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Personal Character

Lady Jane Grey

Accession To The Throne

The Invincible Armada

Elizabeth's Mother

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The Childhood Of A Princess

The Earl Of Essex

Elizabeth's Lovers

The War In Scotland

The Spanish Match

The Conclusion

Elizabeth's Mother

Elizabeth In The Tower

The Invincible Armada

Accession To The Throne

Lady Jane Grey


Lady Jane Grey.--Her disposition and character.--Lady
Jane's parents.--Restraints put upon her.--Lady Jane's
attainments.--Character of her teacher.--Anecdote of Elizabeth and
Aylmer.--Lady Jane's attachment to Aylmer.--Elizabeth's studies.--Roger
Ascham.--Lady Jane's acquirements in Greek.--Her interview with
Ascham.--Lady Jane's intimacy with Edward.--The Earl of
Northumberland.--Harsh treatment of Mary.--Decline of Edward's
health.--Uncertainty in respect to the succession.--Struggle
for power.--Queen Elizabeth's family connections.--Explanation
of the table.--King Henry's will.--Various claimants for the
throne.--Perplexing questions.--Power of Northumberland.--His
schemes.--Marriage of Lady Jane.--Feelings of the people.--Efforts
to set Mary aside.--Northumberland works on the young king.--Conduct
of the judges.--Pardon by anticipation.--Edward's deed of
settlement.--Plan to entrap the princesses.--Death of Edward.--Escape
of the princesses.--Precautions of Mary.--Lady Jane proclaimed
queen.--Great excitement.--Public opinion in favor of
Mary.--Northumberland taken prisoner.--He is beheaded.--Mary's
triumphal procession.--Shared by Elizabeth.

Among Elizabeth's companions and playmates in her early years was a
young lady, her cousin, as she was often called, though she was really
the daughter of her cousin, named Jane Grey, commonly called in history
Lady Jane Grey. Her mother was the Marchioness of Dorset, and was the
daughter of one of King Henry the Eighth's sisters. King Henry had named
her as the next in the order of succession after his own children, that
is, after Edward his son, and Mary and Elizabeth his two daughters; and,
consequently, though she was very young, yet, as she might one day be
Queen of England, she was a personage of considerable importance. She
was, accordingly, kept near the court, and shared, in some respects, the
education and the studies of the two princesses.

Lady Jane was about four years younger than the Princess Elizabeth, and
the sweetness of her disposition, united with an extraordinary
intellectual superiority, which showed itself at a very early period,
made her a universal favorite. Her father and mother, the Marquis and
Marchioness of Dorset, lived at an estate they possessed, called
Broadgate, in Leicestershire, which is in the central part of England,
although they took their title from the county of Dorset, which is on
the southwestern coast. They were very proud of their daughter, and
attached infinite importance to her descent from Henry VII., and to the
possibility that she might one day succeed to the English throne. They
were very strict and severe in their manners, and paid great attention
to etiquette and punctilio, as persons who are ambitious of rising in
the world are very apt to do. In all ages of the world, and among all
nations, those who have long been accustomed to a high position are easy
and unconstrained in their manners and demeanor, while those who have
been newly advanced from a lower station, or who are anticipating or
aspiring to such an advance, make themselves slaves to the rules of
etiquette and ceremony. It was thus that the father and mother of Lady
Jane, anticipating that she might one day become a queen, watched and
guarded her incessantly, subjected her to a thousand unwelcome
restraints, and repressed all the spontaneous and natural gayety and
sprightliness which belongs properly to such a child.

She became, however, a very excellent scholar in consequence of this
state of things. She had a private teacher, a man of great eminence for
his learning and abilities, and yet of a very kind and gentle spirit,
which enabled him to gain a strong hold on his pupil's affection and
regard. His name was John Aylmer. The Marquis of Dorset, Lady Jane's
father, became acquainted with Mr. Aylmer when he was quite young, and
appointed him, when he had finished his education, to come and reside in
his family as chaplain and tutor to his children. Aylmer afterward
became a distinguished man, was made Bishop of London, and held many
high offices of state under Queen Elizabeth, when she came to reign. He
became very much attached to Queen Elizabeth in the middle and latter
part of his life, as he had been to Lady Jane in the early part of it. A
curious incident occurred during the time that he was in the service of
Elizabeth, which illustrates the character of the man. The queen was
suffering from the toothache, and it was necessary that the tooth should
be extracted. The surgeon was ready with his instruments, and several
ladies and gentlemen of the royal household were in the queen's room
commiserating her sufferings; but the queen dreaded the operation so
excessively that she could not summon fortitude enough to submit to it.
Aylmer, after trying some time in vain to encourage her, took his seat
in the chair instead of her, and said to the surgeon, "I am an old man,
and have but few teeth to lose; but come, draw this one, and let her
majesty see how light a matter it is." One would not have supposed that
Elizabeth would have allowed this to be done; but she did, and, finding
that Aylmer made so light of the operation, she submitted to have it
performed upon herself.

