…. and Jane Grey was proclaimed Queen of England in 1553. Born in the autumn of 1537, her mother – Lady Frances Brandon – was the great-granddaughter of Henry VII. Jane entered the household of Henry VIII’s last queen, Katherine Parr, when aged around 10 and was exposed to a strongly Protestant, academic environment.
Her father, the Marquess of Dorset, was created Duke of Suffolk in October 1551 and Jane began to appear at court. The fiercely Protestant Duke of Northumberland – who acted as regent to the young King Edward VI – held power in the court and in May 1553, Jane married Northumberland’s son, Lord Guildford Dudley.
When it became clear that Edward was dying, Northumberland was desperate to prevent the throne passing to Edward’s half-sister and heir, Mary Tudor, who was a Catholic. Northumberland persuaded the king to declare that Mary was illegitimate, as well as Edward’s other half-sister Elizabeth, thus altering the line of succession to pass to Jane.
Edward died on 6 July 1553. Four days later, Jane was proclaimed queen. However, Mary Tudor had widespread popular support and by mid-July, even Suffolk had abandoned his daughter and was attempting to save himself by proclaiming Mary queen.
Northumberland’s supporters melted away and Suffolk easily persuaded his daughter to relinquish the crown.
Mary imprisoned Jane, her husband and her father in the Tower of London. While Suffolk was pardoned, Jane and her husband were tried for high treason in November 1553. Jane pleaded guilty and was sentenced to death. The sentence was suspended but Suffolk’s support for Sir Thomas Wyatt’s rebellion in February 1554 sealed Jane’s fate. On 12 February, she and her husband were beheaded. Her father followed them two days later.