Queen Jane takes possession of the Tower
‘The fortress would become in rapid succession her palace, her prison, her scaffold – and her tomb.’ (p.229, Jones)
On the afternoon of Monday 10th July 1553, Lady Jane Dudley arrived at the Tower of London to be proclaimed Queen.
De Lisle writes that Jane ‘arrived by barge at Westminster from Richmond. In her rooms royal robes had been laid out for her…Having dressed, Jane returned to her covered boat and was rowed to Northumberland’s palace at Durham House, where she dined at noon.’ (p.112, de Lisle)
Ives describes how then ‘a procession of barges took Jane to the Tower with her husband, her parents, the duchess of Northumberland and ‘other ladies attended by a great following.’ They landed at the royal stairs which gave access by a bridge over the moat to the Byward Tower, but since she was ‘received as queen’ and there were spectators, it is more likely that Jane processed along the wharf and into the Tower by the main entrance, the Lion Gate.’ (p.187-188, Ives)
In her letter to Queen Mary, written in August 1553 Jane describes events of June/July 1553. Ives writes ‘A letter of explanation and confession to the queen is the one written appeal from Jane that would have been allowed, the August date is what one would expect, and remarks made by Mary to the imperial ambassador on the 13th indicate that she received such a letter.’ (p.19, Ives)
Jane’s letter to Queen Mary survives in 2 different versions. ‘Substantial in length – over 1,000 words in translation – it first appears in an account written in 1554 by a papal official and future cardinal, Giovanni Francesco Commendone.’ (p.18, Ives) Ives write that ‘…in 1591 a similar text attributed to Jane surfaces in the Storia Ecclesiastica della Rivoluzione d’Inghilterra…Pollini…claims to have used a text obtained from London.’ (p.18, Ives).
Two versions of Jane’s letter exist. This is how she recounts these events:
‘Then, as everybody knows, the following day I was brought to the Tower and shortly afterwards the Lord Great Treasurer gave me the jewels and brought also the Crown, without having been asked for it in my name, and he wanted me to try it on to see if it did become me. And as I refused, he told me that another would also be made to crown my husband as King; this suggestion aggrieved me and when the said Lord had left, I talked the matter over with my husband until he agreed that in case of he being made King, that would be by me and by act of Parliament. But afterwards I summoned the Earls of Arundel and Pembroke and told them if the Crown pertained to me, I should be pleased to make my husband a Duke, but I should never consent to make him a King. When that was reported to his mother she got very angry at me and induced her son not to sleep any more with me and he did it, telling me that he did not want to be a Duke, but King. So much so that in the end I was compelled to send to him the Earls of Arundel and Pembroke to persuade him to come to me; otherwise I knew that the following morning he would have gone to Sion. Thus I have been deceived by the Duke, by the Council and by my husband and ill treated by his mother; furthermore it is known that John Gates has avowed that he was the first to suggest to the King to name me as his successor. Apart from it I ignore what the Council might have decided to do, but know very well that twice I have envenomed the first one at the house of the Duchess and afterwards at the Tower. And that I state as witness of my own innocence.’ (p.45 Malfatti)
‘On the day following (as is known to every one) I was conducted to the Tower, and shortly afterwards were presented to me by the Marquis of Winchester, lord high treasurer, the jewels, with which he also brought me the crown, although it had never been demanded from him by me, or by any one in my name; and he further wished me to put it on my head, to try whether it really became me well or no. The which, although with many excuses I refused to do, he nevertheless added, that I might take it without fear, and that another also should be made, to crown my husband with me. Which thing, I, for my part, heard truly with a troubled mind, and with ill will, even with infinite grief and displeasure of heart. And after the said lord was gone, and I was reasoning of many things with my husband, he assented, that if he were to be made King, he would be made so by me, by act of parliament. But afterwards I sent for the earls of Arundel and Pembroke, and said to them that if the crown belonged to me, I should be content to make my husband a duke, but would never consent to make him king. Which resolution of mine gave his mother (this my opinion being related to her) great cause for anger and disdain, so that she, being very angry with me,’ and greatly displeased, persuaded her son not to sleep with me any longer as he was wont to do, affirming to me moreover that he did not wish in any wise to be a duke, but a king. So that I was constrained to send to him the earls of Arundel and Pembroke, who had negotiated with him to come from me, otherwise I knew, that the next morning he would have gone to Sion. And thus in truth was I deceived by the duke and the council and ill-treated by my husband and his mother. Moreover (as Sir John Gates has confessed) he (the duke) was the first to persuade King Edward to make me his heir. As to the rest, for my part, I know not what the council had determined to do, but I know for certain that, twice during this time, poison was given to me, first in tire house of the duchess of Northumberland, and afterwards here in the Tower, as I have the best and most certain testimony, besides that since that time all my hair has fallen off, and all these things I have wished to say, for the witness of my innocence, and the dis-burdening of my conscience. (p.487-498, Stone)
Henry Machyn (a citizen and Merchant Taylor of London) reported the event in his diary.