But to return to Lady Jane. She was very strongly attached to her
teacher, and made great progress in the studies which he arranged for
her. Ladies of high rank, in those days, were accustomed to devote great
attention to the ancient and modern languages. There was, in fact, a
great necessity then, as indeed there is now, for a European princess to
be acquainted with the principal languages of Europe; for the various
royal families were continually intermarrying with each other, which led
to a great many visits, and other intercourse between the different
courts. There was also a great deal of intercourse with the pope, in
which the Latin language was the medium of communication. Lady Jane
devoted a great deal of time to all these studies, and made rapid
proficiency in them all.

The Princess Elizabeth was also an excellent scholar. Her teacher was a
very learned and celebrated man, named Roger Ascham. She spoke French
and Italian as fluently as she did English. She also wrote and spoke
Latin with correctness and readiness. She made considerable progress in
Greek too. She could write the Greek character very beautifully, and
could express herself tolerably well in conversation in that language.
One of her companions, a young lady of the name of Cecil, is said to
have spoken Greek as well as English. Roger Ascham took great interest
in advancing the princess in these studies, and in the course of these
his instructions he became acquainted with Lady Jane, and he praises
very highly, in his letters, the industry and assiduity of Lady Jane in
similar pursuits.

One day Roger Ascham, being on a journey from the north of England to
London, stopped to make a call at the mansion of the Marquis of Dorset.
He found that the family were all away; they had gone off upon a hunting
excursion in the park. Lady Jane, however, had been left at home, and
Ascham went in to see her. He found her in the library reading Greek.
Ascham examined her a little, and was very much surprised to find how
well acquainted with the language she had become, although she was then
only about fifteen years old. He told her that he should like very much
to have her write him a letter in Greek, and this she readily promised
to do. He asked her, also, how it happened that, at her age, she had
made such advances in learning. "I will tell you," said she, "how it has
happened. One of the greatest benefits that God ever conferred upon me
was in giving me so sharp and severe parents and so gentle a teacher;
for, when I am in the presence of either my father or mother, whether I
speak, keep silence, sit, stand, or go; eat, drink, be merry or sad; be
sewing, playing, dancing, or doing any thing else, I must do it, as it
were, in just such weight, measure, and number, as perfectly as
possible, or else I am so sharply taunted, so cruelly threatened, yea,
presently, sometimes with pinches, nips, and bobs, and other ways,
which I will not name for the honor I bear my parents, that I am
continually teased and tormented. And then, when the time comes for me
to go to Mr. Aylmer, he teaches me so gently, so pleasantly, and with
such fair allurements to learning, that I think all the time nothing
while I am with him; and I am always sorry to go away from him, because
whatsoever else I do but learning is full of grief, trouble, fear, and

Lady Jane Grey was an intimate friend and companion of the young King
Edward as long as he lived. Edward died when he was sixteen years of
age, so that he did not reach the period which his father had assigned
for his reigning in his own name. One of King Edward's most prominent
and powerful ministers during the latter part of his life was the Earl
of Northumberland. The original name of the Earl of Northumberland was
John Dudley. He was one of the train who came in the procession at the
close of the baptism of Elizabeth, carrying the presents. He was a
Protestant, and was very friendly to Edward and to Lady Jane Grey, for
they were Protestants too. But his feelings and policy were hostile to
Mary, for she was a Catholic. Mary was sometimes treated very harshly
by him, and she was subjected to many privations and hardships on
account of her religious faith. The government of Edward justified these
measures, on account of the necessity of promoting the Reformation, and
discouraging popery by every means in their power. Northumberland
supposed, too, that it was safe to do this, for Edward being very young,
it was probable that he would live and reign a long time. It is true
that Mary was named, in her father's will, as his successor, if she
outlived him, but then it was highly probable that she would not outlive
him, for she was several years older than he.

