Lady Jane Grey: A Tudor Mystery
October 2009, Wiley-Blackwell
In July 1553 the death of the childless Edward VI threw the Tudor dynasty into crisis. On Edward's instructions his cousin Jane Grey was proclaimed queen, only to be ousted 13 days later by his illegitimate half sister Mary and later beheaded. In this radical reassessment, Eric Ives rejects traditional portraits of Jane both as hapless victim of political intrigue or Protestant martyr. Instead he presents her as an accomplished young woman with a fierce personal integrity. The result is a compelling dissection by a master historian and storyteller of one of history’s most shocking injustices.
List of Figures.
Titles and Offices.
Part I The Scene.
1 The Year of Three Sovereigns.
2 In Search of Jane Grey.
3 Jane Grey in Context.
Part II The Protagonists.
4 A Damnable Inheritance.
5 Jane the Person.
6 Family Priorities.
7 A Godly Upbringing.
8 Father and Daughter.
9 Sister and Brother.
10 John Dudley: The Career.
11 John Dudley: The Black Legend.
12 John Dudley: Motives.
13 The Young King.
14 'My Deuise for the Succession'.
15 King and Minister.
16 The Will of a King.
Part III Thirteen Days.
18 Jane the Queen.
19 The Council in London.
20 The March on Framlingham.
21 A Second Front.
22 The Rebellion of Mary Tudor.
Part IV Consequences.
23 Every Man for Himself.
24 The Tower.
26 The River of Jordan.
The first major study of the 1553 crisis, created after Edward VI’s untimely death left the Tudor dynasty in turmoil
Presents a vivid portrait of Lady Jane Grey, one of the least studied figures of English history, depicting Jane as a forceful, educated individual
Subjects Jane’s writings to an original literary and religious analysis
Demonstrates that Edward VI’s will gave Jane and her supporters strong legal grounds for her claim to the throne
Offers a fresh assessment of other characters involved in the 1553 accession crisis: including Edward VI; Mary Tudor; and John Dudley, duke of Northumberland
Illuminates the inner workings of Tudor politics and the exercise of power in Early Modern England
"This is a thoroughly absorbing and ingenious book which will appeal to scholars and general readers alike." (History Today, June 2010)"This alone would make Ives' book an important piece of scholarship; that he wields an extensive array of archival evidence and provides the most detailed account to date of the succession crisis of 1553 makes this a book that no Tudor historian can ignore." (Journal of the Northern Renaissance, May 2010)
"Jane's claim had a good case behind it. Eric Ives ... adroitly makes it. Ives's skillful and enjoyable narrative stretches beyond the court into the regions, where the willingness or unwillingness of tenants or small freeholders to follow landlords into battle could help determine the occupant of the throne." (New York Review of Books, April 2010)
"Ives did a splendid job of showing that Anne Boleyn was not a pretty face but a serious political player. The chapter on Jane's imprisonment is particularly moving. The book is ... worth reading, [and] raises[s] important questions... .Ives' brave ... reading might help achieve a via media. Mary was not evil and Jane not a pawn. [Ives] successfully draw[s] our attention to the amazing fact that the protagonists here are women, both trying to do what no women had ever done before; become a monarch in her own right." (Times Literary Supplement, February 2010)
"This book is written for a reader steeped in English history, particularly the politics of Tudor England, and one who is interested in the fine details of historical truth. For an English History scholar, this book is ... a treasure. The research is meticulous." (Sacramento Book Review, November 2009)
"Ives re-assesses everything. He reconstructs the course of events with meticulous care, combining the conflicting narrative accounts with nuggets from the archives. He analyses the actions and character of each major participant and he comes to some surprising conclusions. His Mary is complex, brittle enough for her enemies to underestimate her, but stubborn enough to cling to her rights and let her dedicated entourage plan her counter-coup. Jane has inspired books, paintings, plays and films, but the mystery and the tragedy of 1553 have never before been so well captured." (BBC History Magazine, October 2009)
"Dr. Eric Ives, in this scholarly and page-turning account of the coup that brought Lady Jane Grey to the throne for a brief reign of nine days, provides the who, what, where, and why of a coup that on paper should have had every chance of succeeding but which ultimately failed. Refusing to rely on long accepted accounts of Lady Jane's story, Dr. Ives offers a reassessment of this episode in Tudor history to the extent that the reader realizes 'Jane, we hardly knew ye.'" (Right Book Blog, October 2009)
"Ives is not primarily concerned with Lady Jane’s personal tragedy. Instead he focuses on the events that led to her being placed on the throne in July 1553, and the collapse of the regime 13 days later. The result is a major reinterpretation of this brief but exciting episode. Ives' ... mastery of his sources is unquestionable. Even if some of his conclusions are open to dispute ... the way Ives marshals his evidence is dazzling, and his bold and innovative treatment of a supposedly familiar story is both authoritative and exhilarating." (Spectator, October 2009)
"Turning traditional scholarship on its ear, Ives's radical reinterpretation is [a] masterfully researched, authoritative and ... seductive read." (Publishers Weekly)
"Ives works to present Lady Jane Grey as a learned, respected, and highly intelligent woman, providing in-depth analysis as he moves through the narrative and ending by summarizing the aftermath of the brief and tragic reign of one of Britain's least-known sovereigns. This thoroughly researched and engrossing historical analysis will appeal both to biography enthusiasts and to those interested specifically in Tudor history or the history of the monarchy. It is a masterly interpretation of the 'mystery' of Lady Jane Grey's ascent to the throne." (Library Journal)"A Tudor mystery is brilliantly solved, and the story of one of England's most dangerous crises is thrillingly told… This book, which takes us as close to the truth of these events as is possible, will convince scholars who thought that they knew the story already, and delight general readers."
