight languages, including Chaldean and Arabic, is not taken seriously by historians. The basis of this legend may have been Jane's interest in the "Polyglotta Complutense" in the royal library, a first printed Bible in Latin, Greek and Hebrew with fragments in Chaldean and Aramaic (rather than Arabic).

Jane's extensive corpus of letters, mostly written in confinement, attests to her superior knowledge of Scripture and the Apocrypha: like medieval authors, she wrote in the language of biblical quotations - from memory, without consulting the source. By Eric Ives' reckoning, nine quotations from the Old and New Testaments are encoded in a single paragraph of a letter to Thomas Garding alone (80 words). The letter is full of boilerplate constructions: anaphora, prolepsis, rhetorical questions; its six-part structure strictly follows the canon of rhetoric. Jane probably formulated her messages so carefully in anticipation of publication, which she did after her death.

Jane's appearance is not reliably known. The traditional authors of verbal descriptions - foreign diplomats and merchants - were not interested in her before the crisis of 1553. As queen she was shown to the people once, at the entrance to the Tower on 10 July 1553. The only surviving account of Jane's appearance on that day, allegedly recorded by the Genoese merchant Batista Spinola, turned out to be a forgery of the early twentieth century. Nor has any record survived of the existence of lifetime portraits. The earliest such evidence dates from the 1560s: a portrait of a "Lady Jane Grey" was in the possession of Bess of Hardwick (1527-1608), a distant relative and good acquaintance of the Grey family. Bess gave the portrait to her granddaughter, Arabella Stuart, late in life; in 1601 it disappeared forever from the family estate records. Attempts to find the lost "Chatsworth portrait" among the many anonymous seventeenth-century images have been unsuccessful. Some of these paintings have been identified as portraits of Catherine Parr and Baroness Dacre, while others remain "portraits of unknown persons. Early twenty-first-century historians believe that none of them can be reliably attributed as a "portrait of Jane Grey"; opinions differ as to which image might have been her portrait.

According to David Starkey and Leanda de Lyle, the authentic image of Jane Grey may be a miniature by Levina Theerlink from the Yale University collection. The brooch on the chest of the depicted, according to Starkey, is one of the items given to Jane by the treasury on July 14, 1553. The brooch is decorated with a sprig of oak and flowers. Presumably it is a field carnation (gilliflowers), the personal emblem of Guilford Dudley. According to Eric Ives, the miniature is not a Guilford Dudley carnation, but a cowslips, and the signature A° XVIII cannot refer to Jane, who did not live to be seventeen.

According to Ives, the most likely candidates are three copies of the same portrait of a woman dressed in the fashion of the 1550s. Stephen Edwards suggests that they were painted from a lost "Chatsworth portrait. The best studied is the so-called 'Streatham portrait' from the 1590s, signed 'Lady Jayne' and kept in the National Portrait Gallery since 2006. A second copy, first exhibited by Baron Haughton in 1866, also a copy of an unknown original, is in private hands. The whereabouts of the third copy, owned in the 20th century by historian Herbert Norris, are unknown. In all three copies, the woman depicted is holding a book in her hand (perhaps a reminder of the prayer book that the real Jane took to the scaffold). It has been suggested that these portraits do not depict Jane Grey, but either Jane Seymour (the protector's daughter) or Jane of the Montague family - but it is highly improbable that interest in these little-known women continued into the late 16th century.

It is possible that it is Jane Grey who is depicted in the so-called "Nortwick portrait" from the collection of Giles Wontner. According to Ives, it is a copy of a lost full-length portrait of Jane Grey from the collection of her contemporary, Baron Lumley. According to Edwards, Ives misinterpreted Lumley's catalog: the existing portrait and the mystery original are one and the same painting; it is impossible to identify the woman depicted.

In February 1553, King Edward succumbed to an illness that proved fatal. In April, when Edward's recovery was not yet in doubt, Henry Grey and the regent John Dudley, through Elizabeth Parr, negotiated an engagement between Jane Grey and the regent's youngest son, Guilford. The first evidence of an engagement that had already taken place is dated April 24: on that day Dudley's servants delivered the wedding presents to the bride and matchmaker's houses. Henry Grey then arranged the engagement of his middle daughter to the Earl of Pembroke's eldest son. The double wedding, held on Whitsun, May 21, surprised French and Italian ambassadors with unheard-of opulence and the conspicuous absence of imperial ambassadors from the guest list.

