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On this day in history in 1554, died Lady Jane Grey.

Jane Grey was a descendant of Henry VII who was placed on the throne of England by her ambitious parents and reigned for nine days.

Lady Jane was born in 1537 in Bradgate, Leicestershire, the daughter of the Marques of Dorset and Lady Frances Brandon, who was the granddaughter of Henry VII. Jane received an extensive education and learned to speak Greek, Latin, French, Hebrew and Italian.  

When Henry VIII died in 1547, the throne went to his nine-year-old son, Edward VI, during whose reign the business of the nation was conducted by a council of Regents, including Jane’s father, now created Duke of Suffolk. In 1553, the young king Edward caught a cold, which quickly turned to tuberculosis which proved incurable. The throne was due to pass to Mary Tudor, elder daughter of Henry VIII, but as Edward lay dying, two of the Regents, Jane’s father and the Duke of Northumberland, persuaded him to make a will leaving the throne to Jane. Edward signed the will and Northumberland and Suffolk coerced Jane into marrying Northumberland’s son Guildford Dudley. The two scheming lords hoped to control the kingdom though their adolescent offspring.  

The will was, of course, illegal as Edward was not of full age and, even had he wanted to, he could not override the Act of Parliament, which left the throne to Mary Tudor. Nevertheless, when Edward died in 1553, Suffolk and Northumberland told Jane that they were proclaiming her queen of England, at which point, Jane fainted in shock. Jane was sent off to prepare for her coronation, but Mary was popular in the country and assembled a force of 200,000 men who quickly entered London and placed Mary on the throne as queen.  Jane had ruled England for nine days, before being overthrown and subsequently became known as ‘England’s Nine Day Queen’. 

Mary, at first, forgave Jane for her part in the seizure of the crown, but after her father was involved in another rebellion in 1554, Jane was arraigned for high treason and sentenced to death by beheading. Jane was executed, aged 16, on 12th February 1554, and was buried in the chapel of St Peter ad Vincula, in the Tower of London. [Tower of London, London, EC3N 4AB]

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