–Susan Brigden, Lincoln College, Oxford
"A highly ingenious solution to the mystery of Jane Grey's
thirteen-day usurpation of the throne. Ives's research skills are
formidable and will make this book essential, if provocative
"Eric Ives has provided the first full-scale account of one of
the most surprising sequences of events in the politics of Tudor
England. It is an engrossing tale, here presented in incisive style
by a scholar who has an instinctive grasp of how to bring the
surprises back to life."
–Diarmaid MacCulloch, author of Reformation, Europe's House Divided, and A History of Christianity: The First Three Thousand Years
"Eric Ives has provided the first full-scale account of one of the most surprising sequences of events in the politics of Tudor England. It is an engrossing tale, here presented in incisive style by a scholar who has an instinctive grasp of how to bring the surprises back to life."
–Diarmaid MacCulloch, Author of Reformation, Europe's House Divided, and A History of Christianity: The First Three Thousand Years
In LADY JANE GREY: A Tudor Mystery (Wiley-Blackwell; $29.95; £19.99; October 2009) Eric Ives introduces all of the characters of the “whodunit” style mystery revolving around the untimely death of the Tudor king during the tumultuous summer of 1553. Upon his death, young king Edward VI (heir to Henry VIII), left behind a highly nuanced (and contested) will naming his successor to the crown. With no apparent male heirs, did Lady Jane Grey, his “legitimate,” cousin (who shared his Protestant convictions), or his “illegitimate” and Catholic cousin Mary Tudor, inherit the rightful claim to the throne? Eric Ives, master historian and storyteller, depicts the chaotic aftermath, which culminated in the dramatic rejection and political betrayal of the newly appointed queen, Lady Jane Grey.
For the first time, Ives opens up the mind of Jane Grey, and peers behind her reputation as history’s hapless victim and status as England’s first Protestant martyr. What is revealed is an unrivaled portrait of a deep-thinking and devout “blue-stocking” reformer, who died for her place in the royal accession, and was ultimately forced to surrender the throne to her cousin and foe, Mary Tudor (PART III: The Protagonists: Father and Daughter), soon to become the notorious “Bloody Mary.”
In LADY JANE GREY: A Tudor Mystery (Wiley-Blackwell; $29.95; £19.99; October 2009) Ives unravels the mystery of history’s elusive queen, analyzes the writings from her “prayer book” as she was confined in the Tower of London, prior to her shameful beheading (PART IV: Consequences: The Tower; Nemesis; and The River of Jordan). Ives skillfully dissects the actions and motives of the “suspects” of the 1553 crisis (most of whom were members of Edward’s powerful court and eventually convicted of high treason, as outlined in PART IV: Consequences). The author also carefully and compellingly analyzes Edward’s last will and testament to read between the lines of the young King’s intentions and plans.
- The King himself (Part II: The Protagonists: Edward)
- The pious and self-righteous Mary Tudor (PART III: Thirteen Days: The Rebellion of Mary Tudor)
- The newly interpreted John Dudley (Duke of Northumberland and Jane’s father-in-law, depicted in PART II: The Protagonists: John Dudley) who was once a respected and obeyed figure in Henry’s court, but was ultimately overpowered in his goal to retain Jane as queen, and died as a despised reminder of Henry’s former glory PART III: Thirteen Days)
- Jane’s new husband Guildford Dudley (whom Jane denied the status of co-ruler as King, as portrayed in PART III: Thirteen Days: Jane the Queen)
- Jane’s loyal father Henry Grey (Duke of Suffolk, depicted in PART II: The Protagonists: Family Priorities), who later formed the conspiracy against Mary in Jane’s defense, which ultimately led to Jane’s execution.
Ives’ account eclipses all previous biographies in its depth, range, and the gathering momentum and suspense with which he depicts the unfolding of events.
Ives’ LADY JANE GREY: A Tudor Mystery (Wiley-Blackwell; $29.95; £19.99; October 2009) moves beyond the often fictionalized portrayals of Jane Grey depicted in paintings, poems, and films (PART IV: Consequences: Afterlife), in an effort to rescue her from obscurity. For the first time we see Jane Grey as the young woman who impressed her contemporaries with her scholarly accomplishments (PART I: The Scene: Jane Grey in Context; PART II: The Protagonists: Jane the Person) and as a long-standing symbol of personal integrity and faith. The former visage of Jane as the marginalized victim of political intrigue and greed, and “irrelevance” as the “nine-days’ queen,” quickly falls away to reveal a story of moral triumph, and provides unparalleled insights into the inner workings of the Tudor court.
By Eric Ives
Hardcover ISBN: 978-1-4051-9413-6; 416 pp.; $29.95; £19.99; October 2009
About the Author
Eric Ives is Emeritus Professor of English History at the University of Birmingham and author of The Life and Death of Anne Boleyn: ‘The Most Happy’ (Wiley- Blackwell). He has written widely on Tudor history, the history of law, and on the development of modern higher education. In 2001 he was awarded the OBE for services to history and the University of Birmingham.
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