The Attempted Coronation

John Dudley had obviously spent a great deal of time plotting just exactly how he would maneuver the unwilling Jane into the position of Queen, so that his son, in turn, would be king.

Upon hearing on King Edward's death, Dudley persuaded the Council to send a letter to his sister Mary. In the letter, Dudley told Mary that Edward was very ill and wished to see her. All the while, Dudley knew Edward was really dead, but the knowledge was not public yet. Mary fell for the trap and immediately started a trip to London to see Edward. Dudley set up a plot to have Mary seized on her way, and then for her to be taken to the Tower as a prisoner. Mary however, discovered the truth of his death during her travels and sent a letter ahead to the Council, assuming that she was the rightful heir to the throne and they would recognize her as Queen. Apparently she was not aware of Dudley's plot, but did mention how odd it was for her to learn two days after the fact, of Edward's death. The letter arrive the 9th, but by this time, word had already been sent to Jane to come to Sion House. Most historians agree, that by this time, Dudley had subjugated and terrorized the Council into following his will on this. He claimed that Mary was not fit for three reasons; her mother's divorce from Henry VIII, her Catholicism and her sex. The Council agreed to move forward with their plan to declare Jane as Queen and then tell Mary it was already done, when she arrived.

Word was sent to Jane, who had been staying at Chelsea, that the Council had called her to come before them and that she was to present herself at Sion House where they were assembled. Jane told the messenger, Mary Sidney, that she felt too ill to meet the council. Sidney however insisted and the two girls eventually took a barge to Sion House.

Jane arrived, still not aware that Edward had died and grew even more confused when two nobles knelt and kissed her hand. She blushed, embarrassed as they referred to her their sovereign lady. And still she stood confused; for she could not bring herself to believe that such a cataclysmic event s Edward's death could have been hid from her, his cousin and the general public.

Lady Grey was then led into the Chamber of State, in a rather formal procession, where Dudley led her to a dais reserved for royalty. Jane looked on in continued confusion as the assembled group, including her parents, paid homage to her. Dudley then came forward and gave a lengthy speech in which Jane finally learned of Edward's death and eventually ended with the declaration that Edward's death wish had been for Jane to take the throne after him.

Jane stood there trembling and later wrote that the moment left her "stupefied and troubled". She was speechless. They all knelt yet again to her and she swayed and fell, breaking into sobbing tears. No attempt was made to help her stand, nor to sooth the tears. Among her sobs the words "Such a noble prince" were heard. Finally, she regained enough control to utter the words, "The crown is not my right and pleaseth me not. The Lady Mary is the rightful heir."

Dudley was the first to admonish her, followed by her mother and father. Her parents demand that she obey them and do what was required of her. Being very religious, Jane felt she must obey and honor her parents, and reluctantly agreed, still insisting she was insufficient to fill the role.

The following morning, Jane was dressed in the green and white of the Tudors. To make her appear even grander she wore raised wooden shoes called chopines, giving her an extra three inches of height. Guilford, her husband was adorned with equal splendor of white and gold. Between three and four o'clock, on the afternoon of the 10th, a parade of barges took Jane and her attendants to the Tower where the crown jewels had been set out for her, and state apartments prepared to receive her.

The people along the shores however, were mostly silent. They had only learned that day of Edward's death and now here was a young unwanted and unknown cousin claiming the throne. Many felt that Mary was the rightful heir.

The Marquees of Winchester and Sir John Bridges, the Lieutenant of the Tower greeted her, surrounded by civilian and military officials as well the Yeomen of the Guard, each with a gilded axe over his shoulder. Winchester knelt to present the keys of the fortress and Dudley stepped forward to take them, making it very clear who would be the true power behind the thrown. Guns rang out in salute and the silken flags and gilded decorations shown in the bright afternoon sun. Lady Jane proceeded into the White Tower, never to leave the fortress again.

The Nine Days

(The above etching is entitled "Jane Declines the Crown".)


This page last revised on 7-25-03. Maintained by Jane Lambert
Copyright 2003.