According to historians of the nineteenth century and the first three quarters of the twentieth century, the marriage of Jane Grey and Guilford Dudley was part of John Dudley's plan to seize power in the country. The Regent, terrified of Catholic Mary's rise to power, married his son to Protestant Jane Grey and persuaded the terminally ill king to abdicate the succession to Mary and Elizabeth and designate Jane as heir. Dudley then persuaded the Privy Council and the supreme judges to approve changes to the legal succession, but he dared not publicly announce them. At the end of the twentieth century, historians significantly adjusted their view of events. In the work of Wilber Jordan, Linda Porter, Leanda de Lisle, and others, Edward 1552-1553 is not a puppet in the hands of Dudley, but an independent politician who first proposed to appoint as heirs, bypassing Mary and Elizabeth, the unborn children of Jane Grey. In this school's interpretation, Jane and Guilford's marriage, arranged before Edward's position became hopeless, is not part of a prearranged plan, but an accidental "fortunate" circumstance. Edward and Dudley made their first steps to change the order of succession only in the first decade of June. It was during this period, probably - at Dudley's initiative - that the king replaced "Jane Grey's descendants" of the first version with "Jane Grey and her descendants. On June 11, the dying Edward summoned the judges to discuss the draft will; eleven days later, after Dudley had persuaded the aristocrats, bishops, and judges to approve it by threats and persuasion, Edward's will became law.

Jane's own attitude to the marriage and personally to Guilford is known only as recounted by Italians - the witness to the 1553 coup, the nuncio Giovanni Commendoni, and the Ferrara compiler Girolamo Rosso, who relied on reports from Venetian envoys. Commendoni wrote that Jane resisted her marriage to Guilford, but did not give a reason or method of opposition. Rosso added that Jane allegedly sensed danger; her father threatened and her mother persuaded her to agree (in Agnes Strickland's Victorian paraphrase, threats turned into physical beatings). Jane may have considered herself bound by previous agreements: according to Queen Mary, as recounted by Simon Renard, Jane was previously engaged to a "pupil of the Bishop of Winchester". The identity of this groom is not known: he may have been the son of the executed Edward Seymour, Edward, the apprentice of the Marquis of Winchester.

Little is known of the identity of Guilford Dudley, who was only a year or two older than Jane; his only letter (a memorial note in Jane's prayer book) survives as recounted by Richard Grafton. The young couple's short life together is contradictorily described by sources. According to the imperial ambassador, the couple lived apart in June, allegedly because of the husband's "immature age. According to Commendoni, their life together began before Jane was proclaimed queen; the same (again, according to Italian sources) was reported by Jane herself in detention. In mid-June, after two or three nights with Guilford, she retired to a country house in Chelsea under the pretext of "poisoning," and remained there until July 9. It was there, in the third week of June, that Jane learned from her mother-in-law of the change in the order of succession. Jane was disturbed, she said, but did not pay much attention to the news - probably assuming that her mother-in-law was merely manipulating her in a family conflict.

King Edward VI died at about nine o'clock in the evening of 6 July 1553. Robert Dudley, sent by his father to arrest Mary, was too late: the disgraced princess, having fled in advance from her country residence, was already galloping to her estates in Norfolk. On 8 July Mary, out of reach of the Dudley family, launched a pre-planned mechanism of armed mutiny. In London, however, the interregnum continued: Jane had to be persuaded to accept the crown before she could be presented to the nation. Jane's letter to Mary, written in the Tower and surviving in Italian translations, reveals that Mary Sidney, John Dudley's daughter, brought the Privy Council's order to Chelsea on 9 July. Jane was to go at once to Scion House, the suburban palace of the executed Edward Seymour, to "take what was appointed by the King. When the boat with the women reached their destination along the Thames, the unfinished palace was empty. It was not until some time later that John Dudley and the highest dignitaries of the state, Francis Hastings, William Herbert, William Parr, and Henry Fitzalan, arrived there. John Dudley informed Jane that the king was dead and that it was his will that Jane should accept the crown. After Jane refused, Dudley engaged "newly arrived" Frances Grey, Jane Dudley, and Anne Parr in negotiations, and after a second refusal, Henry Grey and Guilford Dudley. In the end it was under pressure from her parents and husband that Jane consented.

