Whether Jane and Guildford understood the commotion in the city outside the Tower we do not know, but it was the duty of her father, the Duke of Suffolk, to break the news
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On one of the documents from the chaos of 19th July 1553 is a note in the margin of a document, written in the hand of William Cecil himself. It reads ‘Jana non Regina’, Jane is no queen. As he stared out at the riot, fires, cheering and celebration, Suffolk would have known that his daughter was finished as queen. All that remained was to know her fate and his own.
Eventually amongst all the euphoria and their hopes of survival, a group of Councillors turned their thoughts to the Tower; though it was of Suffolk they thought of rather than Jane. Would Suffolk fight on for his daughter? That would be embarrassing and awkward, and to be avoided. So, like the villagers seeking Vlad, the Councillors gathered a crowd, of 1000 men apparently, told them to grasp their pitchforks, and in the evening air they proceeded to the Tower. When they arrived, Suffolk gave orders for the Councillors to be admitted, and finally they stood before Suffolk, Jane’s father.
They didn’t mess about with any preliminaries or regrets or anything – it was straight down to business. As of this day, 19th July, Jane was no longer Queen. Proclaimed publicly on 10th, deposed publicly on the 19th July, that’s the life of Solomon Grundy. The 9 Days queen. As he turned to go back into the royal apartments, how Suffolk the father felt about the task ahead can only be imagined.
Suffolk found Jane and Guildford at supper when he returned, surrounded by attendants as befits a Queen and her consort. Jane herself would have been sitting on the royal chair which had caused her so much discomfort, the canopy of state over her head. As her father entered the room, everyone fell quiet. Suffolk walked over to his daughter. He could not think of what to say; should he speak of his shame, or his regret, of his fear for her, what were the right words? In this task, as with so many others, Suffolk failed to find an answer. Instead, soundlessly, he reached up and ripped down the gold silk canopy of state over Jane’s chair. Only then did he find words, that
this place did no longer belong to her having to submit to fortune as changeable and envious of its own gifts. You must put off your royal robes and be content with a private life
Even when news is disastrous, there is a sense of relief at finally knowing the truth isn’t there? Sorry bit of pop psychology there. But Jane had never been prepared, asked or wished for the throne of England. Of everyone involved, she’s the only one to have acted blamelessly and dutifully throughout, and even here her father could not bear to tell her the whole truth – that the prospect of a private life was dim indeed. Maybe it was some sense of relief that was reflected in Jane’s reply to her father:
I much more willingly put them off than put them on. Out of obedience to you and your mother I have grievously sinned and offered violence to myself. Now I do willingly, and obeying the motions of my own soul, relinquish the crown and endeavour to solve those faults committed by others if, at least, so great faults can be solved, by a willing and ingenuous acknowledgement of them
It’s classic Jane really; there is acceptance, duty, and self deprecation; but there is also a hint of steel, she does not let her father and his accomplices wholly off the hook, though honestly a bit of screaming and yelling and shin kicking would have been entirely in order.
Her next question could be the hardest of all. Jane asked her father
Can I go home now?
She was 16, raised in an atmosphere of piety, learning and duty. 9 days was nowhere long enough to complete a political education, and the question is loaded with so much naievity that once more her father’s courage failed. He could find no answer, and simply turned his back and left the room.
At some point that evening, as Jane and Guildford watching the dancing fires from their windows, and heard the cries of joy for their destruction, maybe they realised the possibility that they might never leave the Tower.
In East Anglia, none of this was yet known of course, despite the various sets of galloping hooves. On 20th July, as Paget and Arundel galloped towards Framlingham with desperate, bowel loosened speed, Mary was reviewing the troops that Rochester and her household officers had managed to build for her. They had done a good job. She came out from the castle to the fields outside riding a white horse, which, alarmed by the mass of men that greeted them, reared and kicked, and Mary was forced to dismount. But she managed it all with grace and the majesty to which she had been trained for the last 37 years. As she reviewed her army, 10,000 strong, with artillery, and cavalry, one onlooker doubted
Whether they could have given greater adoration to God if he had come down from heaven
Back in the castle, Mary was told that Arundel and Paget were waiting for her, still soiled from their ride, quite possibly pushing at each other to look as though they’d got there first, maybe a bit of pinching was going on under the robes, who can tell. They brought with them a letter of such obsequiousness that I simply can’t bear to read because I can’t afford the cleaning bills, which confirmed that Mary had been proclaimed queen in London by the Council. And that like the mountains, her enemies were laid low.
