Lady Jane Grey: The Most Overlooked Tudor Monarch
‘The Nine Day Queen’ is the first thing most of us think of whenever Lady Jane Grey is mentioned. She was a tragic heroine: an innocent victim of a plot to place her on the throne, the failure of which resulted in her execution aged sixteen. It’s a fascinating story of Tudor politics, but the girl at the centre of it all is also worth studying in her own right. Though Jane was romanticised by nineteenth-century historians for her virtue and obedience, her character remains overlooked today. This article will attempt to search beyond the stereotype of a passive girl manipulated by powerful men; for her time, Lady Jane Grey was in fact a surprisingly intelligent, brave and intriguing young woman.
Jane’s birth in October 1537 was overshadowed by the triumphant arrival, around the same time, of Henry VIII’s longed-for male heir: the future King Edward VI, her cousin once-removed. Their closeness of age and Jane’s high status as a descendent of Henry’s younger sister led some to consider the possibility that they would marry. Both were committed to the Protestant faith, being too young to have known the pre-Reformation days when Catholicism was England’s dominant religion.
One little-known fact about Jane Grey is that she was technically queen for not nine days, but thirteen! Edward died of tuberculosis on 6th July 1553, but it was not until the 10th that Jane was informed of his death and proclaimed queen. Then began her famous nine-day reign.
A Love of Learning
Jane’s earlier life is often ignored by popular history which tends to focus too heavily on nine days in 1553, but it is equally interesting. While growing up in her parents’ house of Bradgate Manor in Leicestershire, Jane benefitted from an unusually thorough education: French, Spanish, Italian, Greek, Hebrew, Latin and music. Without the refuge of her studies Jane’s childhood would have been far more miserable; her parents were self-indulgent and power-hungry, beating their daughters daily. Possibly they were resentful of their children for not being male.
Aged nine, Jane was sent to live under the guardianship of Katherine Parr’s new husband Thomas Seymour. The Princess Elizabeth, four years older than Jane, was resident in the same household and one can imagine the two girls coming into contact: both well educated, devout protestants, both – unknowingly – fu
In 1548 after Seymour was himself arrested on charges of treason, Jane was forced to return to Bradgate Manor for three years, but she found comfort in being introduced to literature, philosophy and theology by her tutor John Aylmer. Religion and education, Jane’s great passions, later kept her occupied throughout all those long months locked in the tower with a husband she disliked, awaiting a pardon that never came.
Edward VI’s death plunged the monarchy into what some historians call the ‘mid-Tudor crisis.’ Edward’s elder sisters Mary and Elizabeth had been named in Henry VIII’s will as heirs if Edward died childless, followed by Frances Brandon (Jane’s mother and a descendent of Henry’s sister). But towards the end of Edward’s life something unexpected happened. Working with John Dudley, Duke of Northumberland and Lord Protector, who ruled for him, Edward cut Mary and Elizabeth out of the succession using a document called a ‘device.’
Why did Edward make such a fundamental change to his father’s will? Why did he leave it until he became so ill that his reign was inevitably coming to an end? Historiographical opinion is divided on whether the idea was Edward’s. He may have nominated Jane as his heir to ensure that his Protestant reformation continued, which would not have been possible under his Catholic sister Mary. Diverting the succession to the protestant Elizabeth was not an option: both sisters had been bastardised when Henry annulled his marriages with their mothers, so to remove Mary would be to remove Elizabeth too. They had been restored to the succession in 1544 but the fact that this could be bypassed showed that their illegitimacy still counted against them.
It seems more likely, however, that the Duke of Northumberland deliberately influenced Edward for his own gain, to ensure he would maintain power under the new monarch. Realising that the powerful Frances Brandon wo
uld be more difficult to manipulate than her young daughter, the succession was altered again shortly before Edward died: to make Lady Jane Grey first in line to the throne. Jane had been married to Northumberland’s nineteen-year-old son Guilford since April 1553, giving Northumberland an excuse to rule through her once he made her queen.
Queen Mary’s Dilemma
But Northumberland’s scheme had flaws: not only had the succession ‘device’ not been ratified by parliament, but he had failed to place the Princess Mary under arrest. It was she who had popular support, especially in East Anglia. The army she quickly gathered is thought to have contained 20,000 people. After proclaiming herself the new queen in Norwich, she marched into London on 19th July. Jane’s time on the throne was up.
It wasn’t long before Mary arrested Northumberland; he was executed for treason on 23rd August. Jane and Guilford were spared, though not to be freed from the tower until Mary produced an heir and they were no longer a threat to her throne. In November Jane and Guilford were put on trial, but expected to be pardoned; although the trial resulted in death sentences for both, Mary did not intend to carry these out.
Mary’s mind was probably changed by Thomas Wyatt’s rebellion in early 1554: a protest against Mary’s marriage to Philip of Spain which Mary saw as a plot to place Elizabeth on the throne. Despite being an unknowing figurehead of the uprising, Elizabeth was sent to the Tower and, despite Mary’s reluctance, the execution of Jane and Guilford was planned for 9th February. It had become too dangerous for her to keep them alive.
