Trial in fiction

On 13th November 1553, Lady Jane and Guildford Dudley stood trial at the Guildhall in London.

The trial has featured in a number of historical novels.

In A Dangerous Inheritance by Alison Weir, the announcement of the trial is seen through Katherine Grey’s eyes.

‘Although the Queen has assured me that the trial is merely a formality, and that a pardon will follow when the time is right, the announcement strikes dread into my heart. It reminds me how perilously close Jane has been brought to her utter ruin. May God grant that the Queen stays firm in her resolve to show mercy.’

(c) Arrow, p.178

In The Lady of Misrule by Suzannah Dunn, events are viewed through the eyes of Jane’s lady-in-waiting in the Tower, Elizabeth Tilney.

‘When the Partridges invited us down to dine, one evening in early November, it was because they had news for Jane: there was a date for the trial, the 13th, a mere week away. Jane gave no sign of how she felt to hear it, and perhaps she felt nothing at all. She’d been living with the threat of the trial for a long time, and, as Mr Partridge was quick to reiterate, it was of no real consequence, whatever the verdict: it had to be done; it was just something to be gone through.’

Abacus, p. 256-7

In The Last Tudor by Philippa Gregory, the walk to the Guildhall is seen through Jane’s eyes.

‘The streets from the Tower to Guildhall are lined with guards, our procession of prisoners is lead by the executioner’s axe, followed by Thomas Cranmer…immediately behind him comes my husband, Guildford, pale and clearly frightened, and only then me, escorted by two of my ladies-in-waiting.

…I wore a black gown, a black hood trimmed with jet and a black furred cape. I carry an open prayer book in my hands and I read it as I walk, though the small print jiggles before my eyes and, to tell the truth, I can see nothing. It doesn’t matter; I know the prayers off by heart.’

(c) Simon & Schuster UK, p.86-87

In Innocent Traitor by Alison Weir, the trial is seen from Jane’s point of view.

‘In the huge vaulted hall, with its beautiful stained-glass windows and soaring arches, we three stand at the bar, facing a jury of our peers…and Lord Chief Justice Morgan, seated in his high place beneath the arms of England. The indictments are read out, and witnesses called.

…It is all over rather quickly. Although I have been warned to expect it, I listen in alarm as the peers deliver their unanimous verdict of guilty, and the Lord Chief Justice addresses us sternly.

‘Lord Guildford Dudley, you have been found guilty of high treason. The sentence of this court is that you be hanged, drawn and quartered at the Queen’s pleasure. May the Lord have mercy on your soul.’

Guildford’s already pale face blenches and he starts to shake.. I put a steadying hand on his arm., but the Lord Chief Justice sees it and frowns at me.

‘Lady Jane Dudley,’ he pronounces, ‘you have also been found guilty of high treason. The sentence of this court is that you be burned alive on Tower Hill or beheaded as the Queen pleases. And may the Lord have mercy on your soul.’

His words strike such terror into that soul that I barely hear him sentencing poor Cranmer to be burned at the stake. By an immense effort of will, I maintain my outward composure, curtsey to the judges and peers and allow myself to be led away.’

(c) Arrow, p.364-365

Find out more about the authors and buy their books from

Suzannah Dunn – Greene & Heaton
The Lady of Misrule

Philippa Gregory
The Last Tudor

Alison Weir
A Dangerous Inheritance
Innocent Traitor

Posted in Events in Fiction | Tagged , , , , , | Comments Off on Trial in fiction

Tudor Queens: The Hearts and Stomachs of Kings – Southwark Cathedral 28th March

Lady Jane Grey is included in the ‘Tudor Queens: The Hearts and Stomachs of Kings’ day at Southwark Cathedral next March.

(c) Southwark Cathedral

Tudor Queens: The Hearts and Stomachs of Kings
Saturday 28th March 2020
Southwark Cathedral

‘As the nation celebrates Women’s History Month in March 2020, Southwark Cathedral are delighted to host a day of talks focusing on the Tudor Queens who shaped the history of modern Britain.

Four of the country’s foremost historians on the Tudor period present four different presentations. The day will conclude with a panel discussion with our speakers, who will debate the day’s talks and take questions from the audience.

If you are interested in the Tudor period or women’s history then join us to discover the six wives of Henry VIII, the scandal between Elizabeth I and Thomas Seymour which led to the creation of the Virgin Queen, the intimate feminized world of the Elizabethan court and the moving, human story of Lady Jane Grey.’

