GIVING AWAY A KINGDOM
DWARD was not fifteen when the Duke of Northumberland
became Protector. At eighteen the boy king was to be
really king and to govern his kingdom as he chose, but
until then, although everything was done in his name,
it was the Protector who would rule. Northumberland
thought that in those three years he could gain so
great an influence over the young sovereign that even
when the time came to give up the high office, he would
still retain much of his power.
Edward had never been strong, and before many months
had passed, it was clear that he would not live to be
eighteen. Northumberland had no mind to lose his power.
What could he do?
One morning in June he went to the chamber of the king.
Edward lay by the window looking out into the bright
 "My humble greeting to your gracious Majesty," said
Northumberland. "I have brought news that cannot fail
to give to your Highness an increase of health and
"I think that nothing can do that," said Edward, "but
good news will at least make the day less weary. What
is it that you have to tell?"
"That two of those followers of the Pope who have most
strongly opposed your Majesty's efforts for the good
of the land have at last accepted godly counsel."
"I rejoice," said the king. "Would that the Princess
Mary were one of them. Is it true, my lord, that no
word of submission to him who is rightly the supreme
head of the church in England has come from her
"It is true, your Highness."
"Then when I die—no, my lord, do not deny it. I know
well that few days are left to me—my sister will be on
the throne. She will bring back the falseness of the
old religion. Not the sovereign but the Pope will rule
in the land, and I can do nothing to prevent it. How
little power a king has!" Northumberland's heart beat
fast. Now was his opportunity.
 "Has your Majesty considered that the rightful heirs
of king as well as of subject are those whom he himself
"Do you mean, my lord, that it is my right to name her
who shall follow me? that I could leave the crown to
her Grace, the Princess Elizabeth, if I would?"
"Our glorious ruler, Henry VIII., bequeathed his crown
as he would have it to descend. Surely, it would be in
your Majesty's power to leave it to the Princess
Elizabeth's Grace or to whomever of the descendants of
the illustrious sovereign, King Henry VIII., your Majesty
"The Princess Elizabeth was taught the principles of
the truth even as I myself was," mused the king.
"True, your Majesty," agreed the duke, "but she is only
twenty years of age. It might easily come to pass that
she would wed a foreign prince of the false faith, and
that the land, now so favored with the light of truth,
would be again plunged into darkness. If she were
already wed, it would be safer, though many in the
realm believe that neither of the daughters of King
 can rightfully inherit the crown. An heir upon whom all
must unite would save strife and it may be bloodshed."
"That might well be," said the king thoughtfully. Then
Northumberland suggested boldly, though with some
"The sisters of your Majesty's illustrious father,
could you—" the duke hesitated.
"The granddaughter of Margaret Tudor is the Queen of
Scots, the little maiden who refused my hand," said the
king with a faint smile, "but she is of the false
faith. The granddaughter of Mary Tudor is my old
playmate, the lady Jane Grey, or is she not now Lady
Dudley, my lord? Was it not a few days ago that she
became the wife of your son? She is well-principled in
"Do not fancy, I beg your Highness, that a thought of
what your Majesty had in mind moved me to look with
favor upon the mutual affection of the young couple."
"No," said the young king a little wearily. "Arrange it
in any way that you will to have the kingdom fall into
the hands of her who will
 lead it more fully into the light, and bear it further
from the idolatrous worship of the earlier days."
Northumberland had obtained his wish, but there must be
lawyers to write a deed of gift of the crown. He went
to three judges of the realm and gave them the king's
"Gladly would we see the faith of his Majesty more
fully established," they said, "but, my lord duke, in
the time of King Henry Parliament decreed that whoever
did aught to change the order of succession to the
crown should suffer death as a traitor."
Northumberland persuaded and threatened, but the judges
had no mind to run the risk of losing their heads for
the sake of setting his daughter-in-law upon the throne
"If you had the written pardon of the king, would you
do it?" demanded Northumberland, and after much
discussion the judges hesitatingly agreed. Edward was
now as eager as the Protector to have it made sure
that Lady Jane would ascend the throne, and he
willingly signed a pardon to free them from all
punishment, if they were ever accused of breaking the
law of the
 land. The pardon was signed, then the deed of gift,
bequeathing the crown to Lady Jane, was signed. The
dying king rejoiced, but the bold schemer trembled.
There were very good reasons why each of the four women
had a right to feel honestly that she alone ought to be
queen of England. These four were Mary, Elizabeth,
Mary, the child Queen of Scots, who was descended from
Margaret, sister of Henry VIII., and last, Lady Jane,
who was descended from his youngest sister Mary.
According to King Henry's will, which Parliament had
confirmed, the crown was to go to Lady Jane, if Henry's
three children died without heirs. It seemed quite
possible that she might some day be the ruler of
England, and her parents set to work to prepare her to
become a queen.
