Nine Days as Queen

Once inside the tower, Jane was taken to the presence- chamber, where she took her place under the state canopy. The Councilors had left to compose a reply to Mary's letter and Jane was left with a few attendants, among them her old nurse Mrs. Ellen and Mrs. Tilney, her gentlewoman. A short time later Winchester appeared, carrying some of the jewels and the Crown Imperial of the realm.

Once again Jane tried to object to what was being thrust on her. In her own words she later described the scene, saying she objected. "But 'the Crown' has never been demanded... by me, or by anyone in my name." She refused it. Winchester countered by saying he just wished her to put it on to see how it suited her. "Your Grace may take it without fear." Finally she relented, saying she would do so only 'to see how it fitted.' And thus was the reluctant Queen crowned.

After this, everyone left the room except for Jane and her new husband. He looked to her and asked that she declare him King. She refused and he replied childishly "I will be made King by you and by Act of Parliament." Jane stubbornly refused to change her mind and a furious argument followed, ending when Guilford fled the room in tears, seeking out his mother. Meanwhile, Jane called in Pembroke and Arundel and told them "If the crown belongs to me, I would be content to make my husband a Duke. But I will never consent to make him King." At this point, Guilford and his mother returned. His mother the Duchess stormed at Jane for over an hour and she stood by her early decision.

Time passed. The Council sent their response to Mary, calling her a bastard to the title and demanding that she recognize Jane as the true Queen. Announcements were made to the people of London, but their response was somber and still grieving for Edward. That Sunday, the 11th, the sermon at St. Paul's supported Jane as Queen while declaring Elizabeth and Mary as bastards, thus unfit for the throne. On the evening of the 11th a messenger came to the tower with a letter from Mary, dated the 9th. In the letter, Mary declares herself as Queen and asks that bloodshed be avoided. The letter was read out loud and followed by a silence that was only broken by the crying sobs of the two Duchesses. Lady Jane said nothing. After some serious conversation, it was decided that two of Guilford's brothers, The Earl of Warwick and Lord Robert Dudley, would go to meet Mary. They arrived on the 12th and were luckily diverted from her attentions, which likely saved their lives. For now Mary headed an entire army, marching to London.

The rest of that evening and the whole of the next day were spent in organizing the Government forces in anticipation of Mary's arrival. Dudely sent word to Charles V that Jane had been declared Queen and downplayed any threat Mary might offer to the declaration.

There is little recorded of the doings of Jane as Queen from the 11th through the 13th, most likely a result of illness. Jane herself thought she was being poisoned by the Duchess of Northumberland (her husband's mother), but there was no evidence this really occurred. However, Jane's writings indicated that all the skin peeled off her back. Likely it was just an illness born of worry, anxiety and the uncovered moat around the tower.

By the 13th it was clear there were serious problems. The people did not support Jane and wanted Mary in her stead. The Council met and decided that Jane's father, the Duke of Suffolk, should go to lead the troops. Jane however was very distressed by this idea and insisted he must stay, alarmed for her own safety. This, in addition to his age and poor health, resulted in Dudley being sent instead.

On the 14th, Dudley led a troop of 600 with him, carrying an odd assortment of weapons that had been acquired at the day before. Crowds pressed to watch the men leave, but none bid them God Speed. Things went downhill from there. Mary continued to rally support as she traveled and the mood grew more and more defeated back at the tower where Jane and the Council waited. The people started to revolt, crying for Mary to be made Queen. Jane ordered the gates to the tower locked and the keys brought to her.

By the eighth day, no one seemed to know what to do. A horrible fight broke out between Jane's father and the Duchess of Northumberland, once again over the point of Guilford being make King. By now, Jane's eyes were red from weeping. In the middle of all this, news came that the peasants in the country were refusing to take arms against Mary.

The following day, the final of this tragic reign, it was obvious that things were hopeless. All but two of Jane's Council had left to betray her and save their necks, her father and Cranmer. Cranmer left that afternoon to join the others. That evening at around 5 or 6pm, Mary was publicly proclaimed Queen at the Cross in Cheapside by four trumpeters and two heralds. The same hour that nine days earlier had been announced to be when Jane would be coroneted.

The people declared their joy by ringing church bells, lighting bonfires and dragging tables into the streets so they could drink the health of Queen Mary.

Meanwhile, Jane was now alone in the tower, Cranmer having left. Her father came to find her seated sadly under the canopy of State. He said to her, "Come down from that, my child, that is no place for you." Gratefully Jane rose and stepped down, embracing her father as she wept. After a time she finally asked, "Can I go home?" This poor innocent girl actually thought it might be that simple. But alas it was not to be.

Fall from Grace

(The top picture is entitled The Offer of the Crown to Lady Jane Grey and is an engraving done in the 1870's by Sir Leslie. It shows Dudley, Suffolk and Pembroke kneeling before Lady Jane and her husband Guilford.)

(The second picture is the earliest known engraving of Jane Grey and was done by Wyngarde. It is said to have been done from a picture by Holbein, which has since been lost.)


This page last revised on 7-25-03. Maintained by Jane Lambert
Copyright 2003.