From Southwark Cathedral

Talks include:

Six Wives of Henry VIII by Alison Weir

Crown of Blood: The Deadly Inheritance of Lady Jane Grey by Dr Nicola Tallis

The Temptation of Elizabeth Tudor by Dr Elizabeth Norton

Elizabeth’s Bedfellows: An Intimate History of the Queen’s Court by Dr Anna Whitelock

To buy tickets and for further information see: Tudor Queens: The Hearts and Stomachs of Kings

Posted in Talks | Tagged , , , , , , | Comments Off on Tudor Queens: The Hearts and Stomachs of Kings – Southwark Cathedral 28th March

Books 2019 – on sale today – Uncrowned Queen: The Fateful Life of Margaret Beaufort, Tudor Matriarch by Nicola Tallis

(c) Michael O’Mara

‘During the bloody and uncertain days of the Wars of the Roses, Margaret Beaufort was married to the half brother of the Lancastrian king Henry VI. A year later she endured a traumatic birth that brought her and her son close to death. She was just thirteen years old.

As the battle for royal supremacy raged between the houses of Lancaster and York, Margaret, who was descended from Edward III and thus a critical threat, was forced to give up her son – she would be separated from him for fourteen years. But few could match Margaret for her boundless determination and steely courage. Surrounded by enemies and conspiracies in the enemy Yorkist court, Margaret remained steadfast, only just escaping the headman’s axes as she plotted to overthrow Richard III in her efforts to secure her son the throne.

Against all odds, in 1485 Henry Tudor was victorious on the battlefield at Bosworth. Through Margaret’s royal blood Henry was crowned Henry VII, King of England, and Margaret became the most powerful woman in England – Queen in all but name.

Nicola Tallis’s gripping account of Margaret’s life, one that saw the final passing of the Middle Ages, is a true thriller, revealing the life of an extraordinarily ambitious and devoted woman who risked everything to ultimately found the Tudor dynasty.’

From –

Further details – Michael O’Mara Books

Further details –

Posted in Books 2019 | Tagged , , | Comments Off on Books 2019 – on sale today – Uncrowned Queen: The Fateful Life of Margaret Beaufort, Tudor Matriarch by Nicola Tallis

Books 2019 – on sale now – Stephen and Matilda’s Civil War: Cousins of Anarchy by Matthew Lewis

(c) Pen and Sword History

‘The Anarchy was the first civil war in post-Conquest England, enduring throughout the reign of King Stephen between 1135 and 1154. It ultimately brought about the end of the Norman dynasty and the birth of the mighty Plantagenet kings. When Henry I died having lost his only legitimate son in a shipwreck, he had caused all of his barons to swear to recognize his daughter Matilda, widow of the Holy Roman Emperor, as his heir and remarried her to Geoffrey, Count of Anjou. When she was slow to move to England on her father’s death, Henry’s favourite nephew Stephen of Blois rushed to have himself crowned, much as Henry himself had done on the death of his brother William Rufus. Supported by his brother Henry, Bishop of Winchester, Stephen made a promising start, but Matilda would not give up her birthright and tried to hold the English barons to their oaths. The result was more than a decade of civil war that saw England split apart. Empress Matilda is often remembered as aloof and high-handed, Stephen as ineffective and indecisive. By following both sides of the dispute and seeking to understand their actions and motivations, Matthew Lewis aims to reach a more rounded understanding of this crucial period of English history and asks to what extent there really was anarchy.’


Further details -Pen and Sword Books

Further details

Posted in Books 2019 | Tagged , , | Comments Off on Books 2019 – on sale now – Stephen and Matilda’s Civil War: Cousins of Anarchy by Matthew Lewis

‘The House of Grey: Friends & Foes of Kings’ Interview with Melita Thomas

Melita’s first book, ‘The King’s Pearl: Henry VIII and his daughter Mary’ was published by Amberley in 2017. Her new book, ‘The House of Grey: Friends & Foes of Kings’ was published by Amberley in September 2019.

Melita is also the co-founder and editor of Tudor Times, a repository of information about Tudors and Stewarts in the period 1485-1625

Buy ‘The House of Grey’:

Amberley Publishing

(c) Melita Thomas

Follow Melita and the Tudor Times on Social Media

Tudor Times: Tudor Times
Facebook: Tudor Times
Twitter: @thetudortimes

Many thanks to Melita for answering my questions.

(c) Amberley Publishing

Why did you choose this subject for your book?