Now when less than a century ago a lady in England
found that her little daughter Victoria would probably
be the sovereign of her country, she said, "I want you
to be a good woman, and then I shall be sure that you
will be a good queen." Lady Jane's parents thought more
of training her to do everything according to the
etiquette of the court, and they were so anxious
 that she should walk and talk and sit and eat and dance
precisely as they thought a queen ought to perform
those acts, that they were exceedingly severe with her.
She was a gentle, loving girl, and she did her best to
satisfy them, but she was upbraided and pinched and
struck whenever she was in their presence. The one
great pleasure in her life was the time that she spent
with her teacher, whom she called "Master Aylmer," for
he was so kind to her and so gentle in all his ways
that she was happy when the hour of study had arrived.
Everyone knew that Northumberland was the most powerful
man in the kingdom, and when he said to Lady Jane's
father, the Marquis of Dorset, "If you will give your
daughter to my son Guilford to wife, I will persuade
the king to make you a duke," the marquis was
delighted. Lady Jane was but sixteen and Lord Guilford
Dudley was only one year older. They were married at
once with the most brilliant festivities.
Not many days after the wedding, King Edward became
very ill. "Hold yourself in readiness for what may be
demanded of you," said Northumberland to Lady Jane.
 king fail to recover, you are made by his Majesty heir
of his realm."
The girl of sixteen had never thought of such a thing
as becoming queen of England until many years should
have passed, and probably not even then, and she was
greatly troubled. She dared not disobey Northumberland,
and when a few days later he sent his daughter to bring
her to the royal council, she did not venture to
refuse. When the duke and the other members of the
council entered the room, they fell on their knees
before her and kissed her hand.
"We make our humble submission to your Majesty as our
sovereign lady and rightful ruler of this realm of
England," said they.
Lady Jane was much abashed, and she said:—
"My lords, I can but thank you for the grace that you
show to one who is so unworthy of such honor; but if I
understand your words aright, you greet me as your
sovereign lady and ruler. My lords, there is surely
some grievous error. His Majesty, King Edward, is,
happily, still on the throne, and even if it had
pleased God to remove his Grace from earth to heaven,
no claim have I so long as the Princesses Mary and
 live. Will your lordships grant me permission to
Then spoke the Duke of Northumberland:—
"Your Majesty and members of the royal council, it is a
painful duty that falls to my lot to announce the death
of our beloved and illustrious king, Edward VI. Much
reason have we to rejoice not only in his praiseworthy
life and his countless acts of goodness and clemency,
but especially in that he, being at the close of his
days, thought most earnestly upon the welfare of his
realm. In his last hour on earth he prayed that his
kingdom might be defended from the popish faith, and he
left it in the hands of her who he believed would be
faithful to the trust, and would guard the land from
falsehood and from error."
All her life Lady Jane had known and loved the young
king. Tears came to her eyes. She looked pitifully
about the room. Several noble ladies had been brought
into the council chamber, but not one had even a glance
of sympathy for the young girl. The Duchess of
Northumberland frowned at her, and her own mother
 sternly, "Demean yourself as is fitting for a queen."
"His Majesty gave command to his council," said the
duke, "and they have no choice save to obey him. Thus
declares the will of the king, signed and sealed, and
drawn up by three capable judges of the realm. It
names as his heir and successor on the throne of
England her gracious Highness, Lady Jane, descendant of
Mary, who was the youngest and most beloved sister of
his Majesty, King Henry VIII."
Then all the lords of the council knelt at the feet of
Lady Jane. "We render to your Majesty only the honor
that is due," said they, "for you are of true and
direct lineage heir to the crown. With deliberate mind
we have promised to his Highness, King Edward VI., that in
your Grace's cause we will spare neither goods nor
lands nor the shedding of our blood."
Lady Jane stood before them, white and trembling. Then
grief and pain overcame her, and with a sudden burst of
tears she fell to the ground. When she was a little
recovered, she said to them:—
 "My lords, I can but grieve from my heart for the death
of so noble a prince and one that was so dear to me. I
am weak and feeble. I have little power to govern the
land as he in his greatness of mind and of heart would
have done, but if that which you say has been given me
is rightfully and lawfully mine own, then will I turn
to God in my insufficiency and humbly beseech his
grace and spirit that I may rule the land to its
advantage and to his glory and service."
In the afternoon of the same day Lady Jane went in
state to the Tower of London, for it was an old custom
that sovereigns should go forth from the Tower on the
day of their coronation. Her relatives knelt before her
and humbly promised to be obedient to her commands; and
her own mother walked meekly behind her, bearing the
daughter's train. In the evening she was proclaimed in
London ruler of the kingdom. There was little
rejoicing. The people as a whole were sullen and
silent, for most of them understood that the affair was
but a scheme of Northumberland's to gain power for
The duke knew that if Mary and Elizabeth
 were free after Edward's death was known, a party would
be formed in favor of one or the other, and therefore
he had planned to get them both into his hands. He sent
messengers to them to say that the king was very ill
and begged that they would give him the happiness and
comfort of their presence.