Re-emergence as an Inspirational Heroine
Jane was popular in her own lifetime, leaving a weeping and emotional crowd at her death despite her own dignified composure, but perhaps less so once Mary gained power and any association with the supposed traitor could result in accusations of treason for her friends and supporters, too. There are no reliable contemporary images of Jane; those once thought to depict her have now been identified as Katherine Parr. Only one – the “Streatham Portrait” – seems likely to be genuine. Dressed in a style fashionable in the 1550s, the subject of the painting holds a small prayer-book in her hand: a symbol of Jane’s protestant faith and learning? It appears that the memory of Jane’s short reign faded into obscurity, until scholars noticed that her personality conveniently matched nineteenth-century expectations of the ideal young woman: chaste, religious, and respectful of her superiors.
When we picture Jane Grey, many of us think of images created in the nineteenth century, as part of an historiographical trend depicting Jane as a romantic heroine. In the most famous, showing her execution scene, Jane is fumbling for the block wearing a pure white dress, perhaps symbolising her innocence. Jane’s dedication to her religion and her studies captured the hearts of early nineteenth-century historians, who portrayed her as gentle, pious and humble; they “could not select a more perfect example” of what were considered female virtues. Jane’s ancestry (surprisingly, through her father’s line, not her mother’s Tudor blood) was praised.
In 1822 Francis Laird criticised “Mary’s avaricious and ungenerous conduct towards Lady Jane”, ignoring the difficult situation Mary had found herself in and the pressure that was placed on her to remove a potential threat to her throne. It seems impossible to reassess the character of Jane without also reassessing Mary, because in the popular narrative created in the 1800s the two are presented as adversaries: they were rivals for the throne, so Jane’s saintly persona had to be matched with the devilish image of “Bloody Mary” which had already been dominant since the seventeenth century.
Problems with the Stereotype
But Jane was not always as obedient and passive as has been supposed. Having tolerated her parents’ harsh regime as long as she could remember, it seems that upon leaving home, Jane gained the confidence to take control of her own life, despite still being only a teenager.
Far from being manipulated by the powerful Duke of Northumberland, Jane made a real effort to stand up for herself. When she was first proclaimed queen, surrounded by a crowd of uncaring councillors, she protested immediately: “The crown is not my right, and pleaseth me not. The Lady Mary is the rightful heir.” Later, at the Tower, she refused to let the Marquess of Winchester try placing the crown on her head. Next, Jane’s newfound stubbornness turned on Guilford, as Alison Weir describes:
Jane informed him that he would never be king consort. The crown was hers alone, and she had no right to make him king. Instead, she would create him a duke. Guilford, who had happily anticipated the pleasures of kingship, flew into a temper at this, and raged at his wife, “I will be made king by you, and by Act of Parliament!”
Making Guilford king depended on both Jane and Parliament, but Parliament was not in session at the time. Weir describes how Guilford then resorted to “bursting into tears and running off to find his mother”, who ordered him to “abstain from the bed of such an undutiful wife.” Jane sent the Earls of Arundel and Pembroke to stop Guilford and his mother from leaving the tower. “I have no need of my husband in bed, but by day his place is at my side.” said Jane. During a period in which wives were taught to be absolutely submissive to their husbands, this is a complete reversal of gender roles. Nineteenth-century historians appear to have found this so shocking that they chose to ignore it entirely.
Not only did Jane avoid obeying her childish husband, she even proved herself to be dominant over him: she was in control of where he went and what powers he was allowed to hold. As a result, Jane was also undermining the schemes of Guilford’s father Northumberland, whose quest for power centred on his son being made king. Perhaps, despite not wanting to be queen, Jane chose to make the best of a bad situation, taking the opportunity to stand up to those who tried to control her, especially the weak and selfish Guilford.
Jane’s importance did not lie in what others could make of her potential. It lay in her fiery passion for music, reading and religion, her kindness towards those who cared about her, and the strength with which she lived through her short reign on her own terms, in the face of all the odds stacked against her: her young age, her sex, and her upbringing, which had taught her to be obedient to people who wanted to use her.
Taken together, this deeper analysis of Jane’s life strongly suggests that she was neither an insignificant political pawn, nor an unrealistically saintly, humble scholar. She was a person – a teenage girl.
Written by Emily Dunn
Brigden, Susan. New Worlds, Lost Worlds: The Rule of the Tudors, 1485-1603. London: Penguin Books, 2001.
Grey, Jane. Memoirs and literary remains of Lady Jane Grey. London: H. Colburn, 1832.
Hunt, Alice. “The Monarchical Republic of Mary I.” The Historical Journal 52, No. 3 (2009): 557-572.
Laird, Francis Charles. Lady Jane Grey, and her times. London: Sherwood, Neely, and Jones, 1822.
Mathew, David. Lady Jane Grey: The Setting of the Reign. London: Eyre Methuen, 1972.
