Queen Jane


Right: Helena Bonham-Carter as Jane in "Lady Jane" (1985) and Cary Elwes as Guildford Dudley)
On Thursday 6 July 1553 the fifteen year old king died, surrounded by his Privy Coucillors, who gathered at his bedside.

Jane had spent the few weeks beforehand, ill, at Chelsea Manor House. So ignorant was she, of Northumberland's plans, that she suspected her mother-in-law of trying to poison her. News of Edward's death was supressed, until Sunday 9 July, when a barge brought Mary Sidney, Jane's sister-in-law, to Chelsea. Mary, 'with more gravity than usual,' informed Jane that there was news of the King and she must go with her to Syon House.

Two hours later, Jane and Mary entered Syon House from the waterstairs. From here they went to the empty Great Hall. Gradually the room filled with people familiar to Jane, including members of the Privy Council. Jane later wrote that the company, 'began to make me complimantary speeches, bending the knee before me...all of which ceremony made me blush...My distress was still further increased when...my mother-in-law entered and paid me homage. Then came the Duke of Northumberland himself who, as President of the Council, declared to me the death of the King and ...that he had taken good care of his kingdom, praying to the good Lord to defend it...from the evil of his sisters.'

Dudley then said Jane, 'was the heir nominated by his majesty and that my sisters, the Lady Katherine and the Lady Mary Grey were to succeed me...at which words, all the lords of the Council, knelt before me exclaiming that they rendered me that homage because it pertained to me being of the right line...They added that they...swore to shed their blood and lose their lives to maintain the same.' The company then fell to the floor, their hands clasped out in front.

Jane went on, 'On hearing this I remained stunned and out of myself and I call on those present to bear witness who saw me fall to the ground weeping piteously and dolefully lamenting the death of the King, I swooned indeed and lay as dead.' Jane went on to say that she did not want the crown and , 'it pleaseth me not.'

Northumberland said, ' Your Grace doth wrong to yourself and to to your house.' He recounted the terms of Edward's Will. Jane's parents joined in, demanding that she accept.

Jane then rose from the floor saying, '...If to succeed to the throne was indeed indeed my duty and my right, that He would aid me to govern the realm to His glory.'


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