Lady Jane Grey Is Deposed by Mary I of England

Updated on November 26, 2016
Mary I deposed her cousin as Queen of England
Mary I deposed her cousin as Queen of England

On July 19, 1553, Lady Jane Grey was finally deposed as Queen of England. It took all of nine days from her coronation (13 days from Edward VI’s death). Mary I proclaimed herself as Queen, which the English people gladly accepted. They saw her as the rightful Queen of England and had always been beside her as they loved her mother, Catherine of Aragon.

Getting Around the Problem of Being Illegitimate

The problem for Mary was that her half-brother, Edward, had a very good point. Mary was declared illegitimate due to the annulling of Henry VIII’s marriage to her mother. Illegitimate children couldn’t hold the crown. However, Henry VIII had written it into a final Act of Succession that should Edward not have children, the crown would pass to Mary and then Elizabeth; should Mary not have children.

The Earl of Arundel and the Earl of Pembroke took it upon themselves to convince the rest of the council members that Mary was the rightful heir to the throne. They started the task the day before but some members took some time to convince. It is possible that they feared their actions would be seen as treasonous should Jane remain as Queen. It is also possible that they believed that Mary shouldn’t be Queen of England.

Pembroke didn’t do it lightly though. He drew his sword and used that to persuade the members of the Privy Council. He stated that he would die for the cause but he didn’t have to go through with it since the members agreed. The Council had to agree; they knew the people wanted Mary and she was the rightful Queen according to Henry VIII’s Act of Succession.

Things may have turned out differently had Jane actually been male. Another problem for Edward VI was that the next four in line of succession after him were all women. They were not seen as able to rule in the 16th century.

Lady Jane Grey was the Innocent Traitor

Jane never wanted to become Queen of England. When she was sent for her coronation, it wasn’t until Lord Dudley started making a long speech that she learnt her cousin was dead. She cried at the news and only after regaining some control stated that she was not the Queen; that was Mary. After some stern words from her parents and Lord Dudley, Jane finally agreed. However, she never made her husband King; she would rule in her own right.

It was obvious that the people were not happy with Queen Jane. During her coronation, they watched in silence. They couldn’t believe that Edward VI would allow Jane to become Queen before Mary.

Jane was tricked into wearing the crown “to see how it would fit”. As she wore the crown, she was declared Queen. It should have been a joyous occasion but it was like she knew the events to come.

Elizabeth Tudor supported her half-sister, Mary
Elizabeth Tudor supported her half-sister, Mary

The Support from Lady Elizabeth Tudor

Unsurprisingly, Mary Tudor had her half-sister’s support. It would make sense since Jane becoming Queen meant that Elizabeth was also removed from the line of succession. The two rode and picked up supporters along their way, after hearing of their brother’s death some time during the 13 day period. In the end, they had 600 supporters ready to fight for them but Mary didn’t want it to end in bloodshed.

After successfully deposing Jane, Mary rode through the streets of London with Elizabeth by her side and 800 noblemen behind her. The English people rejoiced that the rightful Queen was now on the throne. However, it would be a few years later that Mary feared that the English people wanted Elizabeth instead.

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Lady Jane Grey Goes from Queen to Prisoner

Jane found out that she was no longer Queen during her evening meal. Her father, the Duke of Suffolk, broke the news to her. As her canopy was taken down, Jane found herself as a traitor and a prisoner.

The members of the Grey and Dudley family were arrested by Mary I for treason. However, Mary realised that her young cousin didn’t deliberately make herself Queen. She listened to others and decided that Jane was innocent.

All Jane wanted to do was go home. She was innocent enough to believe that everything could be forgotten about and she could go back to her original life. This was impossible. There were people who wanted Jane over Mary—they wanted a Protestant Queen. If Mary allowed Jane to go back to her normal life, she would always live in fear of an uprising. She had to do something to show that this type of action was not allowed. She locked Jane in the Tower of London as a prisoner.

Mary didn’t treat her cousin as a criminal though. Jane was allowed to walk in the Queen’s Gardens and had an allowance; an allowance that had to be used to pay for some Crown Jewels that Jane “stole”.

Jane was not the only one to be placed in the Tower. Everyone who was part of the plot were there. This included Guildford Dudley, Lord Dudley, Suffolk and her brothers-in-law. Most were executed shortly after but Jane and her husband, Guildford, were spared, with her father being released. She was free to live in the Tower of London until the Wyatt Rebellion in 1554.

Mary I ruled for five years and left the crown to Elizabeth
Mary I ruled for five years and left the crown to Elizabeth

The Start of Mary I’s Reign

One of the first things that Mary did was release two Catholics from prison: Stephen Gardiner and the Duke of Norfolk. Since most of the Privy Council were somehow implicated in the plot to remove her from the line of succession, she needed someone there who she could trust. She choose Gardiner to become the Bishop of Winchester and Lord Chancellor. He was there to crown Mary formally on October 1, 1553.

Mary needed to secure an heir for the throne and at 37 she knew she was running out of time. Despite the Council not agreeing with her option, Mary Tudor chose to marry Philip II of Spain. However, the marriage never successfully produced an heir. Mary suffered two phantom pregnancies and it is possible that she had ovarian cancer.

Mary I died on November 17, 1558 and Elizabeth I was crowned Queen. While Elizabeth was a wonderful monarch, she died a virgin and brought the Tudor dynasty to an end. The crown passed into the hands of her Scottish cousins; something that Henry VIII never wanted to happen. Had the Greys and Dudleys not attempted to remove Mary and Elizabeth from the line of succession, Frances Grey would have been crowned Queen of England instead. However, the actions tainted the Grey family and none would inherit the throne.

Lady Jane Grey Meets Queen Mary


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    • Navin Prabakaran profile image

      Navin Prabakarn 

      6 years ago from India



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