Weir, Alison. Children of England: the Heirs of Henry VIII. London: Pimlico, 1997.
http://www.theguardian.com/uk/2006/jan/16/arts.research Accessed 10/11/15
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Did the Lady Jane Grey really say: “I have no need of my husband in bed, but by day his place is at my side.” If she did, that is my new favorite quote. I never came across it before. I hope you didn’t ge it from the Lady Jane Movie. The 1986 Movie is exactly wrong.
Thanks for your comment and for reading my article. The quote is from the Alison Weir book, ‘Children of England’, listed in the bibliography. Having not looked into the primary sources I can’t tell you whether it is literal truth, but if Jane did say it then it reveals a very different, more defiant side to her!
Glad you didn’t get it from the Movie. I just watched the Movie yesterday, and she never said I have no nead of my Husband in bed, in fact, she love Love LOVED him. Which wasn’t true either. I am now working on a project that tells Lady Jane Grey’s story as though Jane has come to live in our time. She is Mis Jane Dudley, she plays the part of the Lady Jane Grey so well, because she really is Lady Jane. She tells her best friend Mike, that she doesn’t miss Gildford, and she gets anoyed when Mike tries to ask her about him. Jane says: “Let’s not talk of him. He is someone I definitely do not miss.” Don’t quote her though, I put those words in her mouth. I’ll let you all know how it all shakes out.
A colleague knowing of my own research interest in Lady Jane Grey recently alerted me to this article. I must say I was a little surprised to see an ‘official’ magazine of a major UK university publish an article of this type. The secondary sources upon which the article relies are vastly out of date. Worse, Laird’s study was largely based upon entirely fictional sources, including stage plays and poems. For example, on Jane Grey’s date of birth, I refer you to JS Edwards, “On the Birth Date of Lady Jane Grey,” Notes and Queries 54, no. 3 (Sept. 2007), 240–242 and “A Further Note on the Date of Birth of Lady Jane Grey,” Notes and Queries 55, no. 2 (June 2008), 146–148. Together, these two articles establish that Grey was born sometime in the winter of 1536/7, not in October 1537. That latter notion first surfaced only in the middle of the 19th century, with Agnes Strickland. Edwards’ conclusion is now largely accepted by other scholars. The assertion that both Edward and Jane were too young to have known the pre-Reformation days is simply false. When Henry VIII died in January 1547, or when Edward and Jane were about 9 and 10 years old respectively, the liturgy and doctrine of the English Church still largely reflected traditional Roman Catholic beliefs and practices. The Mass was still the center of every worship service and the doctrine of transubstantiation was still a central tenet of faith. The English church retained the traditional doctrines of the intercession of saints, the existence of purgatory, and the efficacy of prayers and Masses for the dead. The practice of auricular confession remained intact, as did belief in seven sacraments. Each of these was contested between circa 1533 and 1549, certainly, but they nonetheless remained part of the official
church. One cannot begin to speak of a “Protestant faith” in England until after the end of 1549, when Edward was 12 and Jane about 13 years old.
The claim that Jane’s parents were “power hungry” and “beat their daughters daily” is nothing but 19th century poppycock and is entirely unsupported
by primary source evidence. It stems from a gross exaggeration of Jane’s famous statement to Roger Ascham in 1551, a deep lack of knowledge regarding childrearing practices of the 16th century, and an anachronistic value judgment of those practices ground in modern standards.
Rather than criticizing the entire article, I will leave it there, since just this first section makes it clear that the article is poorly researched and based on wholly inadequate source material. I am very sorry to say that it reads more like an Alison Weir novel than a scholarly analysis. Had this article been written by one of my students, it would have received a failing grade.
Dear Mr. Edwards,
Although this is an official University of York undergraduate history magazine, it is important to note that the articles are produced by undergraduate students who are still developing their research and writing skills. Our ‘About’ section does highlight that inaccuracies may be found in the articles since the students writing them are in the very early stages of their academic career.
I am sure that the student who produced this paper has done so to the best of their ability, however on occasion mistakes and misunderstandings of sources may occur – even amongst more established historians!
Thank you for your comments, if you would like I can put you in touch with the Early Modern Editor as well as the author of this article in case you would like to discuss these matters further.
My sincerest apologies if my comment was too harsh. I do hope that Ms Dunn is not too unduly distressed. But I do stand by my assessment that the essay would have received a very poor mark had I been the grader. I have worked with undergraduates in both the US and the UK, and in my experience, the latter are usually far better trained and more skilled than the former. I am frankly surprised that any UK undergraduate, with the possible exception of a first-year student, should not be more discerning regarding source material. If would be absolutely delighted to correspond directly with Ms Dunn, should she be interested in doing so. She does seem to have a particular interest in Jane Grey, and that is of course my own research and publishing interest. I would be happy to assist her in becoming more discerning when assessing both both primary and secondary sources on a subject on which, as you note, even established historians often err. Even the entry on Jane Grey in the authoritative Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, for example, is replete with errors and poor sourcing. I do hope Ms Dunn will allow me to make amends.
