Two Letters Concerning Lady Jane Grey of England, written in London in July of 1553

Two letters about Jane Grey Dudley written in July 1553 by an Italian present in London during her brief reign, presented here in English translation along with an Introduction. Neither letter was known to historians prior to my discovery of them in 2013 quite by chance.


Lettere di Principi,le quali si scrivono o da principi, o ragionano di principi (Venice: Appresso Giordano Ziletti, 1569-1577) is a collection of letters to, from, or about a wide variety of early-sixteenth-century European rulers, noblemen, and princes of the Roman Catholic Church. The collection was published in three volumes between 1569 and 1577 by Giordano Ziletti, a prolific printer-publisher operating in Venice throughout the 1560s and 1570s. Ziletti’s preface to the first volume (1569) indicates that he reproduced the letters “for the most part exactly, and [from] genuine originals, without any fraud or change.” He says, however, that the volume is a second printing intended to eliminate any printing errors, misspellings of names, or incorrect dates which may have crept into the first printing despite “every diligence” toward exactitude.

The first volume (1569) includes a dedication by Jeronimo Ruscelli addressed to Cardinal Carlo Borromeo. It contains the usual fulsome praise of the dedicatee commonly seen in such dedications. The goal of such a dedication was, of course, the attainment of financial patronage from the dedicatee. As the cardinal-nephew of the reigning pope, Pius IV, Borromeo was certainly in a position to facilitate such support. Whether that support materialized for either Ruscelli or Ziletti is not known, though both remained highly active in Venice into the 1580s.

The collection is arranged more or less chronologically within each volume. The third volume, in which these letters are found, contains letters written between 1528 and 1574. It includes letters from such luminaries as Cardinal Campeggio (written a decade after the “Great Matter” of Henry VIII), a letter from Henry II of France addressed to the leaders of Siena, one from Pope Julius III, as well as numerous others to and from various Italian noblemen, noblewomen, and Catholic bishops and cardinals. A small number of the letters do not have their authors or recipients identified, but appear to have been included on account of content related to important persons or events of the era. The two letters transcribed and translated here are among the unidentified, though each is explicitly dated from London in July of 1553. They appear in Volume 3 of the collection.

The first letter was re-published in 1600 by the Italian historian Bartolomeo Zuchhi (1570–1630) as a model for how a secretary (“a most noble profession”) might write a precise and factual account of observed events. Zucchi attributed the letter to Giovan Battista Leoni, a career diplomat and prolific writer of letters in the service of the Venetian city-state. Leoni is generally thought to have been born in about 1542, however, so that he would perhaps have been a mere child in 1553. It is therefore likely that Zucchi misattributed the letter, though it was almost certainly written by a member of the Venetian diplomatic entourage present in London in the early 1550s.

To my knowledge, neither of these letters has ever been published in English, and no historian writing on the subject of Jane Grey or the succession dispute of 1553 has ever cited them. They are presented here for what I believe is the first time in the modern era.

My transcription of the letters in the original Italian is rendered here to reproduce that of the printing of 1577. This includes the use of ‘u’ for both ‘u’ and ‘v’, and ‘ʃ’ for ‘s’ in many instances. I have also sought to preserve the original wording spacing (or lack of spacing), sentence lineation, and line breaks. Like Ziletti, I have used “every diligence” to avoid errors in the transcription. The astute reader will note, however, that there are seeming errors, especially in capitalization, punctuation, and spelling. These are, however, present in the original and attributable either to typesetting errors or to the idiosyncracies of sixteenth-century orthography.

In translating the letters, I wanted to maintain the syntax and rhythms of sixteenth-century written English, as though the letters had been originally written in that language and style. Thus some words and phrases are translated rather freely, though I do hope that the original author’s meaning is not altered in any way. I am self-taught in Italian, and would therefore be very grateful to any reader who may be able to offer corrections of my translation. Full credit will of course be given in a footnote.


[Folio 221 verso]

My very good lord. Though these letters will have to be very long, they will not extend to excusing my long silence. And although upon the receipt of them you will be obliged in lots of other ways to understand new things from this unfavorable wind, nevertheless I have not wished to fail in my obligation to examine within this letter so many and notable occasions by necessity worthy of being considered. Commencing therefore at the death of King Edward the Sixth. I believe that it was on the sixth of the present month of July, and although it was not formally published until the 10th, as I will explain later, nevertheless it was known throughout London. At that time the Lords of the Council went by river from Greenwich, where the King was dead, to Syon, which at present is a beautiful palace built on the Thames by the late Duke of Somerset on the ruins of a large convent of nuns, and occupied now by the Duke of Northumberland, president of the Council. He neither having, nor as well

