We love retellings, reimagining’s, and just plain totally different outcomes to well-known stories. But sometimes it helps to know what really went down before venturing into alternative endings.
The new YA novel My Lady Jane crafts a whole new outcome to the real-life person Lady Jane Grey. But who was the real Lady Jane Grey? Sometimes when you read historical fiction novels it helps to have a working knowledge of the actual history in order to fully appreciate the story. I don’t know about you, but I definitely do not remember everything from my European history classes so before you dive into this hilarious new novel, we’re here to give you the true, completely un-made-up facts about real life Lady Jane Grey!
Let’s break it down:
Fact #1: Lady Jane Grey was a teenage noblewoman during the English Tudor era.
Jane was born in either 1536 or 1537 (it was a long time ago), and was the great-granddaughter of Henry VII.
Fact #2: She was related to Edward VI.
Jane and Edward VI were first cousins once removed. If you have no idea what that means (like me), here’s a breakdown: Jane’s mom was a daughter of one of King Henry VIII’s sisters, and King Henry VIII is Edward’s VI dad. Got it? Great.
Fact #3: She really was a booknerd!
During a time when educating women was totes rare, Jane had her own tutor and she preferred books instead of other popular activities of the time (read: hunting, child-birthing).
Fact #4: Married to Lord Guildford Dudley.
Jane and Guildford were married on May 25 1553 with two other couples in a TRIPLE wedding, which apparently was A Thing back then.
Fact #5: Edward named Jane his successor to the throne on his deathbed.
As King, Edward had the power to name who would take the throne after he died. This is where Guildford’s dad comes into play: John Dudley, Duke of Northumberland, possibly persuaded Edward to name Jane as his successor. If Jane and his son Guildford became the power couple of England, he would be able to wield influence and mooch off their power for his own status. Not cool.
Fact #6: Others wanted Mary I (Edward’s older half-sister) to reign supreme.
Background: in short, there was a lot of beef between Roman Catholics and Protestants during this time. King Henry VIII split from the Roman Catholic Church because he wanted an annulment from his wife, but the Church was not cool with that. So Henry VIII was like “I’mma let you finish, but I’m gonna start the best church of all time.” This Protestant sect became what is known as The Church of England. While a lot of the populace followed the King into this new church, a lot of other people were not that into it and wanted to still practice Roman Catholicism. In fact, Mary I, Henry VIII’s own daughter, wanted to uphold the Roman Catholic Church. So when the Protestant King Edward VI died, supporters of Mary I saw this an opportunity to put a Catholic ruler on the throne, and Mary I began to rally her supporters in the short time following King Edward’s VI death.
Fact #7: Jane was Queen of England for 9 days.
Jane and Guildford moved to the Tower of London and started the biznaz of ruling England, including discussing matters with the Privy Council (a group of influential advisors to the Crown). While Jane was settling in, John Dudley, Duke of Northumberland (remember him?) realized Mary I was amassing power and left the Tower of London to squash her. Unfortch, that situation totally backfired and while he was gone, the Privy Council switched their allegiance from Jane to Mary I, announcing Mary I as the true Queen of England.
Fact #8: Jane was convicted of high treason and sentenced to death.
So was Guildford, two of his brothers, and a lot of other people. Guildford’s father John Dudley, Duke of Northumberland, was also executed. On February 12, 1554 Guildford was beheaded and his corpse was brought past the room where Jane was staying (BRUTAL). Minutes after, Jane, the teenager and former Queen, was brought to the executioner and beheaded.
Okay, are you crying?? Me too. Talk about total injustice. And she was super young, probably 16 or 17 years old! Who wouldn’t want to imagine a different ending for Lady Jane Grey? Start reading My Lady Jane for a comical, fantastical, romantical version of what could (and should) have happened to Jane.
Can’t get enough of what really happened to Lady Jane Grey? Check out this nonfiction books below:
• The Sisters Who Would Be Queen
• Lady Jane Grey: A Tudor Mystery
• Coronation of Glory: The Story of Lady Jane Grey