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Your Questions on Lady Jane Grey and Tudor History Answered

Email to me your questions on Lady Jane Grey or Tudor history and
I will attempt to answer them as quickly and as thoroughly as possible.

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Please, so that I may provide the best possible answer, tell me:
a) what level you are at in your studies (i.e., elementary or high school,
university undergraduate, graduate student),
b) whether or not you have access to a college or university library.

  Erin asks:  
    I came across a portrait of an unknown woman at the Minneapolis Institute of Arts some time ago. She struck me as being a candidate for Lady Jane due to the following: she is thin, red hair, young, obviously protestant, wearing a rather plain black gown. This portrait seems in keeping with the dress and times of the reign of Edward VI. I am a complete amateur English history enthusiast so when I walked into the room with this portrait my first impression was “That looks like a sad Jane Grey.” Here is a link to the portrait:
    I had contacted Allison Weir about this in 2009. She was interested at first in investigating the personage of the portrait but didn’t have time to look into it. I then loss interest and dropped it, but it came to mind again today so I thought I’d send you the information. I found your site and see your investigations into differing possibilities for Lady Jane and didn’t see this one listed. Perhaps I’m way off and this is for some reason “obviously” not Jane but I wanted to bring it to your attention. Even if not Jane, perhaps her identity could be discovered anyway.
    Part of Alison Weir’s response: “Two kings
[seen on the jewel]. On my enlarged scan they look like masks. Are they allegorical, I wonder, or are they meant to represent two kings connected to the sitter? Francis I and Henry VIII? The Renaissance style of dress worn by the figure on the brooch could date it to an earlier decade than the early 1550s – it suggests to me the 1530s – and it may have been passed down to, or acquired by, the sitter, although it could be of a contemporary date too. That isn’t a proper Tudor rose above the figure. It’s not unusual to see Tudor ladies of this period portrayed with stick-thin arms – which is typical of portraits by Levina Teerlinc, although this artist is more accomplished – and long, tapering fingers, viz. numerous portraits of Elizabeth I. Yet I agree that the sitter is young – the face is the clinching evidence. The rich sleeves, costume and jewellery proclaim her to be a young lady of rank or high status. The book indicates her learning and virtue. The sombre colours suggest a Protestant maiden. Your entry for Lady Jane Grey’s inventory is very interesting. That scroll is quite bright and could be mother of pearl. The brooch is almost certainly gold. ‘Saile’ means a sail on a boat as we understand it in etymological terms, but it is interesting to note that the Latin for sail, velum, has a diminutive, vexillum, which means a standard or flag. It may be that the person who drew up that inventory meant the latter. That might well describe the scroll.”
    Yes, I am already aware of the MIA portrait. Together with Hope Walker, a colleague at the Courtauld Institute of Art in London, I conducted exhaustive research on the portrait a couple of years ago, though for various reasons I have not yet posted that research on my website.
    The portrait is certainly an interesting one, but in the end, we had to conclude that it is most probably not Lady Jane Grey. The costume, especially the high-standing collar, seems to date to a few years after Jane’s death, among other issues.
    In your first paragraph, you refer to the appearance of the lady in the painting (thin, red hair, young) and seem to imply that it somehow corresponds to Jane’s appearance. Unfortunately, we have no idea at all what Jane Grey actually looked like. The famous and oft-cited letter of Spinola, found originally in Richard Davey’s bio of Jane from 1909, has been shown by Leanda de Lisle to be in all likelihood an invention of Davey’s imagination (as are so many other details in his book). I have done my own research on the Spinola letter and reached the same conclusion: that it is probably fake. Virtually no other authentic primary source exists to tell us what Jane looked like, so any assessment of the sitter in the painting based on her appearance is invalid.
    There is nothing in the MIA portrait to support a conclusion that she is “obviously protestant.” Prayerbooks of the kind she is holding originated with Catholics, and her figured jewel is not conclusive for protestantism. That the prayerbook appears to be perhaps in English may be suggestive of protestantism, since most (but not all!) Catholic devotional texts were in Latin, but that is neither obvious nor conclusive.
    The wearing of a “plain black gown” is a grossly misunderstood (by the general public) symbol in 16th century portraiture. Black was neither a symbol of austerity nor of mourning. If anything, it was a symbol of wealth and status. In heraldry, the field from which most 16th century symbols were drawn, black (or “sable”, as it is called by heralds) is considered a noble color and one of status second only to white (“ermine”). Further, the dye process used to achieve a stable dark black color was both complex and expensive, so that pure black fabrics were very costly. As a result, black was a commonly worn color mostly among the nobility, worn specifically as a symbol of wealth and status. Note that Mary Tudor is often seen wearing black.
    Just to give you some idea of how exhaustively we researched this picture, allow me to say that we actually commissioned specialized digital photography of the prayerbook. The photos were taken at super-high-resolution and using near-infra-red light only. We then sent those photographs to a scientist at the Ames Jet Propulsion Laboratory at the California Institute of Technology. He very kindly processed the photos through the same computer software that is used for the Mars Rovers and the Galileo mission to Jupiter. That process picks up the spectral emission of certain elements, amplifying their signal. We had hoped that by using this process we would be able to highlight the carbon with which the black paint of the script of the prayerbook was painted, thereby making the script more legible. Unfortunately, too-aggressive cleaning of the painting in the past has removed too much of the lamp-black of the pigment, and we were unsuccessful in making the script more legible.
    With all due respect to Ms Weir, she is not an academically trained historian and thus her knowledge and research abilities are limited. The “saile” on the jewel, for example, has no direct relation to the sails of boats. The term and the artistic element both appear quite commonly in this period and refer to what we would today call a “balloon” in comics ... that is, a text that has been circumscribed and “floated” within an image to denote the speech of the person depicted. Such “sailes” appear very commonly in engravings of the period. In modern art-history terminology, they are called “banderoles.”
    The woman depicted in the jewel is almost certainly Saint Mary Magdalene. This conclusion is based on the presence of a cup on the floor at her feet. Saint Mary Magdelene is frequently denoted symbolically in artistic depictions by the presence of a cup, referring to the vessel of ointment with which one of the three Biblical Marys anointed Jesus’s feet (the 16th century Mary Magdalene was a conflation of three separate and distinct Biblical Marys). Magdalene was also often portrayed in this period playing a lute (see the work of Master of the Female Half-Lengths, for example), and frequently portrayed in a grove of trees (one of the Marys supposedly became a hermit in the woods after Jesus’s death).
    The heads at the top of the jewel are not kings. Rather, they are classical satyrs. The use of that motif was very common in the period. See the portrait of Henry Howard, Earl of Surrey, found on Wikipedia (much as I hate to refer you to Wikipedia!) for a nearly identical example. They correspond to the fascination among the 16th century elite with classical Greco-Roman literature, languages, and art.
