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A Review of Lady Jane Grey: Nine Day Queen of England

Jane, a great niece of Henry VIII, an intellectually gifted girl, learned much about the Reformation through her tutors.

Lee Duigon
  • Lee Duigon,
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Sixteenth century England witnessed economic, ecclesiastical, and civil turmoil and change. The increasing usurpation of common lands by the wealthy and the inflation arising from war expenditures resulted in clashes between desperate peasants and soldiers. Reformation doctrine fell on soft hearts throughout England. Protestants and Catholics struggled for preeminence in the church. This struggle continued in the civil arena as some in the royal family were devout Catholics, while others were ardent Protestants. Into these times Lady Jane Grey was born, in God’s providence.

By the year of her birth in 1537, Erasmus’s Greek New Testament and Tyndale’s recent English translation of the New Testament had been used in the conversion of many. Jane, a great niece of Henry VIII, was born to parents whose main desire was for personal advancement, not for the welfare of their daughter or for God’s glory. They committed her to Protestant tutors, and this intellectually gifted girl learned much about the Reformation through her tutors.

Attempting to promote a marriage between Jane and her cousin, Edward VI, her parents arranged for her to become one of Katherine Parr’s ladies-in-waiting. This sixth wife of Henry VIII was a Christian, who greatly influenced young Jane’s life. When her parents’ plans for the marriage failed, they had no problem removing her into obscurity until another scheme presented itself.

Henry VIII died when Edward was only nine years old. The youngster was surrounded by ambitious men who sought to sway the young king.

Young Edward’s death at fifteen provided another opportunity for Jane’s designing parents. Because church and state were intertwined in English society, dying Edward did not want to see Protestant gains unravel if his half-sister Mary succeeded him. He was persuaded to create a new line of succession with Lady Jane at the top of the list.

Surprised by Edward’s death and caught up in the duplicity of others, Jane accepted the crown. Her reign lasted but nine days. English society threw its support behind her cousin and rightful heir, Mary, supporting her advance to London and to England’s throne. Buoyed by her triumph, Mary ultimately called for young Jane’s execution when Lady Jane was only sixteen years old.

The highlight of this volume is the portrayal of Lady Jane’s faith in Christ in the midst of plots and subplots swirling around her. She maintained her dignity and abiding trust in the Lord. This trust remained firm whether she was in the castle or in the Tower of London. She did not waver under pressure to submit to Catholicism even though submission would have prevented her execution.

Her life was controlled by her parents’ evil ambitions. Yet, her life radiated an unfailing love for the triune God she served.

The author, Faith Cook, has written a sympathetic, yet accurate, biography. The complexity of the Tudor family tree and the court alignments of others for personal gain could have made this volume very confusing. However, Cook writes with clarity while maintaining a commitment to historical fact. She captures the interrelationships of the people and of the familial, civil, and ecclesiastical spheres.

Quotations from Lady Jane’s writings reveal her deep faith, as do a number of appendices. One appendix provides the reader with the debate between Lady Jane and Dr. John Feckenham. Another appendix provides the contents of her letter to Katherine, her sister, on the eve of Jane’s execution.

This volume is well worth reading. It provides more than facts. It gives an account of a teenager living in the midst of fiery trials. She admitted her mistakes, yet her trust remained firmly rooted in God. Much in her life and death is instructive for us on our earthly journey.

This is also a good volume to work through with family when facing trials, especially during malicious and deceitful dealings with the godless. Many Christian teenagers will be challenged by Lady Jane’s courage and her contentment in Christ.


Lee Duigon
  • Lee Duigon

Lee is the author of the Bell Mountain Series of novels and a contributing editor for our Faith for All of Life magazine. Lee provides commentary on cultural trends and relevant issues to Christians, along with providing cogent book and media reviews.

Lee has his own blog at www.leeduigon.com.

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