Nine Day Reign


Right: A woodcut summary of Jane's reign. It shows Jane proclaimed as Queen, with Dr. Feckenham, and her execution in the Tower.
On Monday 10 July 1553, crowds gathered along the Thames to watch barges move from Westminster to the Tower of London where canons announced the arrival of the new Queen. Jane was given chopines, 3ft wooden clogs, which were strapped to her shoes to allow the crowds to catch a glimpse of her. At the Water Tower gate she was presented with the keys to the Tower. The entourage then made their way to the White Tower.

Following this, a proclaimation was made, 'Jane, by the grace of God, Queen of England, France and Ireland, Defender of the Faith and of the Church of England and Ireland, under Christ on Earth, the Supreme Head.'

On this day, a letter was sent to Mary from the Council, announcing that she had been declared illegitimate. Robert Dudley was sent to take her into custody, but Mary had been forewarned by a supporter and fled to Framlingham Castle in Norfolk, thus evading capture.

On 11 July, William Paulet, the Lord High Treasurer, brought the crown to Jane to 'see how it fitted.' To his surprise, Jane refused, saying that she had not asked to see the jewels. Paulet told her, 'you must take it boldly, and soon I will have another made to crown your husband with.'

It may have been at this point that Jane realised the extent of Northumberland's plan. Northumberland had not wanted her as Queen. He had wanted her as his son's wife. Guildford as King of England, would give Northumerland supreme power.

Jane would not be bullied. Calling some of her Councillors to her, she announced that she would not grant Guildford the kingship, but instead, grant him the Dukedom of Clarence. Guildford and his mother were furious. They berated Jane for her stubborness. Later, Jane would write, 'I was not only deluded by the Duke and the Council, but maltreated by my husband and his mother.'

Mary is proclaimed Queen
When it was decided by the Council that Jane's father, the Duke of Suffolk should set forth with his men to capture Mary, it was Jane who insisted he stay with her, to 'tarry at home in her company.' Northumberland was chosen to go in Suffolks place. His agreement, to leave the Council without his supervision, was a massive tactical error on Northumberland's part. In his absence, the councillors questioned his authority. By Tuesday 18 July, the full Council had left the Tower for a secret meeting at Baynard's castle. There they proclaimed Northumberland a traitor, and Mary, Queen.

On Wednesday 19 July, Jane's father received word from Baynard's Castle demanding that he order his daughter to relinquish her title. He rode to the Castle where he signed Mary's proclaimation. He then returned to Jane's apartments where he found her waiting in her chair of state. He said to her, 'Come down off there my child. That is no place for you.' He then proceeded to tear down the canopy, telling Jane to remove her royal robes. Jane replied, 'I much more willingly take them off than I put them on. Out of obedience to you and my mother, I grevously sinned. Now I willingly relinquish the crown...May I not go home?' Her father did not answer her.

On Thursday 20 July, while awaiting the arrival of supplies at Cambridge, Northumberland was arrested. On the same day, the Duke and Duchess of Suffolk left the Tower of London for Sheen, leaving their daughter behind. Jane was taken into custody by the Gentleman Gaoler, and moved her belongings from the Royal apartments to her new lodging at No. 5 Tower Green. Guildford was imprisoned next door in the Beauchamp Tower, and forbidden contact with Jane.

On 24 July Dudley was brought back to the Tower, this time as a prisoner. In the hope of securing a pardon from the Queen he recanted his Protestant beliefs, saying that he had been seduced 'by the false and erroneous teachings' of the new religion. He requested and was granted by Mary, the right to attend Mass. Jane watched from her window as he was escorted to the Chapel Royal. Disgusted, but not surprised by Northumberland's lack of honour, she was heard to say, 'I pray God I, nor no friend of mine die so.' Dudley was granted a three day stay of execution for his efforts, but could not escape death. He was beheaded on 23 August 1553.