    Again, the gown worn by the lady is quite distinctively 1550s in origin, most especially the boned collar. It is inappropriate for the previous decades.
    Lastly, the painting was owned for a very long time by the Bodenhams of Rotherwas, a decidedly Catholic family. Prior to 1539, Cecily (or Cecilia) Bodenham was abbess of a Catholic nunnery (this painting was at one time erroneously identified as a portrait of Abbess Cecily, in fact). In the second half of the 16th century, the Bodenhams went into voluntary exile in Spain rather than convert to Protestantism. It would be exceedingly odd for such a staunchly Catholic family to preserve a portrait of a Protestant martyr, a circumstance that argues quite strongly against identifying the sitter as Lady Jane Grey.
    Taken as a whole, the evidence does not support identifying the sitter in MIA 87.6 as Lady Jane Grey. In all likelihood, she is an unknown member of the Bodenham family in the second half of the 1550s.
    We did actually send a copy of our findings to the MIA. They should have our written report on file with their documents related to this painting.
  Isadora asks:  
    I am a student doing year 12 and I am doing an Essay on Lady Jane Grey, I would like to ask you a particular question which would help enormously. The question is: Is there any evidence of negotiations for Jane’s marriage to Guilford before there betrothal was announced at the end of April 1553?
    An excellent question, one with a very simple answer. No, there is no evidence of the negotiations for Jane’s marriage to Guildford. Such negotiations certainly occurred, even if they were very brief. However, written record of pre-contractual or pre-betrothal negotiations for other similar couples have seldom survived from the 16th century. One usually sees only the practical outcome, such as lands and manors being reassigned to each of the newlyweds, and the establishment of dower rights and a jointure for the bride.
   It is my personal suspicion ... one which I cannot definitively prove ... that John Dudley promised Henry Grey as early as April 1553 to make Grey’s daughter queen, negating any need for dower rights and jointures.
  Isobel asks:  
    I am currently studying History in sixth form and I’m doing an essay about Lady Jane Grey. I was wondering if you could answer a couple of questions for me? I was wondering if the monarchy would have been different if Jane had never been Queen? Also did what happened to Jane change public perception of the monarchy? Were any of Jane’s policies ever retained?
    I am always happy to try to answer questions from young students.
    Would the monarchy have been different if Jane had never been queen? That is a difficult question, since her reign was so very brief. I assume you are referring to the institution of monarchy ... its powers and privileges. In that sense, no, I do not think there would have been any differences had Mary Tudor come to the crown directly, without Jane preceding her. Neither Jane nor her councillors asserted any new rights or privileges during those nine days of July 1553, so nothing really changed with respect to the Crown itself.
    Were any of Jane’s policies retained? The reign did not last sufficiently long for any policies to be developed or implemented. The sole preoccupation for Jane and the Privy Council during those nine days was the effort to prevent Mary Tudor from succeeding in her own claim to the throne. Other than that, her government simply continued all of the existing policies of Edward VI’s reign.
    Did what happened to Jane change public perception of the monarchy? I assume you are asking whether the fact that Jane was deposed and executed had any effect on how the general population viewed monarchy as a form of government. I would have to say no, it did not. The historical record is quite clear that the general population did indeed view Mary Tudor as the rightful heir to the throne, and saw Jane Grey as a usurper being manipulated by John Dudley (who was himself poorly regarded by most people). Mary had been a ‘public figure’, known to most people throughout England and abroad as Henry VIII’s daughter and an heir to the throne, for more than three decades. Jane, on the other hand, was a newcomer, having been in the ‘public eye’ for not more than three or four years, and even then only within London. When Jane was proclaimed queen on 10 July 1553, the crowds in the street were reportedly silent. When Mary was proclaimed nine days later, there was rejoicing, bonfires, and celebration. Thus we can assume that people were quite happy that Jane had been removed. As for her execution in February 1554, the vast majority of the population knew nothing about that until somewhat later. The event was held privately within the walls of the Tower, and there were no newspapers and such to report it. A pamphlet was printed later that summer, but only those who could read ... maybe 10% of the population ... could have had access to it. That Jane had been executed probably did not become widely known until a few years later, toward the end of Mary’s reign. By then it was ‘old news’ that had little impact on public perceptions of the monarchy. Other events, including Mary’s marriage to Phillip of Spain and the persecution of Protestants had a far greater impact on the ‘public image’ of the monarchy than did the death of Jane Grey.
  Savannah asks:  
    I am very interested in Lady Jane Grey, especially after watching the 1986 film Lady Jane. From what I have read, I understand that the movie very incorrectly portrays Jane and Guilford Dudley’s relationship. I was wondering if they even loved each other and what is known of their relationship.
    Almost nothing is known of the relationship between Jane and Guildford. They were “together” only very briefly, perhaps two months, from May to 19 July 1553. After 19 July, they were imprisoned separately, she in the Gentleman Gaoler’s house within the Tower of London, he in Beauchamp Tower. They did not see each other again after 19 July 1553. Thus there was very little time for them to develop much of a “relationship”. The notion that they were somehow “in love” started with a series of stage plays late in the seventeenth century and was greatly expanded upon in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, solely for purposes of telling a good story.
    In the movie you referred to, they are portrayed as moving off to some country house of their own. That did not happen. It is documented that they lived with Guildford’s parents between their wedding on 21 May and Jane’s accession on 10 July. Jane had her own bedroom, separate from Guildford, as was customary in the period. Certainly they had sexual relations (Jane reported that much Queen Mary in August), but for purposes of getting her pregnant, not because they were “in love”. Indeed, it is exceedingly unlikely that they were ever “in love”, in the modern sense of that term.
    In the days before their deaths, Guildford requested to see Jane once last time, but Jane refused.
    The inscription of the name “Jane” into the stone walls in two places in the Beauchamp Tower is often credited to Guildford, as evidence that he “loved” her. That is almost certainly the product of Victorian-era imagination. Jane was a common name (Guildford’s own mother was named Jane, for example), and the carvings could have been done by virtually anyone at any time.
  The author Susan Higginbotham asks:  
     I know from your website that you have a special interest in portraits of Lady Jane, and I was wondering if you'd ever come across this sketch [below] by Holbein that's mentioned by Paul Ganz in an article, ‘A Rediscovered Portrait of Charles Brandon, Duke of Suffolk’, in the August 1930 Burlington Magazine. Ganz writes, ‘[Charles Brandon's two sons by Katherine Willoughby] are found in a sketch for a family portrait (Ganz, C.R. No. 100), where they are in company of their step-sister Frances Brandon, Marchioness of Dorset, and her two elder daughters. The references is to Ganz, Paul. Les dessins de Hans Holbein le Jeune. Boissonas. Paris et Geneve, 1924.
     Have you ever seen this sketch? I suppose Lady Jane would be but a child in it, but I would dearly love to know what her mother looked like.