The Greys first really came to my attention when I was writing my first book, The King’s Pearl. I was surprised by discovering how frequently the Grey family was involved in both the political and familial life of the English court during the period 1516 – 1547 that I was looking at. I wanted to know why the Greys were so much a part of the inner circle, where they had come from, and why the family which had served Edward IV, Edward V, Henry VII, Henry VIII and Edward VI so loyally, then made a bid for the Crown.

What does your book add to existing works about the Grey family?

I was interested in two areas in particular – first, the role of Thomas Grey, 1st Marquis of Dorset, in the events of Spring – Summer 1483, when his half-brother, Edward V was deposed and disappeared, to be replaced by Richard III. What was the root of the enmity between Dorset and Hastings – was there any evidence of it before this period? The second, and perhaps most burning question related to the events of the summer of 1553 – why did the Grey family support the idea that sixteen-year-old Jane should be chosen to succeed Edward VI – a notion that had little legal support and no public support beyond a small circle of radical Protestants surrounding the king. Was it just ambition, or something else? My research gave me a very different view of the motives of the various players – particularly those of Henry Grey, Duke of Suffolk.

Another area little covered elsewhere is the experience of the Grey family in Ireland. I had previously been completely unaware that Lord Leonard Grey was a Deputy Lieutenant of Ireland, and died, like his ally, Thomas Cromwell, on the block. Similarly, his sister, Lady Elizabeth Grey, Countess of Kildare was also involved in Irish politics.

What surprised you most researching this book?

I think that Thomas Grey, 1st Marquis of Dorset has been rather unfairly maligned by history books – characterised as ambitious and self-seeking. He may, of course, have displayed those characteristics, but he also showed himself to be a grateful and loyal step-son to Edward IV, and his support for his half-siblings, Edward V and Elizabeth of York deserves more recognition. I was also surprised by how much more sympathetic I felt towards Suffolk’s actions – although as an individual, I did not find him appealing – he was horrible to his mother!

Which generation of the Greys did you enjoy writing about the most?

Tricky, as all the generations have some element of interest. I think, perhaps, the lives of 1st Marquis of Dorset and his wife, Cecily were most new to me in total, but the change in my understanding of the events around Lady Jane’s tragic story was the most engaging to me as a historian – looking at the sources, and really trying to understand why they did what they did, and emerging with a different view.

Who did you find most difficult to write about?

The most complicated thing to write about was Ireland – the politics of Tudor Ireland are incredibly complex, and we still feel the long-term consequences of them every day – in fact, particularly at present as the status of Northern Ireland remains a thorny issue. To try to piece together what happened without reading backwards from the results, and to treat the topic as impartially as possible when many secondary sources are heavily influenced by centuries of political division, was hard.

Are there any members of the family whose stories deserve to be better known?

I particularly liked Cecily Bonville, wife of 1st Marquis of Dorset. She was one of the greatest heiresses in England, but being an heiress had a high price – dissent in her family over money, and constant efforts to keep everyone happy that could never succeed. Another interesting woman I’d like to know more about, although whether anything more can be found is doubtful, is Lady Elizabeth Grey, Countess of Kildare – she married without her family’s consent, and found herself in the maelstrom of Irish politics.

Did you learn anything new about Lady Jane Grey during your research?

I definitely emerged with a different picture of Jane’s relationship with her parents, her father in particular. The two were united in their religious faith, and their determination to bring a radical form of Protestantism to England – far from Jane being a tool of his ambition, the two shared a vision.

How does their success/failure at court as a family, compare with that of their rivals, the Howards?

The difference between the families is that the Howards had significant landed wealth which gave them great influence. The Greys, despite having the title of a marquisate, did not have that level of power – their wealth was entirely based on the landed estates of the baronies of Harington and Bonville, brought to the 1st Marquis by his wife, Cecily Bonville. The Greys’ influence stemmed from their familial relationship with the king and their total loyalty to him. Militarily, the Greys did not have the skills of the Howards – the 2nd Duke of Norfolk and two of his sons, the 3rd Duke of Norfolk and Lord Edward Howard were Henry VIII’s most trusted commanders. Although the Greys were involved in Henry VIII’s wars and tried their best, they were not as talented as leaders or generals. Nor did they ever achieve the level of influence in Council that the Howards did. Henry VIII was a brilliant judge of men – he chose his ministers for their skills and talents, even if he then sometimes cast them aside in a self-destructive way. He was personally fond of 2nd Marquis and his siblings, but it is clear that he had a very low opinion of the military or political skills of the 3rd Marquis (later Duke of Suffolk).

Posted in Interview | Tagged , , , | Comments Off on ‘The House of Grey: Friends & Foes of Kings’ Interview with Melita Thomas