Lady Jane Grey story

My Lady Jane: The real life tragic story of what actually happened to Lady Jane Grey

This whole show is like Bridgerton on drugs


My Lady Jane, whilst absolutely mental, is loosely based on a true story. At the very beginning of the first episode, the narrator asks “What if history were different?” before diving straight on into a “radical retelling” of Lady Jane Grey where history is massively altered with a crazy fantasy twist added.

The series is not only based on real life but also on a book by Brodi Ashton, Cynthia Hand and Jodi Meadows. But how much of My Lady Jane is based on the history if the actual queen it is named after? And what really happened to Lady Jane Grey in real life??

This is the real life tragic story of Lady Jane Grey, explained:

So, who was Lady Jane Grey?

Now known as the nine-day Queen, Lady Jane Grey was a great-niece of Henry VIII, born in Leicestershire, England, in 1537.

In the show, she’s depicted as an extremely intellectually curious teenager, always reading up on medicinal uses for herbs for a textbook she wants to write. This is why Guilford wants to marry her—he hopes she can find a cure that will stop him from turning into a horse during the daytime.

The real-life Jane did love reading books and was very well educated but was more passionate about languages and theology than science. She spoke several languages, including Arabic and Hebrew.

Did she marry Guildford in real life?

Lady Jane Grey story

Via Prime Video

Just like in the show, in 1553, Jane was married to Guilford Dudley, the son of John Dudley, Duke of Northumberland. Although, he didn’t do much of turning into a horse in real life. Just like in the show, Jane wasn’t too keen on the marriage.

The marriage and Jane’s rise to the throne were part of a larger political manoeuvring. The dying King Edward VI, who was Jane’s cousin, was persuaded by Dudley to name her as his successor to ensure a Protestant heir, bypassing his half-sisters Mary and Elizabeth, as we see in the show. In real life, Edward VI wanted Jane to be his heir because he wanted a Protestant successor, and his elder half sister Mary had become a staunch Catholic.

What happened to the real Lady Jane Grey and why was she executed?

Lady Jane Grey story

Via Prime Video

Jane’s reign as queen began on the 9th of July 1553, following the death of Edward VI from tuberculosis (not poison from his sister). But Mary Tudor was the rightful heir by line of succession as well as by an act of Parliament and Henry VIII’s will.

So on the 19th of July 1553, just nine days after Jane became queen, Mary successfully claimed the throne, leading to Jane’s imprisonment in the Tower of London. Mary was more popular among the general public than Jane in general because she was a daughter of Henry VIII and was raised in the court.

Initially, it seemed Jane might be spared, but her father’s involvement in rebellions against Mary sealed her fate. Jane also started speaking out against all of Mary’s Catholic reforms, describing taking communion in a Catholic mass as a satanic form of cannibalism. While Mary never wanted to execute Jane in the first place, she felt like she had no choice.

On the 12th of February 1554, Jane and her husband Guilford were executed for high treason.

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Featured image via Prime Video