- Publisher: UK General Books (March 4, 2010)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0007219067
- ISBN-13: 978-0007219063
- Product Dimensions: 5.1 x 1 x 7.8 inches
- Shipping Weight: 10.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 99 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,557,676 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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The Sisters Who Would Be Queen: The Tragedy of Mary, Katherine and Lady Jane Grey Paperback – March 4, 2010
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Paperback. Pub Date :2010-03-04 Pages: 352 Language: English Publisher:. HarperCollins UK The dramatic untold story of the Grey sisters. heirs to the Tudor throne.Lady Jane Grey is an iconic figure in English history Misremembered as the Nine Days Queen. she has been mythologized as a child-woman destroyed on the altar of political expediency. Behind the legend. however. was an opinionated and often rebellious adolescent who died a passionate leader. not merely a victim. Growing up in Janes shadow. her sisters Katherine and Mary would have to tread carefully to survive.The dramatic lives of the younger Grey sisters remain little known. but under English law they were the heirs - and rivals - to the Tudor monarchs Mary and Elizabeth I. The beautiful Katherine ignored Janes dying request that she remain faithful to her beliefs. changing her religion to retain Queen Marys favou...
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Mary, Katherine, and Lady Jane Grey, A Tudor Tragedy
by Leanda De Lisle
Lady Jane Gray was but seventeen years old when her cousin Mary Tudor ordered her execution on February 12, 1553. Often referred to as “The Nine Days Queen,” Jane’s brief reign began on July 10, 1553, and ended on July 19, when the people of England rose in Mary’s favor.
Leanda De Lisle weaves an entertaining tale of Jane and her two younger sisters, Katherine and Mary, that is difficult to put down. My favorite books about history are the ones that bring the past vividly to life, and Ms. De Lisle does not disappoint.
Jane, Katherine, and Mary Grey traced their claims to the English throne through their mother, Lady Frances Brandon, the daughter of Henry VIII’s younger sister, Mary, who married Henry’s favorite Charles Brandon, First Duke of Suffolk, after her first husband, the King of France died. Jane, and her sisters were great-granddaughters of Henry VII and grandnieces of Henry VIII.
As the eldest, Jane received the most education and attention. The Greys were fiercely Protestant, and Jane was groomed to wed her first cousin Edward VI. She was regarded as the ideal wife for the young Protestant monarch. Jane was extremely intelligent, well-educated, and comfortable as a leader. She felt that her divine destiny was to foster the cause of the Protestant church in England and to prevent a return to Catholicism and Rome.
However, when it became clear Edward VI had not long to live, Jane was married to Guildford Dudley, the youngest son of the Duke of Northumberland. One of the factors swaying the English people in Mary Tudor’s direction, despite the fact Mary was Catholic, was the populace’s perception that Northumberland intended to set himself up as king though Jane and Guildford.
Although Katherine and Mary are mentioned throughout the book, Katherine does not take center stage until after her older sister’s execution. Katherine, by all accounts longer on charm than brains, fell madly in love with Edward Seymour, the First Earl of Hertford, and married him without Queen Elizabeth’s permission. Elizabeth not only disliked Hertford, the Queen was threatened by Catherine’s claim to the throne and by the fact she had produced two baby sons, also in line for the crown. Elizabeth’s solution was to separate Katherine, her husband, and children and keep them imprisoned in various noble houses. Unable to bear the separation from her family, Katherine finally starved herself to death.
Mary, the third Grey sister, fared no better that her siblings. She, too, married without Queen Elizabeth’s consent, and was imprisoned for many years. Moreover, Elizabeth feared Mary’s claim to the throne because Katherine’s two sons had been declared illegitimate. However, eventually, Mary was allowed to live independently again and was summoned to court to be a Maid of Honor. Mary died of the plague in 1578.
I have always been greatly puzzled by Elizabeth’s I’s decision to declare Catholic Mary Stuart’s son, James, her heir. But Ms. De Lisle explains Elizabeth’s actions. Elizabeth, like her father and her sister, believed that kings rule based upon the direct authority of God. However, during Elizabeth’s reign, the question of the succession greatly troubled Parliament, and that body had strong opinions about who should inherit the throne should Elizabeth fail to produce an heir. Parliament favored the Protestant Grey sisters over Catholic Mary Stuart and her son, James. Elizabeth bitterly resented the idea that Parliament would have a say in something that she regarded as her divine right as sovereign to determine. Thus, she stubbornly gave the nod to a Catholic heir, rather than the Protestant Greys, whose claim to the crown was actually much stronger than that of James.
Although the title is apt - the three Grey girls’ lived tragic lives - I thoroughly enjoyed Ms. De Lisle’s book and would recommend it to anyone curious about Jane and her sisters.
I enjoyed learning more about the famous Grey sisters. If you are a Tudor-phile, you have likely heard of them - or at least a fictional version of them. The author's thoughts on Jane were quite different than the fictional accounts that I have read of her, and I found her an admirable young woman in her own right. With no need to romanticize her story, Jane is presented as intelligent and devout - and with a little bit of attitude! Her quick rise and downfall is just as tragic without painting her as a naive pawn.
Katherine's story is no less heart wrenching, if for different reasons. I find it difficult to admire Elizabeth I when I read about her jealous cruelty. Not only did she basically drive Katherine to her death, but she made her life miserable and disinherited her children. The Virgin Queen was more of a bitter spinster.
Finally, Mary Grey's story is the least dramatic, though Elizabeth did her part to torture the poor man who dared to fall in love with this Grey sister as well. She was, at least, finally allowed her freedom, if not love and a family.
The remainder of the book details the remnant of the Grey family heading into the English Civil War, which seemed to be largely caused by Elizabeth's stubbornness and bad decisions.
Overall, a wonderful, detailed look at the true story of the Grey sisters and the circumstances that led to the end of the Tudor dynasty.