All these calculations, however, were spoiled by the sudden failure of
Edward's health when he was sixteen years old. Northumberland was much
alarmed at this. He knew at once that if Edward should die, and Mary
succeed him, all his power would be gone, and he determined to make
desperate efforts to prevent such a result.

It must not be understood, however, that in coming to this resolution,
Northumberland considered himself as intending and planning a deliberate
usurpation of power. There was a real uncertainty in respect to the
question who was the true and rightful heir to the crown. Northumberland
was, undoubtedly, strongly biased by his interest, but he may have been
unconscious of the bias, and in advocating the mode of succession on
which the continuance of his own power depended, he may have really
believed that he was only maintaining what was in itself rightful and

In fact, there is no mode which human ingenuity has ever yet devised for
determining the hands in which the supreme executive of a nation shall
be lodged, which will always avoid doubt and contention. If this power
devolves by hereditary descent, no rules can be made so minute and full
as that cases will not sometimes occur that will transcend them. If, on
the other hand, the plan of election be adopted, there will often be
technical doubts about a portion of the votes, and cases will sometimes
occur where the result will depend upon this doubtful portion. Thus
there will be disputes under any system, and ambitious men will seize
such occasions to struggle for power.

In order that our readers may clearly understand the nature of the plan
which Northumberland adopted, we present, on the following page, a sort
of genealogical table of the royal family of England in the days of


Catharine of Aragon. = 4. QUEEN MARY.
Anne Boleyn. = 5. QUEEN ELIZABETH.
Jane Seymour. = 3. KING EDWARD VI.
Anne of Cleves.
Catharine Howard.
Catharine Parr.

= Margaret
James IV. of Scotland = James V. of Scotland
= Mary Queen of Scots
Earl Of Angus = Margaret Douglas
= Earl of Lenox
= Lord Darnley

= Mary.
Charles Brandon, duke = Frances, marchioness
of Suffolk of Dorset
= Lady Jane Grey.
= Eleanor.


This table gives the immediate descendants of Henry VII., a
descent being denoted by the sign =. The names of the persons
whom they respectively married are in italics. Those who
became sovereigns of England are in small capitals, and the
order in which they reigned is denoted by the figures
prefixed to their names.

By examination of this table it will be seen that King Henry VII. left a
son and two daughters. The son was King Henry VIII., and he had three
children. His third child was King Edward VI., who was now about to die.
The other two were the Princesses Mary and Elizabeth, who would
naturally be considered the next heirs after Edward; and besides, King
Henry had left a will, as has been already explained, confirming their
rights to the succession. This will he had made near the time of his
death; but it will be recollected that, during his life-time, both the
marriages from which these princesses had sprung had been formally
annulled. His marriage with Catharine of Aragon had been annulled on one
plea, and that of Anne Boleyn on another. Both these decrees of
annulment had afterward been revoked, and the right of the princesses to
succeed had been restored, or attempted to be restored, by the will.
Still, it admitted of a question, after all, whether Mary and Elizabeth
were to be considered as the children of true and lawful wives or not.

If they were not, then Lady Jane Grey was the next heir, for she was
placed next to the princesses by King Henry the Eighth's will. This
will, for some reason or other, set aside a the descendants of
Margaret, who went to Scotland as the wife of James IV. of that country.
What right the king had thus to disinherit the children of his sister
Margaret was a great question. Among her descendants was Mary Queen of
Scots, as will be seen by the table, and she was, at this time, the
representative of that branch of the family. The friends of Mary Queen
of Scots claimed that she was the lawful heir to the English throne
after Edward. They maintained that the marriage of Catharine, the
Princess Mary's mother, and also that of Anne Boleyn, Elizabeth's
mother, had both been annulled, and that the will could not restore
them. They maintained, also, that the will was equally powerless in
setting aside the claims of Margaret, her grandmother. Mary Queen of
Scots, though silent now, advanced her claim subsequently, and made
Elizabeth a great deal of trouble.

Then there was, besides these, a third party, who maintained that King
Henry the Eighth's will was not effectual in legalizing again the
annulled marriages, but that it was sufficient to set aside the claims
of Margaret. Of course, with them, Lady Jane Grey, who, as will be seen
by the table, was the representative of the second sister of Henry
VIII., was the only heir. The Earl of Northumberland embraced this view.
His motive was to raise Lady Jane Grey to the throne, in order to
exclude the Princess Mary, whose accession he knew very well would bring
all his greatness to a very sudden end.

