On 10th July 1553, Lady Jane Grey became Queen of England after the death of the 14-year-old King Edward VI.
Born in 1537, Jane was the great-granddaughter of Henry VII, making her a Tudor through her mother’s lineage. As Edward VI was gradually and without doubt dying, his regent the Duke of Northumberland was challenged the likelihood of losing his power, much his wealth and in all likelihood his life if Edward’s sister Mary succeeded to the throne, as the Third Act of Succession and Henry VIII’s will directed.
Mary was a unwavering Catholic, who was envisaging to recoup for the church the properties and land allocated by Henry VIII to his devoted followers during the dissolution. Northumberland had profited tremendously from the acquisition of land.
Mary also indicated a desire to form a relationship with Catholic Spain by marrying Spanish Prince Philip. This alliance was viewed as a step of driving Northumberland and his friends out of any positions of power. Northumberland had seized power heartlessly in the past. A family such as the Seymours, who had perished as a result of his influence, would have in all likelihood threatened him once his power disappeared.
The audacious and fraught Northumberland decided to act in what were desperate measures. He persuaded the dying Edward to indicate that Mary and her sister Elizabeth may well be believed illegitimate, and to create a will appointing the king’s cousin Lady Jane Grey, a fervent Protestant, the heir upon his death.
Historians assert that the will was partially falsified, having been meant to pass the crown to the future male heirs of Jane Grey. Jane was hurriedly married to Lord Guilford Dudley, Northumberland’s son, in May 1553, against her wishes. She considered him unattractive and rather daft.
On 6 July 1553 Edward VI died. Northumberland compelled the judges and Council to declare Jane Queen, threatening any person who went in opposition to him.
Northumberland indeed achieved his goal. On 10 July 1553 Lady Jane was declared Queen Jane. Northumberland did miss one minor detail, Mary had avoided being captured and was secure at Framlingham Castle in Suffolk, and it was here Mary garnered even more support to become queen and planned her next move.
Of course we all know the story ends nine days later, when Jane is stripped of the crown and Mary becomes Queen. Unfortunately Jane’s nine days did not sit well with Queen Mary; Jane was executed with her husband in 1554.
Photo Credit: Lisby via photopin cc
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