UK Release Date: September 25, 2009
Lady Jane Grey is the queen England rejected. In July 1553, Edward VI, the heir to Henry VIII, died after only a brief reign as a minor. His death left the Tudor dynasty in turmoil. In the aftermath, Jane Grey was proclaimed queen only to be ousted after thirteen days by Mary Tudor, Henry VIII’s bastard daughter. Seven months later she had Jane beheaded. History has portrayed Jane as both a hapless victim of political intrigue and a Protestant martyr, but most of all as an irrelevance, hence the popular but erroneous label, the ‘nine days queen’. Revisiting the sources surrounding Jane Grey’s upbringing, Eric Ives challenges these views, presenting Jane Grey as an accomplished young woman with a fierce personal integrity, and England’s outstanding female scholar. He teases out the complex evidence of the 1553 crisis and dissects the moves and motives of each of the other protagonist: Edward VI himself, feverishly re–writing his will during his dying days; Mary Tudor, the woman who ‘won’ the crown; John Dudley, Jane’s father–in–law, traditionally the villain of the piece, and Henry Grey, her father – the man ultimately responsible for her death. As the story moves through the summer of 1553 to Jane’s execution, we see these people as agents in Jane Grey’s unfolding tragedy and her eventual moral triumph. The result is a new and compelling dissection by a master historian and storyteller of one of history’s most shocking injustices.