[Folio 222 recto]

had, shame to confiscate the house of an uncle of the King, beheaded a short time ago for having spoken words to the said Northumberland about twisting the activities.[1] There he gave people orders for their coming with the new Queen to take possession of the Tower of London. Yet before I can relate that to you, it is necessary that I should discuss a little of the illness of the King, and of an ill-fortuned marriage that was made. The King found himself ill about the first day of February and died, as I said, in July. Very quickly it was known by the Physicians that he was consumptive. The cough did not stop, and the sputum was rotten. The fingernails were putrified, which is the second Hippocractic sign that the infirmity will be fatal. And he had at diverse times such paroxysms of fever that he was thought dead. Then the fever’s resolving gave some hope of life to whomever did not understand that the illness was mortal. The Duke of Richmond, who was the bastard son of Henry the Eighth, died young similarly consumptive.[2] Nonetheless the people whispered against Northumberland, that that one had poisoned the King. This length of the illness [that was] found mortal gave occasion and time to him who had the government in hand to consider what might be able to happen when he was dead. And because the Duke saw it was not possible to seize the crown of England himself, for that reason he designed to seize it by surprise by means of a relative. Henry had two sisters, one a Queen of Scotland, of the which and a second Scottish husband a daughter remains, named like the mother Margaret, married to a Baron of Scotland.[3] The other was Mary, Queen of France, who had two daughters from her second marriage to the late Duke of Suffolk. Of these the eldest lives: Lady Frances, wife of the present Duke of Suffolk, and she has three female issue without [any] males. The younger, Eleanor, died wife of the Earl of Cumberland, to whom she gave a female heir. Henry made a will in which he named as his heirs Edward, Mary, and Elizabeth, his issue, successively one after the other. And in the event that they should remain without heirs, there should succeed to the crown the heirs of the issue of the aforesaid Queen of France, his second sister, having precedence among them according to the laws of primogeniture. Henry having been empowered by an act of Parliament with the ability to name his heirs against that law [of primogeniture], Northumberland decided to bring it about that Mary and Elizabeth should be deprived of the succession, to which they were already named

[Folio 222 verso]

by an act of Parliament that had been passed two or three years before Henry’s death. The Duke did not wish for this, that Lady Frances Duchess of Suffolk should be Queen, because that would not bring peace in the Kingdom, but he set about making King a son from among his relations, by which he thought to put himself and his house [i.e., family] on high. The first-borne daughter of the Duchess of Suffolk is a pretty and comely young lady of beautiful intellect, letters, and praiseworthy habits, named Jane. Northumberland has five sons, four of whom are already married, and a handsome youth named Guildford, [his] fourth son [who] was wedded to Lady Jane, whom Northumberland had in mind to make Queen, and perhaps with consideration that the crown might not only have been transferred to the head of the son, as already the same was said of them,[4] but to seize it from there after a while for himself, proposing the inability of the young man to carry such weight as the administration of the affairs of the Realm, and his [i.e., Dudley’s] great courage, which truly was large. He might have had things done in fear of God. The Duke of Suffolk, Jane’s father, was persuaded of it, and overcome by the inducements and effective methods of this man. But the Duchess of Suffolk with all her household would not have wished [it], and the daughter was forced there by the father, with beating as well. So that finally the wedding was conducted with such splendor that I have not seen anything similar in this kingdom. One of the days of the festivities, Jane not being out to dine in public, the Ambassador of France and that of Venice took her place, between two Marchionesses, one on the right and the other on the left.[5] At another table were Duchesses and Baronesses. The Ambassadors’ table was served as though Jane was there, that is to say by Lords and honored gentlemen, and kneeling with every ceremony toward the Ambassadors as would be shown to the King at a solemn banquet. The men of intellect, and who knew how the King was faring, waiting to see strange things [i.e., on the lookout for unusual occurrences], judged this wedding to be the first act of a tragedy. So on the 21st of the month of June there was made a letter patent of the King with the Great Seal of England, by which the sisters were deprived of the succession of the kingdom, and it opened the way for Jane and Guildford to usurp the crown. The which God does not then desire to bear [i.e., may God forbid]. The most part of the Lords of the kingdom, and the more powerful, were at court. All were obliged to subscribe to the patent. Some thought better of it, but they did not stand firm. I understand that the Marquess of Winche-

