Weird History

This Teenager Ruled England For Nine Days... Before She Had Her Head Cut Off

In the violent and dramatic history of the English monarchy, the story of Lady Jane Grey stands out as one of the most tragic. She was a teenage Queen of England who ruled for only nine days before she was deposed and ultimately executed. But there is a lot more to Lady Jane’s story than the fact that she had the briefest reign in English history.

Lady Jane Grey was born in October 1537 to a powerful noble family with close ties to the throne. She came of age during the reign of Edward VI. He was the Protestant ruler of an England that had been Catholic only a few decades before, and Edward was resolved to keep his kingdom Protestant. By 1553, it became clear that 15-year-old King Edward VI was going to pass without an heir. So, those in power began to look for suitable candidates to become the next king or queen. Lady Jane was at the top of some people’s list - but not everyone's.

Why was Lady Jane Grey important? A glance at a Lady Jane Grey family tree reveals why she would be a likely pick for the English throne: her mother was the king's cousin. So in July 1553, after Edward's death, Lady Jane became Queen of England under very bizarre circumstances.

Some would argue that the throne was never hers to begin with; Lady Jane’s fall was just as swift and astonishing as her rise. Nine days after becoming queen, Lady Jane was deposed by Mary I, Edward's Catholic older sister. At the age of just 16, Jane had won and lost a crown.