Faithful Heroes: Lady Jane Grey, trusted God

To understand the history and faith of Lady Jane Grey, we need a mini history lesson.

King Henry VII died in 1509. He was the father of several children including Margaret, Mary and King Henry VIII.

King Henry VIII

We all know the song of King Henry VIII having six wives. He had three children, each from a different wife. His daughters, Mary and Elizabeth were proclaimed by him as illegitimate. King Henry VIII also left the Catholic Church and founded the Church of England. Henry VIII was desperate for a male heir, given his succession of wives.

His third wife, Jane Seymour, provided him with a son, Edward. Jane died in childbirth {and three more wives, but no more children followed}.

Around the same time, King Henry VIII’s niece {daughter of his sister Mary} had the first of her three daughters, Jane Grey in either late 1536 or early 1537.

When Henry VIII died, his young son, Edward VI became king.

The Crown offered to Lady Jane Gray

Elsewhere, after his death Jane went to live with Henry VIII’s widow, Catherine Parr, and her new husband {Edward VI’s maternal uncle}, Thomas Seymour. She lived there about a year and a half until Catherine died in September 1548.

Edward wrote his new will in February 1553. Edward named, Jane Grey, his first cousin once removed {granddaughter to King Henry VII’s daughter, Mary} as his heir in his will. He removed his half-sisters from the line of succession and named them illegitimate. This would allow the protestant successor to take maintain of the throne {instead of his half-sister, Mary, who was Catholic}.

On May 25, 1553, Jane married Lord Guildford Dudley, in a triple wedding with her sister and sister-in-law also marrying titled men.

Lady Jane Gray

Edward VI died on July 6, 1553 at the tender age of fifteen.

Jane was proclaimed queen on July 10, 1553 and awaited her coronation in the Tower of London.

Support for Mary quickly grew, as she rallied the people behind her, and Jane’s supporters abandoned her.

The Privy Council proclaimed the Catholic Mary queen on July 19, 1553. The Third Succession Act of 1544 had restored Mary and Elizabeth to the line of succession and overrode Edward’s will.

Jane was held prisoner at the Tower of London and convicted to high treason. She was sentenced to death in November 1553. Considered a threat to the crown, both she and her husband were executed on February 12, 1554. She was only sixteen or seventeen years of age.

Execution of Lady Jane Gray

As taken to her execution, she is reported to have said, “Good people, I am come hither to die, and by a law I am condemned to the same. The fact, indeed, against the Queen’s highness was unlawful, and the consenting thereunto by me: but touching the procurement and desire thereof by me or on my behalf, I do wash my hands thereof in innocency, before God, and the face of you, good Christian people, this day.”

Jane then declared “I do wash my hands thereof in innocence” and recited Psalm 51, which starts Have mercy upon me, O God.

As she laid her head on the chopping block, she repeated Jesus words, “Lord, into thy hands I commend my spirit”.

Lady Jane Gray

She is buried with her husband in the Chapel of St. Peter ad Vincula. There is no memorial stone erected at their grave.

Jane was queen for less than two weeks, but her faith marks her as a faithful hero. She is often referred to as the nine day queen.

Lady Jane Grey has been viewed as a Protestant martyr for centuries, “the traitor-heroine” of the Reformation.

 

**Completion of history lesson:
Mary would become known as Bloody Mary. She was queen for five years until her own death in 1558. She was the last Catholic monarch in England.

Mary’s half-sister, Elizabeth I, followed her as monarch. Elizabeth I reigned as queen for 45 years and is known as the Virgin Queen. Prior to Queen Victoria’s ascension to the throne in 1837, Queen Elizabeth I was the last queen to rule without a man by her side.

 

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