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Lady Jane Grey: A Tudor Mystery
     

Lady Jane Grey: A Tudor Mystery

by Eric Ives
 

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Lady Jane Grey is one of the most elusive and tragic characters in English history.

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

Overview

Lady Jane Grey is one of the most elusive and tragic characters in English history.

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.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Presenting a startling dissection of the historically elusive Jane Grey's 13-day reign, British scholar Ives (The Life and Death of Anne Boleyn) decodes the character, actions and motives of the key figures responsible for the fate of the Tudor teenager. He maintains that Jane herself, while precociously intellectual, was the least influential figure in the succession crisis of 1553. Taking center stage is her father-in law, John Dudley, duke of Northumberland, who in Ives's hands isn't England's most powerful man, compelling King Edward VI to add Jane to the succession to make her husband, and Dudley's son, king upon Edward's death. Rather, Ives posits the Dudley-Grey marriage as a routine aristocratic alliance and that Northumberland, as the son of an executed traitor, was obsessively loyal to an independent Edward; Edward initiated Jane and her possible future sons' promotion to achieve his long-term goal of an all-male succession. Moreover, Edward's privy council endorsed Jane's accession because they saw Jane as the rightful queen of England. Turning traditional scholarship on its ear, Ives's radical reinterpretation of one of history's briefest, most puzzling reigns is masterfully researched, authoritative and a difficult but seductive read. Illus., one map. (Oct.)
Library Journal
Upon the death of King Edward VI in July 1553, Lady Jane Grey was proclaimed queen of England—only to be executed 13 days later. Here, Ives (The Life and Death of Anne Boleyn) addresses the accession crisis of 1553. Although Henry VIII had legally declared both of his daughters, Mary and Elizabeth, illegitimate, he then restored them to the line of succession through the Third Act of Succession, which stated that upon Edward's death the crown would pass to Mary and then to Elizabeth if Mary had no male heirs. However, Edward, who as a staunch Protestant did not wish the crown to pass to the Catholic Mary, was probably persuaded to name instead Lady Jane Grey, the Protestant daughter of Henry VIII's sister. 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. VERDICT 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.—Carrie Benbow, Toronto P.L., Ont.
From the Publisher
"Written in a scholarly fashion, with an abundance of family trees, maps and a list of titles and offices, this book is a factual, yet compelling, take on a much covered story. A fascinating tale, this will appeal to both scholars and general readers alike." (Family History Monthly, 1 April 2012)

"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)

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9781444350180
Publisher:
Wiley
Publication date:
01/03/2012
Pages:
392
Sales rank:
1,200,415
Product dimensions:
6.08(w) x 8.98(h) x 0.81(d)

What People are Saying About This

From the Publisher
"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 reading."
John Guy

"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

Meet 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 (Blackwell, 2004). 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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