The Earl of Northumberland was at this time the principal minister
of the young king. The protector Somerset had fallen long ago.
Northumberland, whose name was then John Dudley, had supplanted him, and
had acquired so great influence and power at court that almost every
thing seemed to be at his disposal. He was, however, generally hated by
the other courtiers and by the nation. Men who gain the confidence of a
young or feeble-minded prince, so as to wield a great power not properly
their own, are almost always odious. It was expected, however, that his
career would be soon brought to an end, as all knew that King Edward
must die, and it was generally understood that Mary was to succeed him.

Northumberland, however, was very anxious to devise some scheme to
continue his power, and in revolving the subject in his mind, he
conceived of plans which seemed to promise not only to continue, but
also greatly to increase it. His scheme was to have the princesses'
claims set aside, and Lady Jane Grey raised to the throne. He had
several sons. One of them was young, handsome, and accomplished. He
thought of proposing him to Lady Jane's father as the husband of Lady
Jane, and, to induce the marquis to consent to this plan, he promised to
obtain a dukedom for him by means of his influence with the king. The
marquis agreed to the proposal. Lady Jane did not object to the husband
they offered her. The dukedom was obtained, and the marriage, together
with two others which Northumberland had arranged to strengthen his
influence, were celebrated, all on the same day, with great festivities
and rejoicings. The people looked on moodily, jealous and displeased,
though they had no open ground of displeasure, except that it was
unsuitable to have such scenes of gayety and rejoicing among the high
officers of the court while the young monarch himself was lying upon his
dying bed. They did not yet know that it was Northumberland's plan to
raise his new daughter-in-law to the throne.

Northumberland thought it would greatly increase his prospect of success
if he could obtain some act of acknowledgment of Lady Jane's claims to
the crown before Edward died. An opportunity soon occurred for effecting
this purpose. One day, as he was sitting by young Edward's bedside, he
turned the conversation to the subject of the Reformation, which had
made great progress during Edward's reign, and he led Edward on in the
conversation, until he remarked that it was a great pity to have the
work all undone by Mary's accession, for she was a Catholic, and would,
of course, endeavor to bring the country back again under the spiritual
dominion of Rome. Northumberland then told him that there was one way,
and one way only, to avert such a calamity, and that was to make Lady
Jane his heir instead of Mary.

King Edward was a very thoughtful, considerate, and conscientious boy,
and was very desirous of doing what he considered his duty. He thought
it was his duty to do all in his power to sustain the Reformation, and
to prevent the Catholic power from gaining ascendency in England again.
He was, therefore, easily persuaded to accede to Northumberland's plan,
especially as he was himself strongly attached to Lady Jane, who had
often been his playmate and companion.

The king accordingly sent for three judges of the realm, and directed
them to draw up a deed of assignment, by which the crown was to be
conveyed to Lady Jane on the young king's death, Mary and Elizabeth
being alike excluded. The judges were afraid to do this; for, by King
Henry the Eighth's settlement of the crown, all those persons who should
do any thing to disturb the succession as he arranged it were declared
to be guilty of high treason. The judges knew very well, therefore, that
if they should do what the king required of them, and then, if the
friends of Lady Jane should fail of establishing her upon the throne,
the end of the affair would be the cutting off of their own heads in the
Tower. They represented this to the king, and begged to be excused from
the duty that he required of them. Northumberland was in a great rage at
this, and seemed almost ready to break out against the judges in open
violence. They, however, persisted in their refusal to do what they well
knew would subject them to the pains and penalties of treason.

Northumberland, finding that threats and violence would not succeed,
contrived another mode of obviating the difficulty. He proposed to
protect the judges from any possible evil consequences of their act by a
formal pardon for it, signed by the king, and sealed with the great
seal, so that, in case they were ever charged with treason, the pardon
would save them from punishment. This plan succeeded. The pardon was
made out, being written with great formality upon a parchment roll, and
sealed with the great seal. The judges then prepared and signed the deed
of settlement by which the crown was given to Lady Jane, though, after
all, they did it with much reluctance and many forebodings.