What a gift that must have been! Mary would not have to fight – she was rebel queen no longer. Her first act was to order a crucifix raised in her chapel and a mass said in celebration – now she could celebrate as she wished as openly as hard as she wished, and pretty soon everyone else could celebrate as she wished too. Paget and Arundel received their reward – they were allowed to kiss the queen’s hand, and be received back into her royal grace. This was a good thing for them – it meant that their heads would remain in close proximity to their necks, where they were comfortable. For Arundel, however, Mary had a further task – he was to go and arrest Northumberland, and take the traitor to London and throw him into the Tower. With as contemptuous a snarl as you like, and with added flounce.
Northbumberland had spent the night of the 19th July at Cambridge, and spent the 20th July gloomily watching his army melt away in front of his eyes. In the late afternoon of 20th July, he was brought a copy of Mary’s proclamation as Queen, from London. Northumberland now accepted defeat, if he had not done so in his heart already. He called his officers to him and told them to accept Mary; and started his self-justification pitch, that everything he’d done had been at the behest of the Council. Thus a delightful symmetry was established; Northumberland said he was just following orders, guv’, and the assembled Council of 20 plus rich, powerful adult blokes said that nasty Northumberland had bullied them, the horrid man. As far as Northumberland’s army was concerned – well, if you hadn’t scarpered already, you certainly scarpered now. The sound of scampering scarperers rustled over the gentle Cambridge countryside. Like a million bunnies on a social.
It was to be a day of deep joy for Northumberland of course. Next arrived a stern letter from Council telling him to submit and disband his army. What armies said the Duke, examining his sleevies. Now that it was official, Northumberland went down to the market place in Cambridge for one of the many moments of drama in a dramatic story. Northumberland went with the men whose adherence to this adventure was total and unmoving – Edwin Sandys the VC of the university, whose religion had tied him to Jane, and John Gates whose loyalty to religion and Northumberland kept him where he was. At his side also was his family; three sons, and his brother Andrew Dudley, and Henry Hastings, the earl of Huntingdon and husband of Katherine Dudley, his daughter. It appears that blood is thicker than water. They announced the proclamation of Mary as Queen. It was traditional at such an event to throw coins into the air for the crowd for celebration. Sandys related how the Duke filled his hat with gold coins, and threw them into the air in the marketplace and
So laughed that the tears ran down his cheeks for grief
It had come to this. 43 years ago, Edmund Dudley had come to the end of a lifetime of loyal service to his increasingly paranoid and tyrannical master, Henry VII. Sitting imprisoned in the Tower, he had written of the Tree of the Commonwealth, about how the country should be governed for the good of all, before being executed as a sacrificial offering to mark the start of the reign of a new young king – Henry VIII. And now, after a lifetime of devoted service, and of cautious and unending loyalty to his royal masters, despite every effort to rehabilitate the Dudley name and avoid his father’s fate, his son, John Dudley had come to this; proclaiming the triumph of the Rebel Queen who would without doubt have his head. No wonder the tears flowed from grief.
It would be nice to think that he wept not just for himself and his family, but also for Jane, and yet I have to doubt it; and unlike his close companions, Dudley would not cover himself with glory over the remaining days of his life.
That day, some of Mary’s supporters tried to lynch Sandys, but John Gates intervened and advised Sandys to flee the city. Sandys started out – but then returned. When the bell rang to summon congregation, Sandy attempted to preside as normal, but was stripped of his office by the congregation. When he was arrested that night, Sandys spoke with nothing but contempt for the people who arrested him, for whom Mary was ‘before a traitor and now a great friend’.
That same night of 20th July, Arundel arrived at the house of the VC. He must have been knackered – saving your life can be a tiring business. I wonder if there was any remorse, guilt or humility in Arundel as he arrested the Duke in person, the man to whom he had pledged his blood? There’s not much sign of it, it must be said. Northumberland threw himself to his knees in front of Arundel, and pleaded that Arundel should be merciful to him for the love of God
And consider that I have done nothing but by the consent of you and all the whole Council
My Lord, I am sent hither by the Queen’s majesty, and in her name I do arrest you
And I obey it my lord, and I beseech you my lord of Arundel, use mercy towards me, knowing the case as it is
My Lord, you should have sought for mercy sooner
Pretty uncompromising on Arundel’s part.
