Lady Jane Grey at her studies
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Lady Jane Grey at her studies

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Lady Jane Grey, who was daughter of Henry Grey, Duke of Suffolk, was in 1553 married to Lord Guildford Dudley, son of the Duke of Northumberland, who controlled the Council which ruled in Edward VI's name. This was part of a plot by the Duke to alter in favour of the Dudley family the succession of the throne after the death of Edward VI.

Under Northumberland's influence, the dying Edward wrote out a document entitled 'My Device for the Succession' which willed the crown to Lady Jane, completely leaving out both Mary and Elizabeth. The plan failed and in 1554, following the Wyatt Rebellion, Mary I agreed to Lady Jane Grey's execution.

She is shown in this scene with her tutor Roger Ascham, who was also tutor to Princess Elizabeth. Lady Jane was a great student of the New Learning of the Renaissance. At fourteen she was a fine scholar in Greek and Latin, and a year later she was learning Hebrew. She seems not to have sought to be queen, and her execution is one of the more tragic episodes in British history.

I found her in her chamber, reading the Phaedo of Plato in Greek, and that with as much delight as some gentlemen would read a merry tale in Boccaccio. After salutation... I asked her why she would lose such pastime in the park? Smiling she answered me: 'I wiss, all their sport in the park is but a shadow to that pleasure that I find in Plato.
Roger Ascham.

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