Dear Mr. Edwards,
Thankyou for your feedback and for drawing my attention to some evidence I had overlooked. Had this been my dissertation or even one of my undergraduate essays, I can completely understand why it would have received a poor grade.
However, this article was not intended to be a comprehensive study. It is a very brief overview, introducing the wider public to the main events and controversies of Lady Jane Grey’s life. Partially because of this, and partially because of lack of time, few sources have been cited. I researched and wrote this article entirely in my own time while studying two second-year modules which were my priority. I did so independently and with no guidance on which sources I should use. Out of date sources such as Laird were deliberately chosen for the section about nineteenth-century interpretations: I did not use them to acquire evidence but to analyse and question the interpretations expressed. Admittedly, a book by Alison Weir was my inspiration but, as previously stated, had this been an essay or dissertation I would have made use of a wider variety of both primary and secondary sources.
This article is not an example of my best historical work, and I could have done far better had I dedicated more time to it. But the fact that it was accepted for publication in The York Historian demonstrates that despite its flaws, it meets the magazine’s expected standard and serves the purpose of educating and inspiring the general reader in an accessible manner.
Way to go Emily!
Rah! Rah! Rah!
I’m the one who put Doctor Edwards on to your Artical, because I wanted to ask him about the Husband in bed quote. I did not expect him to be so “bitchie” about the whole thing.
I really wish I could get you to read Rachel Wisdom’s Thesis. It’s really good, and it argues the same point that you do.
Doctor Edward’s Thesis does too, in fact, He quit his job, went back to School and basically got his PH.D in Lady Jane Grey.
I’m afraid to tell him about Rachel for fear that he might completely devastate her.
Rachel is sweet, trusting, and just a little naive in some ways.
I am trying to make friends with Rachel, but I am having a hard time of it.
I don’t know what your Theological persuation is, but maybe a prayer or 2 for me, for Rachel, and for Jane, might help.
The Lady Jane is very important to me, and it is hard for me to find people to talk about her with.
Doctor Edwards does communicate with me, but he gets annoyed with me if I talk of Jane as being my best friend etc. She really is, and if you want to know how that’s possible, ask me and I will tell you.
Rachel has stopped communicating with me for a different reason. A big misunderstanding that I am quite upset and broken-hearted about.
I should stop, before I go too far, since we don’t know each other, and this is a public forum.
It’s hard for me, because the Lady Jane Grey is so important to me.
I’ll stop now, but thanks for standing up to Doctor Edwards, and giving him what for.
Doctor Edwards Web Site is:
As for Rachel’s Thesis, I don’t know if you can get to it outside the USA, but if I could contact you privately, I could send it to you.
I don’t think she would mind, as she has told me that she is “so pleased” that I wanted to read it.
I have a whole bunch of other Lady Jane Grey stuff too.
I have known Lady Jane since I was 14, I am 63 now.
Keep on keeping on.
I too would like to get in touch with Ms Dunn, as I am the one who put Dr. Eddwards on to the artical. I have some things that I would like to share with Ms. Dunn if she will let me. I am looking for any Lady Jane grey enthusiast to talk with. Send me a friend request on my Facebook page, I’m the Michael Bayus who lives in Sarasota Florida, or send me an E-Mail, you can find that on my page at the “about” link. I would look forward to hearing from her.
I thought you all might like to know, that I am working on a story in which the Lady Jane Grey comes to live in 2016, in order to tell her “real” story. She get’s here just at the moment the executioners ax falls. It misses her by that much.
In my story:
Lady jane is trapped in the 21st century, but willingly. Because she
knows that in order to affect change, and to accomplish her goal, she
It’s hard for her, because she knows that if she were to tell people
that she really is Lady Jane Grey from 1554, ppeople would think she
is crazy. So she plays Mis Jane Dudley, and she oversees an exhibit
about herself and dresses up in Tudor costume, (we just imagine that,
because we don’t see it,) and enjoys being herself twice a day,
(Morning and Afternoon,) for her show.
As the story goes on, Mike suggests that she put on shows about events
in her life as short plays or vignettes in the evening.
She does it all so well that she gains a reputation around town. She
is very entertaining, and she talks Tudor History as though she really
lived it, because she has.
Only Mike, and Jess, know for sure just who she really is. Mike is
her best friend, and Jess is the Mother that she never had.
Her Goal is to debunk all of the Myths, and Misinformation that has
grown up around her since her death. The Victorians really did a
number on her, and she has a big job on.
Lady Jane, as she contemplated her imminent death back in 1554, wrote:
If Justice is done with my body, my soul will find mercy in God.
She also wrote:
Death will give pain to my body for its sins, but the soul will be
justified before God.
Then she wrote:
If my faults deserve punishment, my youth at least, and my imprudence
were worthy of excuse; God and posterity will show me favour.
It was really important to her that she be remembered in a particular way.
It still is, and I believe I have found a novel way to do that for
I’d like to know what you all think.