On July 10, the Privy Council publicly proclaimed Jane queen. Jane and her husband and parents solemnly set sail in a barque for the Tower, where temporary royal apartments had already been arranged; while they sailed downstream, the Council received Mary's first ultimatum. The threat hastened the action of the Dudley party: by the end of the day, the Council had finally drafted and put to print proclamations in Jane's name. The number of such proclamations, hand-signed by Jane in nine days, indicates that she consciously accepted supreme authority and was by no means trying to remove herself from it, as nineteenth-century authors had presented it. Unlike Mary, who refrained from religious slogans, Jane addressed the people from an openly Protestant position and accused her rival of wanting to bring the country under papal control. The people of London were indifferently silent, the people of East Anglia gathered under the banner of Mary. Two days later, according to Commendoni, Jane's first acute conflict with the Dudley family occurred. The Lord Treasurer, William Paulet, who had delivered the crown to the Tower, had carelessly said that a second, for Guilford, must be made urgently. Jane, who had no intention of sharing the throne with her husband, resisted, prompting fierce opposition from the Dudley clan. Jane's attitude to Guilford changed irrevocably: she realized that her husband had been privy to his father's plans from the start, in which Jane had been made a pawn. Herbert and Fitzalan managed to extinguish the scandal, but that did not change the fact: Jane, isolated from the world in the Tower and with no leverage of real power, remained a hostage to John Dudley and his party.

By July 12, the situation of Jane and the Dudley family had become critical. John Dudley, who had not previously considered Mary a real threat, began feverishly recruiting mercenaries for a military operation; Jane's uncle George Medley's troops were concentrating in his home town of Bradgate. The question of why Dudley led the military operation personally, leaving London in the care of Henry Grey, is not resolved by historians: according to some sources, Jane demanded that her own father be appointed commander; according to others, she protested against such an appointment. Dudley was undoubtedly the most competent commander of his time, and as such had Jane's full support. On 14 July he set out on the campaign; on the same day the fleet sent to the Norfolk coast mutinied. According to contemporaries, it was with the news of this that the disintegration of Dudley's party began. Aristocrats who had sworn an oath to Jane, one by one, defected to Mary both in East Anglia and in Dudley's rear, the Thames Valley. As news reached London, the Privy Council became less and less determined to support the queen. On 17 July, suspecting the councillors of treason under preparation, Jane took personal control of the Tower guards, and the next day announced the recruitment of her own troops. They were to be commanded by "our faithful and beloved cousins" Henry Fitzalan and William Herbert, Earls of Arundel and Pembroke: they were to gather the available forces on the Welsh border and strike from the west at the rebels in the Thames Valley. Jane did not yet know that on the same day Dudley had refused to fight the rebels and retreated to Cambridge, and that it was her "favorite cousins" who were secretly preparing a coup in London in favor of Mary.

On July 19, Herbert, with the support of the Privy Council and the London self-government, proclaimed Mary queen. Londoners welcomed the coup, none of Jane's former supporters supported it. Understanding the balance of power, Henry Grey ordered the Tower guards to lay down their arms; the guards, in turn, forced him to swear an oath to Mary. It was his father who had the chance to tell his daughter that she had been deposed. After he hastily left for Herbert to beg forgiveness, the guards were ordered to arrest Jane, Guilford Dudley, his mother, and all their companions. Without leaving the Tower, the former queen became a prisoner. John Dudley, upon receiving news of the coup, ceased his resistance and surrendered at the mercy of the victors.

In the first weeks of the reign, Mary's anger was directed exclusively at the Dudley family and only secondarily at Jane and the London officials, not so much for the attempted seizure of power as for the insulting proclamations about her "illegitimacy. She had no intention of persecuting the Greys: Henry Grey, who was escorted to the Tower on 27 July, bought a pardon for twenty thousand pounds, and in November Mary forgave him that debt as well. Mary was ready to pardon Jane as well, but Charles V's ambassadors Jan Schaive and Simon Renard intervened, demanding blood. Under their influence, the queen left Jane in custody and on August 12 signed an act of high treason against her, which in the 16th century meant the inevitable death sentence. Mary had no intention of enforcing it and actively sought ways to free Jane that would satisfy both imperial ambassadors and English society, in which the prevailing view was that Jane was innocent and Mary was merciful. Indeed, of all those involved in the crisis of 1553, only John Dudley, John Gates, and Thomas Palmer were executed; most of their supporters, to Renard's displeasure, got off with property penalties (English composition). By the end of August, only a handful of prisoners remained in the Tower.

