Nine Days of Rule
February 12, 1554: Lady Jane Grey is beheaded for treason. She was the great-granddaughter of Henry VII and reigned as Queen regent of England for nine days in 1553. Her claim to the throne was dubious and remains controversial. She was the daughter of Lady Frances Brandon who was the daughter of Mary Tudor who was a daughter of Henry VII. Lady Frances renounced her claim to the throne in favor of her daughter.
The lineage to the throne is through male primogeniture. This system allows for males to accede to the thrown in order of birth with women, regardless of birth order, coming into line only after any male claim. England’s break with the Catholic church and selling of Church property caused financial difficulties to many of the landed and titled gentry. Much of the controversy over the crown was based on religious affiliation for monetary gains rather than theological doctrine.
John Dudley, Duke of Northumberland, and regent to King Edward VI had a financial stake in keeping the monarchy under Protestant control. The Duke quickly arranged a marriage between his son, Guilford Dudley and Lady Jane and then had Lady Jane proclaimed Queen. To his chagrin, she did not name her new husband king, but instead titled him Duke of Clarence.
King Edward was dying at the age of fifteen. His half-sister, Mary Tudor, held the position of Heir Presumptive to the throne. However, Edward named his aunt, also named Mary Tudor, as his successor. With all this maneuvering, this left the throne to Lady Jane, a Protestant like Edward.
Mary I had more popular support than Lady Jane. She amassed an army and marched to London with 20,000 men. There she deposed Jane and tried to get her to convert to Catholicism. That failed. Lady Jane may have escaped with her life, but there was religious controversy over Mary’s choice of husband and a revolt was staged with many of Lady Jane’s family siding with the Protestants.
Jane was beheaded in private, a courtesy to royalty. She was sixteen. Her husband was also beheaded, but in public. Queen Mary I lived for only four more years.
“Royalty consists not in vain pomp, but in great virtues.” – Agesilaus
“The Lord blesses His humble devotees with royalty, He fashions the true crown upon their heads.” – Guru Gobind Singh
“It’s royalty, … I think there’s an intrigue, a mystery to it.” – Gavin Newsom
“Boy George is all England needs – another queen who can’t dress.” – Joan Rivers
Also on this day, in 1909 the NAACP was formed.