Known as the Nine Day Queen of England, Lady Jane Grey is rarely ignored when studying the Tudor period. Nevertheless, understanding the swift nature of events which occurred over this nine day period is not as commonly discussed.
King Edward VI died on 6th July 1553 after experiencing ill health for several months. It was during his illness that Edward had letters patent issued, stating in no uncertain terms that his cousin Lady Jane Grey was his sole heir. Jane was proclaimed Queen of England in the evening of the 10th July beginning her 9 day reign.
Day One – 11th July
On her first day as Queen of England Lady Jane Grey had her position endorsed following the Councils publicly affirmation of Marys illegitimate status and therefore preventing Mary from making a legitimate claim to the throne. It was also on this day that confusingly both Mary and Jane were proclaimed as Queen in Norwich by separate religious houses.
Day Two – 12th July
Following her brother’s death Mary had begun travelling towards London and on this day arrived at Framlingham Castle with approximately 15,000 men within her retinue. Framlingham was a true stronghold of East Anglia and became Mary’s main base over the next week.
Day Three – 13th July
Three days into her reign, Jane ordered the raising of troops in preparation against Mary and her ever increasing force. Jane also made a request for John Dudley, the Duke of Northumberland, to raise a separate group tasked with the capturing Mary.
Day Four – 14th July
Much like Mary, as the Duke of Northumberland travelled across the country the numbers in his force grew as supporters became aware of the approaching conflict that was to occur. Northumberland had left London with 600 man in tow, but it is estimated that this number grew to well over 3,000 over the following few days.
Day Five – 15th July
Prior to her relocation to Framlingham, Mary spent most of her adult life within East Anglia and retained a level of popularity in this region which was underestimated. This popularity was proven when ships originally dispatched from London intended to prevent Marys progression into the low countries, altered their allegiance during the journey. The artillery, man force and ships themselves were redirected to the Suffolk Coast near to Framlingham and were absorbed into Marys growing forces.
Day Six – 16th July
Six days into Janes reign one of the main Bishops of London, Nicholas Ridley, held a church service and during which he declared that both Mary and Elizabeth were both illegitimate in the line of succession.
Day Seven – 17th July
The first week of Janes reign developed as was expected by the Council and Jane herself. Mary’s denial of her illegitimacy was not surprising following her public protests since her demotion of rank following Elizabeth’s birth. It was also likely however that Jane and her closest supporters remained within a bubble of sorts, and continued to underestimate the popularity of the Catholic princess outside of London.
Day Eight – 18th July
On the 8th day, the true threat of Mary was recognised, and the following 48 hours saw a swift withdrawal of support for Jane. The first act of abandonment occurred when the Duke of Northumberland failed to follow orders to advance on Bury St. Edmunds. Later the same day the Earl of Oxford made a public declaration of his support for Mary as Queen of England.
Day Nine – 19th July
On her last day of Queen Jane would have slowly gained awareness of her lack of influence and support from the Council – the same Council which pushed for her accession to the throne. Eventually it became the task of Henry Grey, the Duke of Suffolk and Janes father, to notify Jane that she was no longer the Queen of England.
Perhaps one of the main misconceptions of Lady Jane Greys reign is that she died on the 10th day after her successful removal from the throne. In fact, Jane was kept at the Tower of London for several months whilst the new queen assessed how much of a threat she posed. Despite being tried for high treason in November 1553, writing a letter to Mary to deny her desire to be Queen of England, and denying any participation in protestant protests across the country, Jane was still deemed too much of a risk to Mary I. Jane, alongside her husband Lord Guilford, were executed on 12th February 1554.