GREY, Lady Jane

(1537-1554)
Jane Grey, for nine days queen of England in 1553 and dead by the execu­tioner's hand before she was seventeen, was a young woman of extraordinary learning and courage. She was the granddaughter of Henry VIII's* younger sister Mary and the eldest daughter of Frances Brandon and her husband, Henry Grey. She was born in October 1537 about the same time as her cousin, the future Edward VI. Before Henry VIII's death in 1547, he made a will that placed the descendants of his younger sister Mary in the succession after his own children. This closeness to the throne made her a valuable commodity.
Because of the impact of humanism on the education of upper-class women, by the time Jane was seven, she had begun instruction in Latin and Greek. In 1550 the humanist Roger Ascham* met Jane. He described her extraordinary commitment to learning and to the Reformed faith. The pleasure Jane took in reading Plato in the original Greek amazed Ascham. Jane explained to him that she found solace in study: her tutor John Aylmer treated her well, while her parents were critical and cruel.
In the summer of 1553 people close to Edward VI realized that he was dying. Edward decided to disinherit his two sisters, Mary* and Elizabeth,* in favor of Lady Jane Grey. The idea for this change in the succession may well have been that of John Dudley, duke of Northumberland, since that spring Jane's parents had forced her, over her vehement objections, to marry Northumberland's youn­gest son, Guilford. When Edward died in July, Northumberland kept his death secret for two days in hopes of securing Mary and Elizabeth. Both sisters man­aged to elude capture, and Northumberland was forced to proclaim Jane as queen while the dead king's sisters were still at large. The country rallied behind Mary as the legitimate heir, and only nine days after Jane was proclaimed queen, Mary became England's legitimate ruler. On 14 November 1553 Jane was ar­raigned for treason with her husband, and both were sentenced to die. Mary, however, wishing to spare her cousin, suspended the sentences while she kept them both, separately, in the Tower. In the Tower during the last few months of her life, Jane produced most of the slender body of writing for which she is known: a letter to someone fallen from the faith (probably her first tutor, Har­ding), a prayer, letters to her father and sister Catherine when she knew she was condemned to die, and her speech from the scaffold.
At the beginning of 1554 her father joined Thomas Wyatt in rebelling against Mary's proposed marriage to Philip of Spain.* While Wyatt was interested in proposing Elizabeth as an alternate queen, Jane's father again proclaimed his daughter. Mary was able to stifle the rebellion and agreed that for the safety of her realm the death sentence on Jane and her husband Guilford must be carried out.
Mary still hoped that Jane might be converted to the Catholic faith and ar­ranged for her confessor, Dr. Feckenham, to see Jane. In an attempt to convert Jane, Feckenham persuaded her to publicly debate matters of doctrine inside the Tower. Though neither convinced the other, both were eloquent, and Jane ended the debate with an appreciation of Feckenham's kindness to her. She then in earnest prepared to die and the night before her execution wrote letters to her sister Katherine and her father, who was also soon to be executed. Jane was beheaded on 12 February 1554. To the last moments of her life Lady Jane Grey stayed true to her Protestant ideals. Her youth and courage impressed the wit­nesses, a number of whom wrote movingly about her execution.
Bibliography
C. Levin, "Lady Jane Grey: Protestant Queen and Martyr," in Silent But for the Word: Tudor Women as Patrons, Translators, and Writers of Religious Works, ed. M. Hannay, 1985. A. Plowden, Lady Jane Grey and the House ofSuffolk, 1986.
Carole Levin

Renaissance and Reformation 1500-1620: A Biographical Dictionary. . 2001.

Look at other dictionaries:

  • Grey,Lady Jane — Grey, Lady Jane. 1537 1554. Queen of England for nine days (1553). Proclaimed queen on the death of Edward VI (July 10, 1553), she was imprisoned after her short reign, replaced by the popular Mary Tudor, later Mary I, and subsequently beheaded… …   Universalium

  • Grey, Lady Jane — born October 1537, Bradgate, Leicestershire, Eng. died Feb. 12, 1554, London Titular queen of England for nine days in 1553. The great granddaughter of Henry VII, she was married in May 1553 to the son of the duke of Northumberland.… …   Universalium

  • Grey, Lady Jane — (oct. 1537, Bradgate, Leicestershire, Inglaterra–12 feb. 1554, Londres). Reina titular de Inglaterra durante nueve días en 1553. Bisnieta de Enrique VII, fue obligada a casarse en mayo de 1553 con el hijo del duque de Northumberland. Este último… …   Enciclopedia Universal

  • GREY, LADY JANE —    the ill fated nine days queen, born at Bradgate, Leicestershire; was the daughter of the Duke of Suffolk and the great granddaughter of Henry VII.; her talents were of a rare order, and sedulously cultivated; she attained to great proficiency… …   The Nuttall Encyclopaedia

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  • Lady Jane Grey — noun Queen of England for nine days in 1553; she was quickly replaced by Mary Tudor and beheaded for treason (1537 1554) • Syn: ↑Grey • Instance Hypernyms: ↑Queen of England • Member Holonyms: ↑Tudor, ↑House of Tudor * * * Lady …   Useful english dictionary

  • Lady Jane Grey — Dudley (Künstler unbekannt) Lady Jane Grey (* 1537 in Bradgate in Leicestershire (Mittelengland); † 12. Februar 1554 im Tower in London, hingerichtet) beanspruchte im Jahr 1553 für kurze Zeit den Titel einer Königin von England. Seither hat sie… …   Deutsch Wikipedia

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