Jane's confinement in the Tower was relatively lenient. She lived comfortably in the commandant's house, had servants and parents by her side, carried on correspondence, received guests from the will, and talked freely with them about religion and politics, but she was forbidden to go out until mid-December. Ten years after Jane's death, a legend developed in Protestant circles that she had been executed pregnant: during her imprisonment, Jane had allegedly conceived by Guilford. In reality the couple were separated, Jane could only see Guilford from her cell window, nothing more. The radical evangelist Rowland Lee, who visited the Tower on August 29, 1553, wrote that Jane was sure of a speedy pardon. She despised Dudley for converting to Catholicism, made no secret of her hostility toward the early Counter-Reformation, and intended to prevent the restoration of the Latin rite, even if it might cost her life.

The trial of Jane, Guilford, his brothers Ambrose and Henry, and the Reformed Archbishop Cranmer was held on November 13 under the presidency of Richard Morgan, a staunch Catholic. The conviction of Jane and the Dudley brothers was a legal formality (the main purpose of the trial was the reprisal of Cranmer. All the accused were, as expected, sentenced to death: the men were to be hanged, gutted, and quartered; Jane was to be burned alive or beheaded, at the queen's discretion.

Jane Grey's trial coincided with the beginning of the political crisis that culminated in Wyatt's rebellion and the deaths of Jane and her father. In mid-November 1553, the political balance of the state was shaken by the dispute over the queen's marriage: Mary was inclined to marry Philip of Spain, a choice with which society disagreed. Petitions from both aristocrats and members of the House of Commons were rejected by Mary, simultaneously increasing pressure on Protestants. In December, a conspiracy developed among Protestant parliamentarians. According to the plans of the rebels, rebellion was to be raised at Easter 1554 in the four counties; Henry Grey took charge of the revolt in Leicestershire. The actions of Renard and Bishop Gardiner, who suspected conspiracy, provoked the rebels into premature action. Henry Grey fled to Coventry to recruit rebel troops, but both the people and the feudal lords he knew refused his support. On February 2, he was arrested hiding, according to Renard, in the hollow of a huge oak tree near Astley Hall. Thomas Wyatt the younger was more successful: defeating a government detachment on 29 January, he led his army by a circuitous route to the walls of the City of London. There, on February 7, his detachments were dispersed by government troops under William Herbert.

Government proclamations drafted by the Privy Council during the rebellion claimed that the purpose of the rebels was to enthrone Guilford Dudley and Jane Grey. Perhaps the nobles wanted to vilify the rebels by linking them to the unpopular Dudley regime; perhaps they tried to manipulate Mary into physically destroying the Grey family. The final decision to eliminate Jane was made by the queen in the midst of Wyatt's rebellion. Both sixteenth-century Catholic and Protestant sources claim that Mary acted under pressure from Gardiner, Renard, and agents of Pope Julius III; her actual motives remain a mystery.

The execution was scheduled for February 9, 1554, but the preacher John Fakenham, sent to confess Jane, begged for a three-day reprieve, hoping to return Jane to Catholicism. Jane, already at peace with all earthly things, refused to submit. On February 12, Guilford was the first to lay down his head on Tower Hill, followed by Jane in the courtyard. Before her execution, she wrote in the pages of her prayer book her last letter, a dedication to the commandant of the Tower, ending with, "As the Preacher said, a time to be born, and a time to die, and a day of death is better than a day of birth. Your friend, God knows, Jane Dudley." In her deathbed speech to the few witnesses, she acknowledged the accusation, but refused to admit guilt. In her last moments, according to Commendoni, she lost her bearings and could not find the scaffold on her own. None of her companions risked approaching, and she was led to the scaffold by a random man in the crowd.