[Folio 223 recto]

ster, Lord Treasurer, not wishing to consent, was taken before the King in person, by whom he was, after many words, obliged with that [i.e., to consent], which [words] must have been inspired by Northumberland, “Either you seven [are] my subjects and must obey me, or you seven [are] the King”. It happens oft times when men want to protect themselves from a great peril, and the remedy that they take there is their great ruin. The Duke was wanting, not (as it is said) to secure the matter of Religion, its protection, for the which he was of service only as cover and instrument of ambition, but he was wanting to make himself strong so as not to have to give account of his administration. Came this Lady Jane on the 10th of July from Syon to the Tower of London by water, accompanied by great Lords, men and women. Entering into the Tower with the men ahead, the ladies proceeded. The most near to her among the Lords was Northumberland, and among the ladies the mother, who as greatest in precedence held the train of the gown. Now you say to me that this seems to you a monstrosity. To see a child Queen, [who] by certain reason came from the mother, father and mother living, and neither [one of them] King nor Queen. To speak with her and to serve her on bended knee. Not only all the others, but the father and the mother! To have a good husband without gifts other than beauty, his father living, and fourth born. The husband stood with hat in hand, not only in front of the Queen, but in front of father and mother, all the other Lords making a show of themselves putting the knee on the ground. It would take too long to translate into Italian a proclamation in [the] name of Jane proclaimed Queen in London, where her Kingdom as such [is][6], or which lasted from the 10th to the 19th of July, which would be an appropriate time for a Queen of the Fava at the feast of the Epiphany.[7] This is not to say, because I ought not to laugh, or even fool myself, that a person so noble might be so consigned in downfall by the hand of one’s own father. The proclamation for Jane was made in London, without even one of the people having made sign of accepting it. The narration about Edward’s sisters deprived of the succession was long, how both were born of unlawful marriages and were illegitimate, including in addition that an act of Parliament made about 16 years [ago], saying again how they would have to have taken a foreign husband.[8] The which having then the Imperial crown of this kingdom, might not only reduce it to the obedience of Rome, but further to change the other laws, statutes, and common customs, to grave prejudice of the Republic. Now

[Folio 223 verso]

I come to speak of the the true Queen, whom God made to be born most noble among the ladies of Europe. He has preserved her 26 years following the eleventh [year] of her age from a thousand perils, offered [her] to the world as an example of rare virtue. Then he desired with a powerful hand to smash the haughty, who proudly drove her out from her estate and principality. A poor virgin lady, abandoned by all, without gold and plate, without arms, cannons, or soldiers, fleeing among the poor people. She found riches in a moment, which were spontaneously brought to her by hand, even with open hearts. She finds arms, horses, munitions, cannons. [She is] made to fear the terrible enemy, to remain abandoned by any support and counsel, to surrender the weapon from the hand. But in order not to state the matter, and to leave to you the consideration [thereof], you should know that this Lady being come from the countryside to visit the King (it was the fourth day of his illness), [had] only one hour with him, after which she did not return to the [King’s] dwelling place. Never again was she or her sister Lady Elizabeth allowed, unless they should submit a petition, to come to see him who was their Lord and brother. Of the which Mary being informed, that he was doomed, she departed one night from the place where she had been, accompanied by a certain small number of her household, and went to Norfolk county, where she knew she had friends, whom she had never doubted. She did not begin there to make provisions [i.e., she left without first gathering any supporters]. On the following [day], [the one on] which Jane came to the Tower, unexpected letters were presented to the Lords of the Council, in which Mary said that she understood that the King her brother was dead. She began to have herself proclaimed Queen in the region where she found herself, and to await orders from those Lords, now her councillors, concerning how she ought to prepare to come to her coronation. At the same time she gathered to herself all the provisions possible for her to obtain, understanding that being contributed to her were people, gentlemen, Lords, with arms, money, plate, victuals, being each of them willing to shed their blood for their natural Lady. Being certain ships that were sent before the death of the King, in order to oppose any inconvenience that may have been able to come from beyond the sea, the seafaring soldiers made a good plan, that hearing [of] the death of the King, and the election of Jane, and where Mary was, they went to her on the coast of Norfolk, to the vexation of those who did not wish it, and yielded themselves obedient to the Queen, sending ashore one hundred and twenty pieces of cannon, and munitions. I think rightly, that the Duke said, If I go, who stays? If I stay, who goes? Eventually he was appointed to go with

