Few figures in history are as tragic as Lady Jane Grey, the Nine Days Queen. Born to hedonistic parents in 1537, she was often beaten into submission, and could only find solace in her books. Jane’s mother, Frances Brandon was a horrid combination of her mother, a Tudor, and her upjumped jousting father, Charles Brandon. Frances wanted only sons, to please her husband Henry Grey, Marquis of Dorset. Dorset was a product of his abominable lineage, and lived only to plot treachery. They were abusive and absent parents, but more on that later.
In 1553, things were looking grim for the councillors of the boy king, Edward VI. Edward was a sickly youth, whose health was in rapid decline. With no heirs of his body, Edward’s successor would be his fanatical Catholic sister, Bloody Mary Tudor. The entirety of Edward’s reign had been spent forwarding the Protestant faith in England, and his chief minister, John Dudley, Duke of Northumberland had persecuted Mary for her faith. If she came to the throne, heads would roll. So Northumberland came up with a plan.
Dudley arranged a marriage between his son Guildford and poor little 16 year old Jane. Jane was opposed to the marriage, and was repeatedly beaten into finally agreeing to marry Dudley’s worthless boy. She suffered the humiliation and degradation of a consummation of a marriage to a boy she did not know, and it has been speculated that she was beaten into that as well. Whether by her mother, father, husband, or shrewish mother in law is unclear. Quite probably, all had a hand in it, and they may have taken turns.
Now that the pieces were all in place, and the king was in no fit state to object, Northumberland devised a plan for succession that omitted both of Edward’s sisters, by reason of bastardy. Edward had never liked either of them anyway. Northumberland pushed forward Edward’s cousin Jane Grey as Edward’s heir, and his own son as her consort. Edward was too weak and sickly to know any better, so he signed his name, in his spidery hand.
On July 6, 1553 Edward VI died, and Dudley moved to instate Jane as Queen. In the world’s worst game of tag, Dudley’s agents chased Mary Tudor all over England, while Jane proceeded to the Tower to ready for her coronation. Some more beatings ensued, and the bruised and beleaguered child agreed to go along with the ambitious people surrounding her. Unfortunately, outside of beating the poor girl, no one seemed to do anything that would help her be queen, and Mary Tudor, with her sister Gloriana, just waltzed into London and took the throne. Jane and all of her tormentors ended up imprisoned in the Tower, except for her mother, who most likely beat up a guard and escaped. Jane’s father would later be freed, although I can not imagine why. He was a real jerk.
Bloody Mary drew the line at executing little girls, but her betrothed, Philip of Spain, insisted that he would not come to England while the girl still lived. There was a rebellion, that landed Jane’s father back in the Tower and made her situation even more precarious. Still Mary resisted the idea of executing Jane. She knew Jane had been forced into everything. “I am no kinslayer, ser!”, she informed the Spanish ambassador, Renard.
Mary I was, above all else, a Tudor. She was as scheming as her great grandmother, Margaret Beaufort, as wishy washy as her grandfather, Henry VII, and as unreasonable as her father, Henry VIII. All of this played to Jane’s favor. Mary decided to free Jane, but she had to keep the Spanish happy too, or she would lose the only man who wanted to marry her. So she approached Jane with an offer.
In Portugal lived a minor noble, Rodrigo Di Sparate. He would marry Jane, and she could spend her life with her beloved books, far from England, and safe from Spanish vengeance. Jane readily agreed to this, as she never wanted to be Queen, hated her current husband, and certainly did not want to move back home with her abusive mother.
Jane left England in the dark of the night, on February 10, 1554. She spent her life in quiet tranquility, and no one ever beat her again. Mary substituted a heretic who kind of looked like Jane for the execution, figuring one more would not matter. Guildford Dudley asked to see his wife before his execution, but was told Jane did not want to see him. He was executed, leaving Jane free to marry. Philip came to England and married Mary, and began the Inquisition in England. Jane’s father and father in law were executed, so Jane had some small solace in that. Jane’s horrible mother married a boy toy, and went on with her life, never looking back.
Popular novels about Jane Grey
My cousin Jeff, who knows all there is to know about Mary I
Game of Thrones
A popular historian who denies speaking to me, and will sue if I name her.
Jeff “the wiz”Berlin
The new year finds me in trouble at work. I was taken off my last case after blowing my cover in a pub by getting into a heated argument over my ancestor Anne Boleyn. I am currently on suspension, and will be having my appearance modified by plastic surgery later this month.