     The drawing itself is now in the British Museum, accession number 1852,0519.1.
     Much of Ganz's work has become outdated, and many of his Holbein attributions have been refuted. Indeed, the portrait of Charles Brandon that is the subject of the Burlington article has been re-attributed, and is clearly not a Holbein.
     Both the Tate and the British Museum offer extensive speculation on the identity of the sitters, all without reaching a firm conclusion. The British Museum dismisses early speculation that the sitter might  be either Francis Brandon Grey or Katherine Willoughby Brandon. Certainly the positioning of the boy on the extreme right is strikingly similar to that of Henry Brandon in the Holbein portrait of him from 1541, but Holbein often depicted various sitters in similar positions. And if the sketch were to date from such a late period, the two female children are of the correct approximate age to be Jane and Katherine Grey. However, the British Museum dates the sketch to the early portion of Holbein's time in England, circa 1532-33, based on stylistic grounds and materials used. If the sketch does indeed date to circa 1533, it would pre-date the birth of both Brandon boys and both Grey girls. And thus the woman is unlikely to be either Frances Brandon Grey or Katherine Willoughby Brandon.
     For my own part, I often wonder whether the Holbein sketch labeled ‘The Marchioness of Dorset’ and now in the Royal Collection might actually depict Frances Brandon Grey. Modern scholarship, especially that of Susan Foister, supports identifying the lady as Margaret Wotton Grey, wife of the 2nd Marquess of Dorset and mother of Henry Grey. True, the sitter in that sketch does bear a strong resemblance to painted portraits of Margaret, but those portraits appear to have been based on the sketch and labeled accordingly ... and may even be posthumous rather than life portraits. To my knowledge, no original painting by Holbein survives that could corroborate the identification as Margaret. The Duke of Buccleuch has a miniature of Margaret attributed to Holbein, but the attribution has not been definitively authenticated. The Holbein sketch labeled ‘Marchioness of Dorset’ is known to have been done circa 1533, as part of a larger body of sketches and portraits from the same period ... notably during the ascendancy of Anne Boleyn. Frances Brandon probably married Henry Grey in the spring of 1533, providing the ideal occasion to commission a portrait of her. And Frances was about 16 years old at that time. Margaret, on the other hand, was over 45 years old when the sketch was done. To my eye, the lady in the Holbein sketch labeled ‘Marchioness of Dorset’ appears much closer in age to 16 than to 45! Especially when one considers the physical hardships of the 16th century. Further, the labeling on those sketches is believed to have been done in the 1550s by (if I recall correctly) John Cheke, tutor to Prince Edward after about 1543. Cheke was at Cambridge prior to 1543, and although Margaret Wotton was a prominent figure, she had no strong connections to Cambridge. Cheke is thus unlikely to have been sufficiently familiar with Margaret's appearance to have been able to recognize her in the sketch, especially since Margaret died in about 1541 (a decade before Cheke labeled the sketches). Yet Cheke was personally acquainted with Frances Brandon Grey and thus *would* have been able to recognize *her*. But he would have known her as the Marchioness of Dorset (1533-Nov 1551) for much longer than as Duchess of Suffolk (Nov 1551 until Cheke went into exile late in 1554). Cheke may even have labeled the sketches before Frances became Duchess of Suffolk and while she was still Marchioness of Dorset, i.e., before Nov 1551.
     So, bottom line, I rather suspect that if we want to know what Frances Brandon Grey looked like, we probably need look no further than the Holbein sketch labeled ‘The Marchioness of Dorset.’