I have it all written, and it’s a Radio Drama. I’m to the point now where I nead to find voices to read the parts.
That sounds like a really interesting and unique way to broadcast your interpretations. I especially like the fact that it’s at the very end of her life, just as the axe falls. Thankyou for sharing! I have often considered trying to write some historical fiction but would only do so once I had done enough research for it to be as accurate as possible.
Hey Emily, I wish there was a way for us to E-Mail, because I would like to send you some Lady Jane Grey stuff. One thing I would like for you to read is a thesis by Rachel Wisdom. Her writing is some of the clearist and most concise that I have ever read, and I would like for you to read it. Rachel has published a Novel that is historical fiction, not about the Lady Jane Grey, but it’s good. I would invite you to find out about that on your own. Just google Rachel R. Wisdom
I would invite you to friend me on my Facebook page, that way you can find my E-Mail. Just follow the “about link” and you can contact me. I’m the Michael Bayus who lives in Sarasota Florida USA.
Well, this is probably outside the scope of this forum, but I have an irresistible urge to put this up here so you all could read it and tell me what you think.
I would particularly like to know what Ms. Dunn thinks.
As I told you all earlier in this thread, my project is about the Lady Jane Grey coming to live in the 21st Century so she can fix what went wrong with her “Story”.
I tried to find the best part of my story, so you all could get an idea of how it all goes.
This is part of my last Chapter.
To fill you all in:
The Lady Jane Grey arrives on the morning of February 12th, just at the moment that the Executioner’s Ax falls.
It was Mike’s and Jane’s wish, expressed at the exact same moment that made this happen.
The last Chapter takes place after Jane has been here some 9 Months or so.
Jane and Mike have become best friends, and Mike helps Jane in what ever way he can.
Because Mike is totally blind, Jane must guide him by the hand when ever they go out together, as he doesn’t take his long white Cane.
Over the past 9 Months, mike has come to know Jane’s gentle touch, the sound of her sweet voice, as well as all of the personality that is the Lady Jane.
Early in the morning, Mike awakes from a very bad dream in which he is on Tower Green on the morning of February 12th 1554. Because he now knows Jane, it’s just a little too real. In his distress, he calls Jane on the Phone and wakes her out of a sound sleep.
(PHONE RINGS SEVERAL TIMES. ANSWER.)
JANE: (AFTER A LONG SILENCE.) (SLEEPILY) Hello?
JANE: (MORE AWAKE.) Yes?
JANE: Yes Michael its Jane what’s wrong.
JANE: (IMPATIENT.) It’s going on 4 of the clock what is it Michael?
MIKE: I was there.
JANE: You were there? Where were you?
MIKE: I was on Tower Green. And….
MIKE: Oh Jane, Jane you are such a gentle soul.
JANE: (CONCERNED, MAYBE A LITTLE FRIGHTENED.)
I try to be Michael your scaring me what’s wrong.
MIKE: I was there and one moment you were vital and walking and talking
and then, and then…
JANE: Yes, and then?
MIKE: Oh Jane, there was nothing I could do, there was nothing I could do.
(BLINKING BACK TEARS.) I heard the ax and everything.
JANE: Oh Michael I’m here now, I’m not dead.
MIKE: I know Jane, but I just never had the imagery before. I know it’s silly.
JANE: No it’s not. Shall I come over? I’m coming over. I’ll be right there. I’ll stay on the phone until I get there. (YAWN.) Just let me put you on speaker so I can get dressed.
MIKE: You know you don’t have to do this.
JANE: (MOVING ABOUT.) Today is Saturday, so I don’t have to go to work. I’m coming over and you can’t stop me. I’ll be right there.
JANE: Just let me get a drink of water. (RUNNING TAP.)
Now I’m moving toward my car.
(FRONT DOOR OPEN CLOSE.)
MIKE: It’s just that I felt the touch of your hand, and then I was out in the crowd, and then you made your speech, and I heard it all.
(CAR DOOR, CAR START.)
JANE: I’m on my way Michael just sit tight and try not to think about it.
MIKE: I know, I’m starting to wake up a little more now, and I am feeling better.
JANE: Good, I’m almost there.
MIKE: Are you hungry?
JANE: It’s 4 of the clock Michael, I don’t know if I’m hungry or not.
MIKE: Well, we could…..
JANE: (INTERRUPT.) I’m in your driveway now.
End the call, I’m coming in.
(FRONT DOOR OPEN, CLOSE.)
JANE: Oh my love my love my love, I’m here now. (PUTTING HER ARMS AROUND HIM.) I’m here now. I’m alive and I’m here.
MIKE: It wasn’t like the show.
JANE: No my love.
MIKE: (BLINKING BACK TEARS.) I could feel the rain and I could hear your ladies, and I remembered your hand on my arm, and they, they, killed you.
JANE: No, my love, they didn’t kill me.
MIKE: But history…
JANE: (INTERRUPT.) But I’m here to put history right. Remember?
MIKE: I know. And I’m so glad you didn’t transcend back through time after the reenactment.
