Crown of Blood

crownThis is one of the many books I received for Christmas.

My interest in Lady Jane Grey started decades ago, after reading about her in a Blue Peter annual when I was 10 or 11 years old.

Since that time I’ve read several histories and historical novels about her.

Crown of Blood by Nicola Tallis is the newest addition to my collection.

While most commonly remembered as “Lady Jane”, Jane Grey was in fact Queen Jane, even though for a short number of days. The exact number seems to be disputed, most commonly stated as being 9 or 10, but if taken from the death of Edward VI (who she succeeded) her short reign was more like  13 days.

Jane was  England’s first Regnant Queen, ruling in her own right (as contrasted with a “Queen consort” – wife of a King), even though that status is usually given to Mary I who through popular consent and stronger military support, soon took the crown from Jane and eventually had her executed.

The strongly Protestant Edward had tried to determine the succession after his impending death, to make sure the crown didn’t go to his half sister, the Catholic Mary; but the justification for by-passing Mary (alleged illegitimacy) also applied to his other sister the protestant Elizabeth. The next in line to the throne after his half-sisters was Edward’s cousin, Jane Grey, a choice most likely influenced by John Dudley, the Duke of Northumberland.

Jane didn’t want to be Queen, but was used by the power hungry Duke of Northumberland and her father, the Duke of Suffolk, who between them arranged marriage between Jane and Northumberland’s son Gilbert Dudley, hoping to install Northumberland’s own family on the throne after the death of Edward VI.

But the plan failed and Northumberland, Suffolk, Jane and Gilbert Dudley were all sent to their end, courtesy of the axe-man.

Despite the failure of Northumberland’s scheme, his hope for his family to ascend to the throne later came close to fruition through another of his sons. Although condemned to die with those mentioned above,  Robert Dudley was spared and after Queen Mary’s death became a favoured suitor of Queen Elizabeth I.