  Alicia asks:  
     I was wandering through your site and was perusing your FAQ section when I saw the second question from Andrew about a portrait of an unknown court lady at the MMA. In his question, he ends thinking, ‘I do find it difficult to believe that there are no surviving portraits of Jane at all, when there are of Katherine and Mary.’ In your answer, you talk about the survival of the portraits of Katherine Parr and Mary Tudor, but I (forgive me if I offend in any way) think, however, that Andrew was referring to Katherine and Mary, the younger Grey sisters, who also have surviving portraits. Of course, I could be entirely wrong, but for some reason this just jumped out at me.
     You are, of course, entirely correct Alicia ... Now that you point it out, Andrew was indeed probably referring to the surviving portraits of Katherine Grey Seymour and Mary Grey Keyes. Several portraits of Katherine Grey are known, including those at Audley End House, Petworth House, Syon House, and Warwick Castle. The best known portrait of Mary Grey is at Chequers, the country residence of the British Prime Minister, and is usually attributed to Hans Eworth.
     I sometimes tend to get ‘tunnel vision’ in my responses. Since so many of the portraits reputed to be of Jane Grey are in fact portraits of Katherine Parr, or otherwise sometimes identified as Mary Tudor, I simply failed to consider Katherine and Mary Grey. And as it happens, quite by coincidence of timing, your pointing out that omission is prescient. I have actually just submitted (Oct 2010) an article to The Burlington Magazine in which I identify, at long last, an authentic portrait of Jane Grey that has always been paired with a separate portrait of her sister Katherine. The portrait of Jane is currently thought to depict Elizabeth I, but I have been able to document that it is in fact of Jane Grey. I am hopeful that the article will be accepted for publication and will appear sometime in the spring of 2011. Additionally, together with a colleague at the Courtauld Institute (London), I am preparing a second article that re-identifies as Katherine Parr an entire series of portraits that have been labeled since about 1600 as Jane Grey. We historians are still in the process of sorting out which of the many portraits of Jane Grey, Katherine Parr, Mary Tudor, and Elizabeth I are properly identified and which are confused with the others in that group.
  Sue asks:  
     I am intrigued to read your arguments about the date of the birth of Lady Jane relating to the practice of ‘churching.’ Surely this practise was a Catholic superstition or ritual  of the type particularly despised by Evangelical Protestants of the time? Surely Cranmer himself would have regarded this ritual as ‘superstition’ without a place in the ‘real’ church of Christ. The Greys, I believe would therefore have fallen into this same category. So if they did not hold with superstition - then is it not possible that they might therefore have gone without?
    When Jane Grey was born, circa late 1536 or early 1537, the English church was still officially and almost entirely Roman Catholic in its doctrinal beliefs and liturgical observances. The Act of Six Articles, which upheld a number of Roman Catholic beliefs and practices for the English Church, even after the break with Rome, was passed in 1539, at least two and perhaps three years after Jane Grey was born. Cranmer and the evangelical reformers were still in the minority at that point, and the old ways persisted. But more importantly, churching remained an official practice of the evangelicals — and even of the official Church of England — well after the split with Rome. The form of the ritual is found in both the first and second Book of Common Prayer promulgated by Edward VI and Cranmer in 1549 and 1552. Thus Cranmer himself implicitly supported ‘churching.’ And the practice of churching continued throughout the entire Tudor period. It remains officially a part of modern observances by the Church of England under the Alternative Service Book, known by its ‘official’ name, ‘Thanksgiving of Women After Childbirth.’ If you do some background reading in the works of some of the leading evangelical theologians (Bucer, Swingli, Bullinger, Calvin, etc.), you will find that the practice of ‘churching’ was upheld by most or all of those men. Whether or not individuals actually observed the practice was left to personal choice, but the act of giving thanks for the successful delivery of a child was never considered ‘superstition’ by the evangelical reformers. All that aside, since the English church was still fundamentally Roman Catholic in doctrine and liturgy in 1536-37 when Jane Grey was born, it is all but certain that Frances Brandon Grey would have observed the practice. If you have not read Eamon Duffy's Stripping of the Altars, I would recommend doing so. It offers valuable insights on the continuation of traditional pre-Reformation practices in the post-Reformation English church.
  M Pritchard asks:  
     I once read a very interesting article although I am not sure how accurate it is. I have asked many history students regarding a  disputed image possibly depicting Guidford Dudley but no one appears to have come across it. As far as I am aware, there are no surviving portraits of Lady Jane Grey's husband. However, I once read that an image printed in a book entitled ‘The World of Lady Jane Grey’ by Gladys Malvern, was purportedly a possible portrait of Guildford Dudley. As the book is considerably old now [N.B. it was published in the mid 1960s], the sitter may since have been re-identified as another prominent Tudor-era aristocrat. But I was wondering out of curiosity whether you may have come across the picture in your studies? And if so, are you aware who the sitter in that picture may be?