[Folio 224 recto]

four sons, one son-in-law, and one brother, leaving Guildford with Jane. He took also four from the Council, the Marquess of Northampton, [the] Lord Chamberlain, the Earl of Arundel, the Earl of Huntingdon, My Lord Admiral Clinton, and Sir John Gates Captain of the King’s guard.[9] Among skilled men of war, there was principally My Lord Grey.[10] They went with one thousand and two hundred horse, well armed with cannon and many carts of munitions and arms. They planned to gather as large an army as they wanted, but they were not able even to assemble much more than three thousand men, Lords, and others, who were ordered to arm against Mary. They made [an] army, then they led it in favor of Mary, and many fled from the Duke and went to find her, and among those that remained, every one had some desire other than fighting against her. In that very short span of time about thirty thousand men stood in arms in her service. And praised [be] the industry of one Gentlemen Hastings, brother of the Earl of Huntingdon, the which Hastings, [when] the King died, went to offer that service to the Queen in gathering good men to her, who might not to be very well paid. Now I leave Mary in the security of her castle enclosed by an impenetrable wood, narrow routes that can be blocked with some trees, and guarded by a few persons, and I come to another chapter of the story. Northumberland had left Jane in the Tower with Guildford, the Duke of Suffolk, Lord Darcy the Lord Chamberlain, Lord Cobham, and others of his adherents, among them the Lord Treasurer, the Earl of Pembroke, the Earl of Arundel, the Earl of Shrewsbury, Cheney [the] Lord Warden, and others.[11] The Earl of Pembroke, a man of great ability, convinced to join with him first [the] Lord Warden, next Shrewsbury, his [i.e., Pembroke’s] brother-in-law, and Arundel, all most noble lords, and eventually the Lord High Treasurer, and some others. Once they were well decided about everything in their plan, and secure [in it], they summoned Suffolk and the others of the Council, who were unaware, and suggested what they explained was their imminent ruin, from which by way of remedy they had wanted what he [i.e., Pembroke?] pursued in every way, and that they should be accommodating. Besides, they had been subject to the will of the others. With hope of pardon, they had been compelled to do things.[12] The conspirators departed from the Tower [and] entered London, and went to the Earl of Pembroke’s house, where they had previously gathered. From there they departed to the marketplace called Cheapside, and with them [went] the Mayor of London, and Mary was proclaimed Queen

[Folio 224 verso]

with so many cries for joy beyond measure that it was not possible to hear the voice of the Herald, and soon without any other command all the bells rang. Everyone lit a great fire in front of their houses, so that it was not possible to walk certain streets for the heat, and all the people, rich and poor, brought tables into the crowded streets for feasting, and they continued to have a good time [for] several hours. I want to give you here in Italian, word for word, the copy of the proclamation, because it is brief and concludes better than the one made for Jane. “Mary by the grace of God Queen of England, France, and Ireland, defender of the faith, and on earth supreme head of the Church of England, and of Ireland, to all our loving, faithful, and obedient servants, greetings. It being pleasing to almighty God to call to his mercy the most Excellent Prince King Edward the Sixth our late brother of precious memory, so that the Imperial crown of the Realms of England, and Ireland, with title to France, and every other thing appertaining to them, very rightly and legitimately having come to us, we signify unto you, that following our said right and title, we take them unto ourselves, and we are in just and legitimate possession, not otherwise doubting that every our faithful and loyal subjects not being [otherwise than] to accept us, to repute us, to hold to us, and to obey us, as their natural, and supreme Lady, and Queen, according to the obligation of their perpetual fidelity, providing always every our good, and faithful subjects, and [in] their causes they will find us their benign and gracious sovereign Lady, as in time past were others [of] our noble progenitors. In London, proclaimed on the 19th of July. The first year of the Reign of Mary.” The Duke of Suffolk made the same proclamation in the Tower unrestrained, [and] being commanded to come out without arms, to go to the house of the Lord Treasurer, he was obedient. Jane, Guildford, the Duchess of Northumberland, and a few others remained in custody in the Tower. When Jane was told by her father that she was no longer Queen, she repsonded, “This report is convenient to me, more than the other that you gave me before saying that it was agreed for me to become Queen, being, as I said to you at that time, undeserving and insufficient for that”. Northumberland was 20 miles from there toward Cambridge when he had been informed of the proclamation made in London, and without publishing the bad news, turned back toward Cambridge.[13] [Folio 225 recto]