JANE: I wondered about that too, but anyway, it was cathartic. I guess I really opened the water works huh?
MIKE: Yeah, Giles said that you were weeping buckets. And you wouldn’t see Jess.
JANE: Yeah but you were there for me, and I’m here for you now.
MIKE: So are you hungry?
JANE: No, Mike, but I can fix you something. What do you have in the house?
MIKE: Oh, I think there is some frozen breakfast stuff…
JANE: (INTERRUPT) No I mean real food. Let me see what I can find.
(MOVING ABOUT THE KITCHEN.)
JANE: (OFF MIC.) You have some eggs here, would you like that?
MIKE: That will be fine, if they’re still good.
JANE: (STILL OFF MIC.) They look alright to me.
MIKE: Can you make them scrambled?
JANE: (STILL OFF MIC.) How about coming in here and talking to me so we don’t have to shout.
MIKE: Ok. Are you going to have anything?
JANE: No I don’t think so. Just sit down at the table.
MIKE: Ok. Thank you for coming over, and thanks for fixing my Eggs.
JANE: I’m glad to be here for you Mike.
MIKE: So let me ask you.
MIKE: How are you doing really? With your exhibit I mean.
JANE: (PUTTING DISH ON TABLE.) Here are your eggs. I’m doing quite well. My exhibit is getting noticed, and people are beginning to pay attention to me. I think I am imperceptibly changing the image people have of me. They’re beginning to understand that I’m not the helpless little girl that they thought, nor am I a Martyr for Protestantism. I’m just a young woman trying to get along in the world, who tried to please her parents and her In-laws and who stands up for what she believes.
MIKE: Well Jane I guess that’s why you are here.
JANE: Yeah, ever since I read that Fan Fiction thing you had me read that first day at the Computer Store, I knew what I had to do. It’s important to me that I be remembered as one who tried to do what was right. I’m not a bad person. Like I told Queen Mary, I was charged and esteemed guilty more than I deserved. I tried to say that on the scaffold too.
MIKE: It’s really important to you that posterity remembers you in a particular way isn’t it.
JANE: Oh Michael more than I can say. I want posterity to know that I did what I thought people wanted me to do. Maybe I tried too hard to please. I didn’t ask you if you wanted anything to drink. Do you have any coffee?
MIKE: Yeah, I think there is still some in the pot.
JANE: I’ll go look. (GETTING UP FROM THE TABLE.)
MIKE: Speaking for myself, I believe that you have a lot to say about faith, and what and how to believe. I’ve known you since I was 14, and you have taught me a lot about how to cope with life’s events. For me, you have been a strength in need, a counselor in perplexity, a comfort in sorrow, and a companion in joy. That’s your legacy.
JANE: Well that’s a lot to be responsible for. I’m glad I could do that for you. I only wish there were more like you, who, well, who listen to me. (PUTTING DOWN CUP.) Careful, it’s hot.
MIKE: Well as long as you are here, I think that, together, we can make that happen. Just keep reaching out to people as you always have.
JANE: I only hope you are right Mike.
MIKE: Whenever I would go through a rough time in my life, I’d think WWLJD. What would the Lady Jane do?
JANE: Oh stop.
MIKE: No I mean it. You have taught me a lot during my formative years. Will you stay with me a while?
JANE: Sure! I have no plans for today. What would you like to do?
MIKE: Will you read to me?
JANE: Ok, what would you have me read?
MIKE: Well, (GETTING UP FROM THE TABLE.) The other day, while rummaging around one of the local old book stores around town, I found this.
JANE: (BIG GASP.) Oh my dearest love! It’s my letter to Lord Thomas Seymour. I have been looking for this since last march. It’s the only thing missing from my exhibit.
MIKE: You like it?
JANE: God’s bread do I like it? It’s the most wondrous thing I have ever seen.
MIKE: Well, do you want to read it to me?
JANE: I don’t know if I can, I’m so excited! (AFTER A SHORT PAUSE.) Ok, it reads: (WITH GREAT HAPPINESS.) To the Right Honorable and my singular good lord, the Lord Admiral, give these. “My duty to your lordship, in most humble wise remembered, with no less thanks for the gentle letters which I received from you. Thinking myself so much bound to your lordship for your great goodness towards me from time to time, that I cannot by any means be able to recompense the least part thereof, I purposed to write a few rude lines unto your lordship, rather as a token to show how much worthier I think your lordship’s goodness, than to give worthy thanks for the same, and these my letters shall be to testify unto you that, like as you have become towards me a loving and kind father, so I shall be always most ready to obey your godly monitions and good instructions, as becometh one upon whom you have heaped so many benefits. And thus fearing I should trouble your lordship too much, I most humbly take my leave of your good lordship. Your humble servant during my life, JANE Grey. Endorsed at the time. My Lady JANE, the 1st of October, 1548. That’s, I, it’s, I’m, speechless. How much did you pay for this? I have a budget. I can write you a check from the Library’s account.