‘The x day of July was reseyved in to the Towre (the Queen Jane) with a grett company of lords and nobulls…after the qwen, and the duches of Suffke her mother, bering her trayn, with mony lades, and ther was a shot of gunnes and chamburs has nott be sene oft be-tweyn iii and v of (the clock); by vj of the cloke be-gane the proclamasyon of the same (after-) non (of) qwen Jane with ij Harold(s) and a trompet blohyng (declaring) that my lade Mare was unlawfully be-gotten, and so (went throught) Chepe to Fletstrett, proclamyng qwen Jane; and ther was a yong man taken that tym for spykng of serten words of qwen Mare, that she had the right tytle.’ (p.35, Machyn – British History Online)
The author of ‘The Chronicle of Queen Jane and of Two Years of Queen Mary, and Especially of the Rebellion of Sir Thomas Wyat’ wrote:
‘The 10 of July, in the afternoone, about 3 of the clocke, lady Jane was convayed by water to the Tower of London, and there received as queene. After five of the clocke, the same afternoone, was proclamation made of the death of king Edward the sixt, and how hee had ordained by his letters patent bearing sate the 21. Of June last past that the lady Jane should be heire to the Crowne of England, and the heire males of her body, &e.’(p.3, Nichols)
The Chronicle of the Grey Friars reported that:
‘Item the x. day of the same monythe after vij. a clocke at nyght was made a proclamacyon at the crosse in Chepe by iij. harraldes and one trompet with the kynges shreffe of London master Garrard with dyvers of the grade for Jane the duke of Suffolkes dowter to be the qwene of Ynglond, (but fewe or none sayd “Good save hare,” the whyche was browte that same afternone from Richemond un-to Westmyster, and soo unto the tower of London by watter. ‘
From: ‘The Chronicle of the Grey Friars: Jane’, Chronicle of the Grey Friars of London: Camden Society old series, volume 53 (1852), pp. 78-80. URL: http://www.british-history.ac.uk/report.aspx?compid=51589 Date accessed: 03 July 2013.
The Spanish ambassadors in England reported the following to Prince Philip on July 20th:
‘The late King died on a Thursday, and on the following Monday the elder daughter of the said Duke of Suffolk was proclaimed Queen in virtue of the will. She made her entry into this city of London and repaired to the Tower, where she was received as Queen and placed in possession of the realm.’ From: ‘Spain: July 1553, 16-20’, Calendar of State Papers, Spain, Volume 11: 1553 (1916), pp. 90-109. URL: http://www.british-history.ac.uk/report.aspx?compid=88485 Date accessed: 09 July 2013.
Also dated 20th July, ‘ Advices from England’ (written by an Italian resident in London) reported:
‘On Saturday the Duke—and when I say “Duke” you are to understand “Northumberland”—went to Sion House, whither all the other members of the Council repaired on Sunday to a great banquet attended by the two Duchesses and the Lady Jane, daughter of the Duke of Suffolk, who was afterwards proclaimed Queen. The Council fixed upon their plan of action, and on Monday, at two o’clock in the afternoon, there came in the royal barges the Duke of Suffolk; my Lord Guilford, son of the Duke and husband of the Lady Jane; the Lady Jane herself, the two Duchesses and other ladies attended by a great following, and landed at the Tower where the Duke and the other Councillors were waiting to bid the Lady Jane, whose train was carried by her mother, welcome to the Tower. The same evening, to the people’s small contentment and without shouting or other sign of rejoicing, she was proclaimed Queen, as you will have seen by a proclamation that was forwarded to M. Germino. I was present in person when the proclamation was made, and among all the faces I saw there, not one showed any expression of joy.’
From: ‘Spain: July 1553, 16-20’, Calendar of State Papers, Spain, Volume 11: 1553 (1916), pp. 90-109. URL: http://www.british-history.ac.uk/report.aspx?compid=88485 Date accessed: 09 July 2013.
On the 10th July, ‘MM. de Courrières, de Thoulouse, Simon Renard and Jehan Scheyfve wrote the following to the Emperor:
‘We have been told, Sire, that the new King and Queen are to be proclaimed this very day in the Tower of London and at Westminster; and we have heard that the Council have quite decided not to allow the Lady Mary to succeed.’