    Thanks to my friend Sonja Marie at the Lady Jane Grey Internet Museum website, I was able to get a scan of the portrait contained in Malvern’s book, seen above. Without question, the painting dates to some time after 1575, based on the ruff worn by the young man. And because of the relatively large size of the ruff, it probably dates to after 1585. The shape of the sleeves and the style of the cuffs also suggest a date in the last two decades of the sixteenth century, and perhaps even a date very early in the seventeenth century. Yet Guildford Dudley was executed in 1554. This portrait was therefore created at least thirty years after Guildford was dead. Malvern’s source must have mis-identified the sitter. I am not aware of the portrait's current location, so I cannot say whether it has ever been re-identified.
     Interestingly, this same portrait was used in the late 1850s by the painter-artist Richard Burchett as the basis for his depiction of Guildford among the Tudor-era figures portrayed on the walls of The Prince’s Chamber in the Palace of Westminster (commonly called ‘The Houses of Parliament’). Curators at the Palace acknowledge that Burchett’s portrait of Guildford was based on a portrait of an unknown sitter dating to the 1580s. The location of that original is now unknown.
  Anna asks:  
     While researching something completely unrelated to Lady Jane Grey (a portrait by Clouet that somewhere along the way became erroneously connected to Margaret Tudor), I came across by chance the so-called double portrait of Margaret Tudor and her second husband. It can be seen at in the gallery under Margaret Tudor. I was immediately struck by the similarities between the depiction of ‘Margaret Tudor’ and the woman in the Wrest Park portrait (which I had never seen before until the last year or so when I found it on your website). I do not know the history of the double portrait, and seeing it, my first thought was, as is so often the case with portraits, ‘how do they know’ it's Margaret Tudor? To my very untrained eye, these two women look very similiar (but of course, it could simply be their style of dress). So I really don't have a question (other than maybe ‘Is this my imagination, or do these women look alike’). Just thought I'd point it out and see if someone else saw something there.
    What an intriguing observation! Well done spotting the similarity!
     I agree with you that there is a certain vague physical similarity between the two women. However, it has always been my opinion that identifying sitters in unidentified portraits based on physical similarity to a sitter in an authenticated portrait is just not a valid methodology. I always refer to the portraits created by Peter Lely in the 17th century ... virtually all of his female sitters appear either the same or closely related. Physical similarity can sometimes be a guide, but should seldom be used as a sole identifying technique (though there are rare exceptions).
     What intrigues me with your comparison is not the physical similarity between the two women, but rather the nearly identical costumes. Assuming the double portrait is correctly identified, it very strongly suggests that the Wrest Park portrait either dates from the 1530s or is a copy of a portrait from the 1530s, since Margaraet Tudor Douglas died in 1541. That supports my longstanding assertion that the Wrest Park costume is totally inappropriate for Jane Grey, and that the sitter in Wrest Park is not Jane.
     When I get time, I would like to follow up on your observation and do a little research on the double portrait. I would need to find out where it is currently, when and how it was identified as Margaret Tudor Douglas, how reliable the identification is, etc. There are literally dozens of clues in the painting, ranging from the livery worn by the man on the right to the items on the table, that can be used to identify the sitters. Certainly the description on when I first wrote this response was incorrect (it has since been amended) ... the man ‘to her left’ cannot be Archibald Douglas (earl of Angus and Margaret's second husband), since he is wearing a servant's livery and is in a secondary position within the portrait. He is probably simply an important and favorite servant who could be identified through a little investigation. It is possible, however, that the man to whom she is handing a favor might be ‘Harry Stewart’, or Henry Stuart, Lord Methuen, Margaret Tudor's third husband. Rosalind K. Marshall author of Scottish Queens, 1034-1714, identifies him as John Stewart, Duke of Albany and Regent of Scotland from 1514-1524. I am inclined to disgree with Dr Marshall, since Margaret and Albany were rivals for the Regency. It would have been odd (though admittedly not impossible) for two rivals to be portrayed together. He might also be her second husband Douglas, since the man on the right is certainly not Douglas.
     Thanks again for the very intriguing observation. I will follow up on it when I get a chance, so watch for an amended posting to the Wrest Park page of this website.
  Andrew asks:  
     I'm not a history or art student - just an ordinary Joe who's interested in Lady Jane. My first question is do you think it's possible that the ‘story’ and the ‘reality’ regarding dates of birth for Edward and Jane could both have a true basis in that they may have shared October 12th as a birthday, albeit one year apart?
     It is never necessary that you be a student in order to ask a question! I am always happy to answer questions from anyone interested in history.
     And you raise an intriguing idea regarding the birthday issue. The only problem would be in proving it. The notion that Jane Gery was born actually on October 12 is very new. I have never found mention of it in any written history prior to Mary Luke's historical novel Nine Days Queen in 1986. And that was a work of fiction, with absolutely no basis in fact for the birthday issue.
     Indeed, the idea that Jane was born in even the same month, October, as was Edward became popular only in the early 1800s. Prior to then, no writer ever speculated on exactly when she was born. And since there are no surviving written records to demonstrate when she was actually born, it's all really just speculation without proof.
     So is it possible? Yes. Is it likely? No, at least not in my opinion.
  Andrew also asks:  
     There is a painting in the Jules Bache Collection at the Metropolitam Museum of Art in New York City (MMA Accession Number 49.7.30) which shows a red-haired girl who appears to be wearing a brooch containing a possible miniature, and could be wearing a wedding ring. It's enscribed ‘anno etatis sue xvii’ and described as an ‘Unknown woman in the style of Holbein (English, about 1540 -1550).’ I know nothing of art history and symbolism beyond what I have learned from your website, and have never seen the painting in actuality. Can you tell me if this portrait has ever been researched for potential links with Lady Jane, and if so, are there any clues to the sitter's identity? I do find it difficult to believe that there are no surviving portraits of Jane at all, when there are of Katherine and Mary.
     Thank you for alerting me to the painting in the Bache Collection. I was not previously aware of it. The MMA website has a very nice ‘zoom’ feature for examining the painting in close up, and I do see that the sitter wears a large brooch, but it is a carved stone double cameo rather than a portrait miniature. The neckline of her bodice is trimmed with clusters of pearls. She has gold agelettes along the slashings of the sleeves. The billament of her French hood is decorated with goldwork and a very small number of pearls. She does wear a ring, but it is on the index finger of her left hand. On the whole, while the costume is correct for circa 1540 – 1550, it is very modest for a woman of any status. My first impression is that we are looking at a woman of the upper gentry, perhaps at most a lady-in-waiting or maid-of-honor.
     Nonetheless, the possibilities are intriguing and I will write to the MMA to see if there is any provenance or technical information available, or whether any other kind of research has been done regarding the painting.
     That no portrait of Jane Grey has apparently survived is not really all that surprising. Consider that Jane died quite young, whereas Mary Tudor and Katherine Parr (I assume you mean Parr rather than Aragon) both survived into middle-age. Mary Tudor was Queen Regnant, and Parr was Queen Consort, whereas Jane was simply a nobleman’s daughter ... with the exception, of course, of the brief period in July 1553. There was plenty of time and reason for Mary and Katherine to have had many portraits painted, and very little reason and no real time for Jane to have had more than one or two painted (at her marriage in May 1553, but not during the nine-day reign!). The numbers are very much in Mary's and Katherine's favor, and very much against Jane. Worse, unknown hundreds of paintings of hundreds of people were destroyed over the centuries in house fires, during wars, by wood-eating insects and mold and damp, by simple neglect, and by sheer ignorance or stupidity. Frankly, if the one portrait that Jane is known to have had done during her lifetime has survived, it will be nothing short of a miracle!
  Rachel asks:  