Spiritual literature and journalism

The execution made Jane England's first Protestant martyr and spawned a wave of hagiographic literature quite distant from historical reality. The first editions of Jane's letters, secretly printed in England, appeared immediately after her execution; then, as the repression intensified, the book publishing moved to the Continent and returned to her homeland after Mary's death. Almost all of Jane's letters have come down to us only in sixteenth-century reprints, sometimes in reverse translations from Italian. A rare exception is the original copies of her letters to Heinrich Bullinger, preserved in the Zurich Library.

In 1563 the chronicler John Fox published in his Book of Martyrs the first detailed biography of Jane, accompanied by her most important letters. In Fox's and Holinshed's writings, Jane's central characteristic is her unyielding firmness in matters of faith. Soon, no later than 1570, the flow of literature on Jane dried up: on the one hand, publishers had saturated the market, on the other, Catholicism was no longer considered a major threat, and on the third, the role of "first martyr" passed to the very much alive Elizabeth. After Fox's formulation of this doctrine, it became unseemly to place Jane beside Elizabeth, and unsafe to speak of the Grey family. Catherine and Mary Grey still claimed the line of succession; jurist John Hales, who dared to remind the queen of this, was arrested and spent two years in the Tower. By the end of Elizabeth's reign, publishers could publish openly only two of Jane's many dozens of letters.

Interest in Jane was revived in the first half of the seventeenth century, at the beginning of the new wave of the Reformation of the Anglican Church. In 1615, 1629, and 1636 Jane's letters and dialogues with Fekenham are reprinted; during the Revolution and the Stuart Restoration they finally became part of the ordinary circle of Protestant reading.


The secular literary image of Jane as a martyr and victim was developed under the Tudors. The first surviving poem about Jane, just months after her execution, was written by George Cavendish. Early in Elizabeth's reign, the theme of Jane Grey's martyrdom was continued by anonymous authors of folk luboks in English and high society poets who wrote in Latin. Following official propaganda, both openly condemned Mary and her entourage. The anonymous author of a 1562 proclamation compared the events of July 1553 to the treachery of Judas. The court classicist poet Thomas Cheloner wrote that Mary's premature death was God's punishment not so much for her hypocrisy in matters of faith as for her callous attitude toward a noble woman: "Should not a lady, once so refined, have sympathized with an equally refined Jane?"

The theme of Jane's love for Guilford first appears in Michael Drayton's "Heroic Letters on England" (1597). Drayton, like his predecessors, praised Elizabeth and reviled Mary, but the main theme of his Jane and Guilford Letters is the feelings of inexperienced lovers on the brink of death:

The same motif prevailed in the first, not preserved, play about Jane and Guilford, written by a team of authors in 1602. Five years later John Webster and Thomas Dekker remade it into The Story of Sir Thomas Wyatt. In the next century the theme of Jane and Guilford's love was developed by Edward Young (in Rowe's tragedy a fantastic love triangle (Jane - Guilford - Pembroke) appears for the first time.

In the writings of poets, historians and publicists of the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, Jane is the absolute ideal of beauty and morality. As early as 1630, John Hayward, in his History of the Reign of Henry VI, described Jane as "a person of rare, incomparable perfection ... adorned with all the known virtues as the cloudless sky with stars...". Moralists XVIII century exploited the image of Jane - the ideal wife, in the Dublin theater ghost Jane pursued on stage unfaithful husbands, who published in 1757 the template on which such works were compiled, admitted: "I must be unable to repay all due to this virtuous person, but I hope that at least I have not departed from the laws of nature" theme Jane appeared and long established in the moralizing literature for children, teenagers and young women.

In 1791, on the cusp of a century of Romanticism, the publisher of "gothic novels," William Lane, published in London a novel in letters, Lady Jane Grey, the first in a series of many novels about Jane and Guilford. Images of Jane in nineteenth-century literature follow one of three templates: the romantic heroine, the romantic victim, or the ideal housewife. Romantic heroics prevailed in the 1830s: the markets in Britain, France, and the United States were flooded with blatantly fictional, sometimes fantastical writings. William Aysworth was particularly successful in rewriting history, publishing his 1840 novel The Tower of London with illustrations by George Crookshank. Then, in the middle of the century, the love theme finally receded into the background, and heroics were replaced by sacrifice. Writers of all genres and trends exploited the legend of Jane's "incomparable perfection," who became the paragon of the Victorian housewife and the heroine of the emerging proto-feminism. Even the serious historian Agnes Strickland wrote in 1868: "Lady Jane Grey is undoubtedly the noblest representative of the Tudor family, endowed with all the virtues ..." ... "immaculate, like the holy Lady Jane."