The Lord Admiral having been warned remained behind, when he heard the good [news], and did not go against the Queen, after which evening Northumberland sent Sidney his son-in-law, and the Marquess of Northampton passed the night there without the knowledge of the Duke. My Lord Grey did the same. All of whom, as they arrived, were put in prison. The second Duke had an order from his former accomplices [who] remained with Jane to make the same proclamation in his presence. His army showed its approval with the loudest cries, and made that evening, as had been done in London, a most joyous bonfire. The next morning at daybreak one hundred archers of the King’s bodyguard, who had been conscripted to that enterprise, went to their Captain, John Gates, saying to him that they would be made prisoners upon their discharge, since they knew they had earned the gallows, and yet they wished themselves to be shielded by him, who had commanded, and obliged them. Then they went to seize Northumberland and three [of his] sons, since another was already held by Mary’s men in another place. The Duke demanded with what authority they did this. They responded, “Not any”. But that affairs having merited death, they wanted his person, and his sons, and anything else toward their discharge. It was of no value to him to relate that he had as his justification the letter patent of the King with the Great Seal of England, and subscribed by many Lords, so that he was not the only one to do it, [but] that he was a supporter. The commission of the Queen that would make him prisoner then came to the Mayor of Cambridge, as though he were followed by the penultimate act of a Tragedy.[14] They had already captured the Earl of Huntingdon, Andrew Dudley, brother of the Duke, the Chancellor of the Court of Augmentations, and a preacher who on the Sunday before in the presence of the Duke had preached against Mary and the marriage of her mother.[15] The Bishop of London having done it, preaching in this City, and he went to request pardon from the Queen, [but] along the way, before he could arrive, he had been taken [prisoner]. The Earl of Arundel and Lord Paget had gone to the Queen with the Great Seal of England, according to that which in the council of lords, that were here, had been deliberated. Since then it is itself understood that they have had pardon for themselves, and they were sent to find the Duke to lead him here. Many of those others [seeking] pardon delayed in coming to Her Highness in order better to account themselves. Yesterday an old man named Master Gage took the possession of the Tower for the Queen.[16] [Folio 225 verso]

I should not fail to tell you that it is understood for certain that the Lord Courtenay, the Duke of Norfolk, [and] three Bishops who had been deprived — Stephen Gardiner [of] Winchester, [Cuthbert] Tunstall [of] Durham, [and Edmund] Bonner [of] London — shall be released.[17] The offices that are vacant for certain are [those of] Lord Chancellor, Earl Marshall, Lord Chamberlain, Chamberlain, Lord Admiral, Lord of the Exchequer, Captain of the Guard, [and] Chancellor of the Court of Augmentations. Such have I had to tell you of the occurrences born of the death of the King up until this day. I desire that this my duty will be accepted by you and that you not hesitate in any way to write back to me, if only to inform me of the receipt of this letter. And commending myself to Your Lordship. On the 24th of July 1553. In London.


[Folio 225 verso, cont’d]

My very good Lord. On the 24th of this month I wrote to you a long and notable letter about many things [that] have occurred in England in a few days. I hope and desire you to understand what she [i.e., England] might have had to arise. On the day [of the feast] of St James, the Earl of Arundel, Lord Clinton, and Lord Grey were pardoned by the Queen and sent with other gentlemen and a force of one thousand horse to convey to the Tower the Duke of Northumberland and eleven other prisoners, among whom three were his sons, as well as the Earl of Huntingdon with the son, Lord Hastings, kinsman of Northumberland by his second daughter.[18] The which young man the Earl of Arundel immoderately took from prison, and took along to his house, not having the permission of the Queen, even as yesterday morning the Duchess of Northumberland was released out from the Tower by command of the Queen, who similarly permitted to be released that Sydney [who is the] son-in-law of the Duke through the eldest daughter[19]. The which demonstrations cause [one] to believe that she intends to be a very clement Lady. Yesterday were led to the Tower the Marquess of Northampton, who came to surrender himself to the Queen, the Bishop of London, who had preached in favor of Jane and [to the] prejudice and dishnor of Mary, [and] Lord Robert, third son of Northumberland, who was first captured with the father and another knight.[20] Thus the father with five sons including Guildford, who was having to be King, find themselves in the Tower, where that evening were

[Folio 226 recto]

also placed two of the principal judges of the Kingdom who were instrumental for accomplishing the setting aside of the sisters of the King and the unfortunate accession of Lady Jane.[21] The Earl of Arundel and Lord Paget returned from the Queen to London, and only them [i.e., no other nobles], who previously having had the rule until now, have had here authority of councillors of Queen Mary, who has not hurried her coming to London, where she will not be for these five days.[22] It is not known yet whether they will speed the obsequies and burial of the King before her coming. Next she will attend to the coronation and other affairs of importance, God willing, concerning some others not having to render account of themselves in prison, among whom the Duke of Suffolk and Lord Darcy the Chamberlain are in peril. I hope with this second letter to have completed the news of these public affairs, and commend myself to Your Lordship. In London 27th of July 1553. Had on the 28th: Today they have put in the Tower the Duke of Suffolk, and Sir John Cheke, the King’s tutor and at the time of his illness made Secretary and [sworn] of the Council. He is a learned man, and cultured, and the King loved him and much trusted him. This realm at present has three Dukes, and all three are in prison.[23] 28th of July.