     I am a graduate student in history at Ball State University. I am currently working on a historiography of Lady Jane Grey for a class. Your website has been most insightful. As a girl, I was fascinated by Lady Jane, and read probably six works of contemporary hagiography on her. I am now trying to examine where the truth regarding her life lays, and found your description of your thesis  fascinating. Is there anywhere I can go to read your thesis? I am becoming more and more distressed by the lack of good historical writing on Jane, and I therefore think your thesis would be very helpful to me in writing my paper.
     Yes, my Ph.D. dissertation is available online through the computer systems of most univesity libraries. On the home page for the library’s online catalogue, look for a link to ‘Databases’ or ‘Articles.’ From there, there is often a link to ‘Dissertations and Theses.’ That page allows you to request copies of dissertations from throughout the US, and sometimes the world (depending on the level of subscription that your university has). It can be requested under either my name, John Stephan Edwards, or the title of the dissertation, ‘Jane the Quene’: A New Consideration of Lady Jane Grey, England's Nine-Days Queen. It will arrive in Adobe pdf format. If you have trouble figuring out how to order it, ask any librarian for assistance and they can show you.
  Jennifer asks:  
     Do you know if there was a wax seal made for Jane Grey (Dudley) either before or when she was queen? I collect wax seal reproductions from Historic Waxcraft and have asked there as well. I am particularly interested in Jane and would love to have a copy of such a seal.
     The simple answer is no, Jane did not have a seal as Queen of England.
     There was insufficient time to have one created. It would have been an act of treason to begin creating one at any point prior to the formal announcement of her accession on 10 July 1553. And over the nine short days of her reign, court officials were too busy trying to legitimize the reign and deal with Mary to undertake the design and production of a seal. Instead, she did what most monarchs before her and many after her did: she used the seal of her redecessor, Edward VI. But she used only his lesser signet seal, not his Great Seal. We know this because some of the documents issued under her signature, especially those now archived at the Surrey History Centre, still have traces of wax residue on them where the small seal was applied directly to the document, whereas the Great Seal (as I'm sure you know) was affixed as a pendant using a ribbon. I am not aware of any documents of any kind being issued under a Great Seal between 10 and 19 July 1553.
  Alix asks:  
     I am a high school student who is interested in the Tudor period and extremely interested in Lady Jane Grey. I am going to write a story for fun about her, but, before I start, I was wondering if you could answer some questions to keep the story historically correct, since I don’t have access to a really good library and get conflicting results about some things.
     First, is it true that Jane Grey refused at first to marry Guildford Dudley and then was beaten by her mother and father? Some books I read say that this is true, but here is another book that I read (by Alison Plowden) that says this probably didn't happen. Can you tell me, in your opinion, what you think happened?
     Second, I know that before Jane married Guildford Dudley, she was contracted to Edward Seymour, Earl of Hertford. I also know that Jane’s parents were fond of Hertford, but do you think Jane ever had any feelings for him in any way?
     Lastly, do you think that Frances Brandon, Jane’s mother, was as abusive and cold hearted as many novels portray her? Do you think that she was just irritated by Jane’s gender (and other reasonable reasons) or do you think that she really was abusive for no reason?
     There is no direct evidence that Jane refused to marry Guildford. The later story that she was beaten by her parents as a way of forcing her to comply is almost certainly false. It was against church (or canon) law to force anyone to marry against their will and beating her would have been a violation of canon law, making the marriage invalid. She may have been reluctant, but I am convinced that she did not try to refuse.
     Second, I have not yet found any solid evidence that Jane was ever contracted to Edward Seymour. The story is a persistent one, but I have never found any documents to support it. There is evidence that Thomas Seymour, the earl of Hertford’s uncle, wanted to arrange such a marriage, but no evidence that the Greys ever agreed and formed a contract. The Greys seem to have been holding out for a marriage to Prince/King Edward.
     Neither have I found evidence whatsoever of any kind of feelings (‘fondness’) had by Jane or her parents for Edward Seymour. Again, that idea appears to be a later romantic invention stemming from plays and novels.
     Lastly, Frances may well have been ‘irritated’ that Jane was a girl rather than a boy, leaving Henry Grey with no male heir. But any suggestion that she was ‘abusive’ seems to me misplaced. Tudor standards regarding child rearing were very different from what they are today. My forthcoming biography of Jane goes into some length about that topic, and my conclusion is that Jane was probably treated no differently than any other child of her social status in that period. Even high-ranking religious authorities were in favor of beating both children and wives under many circumstances.
  Mona asks:  
     Some writers have said that Jane was examined just before her death by some matrons to see if she was pregnant. The well known Chronicle of Queen Jane and Queen Mary does not mention this. Do you think this was an invention by later writers?
     No, I do not think it was an ‘invention’, but at the same time, there is no direct documentation of any kind to suggest that Jane was examined. There is sketchy evidence that some condemned women were occasionally examined by a team of two or three midwives prior to their being executed in an effort to determine whether or not they were pregnant. This does not appear to have been a routine or standard practice, however, at least not in the mid sixteenth century. From what I have been able to discover, none of the other women executed in the mid-Tudor period examined in this way (e.g., Anne Boleyn, Katherine Howard, Anne Askew). And there is no documentation of any kind that Jane was examined. I suspect it is a colorful addition to her story and that the addition was based in the fact that some women, especially those in later centuries were occasionally examined.
  Mona also asks:  
     In her book Lady Jane Grey, Hester W. Chapman mentioned that Jane’s body was left on the scaffold for a while after her execution and before it was buried, and that the French ambassador saw it. Is this a verifiable fact, and from where? (Prof. adds to this question a related one that also occurs frequently: People often say they have heard stories that Jane was not, in fact, buried in the chapel at the Tower, but was instead buried elsewhere.)
    Again, there is little documentary evidence for this story other than that provided by the ambassador. But in this case, there is circumstantial evidence to support the claim. By the time Jane was executed in Feb 1554, Queen Mary had begun the process of returning the English Church to the Roman communion. As part of that process, St Peters-ad-Vincula had, by Feb 1554, become once again a Roman Catholic royal chapel. And according to Roman Catholic burial practices, no person may be buried in sacred ground unless they are confessed and absolved Roman Catholics. Since Jane, Guildford, and Henry Grey had all refused to accept Roman Catholicism in the days and hours before their deaths, it is entirely plausible that they were denied burial in the Catholic Chapel of the Tower. Richard Davey and other modern writers do contend that their burial was delayed while special permission was sought from Queen Mary (and perhaps the Archbishop) to inter them within the chapel even though they were not Catholics. I have as yet found no record of any such permission being sought. Nor have I discovered any solid documentation that they were denied burial in the chapel. But neither is there any solid documentary proof that they were buried there. No contemporary source mentions the disposal of her body. Even the Chronicle of Queen Jane, which offers great detail on her last moments, says nothing about what happened after the axe fell.
     Nonetheless, there is today still a small plaque on the left-hand side of the altar with the chapel stating that the bones of Jane Grey and several others lie underneath a side altar, having been moved there from elsewhere in the chapelduring a ‘restoration’ of the chapel in the mid nineteenth century. Whether this is factual or a Victorian invention, I cannot say. At least one nineteenth century source describing the restoration of the chapel states that none of the bones discovered were identified as being those of Jane Grey Dudley.
     For my own part, I suspect that Jane, Guildford, and Henry were buried in the chapel. Mary was usually a bit forgiving when it came to relatives, even in matters of religion. She allowed the funeral of her brother Edward VI to be conducted according to the Protestant English Book of Common Prayer of 1552 and allowed him to be buried in Westminster Abbey, itself another royal chapel, despite the fact that he was clearly not a confessed and absolved Catholic at the time of his death. I see no reason why she would not have extended the same courtesies to Jane, Guildford and Henry, especially so early in the reign when she was still eager to gain the support of Protestants opposed to her marriage to Philip. And had they not been properly buried in the chapel, but instead been carted off somewhere, I have to suspect that Protestant polemicists like John Foxe would have made much of that fact. Since they do not mention it, I suspect the burials were within the Tower's chapel.