20th and 21st century authors, mostly from English-speaking countries, still write about Jane, but from a different perspective: the vast majority are interested either in the psychology of Jane's personality or in the circumstances of her death: for example, Jane is the main character in the historical novel Throne and Scaffold of Lady Jane by the British writer and historian Alison Wair.

Academic painting

The proliferation of "artistic" pictorial and engraved portraits of Jane, both in England and in continental Europe, dates from the early seventeenth century. In the first half of the eighteenth century, thanks to publishers and illustrators of theatrical plays and the Fox Chronicle, the static portraits were gradually replaced by genre scenes from Jane's life. Around 1760, with the rise of English classicism, they were replaced by a "large genre" of moral historical canvas, but only in the 1820s the image of Jane became a really popular. Over fifty years (1827-1877) the Royal Academy in London alone exhibited 24 new canvases on the theme of Jane's tragedy. Among the academic subjects of that era were Henri Fradel's "Jane Grey and Roger Asham") and their imitators, Charles Leslie's "Dudley bows Jay Grey to accept the crown"), Crookshank's "Gardiner interrogates Jane" (1840), and Follingsby's (1871), "Fakenham Inclines Jane to Catholicism" by James Northcote (1792) and the final tragedy, "The Execution of Jane Grey" by Paul Delaroche (1833, first exhibited in 1834) and George Flagg (1833). Flagg, an American who had no knowledge of Tudor history, first set out to write the execution of Mary Stuart - but changed the main character to Jane after discovering that the historical Mary Stuart in 1587 was no longer young and unattractive.

The fashion for Jane peaked in 1855 with the opening of the first phase of the rebuilt Palace of Westminster: Jane entered the official "pantheon" of the twelve Tudors depicted in the bas-reliefs of the House of Lords. A "limited edition" shilling of "1553" bearing Jane's portrait was issued by forger Edward Emery. Just as in literature, by this time Jane's image had lost its romantic heroism and adapted to the demands of a numerically grown petty bourgeoisie (in the works of twenty-first-century historians, the middle class). Perhaps, Rosemary Mitchell suggests, this is why the portraits of Jane in the 1850s contain never-before-seen musical instruments, sewing utensils, and an hourglass, symbols of self-control and the orderly rhythm of life.

In the second half of the nineteenth century, as interest in academic painting waned, the flow of new works dried up. Delaroche's original Execution of Jane Grey, once considered the finest depiction of Jane Grey, was written off by the Tate Gallery as allegedly lost in the 1928 flood. In reality, the "missing" painting, of no interest to the public or art historians, had lain in the restoration studio for nearly half a century. The curator of the National Gallery, who exhibited the restored painting in 1975, believed that "the only thing Delaroche can interest our generation is the question of why he was so popular in his day." The Execution of Jane Grey, however, unexpectedly attracted viewers again and took a permanent place in the center of the collection.


Gaetano Donizetti was the first New Age composer to attempt to stage the story of Jane Grey on the opera stage. In 1834 he began work on Mary Stuart, based on Schiller's tragedy of the same name, without waiting for the libretto to be approved by the censors. After the dress rehearsal at the San Carlo, the opera was forbidden personally by King Ferdinand, ostensibly because of the displeasure of Queen Maria Cristina, a distant descendant of Mary Stuart. In order not to lose the "Tudor" setting, Donizetti decided to recast the opera as "Jane Grey," but the censors rejected this version as well.

After Donizetti, second-rate composers repeatedly took up the theme; none of the operas they wrote has stayed in the repertoire. In 1836 La Scala staged an opera by Nicola Vaccaia, Giovanna Gray, based on Nicholas Rowe's 1715 tragedy, with Maria Malibran in the title role. The premiere failed: the critics found the libretto too long and the music mediocre. Attempts to take Vaccailli's opera to other venues were unsuccessful. Antoni d'Antoni's Jane Grey, written in 1848 for the Trieste stage, was not staged. Timoteo Pasini's Jane Grey, staged in Ferrara in 1853, was favorably received and then forgotten. In 1891 Henri Busset wrote an opera of the same name, in 1982 Arnold Rosner. Edward Oxenford's cantata and Arnold Schoenberg's ballad (1907, on poems by Heinrich Ammann, 1864-1950) for voice and piano are also well-known.