Later that day they added to their report that:
‘At about four o’clock this afternoon the ceremony of the state entry was performed at the Tower of London with the accustomed pomp. The new Queen’s train was carried by her mother, the Duchess of Suffolk; and there were not many people present to witness the act. When it was over, criers at the street-corners published an order given under the Great Seal of England, by which, by the new Queen’s authority, the Lady Mary was declared unfitted for the Crown, as also the Lady Elizabeth. Both ladies were declared to be bastards; and it was stated that the Lady Mary might marry a foreigner and thus stir up trouble in the kingdom and introduce a foreign government, and also that as she was of the old religion she might seek to introduce popery. However, no one present showed any sign of rejoicing, and no one cried: “Long live the Queen!” except the herald who made the proclamation and a few archers who followed him. Thus your Majesty may gather the state of feeling in England towards the Lady Mary. We will endeavour to obtain a copy of the above proclamation in order to send it to your Majesty.’
From: ‘Spain: July 1553, 1-10’, Calendar of State Papers, Spain, Volume 11: 1553 (1916), pp. 69-80. URL: http://www.british-history.ac.uk/report.aspx?compid=88483 Date accessed: 09 July 2013.
On 27th July, Francisco de Vargas wrote to Prince Philip:
‘Immediately after the King’s death, he (i.e. Northumberland) fetched her out as Queen, and made her take possession of the Tower of London and go through the usual ceremonies; for the Earl (i.e. Northumberland) had all the troops in his hands, and had obtained the support of many other persons to carry out his designs.’
From: ‘Spain: July 1553, 21-31’, Calendar of State Papers, Spain, Volume 11: 1553 (1916), pp. 109-127. URL: http://www.british-history.ac.uk/report.aspx?compid=88486 Date accessed: 09 July 2013.
The Tower of London is in central London on the north bank of the Thames.
Some Key Dates in the Tudor History of the Tower of London
‘1503 – 11 February – Queen Elizabeth of York dies just over a week after giving birth.
1509 – 21 June – King Henry VIII arrives at the Tower to prepare for his coronation.
1536 – 19 May – Anne Boleyn is executed.
1542 – 13 February – Katherine Howard and Lady Jane Rochford are executed.
1547 – 19 February – King Edward VI leaves for his coronation procession.
1553 – 10 July – Queen Jane takes possession of the Tower.
1553 – 19 July – Queen Jane’s reign ends at the Tower.
1553 – 3 August – Queen Mary I takes possession of the Tower.
1553 – 22 August – John Dudley, Duke of Northumberland is executed.
1553 – 29 August – The author of the ‘Chronicle of Queen Jane etc’ dines with Lady Jane at Nathaniel Partridge’s house.
1554 – 12 February – Lady Jane and Lord Guildford Dudley are executed.
1554 – 23 February – Henry Grey, Duke of Suffolk is executed.
1558 – 12 January – Elizabeth I arrives to prepare for her coronation.’
From ‘On This Day in Tudor History by Claire Ridgway.’
The Tower of London Today
De Lisle, L. (2010) The Sisters Who Would Be Queen: The Tragedy of Mary, Katherine and Lady Jane Grey, HarperPress.
Ives, E. (2009) Lady Jane Grey: A Tudor Mystery, Wiley-Blackwell.
Jones, N. (2011) Tower: An Epic History of the Tower of London, Windmill Books
Malfatti, C V. (1956) The Accession Coronation and Marriage of Mary Tudor as related in four manuscripts of the Escorial
Nichols, J. G (ed) (1850) The Chronicle of Queen Jane and of Two Years of Queen Mary and Especially of the Rebellion of Sir Thomas Wyatt, Written by a Resident in the Tower of London, Llanerch Publishers
Ridgway, C. (2012) On This Day in Tudor History, Made Global Publishing.
Stone, J M. (1901) The History of Mary I Queen of England, Sands & Co
‘Diary: 1553 (Jul – Dec)’, The Diary of Henry Machyn: Citizen and Merchant-Taylor of London (1550-1563) (1848), pp. 34-50. URL: http://www.british-history.ac.uk/report.aspx?compid=45512 Date accessed: 10 July 2013
‘The Chronicle of the Grey Friars: Jane’, Chronicle of the Grey Friars of London: Camden Society old series, volume 53 (1852), pp. 78-80. URL: http://www.british-history.ac.uk/report.aspx?compid=51589 Date accessed: 03 July 2013.
‘Spain: July 1553, 16-20’, Calendar of State Papers, Spain, Volume 11: 1553 (1916), pp. 90-109. URL: http://www.british-history.ac.uk/report.aspx?compid=88485 Date accessed: 09 July 2013.
‘Spain: July 1553, 1-10’, Calendar of State Papers, Spain, Volume 11: 1553 (1916), pp. 69-80. URL: http://www.british-history.ac.uk/report.aspx?compid=88483 Date accessed: 09 July 2013.
‘Spain: July 1553, 21-31’, Calendar of State Papers, Spain, Volume 11: 1553 (1916), pp. 109-127. URL: http://www.british-history.ac.uk/report.aspx?compid=88486 Date accessed: 09 July 2013.