My sincere thanks to Christine Hartweg (All Things Robert Dudley) for her corrections of two sentences on folio 222 verso.


  1. This phrase is problematic. “Tor” in the original Italian seems to be an apocopic, perhaps of “torcere,” meaning to wring or twist. The context is, of course, Dudley’s confiscation of Syon House, a principal residence of the Seymours, for himself upon successfully engineering Edward Seymour’s execution in January 1552. Seymour had been arrested October 1551 on charges of taking upon himself powers that were vested in the entire council, as well as of taking the King prisoner at Windsor. The writer seems to be conveying his understanding that Seymour was executed for having challenged Dudley’s primacy (after October 1551) among the Privy Councillors.
  2. Henry Fitzroy was the only illegitimate child that Henry VIII ever acknowledged. He was born of Elizabeth Blount in June 1519, created Duke of Richmond and Somerset in June 1525, and wedded in 1533 to Mary Howard, daughter of Thomas Howard, the wealthy and powerful Duke of Norfolk. He was reported to be “consumptive” (a term commonly associated with pulmonary tuberculosis) in July 1536 and died later that month. Aged seventeen 17 years and one month at his death, Fitzroy was just sixteen months older than Edward VI was at the time of latter’s own death.
  3. Henry VIII’s elder sister Margaret had been married to James IV of Scotland in 1503, by whom she had one surviving son. That son became James V in 1513 upon the death of James IV at the Battle of Flodden Field. Margaret remarried a year later, taking as her husband Archibald Douglas, 6th Earl of Angus. Their only child was Margaret Douglas (1515–1578), who in 1544 married Matthew Stewart, 4th Earl of Lennox. Their son, Henry Stewart, Lord Darnley, would become King of Scotland as the consort of Queen Mary Stuart.
  4. John Dudley’s father, Edmund Dudley, had been executed for treason in 1510. See Derek Wilson, The Uncrowned Kings of England: The Black History of the Dudleys and the Tudor Throne (2005).
  5. It is possible that the author of the letter confused the titles involved. If the ambassadors were indeed seated in the place of honor left vacant by Jane’s absence, protocol and precedence would ordinarily have required that the women to the left and right be of the highest rank and thus duchesses. Placing the duchesses at a separate table among lower-ranking baronesses would have been most unusual. But if the report is accurate, the two marchionesses would have been the very elderly Elizabeth Paulet, Marchioness of Winchester and wife of Lord Treasurer William Paulet, and Elizabeth Brooke, Marchioness of Northampton and wife of Lord Great Chamberlain William Parr.
  6. An apparent reference to London as the political center of the kingdom, or perhaps to an impression that Jane had little support outside of London.
  7. Refers to an ancient Roman tradition of placing a fava bean in the cake consumed during the annual Saturnalia festival (December 17). The person finding the bean was made ‘king of the festival.’ A later European-wide custom developed in which a single fava bean was placed in a ‘Cake for the King’ to be consumed during the Feast of the Epiphany, or the Twelfth Day of Christmas, in commemoration of the visit to Bethlehem by the Three Wise Men. In Italian tradition, the cake symbolised the Good Witch of Christmas, called ‘La Befana,’ who followed the Wise Men and who carried a sack of bread along her way. As she came upon any young boy, she gave him a crust of bread in hopes that he was the Christ child. In northern France, the tradition of including the fava bean (fève) was adapted to symbolize the cook so busy in the kitchen preparing the feast that he/she accidentally dropped into the cake mix a bean intended for the soup. The cake is cut while the youngest child at the table designates who will get each piece. Everyone takes careful bites of the pastry until someone finds the fève. The winner gets the fève, as well as a golden paper or plastic crown that tops the cake, and becomes king or queen for the day. Over time, the bean was replaced by favors made of porcelain, which in France are still called fèves. The custom survives in the American city of New Orleans in association with the pre-Lenten festival of Mardi Gras. A small plastic baby symbolizing the Christ child (or, among secular celebrants, a plastic gold coin) is baked into a ring-shaped cake, which is itself iced in the three traditional colors of Mardi Gras: purple, green, and gold.
  8. The Succession to the Crown Act of 1536 (28 Hen. 8 c.7) had rendered both Mary and Elizabeth illegitimate and remained in effect in 1553.
  9. The Marquess of Northampton was William Parr, brother of Katherine Parr and a firm supporter of Jane Grey.
  10. Thomas Darcy, 1st Baron Darcy of Chiche, was appointed Lord Chamberlain of the Household of King Edward VI in April of 1551. Pardoned by Mary, he withdrew from public life and died in June of 1558.