MIKE: Well, I only paid a couple a dollars for it. They didn’t know what they had.
JANE: Well let me give you something. Will a thousand dollars be alright?
MIKE: Well, I’ll take it, but you don’t have to do that. I want to make this thing work too you know.
JANE: Oh take it, and make a big noise when you do. I need every kind of justification I can get for the exhibit, and If you make a big noise, they will see how well the Tudor history division is doing. Anything to make sure I have a job. Besides, you’ll have me around for years and years to come, and I’ll live to be an old lady.
MIKE: My old Lady Jane.
JANE: That’s right.
MIKE: I have something else that I would like you to read.
JANE: What’s that?
MIKE: (HANDING JANE A PAPER BAG.) I found this on the same trip to that old Book Shop the other day.
JANE: (TAKING THE ITEM OUT OF THE BAG.) It’s nicely bound. Oh Michael you know that this is not an original, it’s a quite modern facsimile of the old book. But I have not seen this one thank you for finding it.
MIKE: Will you read it to me?
JANE: Ok, tell you what. You come with me and let’s retire to your bed chamber. How about you go back to bed. Come on. You’ve been up since almost 4 of the clock, and I think you should get back to sleep. I’ll bring a chair from the kitchen table, and I can sit beside you, and I’ll read you asleep. Come on come with me.
(PICKING UP A CHAIR.)
JANE: I know you know the way, in fact what am I doing. Here, you carry the Chair.
MIKE: Most assuredly milady.
JANE: Right over here. There’s room between the bed and the wall. Right here.
MIKE: (PUTTING DOWN CHAIR.) Ok.
JANE: Now get into bed.
(GETTING INTO BED.)
(JANE TAKES HER PLACE.)
JANE: Oh I’m credited as the author of this. Here it is as bold as you please. Grey, Jane. Here in this book ye have a godly epistle made by a faithful Christian, A communication between Feckenham and the Lady Jane Dudley, a letter that she wrote to her sister Lady Katherine, and the end of the Lady Jane upon the scaffold. Ye shal have also herein a godly prayer made by Master John Knox. London: Successor of Anthony Scoloker, 1554. Oh Mike you know all of this, are you sure you want me to read it all to you now?
MIKE: I know all of the stuff that you wrote, but I thought that maybe there were introductory comments before all of the actual items that you wrote.
JANE: Oh. Well, actually there is some explanatory writing about everything, and it begins with a verse from Matthew. Chapter 5, verse 8. Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God. London, Successor of Anthony Scoloker, 1554. Oh Mike, I hate to say this, but I think you got took. Is that the right way to say it?
MIKE: Yeah, but what do you mean?
JANE: The introductory notes are taken from a much later publication than the title page suggests. It appears to be taken from a tract that was written very much later than 1554. (TURNING THE PAGES.)
All of my writing seems to be intact and accurate however. This is just the kind of material that caused all of this mess in the first place. It looks like I might say the beginning of my canonization so to speak. Hah! Well, this is the whole reason I am here. I’ll read it to you, if it will put you to sleep.
MIKE: Go ahead.
JANE: But hold. Where is your laptop?
MIKE: It’s out in the living room why?
JANE: I thought I would go and look this up. How do I make it not talk?
MIKE: Hold down the insert key and press Q.
JANE: I’ll be right back.
JANE: Ok, I know what is in your binder.
MIKE: What yea got.
JANE: Well, the explanatory part is taken from the Life, Death and action of the most chaste, learned, and Religious Lady, the Lady Jane Grey, Oh for god sake, I didn’t see this until I printed it out and have it here, they mispelled my name. My name is G, R, E, Y, and not G, R, A, Y. Things like this are so disheartening. Anyhow, the Lady Jane Grey, Daughter to the Duke of Suffolk. I think they mean of and not too. Containing Four Principal Discourses written with her own hands. The first an Admonition to such as are weak in FAITH, The second a CATECHISME, The third an exhortation to her SISTER, and the last her words at her DEATH. Printed by G. Eld, spelled E, L, D, for John Wright and are to be sold at his shop without Newgate, at the sign of the Bible. 1615. So your binder is an amalgamation of the 1554, and the 1615 Publications. I say that, because the Prayer of John Knox is in the back. (OPENING THE RINGS.) For the sake of accuracy I am inserting the page that I just printed out towards the front. (CLOSING THE RINGS.)
There is more, but I should leave some for later.
In the 25 Chapters that have gone before, Jane, answers questions from people she meets, and she reads aloud both to Mike and to the Public from all of her writings, and explains what is Myth, and what is Truth.
My intent is to record these as Sound Files to be uploaded to a Web Site that will be deticated to them. I am looking for Voice Talent to play all of the parts. Jane, must be a good Actress, because she will be expected to cry, laugh, and quietly weep.
Ok. I’ll tell:
The last Chapter ends, as Mike, to Jane’s great relief, falls asleep as Jane continues to read to him.
She finishes, closes the binder, calls his name, and when finding him asleep, moves towards the Bed, gently kisses him, and quietly leaves the room.