Shortly before his death Dudley had written to the Earl of Arundel, 'Alas, my good lord, is my crime so heinous as no redemption but my blood can wash away the spots thereof? An old proverb there is, and that most true, that a living dog is better than a dead lion...I might but live and kiss her [Mary's] feet and spend both life and all in her honourable services, as I have the best part already, under her worthy brother and most glorious father.'

Mary entered the Tower on 3 August. The next day, Jane wrote a letter to her cousin. It was intended, she said, ' for the witness of my innocence and the disburdening of my conscience.'

On 29 August the author of Queen Jane and Queen Mary dined with Partridge, the Gentleman-Gaoler, at No. 5 Tower Green. Later, the evening would be described in great detail in the only contemporary chronicle of Jane's short reign. There is significant evidence to suggest that the narrator was a Rowland Lea, as the name is scrawled in the margin of the manuscript. The author writes of his surprise at finding Jane at the dining table. In high spirits, Jane assured him he was ' heartily welcome' and told Partridge and his guest to put on their caps, despite the fact that they were dining with royalty.

Jane opened the conversation saying, 'The Queen's Majesty is a merciful princess; I beseech God she may long continue, and send His bountiful grace upon her.' 'After that,' says the narrator, 'we fell in discourse of matters of religion; and she asked what he was that preached at Paul's on Sunday before.'

Jane asked, 'I pray you - have they Mass in London?' 'Yea, forsooth,' the narrator replied, 'in some places.' Jane continued, 'It may be so. It is not so strange as the sudden conversion of the late Duke - for who would have thought he would have so done?' Partridge's guest answered, 'Perchance he thereby hoped to have had his pardon.'

'Pardon!' exclaimed Jane, 'Woe worth him! He hath brought me and our stock in most miserable calamity and misery by his exceeding ambition. But for answering that he hoped for life by his turning, though other men be of that opinion, I utterly am not - for what man is there living, I pray you, although he had been innocent, that would hope of life in that case, being in the field against the Queen in person as General, and after his being so hatred and evil spoken of by the commons? And at his coming into prison so wondered at as the like was never heard by any man's time? Who was the judge that he should hope for pardon, whose life was odious to all men? But what will ye more? Like as his life was wicked and full of of dissimulation, so was his end thereafter.'

'Should I, who am so young, and in my few years, forsake my faith for the love of life? Nay, God forbid! Much more he should not, whose fatal course, although he had lived his just number of years, could not have long continued.'

'But life was sweet, it appeared; so he might have lived, you will say, he did not care how. Indeed the reason is good for he that would have lived in chains to have had his life, belike would leave no other mean attempted. But God be merciful to us! For he sayeth, Whoso denyeth Me before men, I will not know him in My Father's kingdom.'

The narrator continues, 'With this and much like talk the dinner passed away.' When he thanked Lady Jane she replied, 'I thank you. You are welcome, ' and then turned to Partridge, thanking him for, 'bringing this gentleman to dinner.'

'Madam, ' answered Partridge, 'we were somewhat bold, not knowing that your ladyship dined below until we found your ladyship there.' Jane then retired and Partridges guest hurried back to his lodging within the Tower to transcribe the conversations of the evening.

Jane and Guildford were tried at Guildhall on 13 November. Both were found guilty and sentenced to death. Even at this stage, Jane did not expect to die. Indeed, Mary probably had no intention of carrying out the sentence. It is thought that the civil disturbance known as the Wyatt Rebellion, changed her mind.

Sir Thomas Wyatt raised a small band of protesters in Kent, angered at Mary's choice of husband in Philip of Spain. A Spanish King on the English throne was unthinkable. Wyatt entered the City on 7 February 1554, however he failed to acquire the support of Londoners, and was arrested by soldiers loyal to the Queen. Henry Grey's part in the rebellion made Jane's execution inevitable. Grey had returned to Bradgate where he had set about raising resistance in the Midlands. He was captured before he could do so.

The success of Mary's alliance with Spain depended upon the stability of her kingdom. She was left with little choice other than to remove every trace of unrest. On 7 February Mary signed the death warrants of, 'Guildford Dudley and his wife...' The execution was set to take place two days later.


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