Northumberland next wanted to contrive some plan for getting the
princesses into his power, in order to prevent their heading any
movement in behalf of their own claims at the death of the king. He was
also desirous of making such arrangements as to conceal the death of the
king for a few days after it should take place, in order that he might
get Lady Jane and her officers in complete possession of the kingdom
before the demise of the crown should be generally known. For this
purpose he dismissed the regular physicians who had attended upon the
king, and put him under the charge of a woman, who pretended that she
had a medicine that would certainly cure him. He sent, also, messengers
to the princesses, who were then in the country north of London,
requesting that they would come to Greenwich, to be near the sick
chamber where their brother was lying, that they might cheer and comfort
him in his sickness and pain.

The princesses obeyed the summons. They each set out immediately on the
journey, and moved toward London on their way to Greenwich. In the mean
time, Edward was rapidly declining. The change in the treatment which
took place when his physicians left him, made him worse instead of
better. His cough increased, his breathing became more labored and
difficult; in a word, his case presented all the symptoms of approaching
dissolution. At length he died. Northumberland attempted to keep the
fact concealed until after the princesses should arrive, that he might
get them into his power. Some faithful friend, however, made all haste
to meet them, in order to inform them what was going on. In this way
Mary received intelligence of her brother's death when she had almost
reached London, and was informed, also, of the plans of Northumberland
for raising Lady Jane to the throne. The two princesses were extremely
alarmed, and both turned back at once toward the northward again. Mary
stopped to write a letter to the council, remonstrating against their
delay in proclaiming her queen, and then proceeded rapidly to a strong
castle at a place called Framlingham, in the county of Suffolk, on the
eastern coast of England. She made this her head-quarters, because she
supposed that the people of that county were particularly friendly to
her; and then, besides, it was near the sea, and, in case the course of
events should turn against her, she could make her escape to foreign
lands. It is true that the prospect of being fugitive and an exile was
very dark and gloomy, but it was not so terrible as the idea of being
shut up a prisoner in the Tower, or being beheaded on a block for

In the mean time, Northumberland went, at the head of a troop of his
adherents, to the residence of Lady Jane Grey, informed her of the death
of Edward, and announced to her their determination to proclaim her
queen. Lady Jane was very much astonished at this news. At first she
absolutely refused the offered honor; but the solicitations and urgency
of Northumberland, and of her father and her young husband, at length
prevailed. She was conducted to London, and instated in at least the
semblance of power.

As the news of these transactions spread throughout the land, a
universal and strong excitement was produced, every body at once taking
sides either for Mary or Lady Jane. Bands of armed men began to
assemble. It soon became apparent, however, that, beyond the immediate
precincts of London, the country was almost unanimous for Mary. They
dreaded, it is true, the danger which they anticipated from her Catholic
faith, but still they had all considered it a settled point, since the
death of Henry the Eighth, that Mary was to reign whenever Edward should
die; and this general expectation that she would be queen had passed
insensibly into an opinion that she ought to be. Considered strictly as
a legal question, it was certainly doubtful which of the four claimants
to the throne had the strongest title; but the public were not disposed
so to regard it. They chose, on the whole, that Mary should reign. Large
military masses consequently flocked to her standard. Elizabeth took
sides with her, and, as it was important to give as much public effect
to her adhesion as possible, they furnished Elizabeth with a troop of a
thousand horsemen, at the head of which she rode to meet Mary and tender
her aid.

Northumberland went forth at the head of such forces as he could
collect, but he soon found that the attempt was vain. His troops forsook
him. The castles which had at first been under his command surrendered
themselves to Mary. The Tower of London went over to her side. Finally,
all being lost, Northumberland himself was taken prisoner, and all his
influential friends with him, and were committed to the Tower. Lady Jane
herself too, together with her husband and father, were seized and sent
to prison.

Northumberland was immediately put upon his trial for treason. He was
condemned, and brought at once to the block. In fact, the whole affair
moved very promptly and rapidly on, from its commencement to its
consummation. Edward the Sixth died on the 5th of July, and it was only
the 22d of August when Northumberland was beheaded. The period for which
the unhappy Lady Jane enjoyed the honor of being called a queen was nine

It was about a month after this that Mary passed from the Tower through
the city of London in a grand triumphal procession to be crowned. The
royal chariot, covered with cloth of golden tissue, was drawn by six
horses most splendidly caparisoned. Elizabeth, who had aided her
sister, so far as she could, in the struggle, was admitted to share the
triumph. She had a carriage drawn by six horses too, with cloth and
decorations of silver. They proceeded in this manner, attended and
followed by a great cavalcade of nobles and soldiery, to Westminster
Abbey, where Mary took her seat with great formality upon her father's

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