  Mona further asks:  
     Jane had accused the Duke of Northumberland of poisoning her. Somewhere in your website I think [below on this page], you mention that Jane actually accused his wife instead. Can you clarify?
    In the only contemporary relation of Jane’s own account of the events of July 1553, Il Successi d’Inghilterra by Giovanni Commondone, Jane is quoted as saying that it was the Duchess of Northumberland who attempted to poison her. This appears to have been changed in later centuries to the Duke. Through a bit of artistic license in making the Duke the culprit, later writers were able to create a more dramatic relationship between he and Jane. I give greater credence to Commendone's account than to those of later writers.
  Mona further asks:  
     Most of the modern biographies on Jane said that she pleaded guilty at her trial at the Guildhall. However, Richard Davey in his 1909 book (on pg. 319) says that she and the others pleaded not guilty. He bases this on documents relating to the trial (Baga de Secretis, Pouch xxiii, Public Record Office) and other unnamed sources. Have you yourself gone through the trial transcripts? If so, did Jane plead guilty or not? Also, where can one find English translations on the Italian material on Jane Grey? Would be fascinating to read these!
    Yes, I have looked at the trial transcripts, though I have not yet (as of February 2008) read them in full. I’ve read only the parts that I needed for my book. But Davey's citation is now outdated because the PRO (the name of which just recently changed to The National Archives) was re-catalogued after he wrote his books and the Baga de Secretis category no longer exists. The transcripts of the trial, or at least part of them, are in the files known as King Bench,part 8, files 22–5. They are in 16th century handwriting and Latin. I had to take a several dozen photographs of the various pages and have yet to transcribe them all.
     I would be very surprised if she pleaded ‘not guilty.’ Very surprised indeed. In order to gain royal clemency and any hope of escaping death, any prisoner tried for any reason had to admit his or her guilt. Pleading not guilty and subsequently being found guilty was considered a mark of non-repentance and excellent cause to execute. But my impression that she almost certainly pleaded guilty is only that — an impression. We will have to wait until I read the transcripts to know for sure.
     Regarding the Italian material ... If you are referring to the books by Michelangelo Florio, Girolamo Pollini, and Giovanni Raviglio Rosso (Strickland, Davey, and Chapman call the last ‘Baoardo’ or ‘Badoaro’, or sometimes ‘Contile’, all of which are erroneous), none of them have yet been published in English. Once my book on Jane comes out, I want my next project to be an English translation of the Italian accounts of Jane's life and reign. I sight-read Italian easily, so I have not yet bothered to write out formal translations for anything other than the parts that I quote in my book. I have thus far completed a formal, complete and written translation of only the first chapter of Raviglio Rosso (aka ‘Baoardo’). And only a small portion - maybe 20% - of the Florio book is actually about Jane, even though the title is The Life and Death of the Most Excellent Lady Jane Grey. Fully 80% of the book is a religious treatise on the Calvinist doctrine of predestination. The Raviglio Rosso is the more interesting, though it is full of ‘tall tales.’
  Norma asks:  
     In your opinion do you think that Jane consummated her marriage to Guildford Dudley, and do you think she had any feelings whatsoever for him? Depending on what book you read she either had  feelings for him or he raped her.
    Jane's marriage was consummated, yes. There is ample primary source evidence to support this conclusion. Later suggestions that it was not consummated are based on two things. First, Ambassador Scheyfve erroneously stated that it was not, an error based on his failure to understand English marriage customs and on his confusion between the three Grey daughters all married or betrothed on May 21, 1553. Second, Protestant martyrologists like John Foxe and John Bale downplayed her marriage and mentioned it only briefly and in passing. They did not directly address the issue of consummation, partly because explicitly mentioning it served no purpose. But failing to mention it, coupled with minimizing mention of the marriage itself, did serve a purpose. In order to present Jane as an ideal female martyr, it was more ‘politic’ to allow readers to assume that she might have been a virgin. For females to be considered true martyrs, virginity was a huge asset. Sexually mature females were considered less pure, and therefore more problematic as martyrs. Issues of female purity also affected how Victorian era writers presented Jane, so that they were more prone, I believe, to continue the myth that she died a virgin, or that the loss of her virginity was involuntary.
  Norma also asks:  
     Didn’t Mary I give Jane the chance to save her own life if Jane would renounce her religion and hold to the Catholic faith? So many books with varying stories once again, I'm afraid.
    The story about Jane’s life being spared if she would convert is actually a later misunderstanding of the events during the last three days of Jane’s life. Mary sent her own confessor, Abbot John de Feckenham, to plead with Jane to accept the Catholic faith before her death. Mary did not do this in an effort to save Jane's life, however. Jane's death was by then irrevocable. Mary did it instead to save Jane's soul. Mary was somewhat fanatic about her faith, and was convinced that her young cousin would ‘burn in hell forever’ unless she accepted the Roman faith. If circumstances required Mary to cause Jane suffering on earth, Mary meant to alleviate any eternal suffering. But because Jane had become a focus for Protestant rebels to Mary's Catholic regime, Jane's death was a political necessity.
  Veronica asks:  
     I am a high school student who has chosen Lady Jane Grey as a model for a history project, and I have only one question. I have read conflicting evidence on Lady Jane being poisoned. I know we may never be able to tell for sure, but what is your opinion on the matter?
    An excellent question! Jane did claim to have been poisoned by her mother-in-law, the Duchess of Northumberland, with whom she seems to have had on-going conflict. In my opinion, however, what Jane really suffered was a kind of psychosomatic disorder. That is, she was so anxious about how her life was going that she literally ‘made herself sick’ with worry, much like modern people developing ulcers from stress. In the early modern period and well into the nineteenth century, illnesses that could not be easily explained by the limited level of medical knowledge of the day were often ascribed to poisoning. And while some people were occasionally poisoned (usually accidentally rather than deliberately), it was only very rarely that someone could accurately claim to have been intentionally poisoned.
  Natalie asks:  
     I am a third year undergraduate student of history in a UK university and am attempting to write a dissertation on Lady Jane Grey and the 1553 succession. At the moment I’m struggling to find credible primary material and was wondering if you could help.
   Primary source material for Jane Grey is scarce, when compared to the amount available for some of her royal contemporaries,especially Elizabeth and Mary Tudor. And much of what there is has not been published in printed form, but must instead be accessed using original handwritten documents stored in various archives in the United Kingdom. The British Library (BL) has the largest collection of these. Since you are at a UK university, have a look at my Primary Source Bibliography page, where I list all of the handwritten documents related to Jane Grey that are accessible in the BL and other UK archives. Among printed sources, many are rare books that are not readily available to most students and researchers. If your local university or public library subscribes to the online database Early English Books Online (EEBO), however, you can find there a large number of valuable sources. EEBO allows subscribers to read tens of thousands of books printed before 1800 by means of digital scans. It is also fully searchable. It is an outstanding resource for anyone studying early modern British history. If your local library does  not subscribe to EEBO, however, you will have to find a specialty research library that has a substantial rare books collection in order to access those materials.
  Ani asks:  
     I am a high school student who wants to major in history at college, get a PhD, and become a professor of Tudor history. Any advice?
    First, I wish you the very best of luck with your studies and fulfilling your dreams! Teaching, at any level, is an admirable profession.
    I encourage you to be very realistic about your plan to accomplish your goal. There are exceptionally few jobs out there, especially in the US, for college and university teachers of Tudor history, or even general British history. I cannot emphasize enough how few they really are. And that scarcity is unlikely to improve. Yet there are literally hundreds of unemployed PhDs already qualified who want those few jobs. So to make yourself as competitive as possible in such a difficult job market:

