Lady Jane Grey: Nine Days a Queen, 1537-1554

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Detail: Lady Jane Grey
by Paul Delaroche, 1833

Jane Grey is perhaps the most universally sympathetic of our ladies. Being born the grandaughter of Henry VIII’s younger sister Mary, she was destined to be used as a political puppet for most of her short life. Henry had died in 1547, leaving the young Edward VI as king in his minority. The Lord Protector, Duke of Northumberland, planning for the certainty of the young king’s early demise, married one of his sons, Guilford, to the seventeen year old Lady Jane. He then convinced Edward that it would be politic to re-write Henry’s will of succession in favor of the junior branch on the Tudor Tree, ending with Jane Grey, in order to preserve the “new” religion. Thus both Mary (catholic) and Elizabeth (wishy-washy) were barred from the throne as being at one time or another named as bastards during the reign of their father.
When Edward died of consumption in 1554 the Lord Protector forced his will on the council in a masterful coup d’Ètat, sent troops into the country to capture both Mary and Elizabeth, and dragged the young couple back from their honeymoon to proclaim Jane queen. Unfortunately both princesses had been forwarned and both eluded capture. The council soon defected and proclaimed Mary queen. Thus leaving Jane, after nine days, merely another pretender to the throne. The rightful heir rode into London after a short skirmish, throwing all those involved into the Tower to await trial.

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