What do you all, especially Emily, think?
I just got to thinking, that you might wonder what the Lady Jane Grey sounds like. In my coming to live in our time story that is. Well, no offense, but I’m looking for a young Girl from Wisconsin, or Missouri, as I believe that is what LJG sounded like, according to the best scholarship I can find. There is scholarship to say that she sounds like a girl from the Black Country, but I hav a hard time wrapping my brain around that one. I do know she does not sound like Queen Elizabeth the Second.
I thought you might like to read a little more, so here is something that I wrote to be used as an Audition Piece, if my Actress wants one, or it could be a Promo.
Here it is.
MIKE: Jane, do you think you will ever go back?
JANE: Do you mean back to 1554?
JANE: I don’t know. Probably not. I think that God put me here in your time for a very very good reason.
MIKE: I think it was both you and I who wished it and at exactly the same time. That’s why it happened.
JANE: But I didn’t know you while I was alive in 1554, it was in my after life that I met you, and came to know you.
MIKE: But you always wanted posterity to remember you, and it would make sense that at the very last, that idea would pop in to your head and your heart.
JANE: Maybe so, and without even really realizing it.
MIKE: And it just so happened harmonically or something like that, that I expressed my wish for you to come and live now. I didn’t really believe that it could happen, or so I thought. It was just a fantasy.
JANE: Well, I’m here, and it feels very real to me.
MIKE: And I need to keep convincing myself of that all the time.
JANE: Well, I’m happy here, happier than I’ve ever been, and I am very glad to know you, and Jess, and every one I work with. Jess is like the Mother I never had.
MIKE: If you were to ever go back, could I go with you, do you think?
JANE: I think you would have a much harder time of it in your past than I am having in my future.
MIKE: What do you mean?
JANE: Well, There would be no internet, and no Radio and Television. No CDs and no MP3 music. No Telephone, No fast transportation. You couldn’t enjoy the Music you like now. You couldn’t play the Music of Bach on the organ for instance. You would have to forget everything you know so history would not be changed. And, as a noble woman of high rank, I couldn’t pay attention to you the way I do now. It would be inappropriate for me to guide you, and lead you around by the hand. I would have to leave that sort of thing to my staff. And, Oh Jesus, I just had the thought, you might lose your head, because you might say something that would be considered from the devil or something magic. And oh my love, I couldn’t bear that.
MIKE: But I couldn’t lose you.
JANE: Oh, I don’t think there is any danger of that happening.
MIKE: I guess it was ruff to be blind back then.
JANE: Back then, I didn’t have any experience with blind persons. But I guess you would probably not be regarded as the successful, competent and capable person that you are.
MIKE: Well, how about John Stanley. He was blind?
JANE: But John Stanley lived about a hundred years after me. I’m going on line in order to Google him. Umm, here he is. And, it looks like he lived more like a hundred and seventy years after me, as he was born in 1712, and he died in 1786. So he was more of a contemporary of Bach, and Handel.
MIKE: But he was blind.
JANE: Umm, yes he was blind, but attitudes were probably somewhat changed by then. While I was alive, people believed more as the Greeks did regarding blindness.
MIKE: Yeah. But now that I’ve heard your voice, and have touched your hand I don’t think I can give that up.
JANE: Shh. I’m here for good and always my love. Don’t give it another thought.
MIKE: I can’t help it.
JANE: I’ll be putting on Jane Grey performances for a good many years to come.
MIKE: Hey Jane.
JANE: Hey Mike.
MIKE: What do you think of the idea of making Sound files?
JANE: That would surely spread the word about me. What would these Sound files be about?
MIKE: Well, they would be about you and me. And how we work to tell your story.
JANE: I see. And would we make these Sound files available for everyone to listen too?
MIKE: Yes. But not only that, we could have a Web Site devoted to them, and People could post comments, and maybe even add Sound files of their own. But it would have to be all about you.
JANE: But, let’s face it. I’m a very small niche market. Do you think that there would be enough interest?
MIKE: Well my hope is that we surprise people into knowing about you and well, being fascinated by you.
JANE: That’s a pretty tall order. I will always reach out and touch those who show real interest in me.
MIKE: I know you will. I see it on the Web all the time. I’ve read story after story about people who have discovered you. And they are all similar to my own.
JANE: I just want to be remembered. If Justice is done with my body, my soul will find mercy in God. Death will give pain to my body for its sins, but the soul will be justified before God. If my faults deserve punishment, my youth at least, and my imprudence were worthy of excuse; God and posterity will show me favour.
That gives you some idea as to what I intend to do whith all of this once I get it recorded.
Please pray for me as i don’t have any Voices yet.
An update on my Lady Jane grey Project.
I have the voice of the Lady Jane Grey.
Her name is Jeannette, and she and I talked on the phone for nearly 2 hours. That may seem like a long time, but when you are as passionate about the Lady Jane as I am, and you have the Lady Jane speaking to you in your left ear, it is hard to say goodby, and hang up.