12th July 1553 was Lady Jane Grey’s third day as Queen of England but Mary Tudor was already intending to do everything in her power to seize the crown. Historian Helen Castor explores how Mary’s allegiance grew in size and also how Lady Jane started to lose the loyalty of the Privy Council, which led to her becoming a prisoner in the Tower of London.

In 1553 Tudor England, Wales and Ireland is taken to the brink of a bloody civil war when the dying King Edward VI, son of Henry VIII, leaves the throne, not to his elder sister, Mary, but to his cousin, the Lady Jane Grey.

This is a story of intrigue, conspiracy, political manoeuvring and a capital city preparing to be attacked. It is also the story of a young woman, ferociously manipulated by powerful men in the palace, who ends up losing her life as a result.

The life of Lady Jane Grey is a tragic narrative. From the moment Edward VI draws Jane into the line of succession, her terrible fate, on the block in the Tower of London, is sealed.
Helen Castor is a historian and a medievalist who has studied the She Wolves, those women who held power in various ways throughout the medieval period. Now she sets out to take a close look at the first woman to sit on the English throne, not as consort, but as a reigning Queen. But Helen discovers far more than a story about a Tudor Queen. The story of Jane Grey is surrounded by myth, confusion and propaganda. Images turn out not to be Jane, well known stories turn out to be fake and many of the books disagree on the details. Helen asks why the first woman to be proclaimed Queen of England has attracted so much bending of the truth.

Helen undertakes some Tudor detective work and turns back to the primary sources in an attempt to separate the truth from the fiction. She builds the real story of Jane Grey and those dark figures that surrounded her, tracing her world, and the nine days she spent on the throne.

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