1)           You need to have nearly perfect grades, certainly a 3.9 or higher.

2)           You need to be very careful about which undergaduate program you attend. It needs to be among the top 20 in the country. ‘US News and World Report’ magazine publishes a ranking of schools every year. ‘Google’ it and read it.

3)           Apply to the top schools. Go to a top-ranked school if at all possible.

4)           While an undergrad, make sure your grades stay at 3.9 or higher.

5)           Take any and all honors level courses that you can.

6)          Try to get a small article or paper published in an academic journal while still an undergrad. That is difficult to do, but it will greatly improve your chances of getting in to a top grad school.

7)          When you go to grad school, try to get into and attend on the the top ten schools: Columbia, Univ of Wisconsin- Madison, UC–Berkeley, Yale, Princeton, Harvard, Univ of Chicago, Stanford, UCLA, Univ of Michigan–Ann Arbor. PhDs from those schools are more likely to get hired into the few available jobs that are those from less prestigious schools. That is just an unfortuntate and unfair reality, and anyone who  says otherwise is misleading you.

8)           Join the various professional organizations: The American Historical Association, The North Society of America, and others. Each has a website. Attend their national conventions. Try to get a paper accepted for presentation at the regional or national conferences. ‘Network’ with those attending the conferences so that they will begin to be familiar with your name. Certainly you should try to get at least one article or paper published while still in grad school. Being a university professor involves not only teaching but also constant publishing. The cliche is ‘Publish or Perish.’ The earlier in your career that you begin publishing, the better that your employment and promotion chances are likely to be.

     If you have any specific questions or need any guidance over the coming months or years, please, always feel free tocontact me. And again, Best of luck!
  Harriette asks:  
     I’m a high school student in Australia basing my historical investigation on Tudor Women. I particularly grew interested in Lady Jane Grey and I need a historical debate to further my research on her, except I find it hard to develop such a question. I came up with minor questions like: - What were the constraints put upon Lady Jane? - How have historians written about Lady Jane Grey, from that time in contrast to the present day? But my teacher wants more. Can you please help me develop some historical questions concerning Jane?
   Since it your assignment to come up with the questions, I’m not going to give them to you outright, but I can offer a few directions in which you might begin thinking. On your first question, ‘what were the constraints put upon Lady Jane Grey’, try refining that one general question into several specific ones. In other words, think about the areas or aspects of her life in which she might have been constrained (for example, religion, childhood, marriage, even being queen), then ask what kinds of constraints she may have faced in that specific area. Think about where those constraints came from, and why they existed at all. Why would anyone want to constrain a queen? Aren't queens in charge? So what was it about Jane or her era that made anyone think they needed to constrain her? Think about larger issues in society, issues that affected entire groups rather than individuals. I think your second question is far more interesting and certainly a major question, but perhaps more difficult for you toanswer unless you have easy access to a good university library. In particular, you might think about why historians in different periods might have written differently about Jane Grey (and they certainly did!). Try looking at the bibliography page of this website, and notice the different dates when some of the works were published (Strickland, Davey, Chapman, Plowden, Taylor). Think about what might have been going on at those times that might have affected how writers thought about Jane. Here’s a clue: Strickland wrote mostly about women, and she wrote at a time when society actually wanted women to be ‘perfect angels’, quiet, obedient to fathers and husbands, studious, religious, saint-like. Was Strickland affected by this Victorian notion of ideal womanhood, and did it affect how she presented Jane Grey, did it guide her choice of words? Hopefully this will help a bit. And good luck with your assignment!
  Anonymous asks:  
     I am curious about the austere background and strong cast shadow in the Eworth portrait? That doesn't seem typical of Tudor portraits. Is the shadow prophetic?
   The background is indeed unusual among Tudor-era portraits. Sitters in the period were more commonly depicted in an elaborately decorated setting. At least one art historian thinks the lack of rich background in this portrait may indicate that the sitter is an unknown foreign lady. While this is certainly possible, it is also conceivable that Eworth simply chose to emphasize the sitter rather than allowing the setting to distract the eye of the viewer. See, for example, his portrait of Anne Penruddocke, which has an equally austere backdrop. As to the second question, if the painting was created during Jane Grey's lifetime, the shadow cannot be intentionally prophetic of her fate since that outcome was not yet even guessed at. The shadow cannot be anything more than an ironic coincidence.
  David N. asks:  
     I read recently that Jane Grey’s birthday has changed. What is that about?
   The exact date of Lady Jane Grey's birth has never been known. Traditionally, she has been said to have been born in the same week, even on the same day, as Henry VIII's son Prince Edward (Jane’s cousin). Documents of the period suggest that this is not possible, however. Oxford University Press will be publishing an article in their journal Notes and Queries in September of 2007 in which it is argued that Jane must have been born before July 1537. The exact date remains a mystery, however, because birth certificates did not yet exist and no baptismal record for Jane or her sisters survives.

For answers to your questions, email:

Historian [at]

Revised and Updated 12 February 2012

Copyright © 2007 – 2014, John Stephan Edwards
May not be reproduced in part or in whole without the author's permission.