Mary was in no hurry now to get to London, which shows some presence of mind. The grounds outside her house were worn into little paths, beaten down by the guilty come to beg for her pardon and grace, the grass growing thickly, watered by their tears. The paths back were worn by the stream of prisoners being taken to the Tower. All around the kingdom, Mary was proclaimed as queen, which took a while it must be said, but now there was only one story, there was no rebel queen. On 24th July, Mary finally left Framlingham for London. Once more, she took her time – no need to hurry. Along her route the stream of apologetic nobility and gentry came to beg for forgiveness. By and large, Mary gave it, though by and large, forgiveness came at a price. Lord Clinton for example, the Stanley of the 9 days queen, had jumped ship to Mary before Arundel and Paget arrived, and Mary had graciously allowed him to kiss her hand. Phew he thought. Which was less his thought when the bill arrived – One Grace for the use of – £7,000. A massive price that would leave his family in debt for years.
Northumberland arrived in London rather more quickly. The news travelled ahead of him as he came. Here he came, the most hated man in England. The news spread, rippling in front of him like a sound wave, or like a virus. It must have been some mercy for him that again he was not alone, with his sons around him and John Gates. As he entered London on 25th July, he was hit by a wall of noise and hatred
One can hardly convey the size of the crowds which filled the streets to see the prisoners, so enormous that they could scarcely ride through it.
Such extraordinary times. Scheyfvre and Renard were ecstatic, almost unbelieving. Until the last moment they had considered Mary doomed. The French Ambassador was equally incredulous; say what? Qui arrive at ce place? Sacred blue.
I have witnessed the most sudden change believable in men, and I believe God alone has worked it
As Northumberland’s party pushed their way to the Tower, the crowd in their fury threw rocks and stones. Some waved hankerchieves, dipped in Somerset’s blood, the reason for their hatred
Death to the traitors and long live the queen!
Came the cry. And then, out of the crowd, rushed a figure, a man whose ears had been crudely cut off at the root. It was Gilbert Potter. Brandishing a sword and the scarred sides of his head he yelled
Behold the free tongue of an honest citizen, as you have disfigured the head of an innocent man by the mutilation of his ears, so shall you be dragged to the punishment due to treason and parricide according to your deserts
Huh. Parricide eh? In the background there were a few dissenting voices, not swept away by the euphoria,
Going so far as to say that men should see the antichrist come to life and popery in the land.
Despite the fury of the crowd, and the tears of his son Henry at his side, Northumberland kept a calm countenance, all the way to the Tower. There he was greeted by the new Warden, John Gage, and the men were taken to their prisons to wait to learn their future.
They would have been watched by a small pale 16 year old girl from her new lodging in the Tower complex near Tower Green, no longer in the glory of the royal apartments, but comfortable. After her father had torn down the canopy, Jane had retired to a private apartment with her mother and her ladies and the Duchess of Northumberland. But even this mild form of comfort couldn’t last long – Suffolk told Jane’s ladies that they should leave to save themselves from further wrath. The Duchess must leave to do what she could to save her family. And even Jane’s mother must leave. It must have broken Frances’ heart to leave her daughter – but she was the only hope of her family now. She was the one with a relationship with Mary – on her prayers and pleading, their future rested.
What’s a bit harder to understand is what happened next. Suffolk took himself to Tower Hill, and there proclaimed his loyalty to the new queen Mary, and accepted Jane was no longer queen. That’s understandable – you’d have to do that. But then, he left. How could he do that ladies and gentlemen? I can’t see it would make his situation any better – his life was in the hands of his wife’s persuasiveness. And so how could he leave his daughter alone in the Tower? Talk me through that.
The royal apartments were now a ghost town, through which Jane and Guildford walked, while wary and you’d hope sympathetic servants watched. Eventually, Mary’s guards arrived to take them away and they were separated – Guildford to the cold stone walls of the Beauchamp tower, already carved with the names of previous inmates – which you can see today. Jane was taken to Tower Green to the house of the jailer Nathaniel Partridge, to live under his care. From there she would have seen the stream of lords being taken to their prisons to await their fate. On 25th July she would have seen the arrival of Northumberland and the Dudley boys, and seen the father separated at last from his children.
Jane sat down to write; to write for her life and for her conscience while she waited for the judgement of the victor, of Mary Tudor. It would be until 3rd August 1553 that she would have heard London erupt with joy and hope as the new Queen rode through the streets. Jane waited alone with her jailer to see what her fate would be.