Jane appears as a supporting character in numerous "Tudor" serials and screen adaptations of Mark Twain's The Prince and the Pauper; she has been the protagonist of a feature film only three times in the history of cinema. All three films were made and released in Great Britain.

In 1923, a 39-minute silent film, Lady Jane Grey, or The Court of Intrigue, from the low-budget series about "the outstanding women of the world," was released. Director Edwin Greenwood gave the role of Jane to 21-year-old Nina Vanna (Tongue). This film's Jane is both an innocent victim and a Protestant preacher, John Dudley is the ultimate villain, and Mary is a hesitant, not at all malicious woman. The film was shot in "historical" interiors, in somber colors, and featured a peculiar, energetic montage.

In 1936 Robert Stevenson's 80-minute film The Tudor Rose, in the American box office, The Queen for Nine Days (Eng.

The third film, "Lady Jane" by Trevor Nunn starring Helena Bonham Carter (1986), is a completely fictionalized romantic story. The main events of this drawn-out narrative take place in the imprisonment of the Tower. In the writers' will, both Jane and Guilford are young reformers, sixteenth-century "social activists"; Jane, according to the film's academic advisor, was conceived as "a proto-socialist feminist, a cross between Robin Hood and Beatrice Webb." The supporting characters are also far removed from their historical prototypes: the Grey family becomes Catholic, with Frances Grey as the leading villain; Mary executes Jane so as not to be separated from Philip herself.

In the Starz series "Becoming Elizabeth" (2022), Jane Grey was played by Bella Ramsay.


  1. Lady Jane Grey
  2. Грей, Джейн
  3. Не в качестве правящей королевы или хотя бы королевы-матери при правящем сыне, но в качестве регента.
  4. De Lisle, 2009, p. 4: Ранний брачный возраст в Англии XVI века — удел аристократии. Девушки из низших классов обычно выходили замуж не моложе двадцати лет..
  5. De Lisle, 2009, p. 13: Низкорослая (возможно, карлица) и горбатая Мария с ранних лет страдала пороком физического развития и детей не имела..
  6. Mitchell, 2007, p. 103 отмечает, что легенда о рождении в Брэдгейте, в окружении дикой природы, удачно совпала со штампами романтической литературы..
  7. De Lisle, 2009, p. 26: Томас Сеймур и Катерина Парр сошлись спустя несколько недель после смерти Генриха VIII и тайно обвенчались в мае 1547 года..
  8. Detlev Schwennicke: Europäische Stammtafeln. Neue Folge, Band 2: Die außerdeutschen Staaten, die regierenden Häuser der übrigen Staaten Europas. J. A. Stargardt, Marburg 1984, Tafel 87.
  9. Dulcie M. Ashdown: Tudor Cousins. Rivals for the Throne. Sutton Publishing, Stroud 2000, ISBN 0-7509-2547-7, S. 65 „… if I would agree, he durst assure me that the Admiral would find the means she would be placed in marriage much to my comfort […] with the king“.
  10. Leanda de Lisle: The Sisters who would be Queen. The Tragedy of Mary, Katherine & Lady Jane Grey. Harper Press, London 2009, S. 41.
  11. Dulcie M. Ashdown: Tudor Cousins. Rivals for the Throne. Sutton Publishing, Stroud 2000, ISBN 0-7509-2547-7, S. 66.
  12. Leanda de Lisle: The Sisters who would be Queen. The Tragedy of Mary, Katherine & Lady Jane Grey. Harper Press, London 2009, S. 68.
  13. ^ Williams, s. 179
  14. ^ de Lisle 2008, sid. 5–8.
  15. ^ [a b] Williams, s. 194
  16. Ives, 2009, p. 2
  17. Ascham, 1863, p. 213
  18. a b c d «La trágica historia de Lady Jane, la "reina de los 9 días" que pasó de liderar Inglaterra a ser prisionera en la Torre de Londres y ejecutada por traición». BBC News. 20 de noviembre de 2021.
  19. Ives, 2009, pp. 36, 299

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