    The 19th Earl of Arundel, Henry Fitzalan, had been on poor terms with Dudley prior to 1553 owing to Fitzalan’s religious conservatism. He was, however, married to Henry Grey’s sister (Jane Grey’s aunt), Katherine Grey. Hoping to make him an ally, Dudley had reinstated Fitzalan to the Privy Council (he had been removed by Dudley in 1550) in May 1553. The effort failed, and Fitzalan was among those members of the Council who bolted to Mary as soon as Dudley left London with his army on 14 July 1553.

    The Earl of Huntingdon was Francis Hastings. Queen Mary pardoned and released Hastings in January 1554 and appointed him to capture Henry Grey, then in rebellion in association with Thomas Wyatt. Hastings subsequently lived quietly until his death in 1560.

    The Lord High Admiral from 1550 to 1553 was Edward Clinton de Fiennes, 9th Baron Clinton. He replaced John Dudley as Lord Admiral when Dudley moved into higher office. Clinton also served as Lord High Admiral under Elizabeth I from 1559 to 1585. He was created 1st Earl of Lincoln in 1572.

    Sir John Gates was one of Dudley’s staunchest allies and benefited enormously from the alliance. He was first a Groom of the Privy Chamber under Henry VIII, then Chief Gentlemen of the Privy Chamber after 1549 and Vice-Chamberlain after 1551. In 1552, he was appointed to the lucrative post of Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster. He was executed with Dudley on 22 August 1553.

  11. Lord John Grey of Pergo, younger brother of Henry Grey and thus Jane Grey’s uncle.
  12. For Lord Darcy, see note 8 above.
  13. ‘Lord Cobham’ was William Brooke, 10th Baron Cobham. He was a staunch Protestant whose minor political career flourished primarily after Elizabeth’s accession.

    William Paulet, 1st Marquess of Winchester, was Lord High Treasurer from 1550 until 1572. He held dozens of other offices at various points throughout the same period. He was for a time Dudley’s closest and most powerful ally.

    ‘Earl of Pembroke’ was the title held by William Herbert, who received the title in a new creation (Anne Boleyn having been the previous holder of the title) as part of Dudley’s largesse of October 1551. Herbert had been married first to Anne Parr (sister of both Katherine and William Parr), then following her death in 1552, Herbert had wed Anne Talbot, sister of the Earl of Shrewsbury. Herbert’s eldest son by Anne Parr, Henry, was wedded to Jane’s sister Katherine in May 1551 (that marriage was later annulled).

    For the Earl of Arundel, see note 7 above.

    The Earl of Shrewsbury was Francis Talbot, who quietly maintained his Roman Catholic faith throughout the reign of Edward VI. He was among the first of the high nobility to declare for Mary in mid July.

    Sir Thomas Cheney was Lord Warden of the Cinque Ports from 1536 and Treasurer of the Household from 1539, both until his death in 1558. He resisted Dudley’s plans and acquiesced only under pressure.

  14. A complex and convoluted sentence that is difficult to render optimally in English without significantly altering the phraseology and punctuation. In other, plainer words: “Since they were well decided about how they wanted to proceed, and confident of their plan, they summoned Suffolk and the remaining members of the Council, all of whom were unaware of what was happening. Pembroke and his allies explained to Suffolk and his allies that they were all in imminent danger of ruin, and the only possible way out was to adopt fully Pembroke’s new plan. Suffolk and his allies should agree without reservation. Besides, everything they had done up until then had been Dudley’s idea (not their own). In order to get a pardon, they must claim that they had been compelled by Dudley to do things against their better judgment.”
  15. Cantabrigia is an Italianized rendering of Cantabrigiensis, the ancient Roman Latin name for Cambridge.
  16. For the Earl of Huntingdon, see note 8 above.
  17. Andrew Dudley was about three years younger than his brother John and had profited well through his brother’s rise to power. In 1549, he was appointed Keeper of the Palace of Westminster. He was betrothed in June 1553 to Jane Grey’s sole maternal cousin, the 13-year-old Margaret Clifford (later Countess of Derby).

    The Chancellor of the Court of Augmentations in 1553 was Sir Richard Sackville, its last such Chancellor. The Court had been established to oversee the sale of monastic lands seized during the Dissolution of the Monasteries but was dissolved early in Mary’s reign when the English Church returned to Roman allegiance.

