Saturday, February 25, 2012

Lady Jane Grey: Royal Tragedy - Royal Pawn Part II

Lady Jane Grey was proclaimed Queen of England for nine days, and paid for the privilege with her life.  Continued from Lady Jane Grey:Royal Tragedy-Royal Pawn begun on February 7, 2012.

Princess Mary was in the country when she received news of her brother's death and Northumberland's treasonous coup. The Princess was many years older than her cousin Jane, and of a much sterner disposition--not at all the type to sit quietly by and allow her throne to be snatched from beneath her very nose! In a masterstroke of political maneuvering, she sent representatives all over the countryside, rallying people to her rightful cause--building an army of outraged constituents. As the story of the two Queens was trumpeted about, nearly everyone in England felt that Mary's cause was just under English law, and that Northumberland had circumvented English justice.  Soon, even the people in London began to riot, loudly and joyfully proclaiming Mary as the rightful Queen, and abandoning any romantic notions about Lady Jane's tenuous claim.

Northumberland, realizing--if not regretting--his foolishness, hastened to abandon poor little Jane, removing her from her position of State in the Tower, and sending her back to exile at Sion House while remaining in London himself, to proclaim Mary as the true Queen.

Mary triumphantly entered London, and went straight to the Tower, where her first official act was to hold her brother's funeral. Once that little detail was taken care of, she began to address her enemies. Northumberland was quickly imprisoned, and shortly thereafter beheaded along with several of his co-conspirators since Mary knew exactly who lay behind her young cousin's preemptive claim to the crown.  Although, Lady Jane and her husband were quickly returned to the Tower as prisoners; they were allowed to walk in the gardens, and were well treated for Mary, at this time, seemed to believe them innocent--a mere boy and girl forced to play their roles by conniving fathers.

Perhaps they would have stayed in captivity for many years but for Mary herself. Queen Mary--quite stern of both face and manner--quickly became hated. Shortly after she was crowned--people rose up in rebellion, proclaiming that Lady Jane should have been Queen instead. Lady Jane's fate was sealed by those who sought to elevate her. News reached Queen Mary that Sir Thomas Wyatt had collected a large army with the intention of attacking Whitehall Palace and abducting Mary, forcing her to abdicate in favor of Lady Jane.

Wyatt's army arrived, securing St. James's Park and surrounding Whitehall Palace. Fighting commenced between the Queen's troops and Wyatt's rebels, and Queen Marry watched from the Holbein Gate. With all her faults she was very brave, and was said to show no sign of fear even when she saw her own guards driven in and dispersed. When a gentleman rushed up to her, and, falling on his knees, said, 'All is lost,' and begged her to get into a barge on the river and fly to the Tower, where she would be safer, Mary refused to go, and said all was not lost, and by her bravery and her words she so inspired the men that they fought again, and succeeded in beating off the rebel forces who proceeded to fight their way toward the city.  The battle ended when Wyatt was taken prisoner on Ludgate Hill, not far from St. Paul's Cathedral.

Mary knew that she was safe, but she also feared that the danger might again rear its ugly head, and so to prevent this, she ordered Lady Jane Grey and her husband to be beheaded, for so long as they lived there would always be the fear that other men would rise as Wyatt had done, and try to make Jane Queen. On the following morning, Mary rode down to the city to thank her nobles and knights for fighting so bravely and defending her, knowing that before the day was ended she would have signed the death-warrant of Lady Jane.

Lady Jane was in the Tower when the news was brought to her. She had been a prisoner six months. It is said that when the priest came to tell Jane the news, she received it quite calmly and without a shudder. But when he tried to make her turn Roman Catholic, she told him she could never do that. The priest hurried back to Queen Mary, and said if the execution could be put off three days he might make Lady Jane a Roman Catholic, so Queen Mary consented to a short delay. During those three days she was asked if she would see her husband--who was to die first--to say good-bye; but she said it was better not, for the parting might be too heartrending, and make them both break down.

When the morning of the executions came, the guards led Guildford past Lady Jane's window. The execution of Guildford did not take long. Presently a low rumble of cart-wheels over the stones told Lady Jane that they were bringing back his dead body, and then she knew her turn must come.

One can only imagine the young woman's horror that morning; but she was very brave, and when they came for her, she is said to have neither fainted nor screamed, but rose up, and, calmly walked to her death. When she arrived at the place of execution she made a little speech, saying that she ought never to have allowed anyone to persuade her to be queen; but that she was young—she had not known what was right. And then, without any show of fear, she laid her head on the block, and was beheaded with a single blow.

And so ended the tragic tale of Lady Jane Grey—a young girl who loved her books, and would have lived a quiet life had she not been made a pawn in her father and father-in-law's ambitious games.

To read the beginning of  Lady Jane Grey: Royal Tragedy - Royal Pawn Part see the February 7, 2012 post.

Compiled From Sources In The Public Domain.

Teresa Thomas Bohannon,
MyLadyWeb, Women's History, Women Authors
Regency Romance A Very Merry Chase
Historical Fantasy Shadows In A Timeless Myth.

1 comment:

  1. See also the film Lady Jane starring a very young Helena Bonham-Carter and Cary Elwes.


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