    The preacher was Nicholas Ridley, Bishop of London, who had preached a sermon at Paul’s Cross in London on 9 July 1553, during which he labeled both Mary and Elizabeth bastards and advocated for the accession of Queen Jane.

  18. See Aristotle’s Poetics. In Classic Greek drama, tragedies consisted of multiple acts that conformed in dramatic content to certain prescribed qualities. The Introduction established the narrative and was followed by the Complication, wherein the hero struggled with some problem. That was followed by the Climax, at which point some crisis assured the hero’s downfall. The penultimate act was the Reversal, in which the hero fell and his antagonist rose. In the final act, the Catastrophe, the hero was dealt his final blow.
  19. Sir John Gage, Constable of the Tower from 1540 until June 1553, when he was removed for his refusal to support the accession of Jane Grey. He was reappointed in August 1553, and named Lord Chamberlain to replace Thomas Darcy. Born in 1479, Gage was 74 years old in July 1553 when he reclaimed the Tower for Mary. Hers was the seventh and final reign he would witness, the previous being those of Edward IV, Edward V, Richard III, Henry VII, Henry VIII, and Edward VI.
  20. Edward Courtenay (1527–1566), the only son of Henry Courtneay, 1st Marquess of Exeter, had been imprisoned in the Tower since 1538, following the arrest and execution of his father. He would die in exile in Venice in 1556.
  21. Thomas Howard, 3rd Duke of Norfolk, had been held in the Tower since 1546, having avoided execution only because Henry VIII died before the axe could fall, resulting in an automatic reprieve.

    Stephen Gardiner was Bishop of Winchester from 1531 until 1551, after which he had been held prisoner in the Tower. Suintonien is a misunderstanding of Wintoniensis or Guitoniensis, medieval Latin names for the city of Winchester, the original Roman Latin name for which was Venta.

    Dunstal Dunelmente refers to Cuthbert Dunstall (1474–1559), who was Bishop of Durham (the historic Latin Roman name for which was Dunelmente) from 1530 until 1552, and again from 1554 until 1559.

    Edmond Bonner was Bishop of London from 1539 until 1549, when he was imprisoned for his opposition to the First Book of Common Prayer. Released by Mary in August 1553, he was restored to his bishopric until 1559, when he was again deprived and imprisoned in the Marshalsea prison for denouncing the Elizabethan religious settlement. He died there in 1569.

  22. The feast of St James is held on 25 July.
  23. For the Earl of Huntingdon, see note 8 above. Hasting’s son ‘Lord Hastings’ was Henry Hastings, who had been wedded to John Dudley’s daughter Katherine in May 1553.

  24. Sir Henry Sidney, who married John Dudley’s eldest daughter Mary in 1551 to cement a political alliance between Dudley and the Sidneys against the Lord Protector, Edward Seymour, Duke of Somerset. Only 24 years old in July 1553, Sidney later served Elizabeth until his death in 1586. His daughter Mary Sidney (later Mary Sidney Herbert, Countess of Pembroke) became a prominent literary figure in the Elizabethan and Jacobean period.
  25. For the Marquess of Northampton, see note 8 above.
  26. The Bishop of London in July 1553 was Nicholas Ridley, who along with Hugh Latimer was burned at the stake on 16 October 1555.

  27. Chief Justice Sir Edward Montagu, though initially opposed to upholding the legality of Edward VI’s “Devise for the Succession” that disinherited Mary and Elizabeth, had succumbed to pressure and ruled it legal. He was released in early September upon payment of a fine of £1000 and surrender of a portion of his estates. He died at Boughton, Northamptonshire, in 1556.
  28. Sir Richard Cholmeley (or Cholmondeley) was Chief Justice of the King’s Bench from May 1552 until July 1553. He too was released within a month upon payment of a large fine. He died in London in 1565.

  29. William Paget, 1st Baron Paget of Beaudesert, was no friend of Dudley, having been imprisoned in the Tower in 1551 as Dudley achieved his full overthrow of Edward Seymour. Paget was also stripped of the Order of the Garter in the same year. He was restored to the Council early in 1553, however, along with Fitzalan. Though he initially supported Jane’s accession, he was soon fully rehabilitated by Queen Mary, with reappointment to the Council and his Garter restored, both in 1553. After serving as Lord Privy Seal from 1556 until Mary’s death in 1558, he retired, dying in 1563.
  30. The three imprisoned dukes were John Dudley, Duke of Northumberland; Henry Grey, Duke of Suffolk; and Thomas Howard, the aging 3rd Duke of Norfolk who had been held in the Tower since 1546.