Elizabeth paid no heed to the message. Either she was
really ill, as she said, or she was wise enough to
suspect that there was some trickery about this sudden
demand for her society, when for so long a time she had
not been allowed to see her brother. At any rate, she
remained in her own house.
Mary returned word by a swift rider that she was made
very happy by the thought that she could help to bring
cheer and consolation to her brother, and she set out
at once to go to him. When she was only a few miles
from London, a man who had been her goldsmith came
riding in hot haste.
"Your Grace," he said, "I beg that you will go no
farther. The king is not ill, he is dead.
Northumberland plans to set Lady Jane upon the throne.
Flee, I do pray you." Mary
hesi-  tated. Was the word of the goldsmith true? Whom could she
trust? Should she go on to London and perhaps be thrown
into the prison of the Tower by Northumberland? Should
she flee to Norfolk and refuse, it might be, her
brother's last tender wishes? Was it a trap to make her
declare herself queen and then behead her for treason?
While she questioned, another rider came, a nobleman
whom she trusted, and he told her that the king was
Mary turned toward Norfolk. Night came on. The princess
herself and many of her retinue were exhausted. They
asked for shelter at a country-seat. It was given them,
but the Protestants in the neighborhood had heard that
Edward was dead and that the Catholic princess was
among them. A mob set out in the morning to destroy the
house that had sheltered her. Mary had been warned of
the danger and had ridden away. She glanced back from
the top of a hill and saw the house in flames. "Let it
go," she cried. "I will build him a better one."
As soon as she reached her own castle in Norfolk, she
sent a letter to the royal council saying:—
 "We are greatly surprised that we have had from you no
knowledge of the death of our brother, but we trust
your love and your loyalty. Whatever may have been said
to us of any disloyal intentions on your part we do
put far from us, and do agree to grant you pardon and
receive you graciously into our service as true and
Even though the councilors had failed to secure Mary,
they still believed that their side would win, and they
sent her a rather arrogant letter. It said:—
"Lady Jane is our queen, but if you will show yourself
quiet and obedient as you ought, you will find us all
ready to do you any service that we with duty may."
Mary then rode to Framlingham, a strongly fortified
castle some twenty miles away. It was so near the sea
that she could escape to the continent if flight should
become necessary, but she could hardly have been in a
safer place. The walls of the stronghold were eight
feet thick; town and fortress were surrounded by three
deep moats. Here she flung out her banner and called
upon all loyal subjects to come to the assistance
 of their rightful queen. So many thousands gathered
that she ventured to set out for London, and as she
drew near the city, she met such a welcome that she
disbanded her army.
Now at Edward's death when Northumberland saw that his
plan to capture Elizabeth had failed, he sent a
messenger to promise her land and money if she would
but resign all title to the crown. With rare wisdom for
so young a woman, she replied:—
"That is not for me to say. Lady Mary is by my father's
will and by decree passed in open Parliament the
rightful queen of the realm. Whatever my claim may be,
I can make no challenge so long as my sister doth
live." Elizabeth then set out to meet Mary, and, they
entered London together, followed by a long train of
ladies and noblemen, and escorted by the city guard.
Northumberland too, had collected an army, but his men
deserted by hundreds. In less than two months after he
had triumphantly set his daughter-in-law upon the
throne, he was executed, together with two of those
who had most strongly supported him. Lady Jane and her
 husband were imprisoned. Mary's advisers declared that
there was no safety for her so long as Lady Jane lived,
but Mary refused to put her to death.
As the day for the coronation drew near, there were
great rejoicings. Many of those that did not wish to
have a Catholic ruler were so glad to be free from
Northumberland's schemes and to feel that she who was
lawfully their queen was now on the throne that they
were ready to unite in the joy of the others. In the
procession to the Tower, Queen Mary rode in a litter,
or chariot, drawn by six horses, glittering in their
trappings of cloth of silver. She was robed in the
richest of blue velvet, made even richer by bands of
ermine. She wore a sort of head-dress, so heavy with
gold and pearls and jewels that she often had to hold
up her head with her hands. In a litter almost as
splendid as her own rode Elizabeth and her first
stepmother, Anne of Cleves. Noble ladies rode on
horseback in all the splendors of crimson velvet.
Companies of guards followed in white and green, the
The next morning after all this magnificence, there was
such a brilliant display as made the
 gorgeousness of the ride through the city seem simple
and modest, for the queen was to be crowned in
When she was on the platform in full view of the
people, the Bishop of Winchester demanded of them
whether it was their will that the crown should be
placed on the head of the most excellent princess,
Mary, eldest daughter of King Henry VIII. The people
shouted, "Yea, yea! Queen Mary, Queen Mary!" Mary made
a solemn promise to govern England aright and
faithfully preserve the liberties of the people. Then
followed all kinds of ceremonies, changing of robes,
and sounding of trumpets. She was girded with a sword,
a ring was put upon her finger, and at last the crown
was solemnly placed upon her head. This was by no means
the end of it all, for many nobles came to kneel before
her and promise to be true to her. Each one of them
kissed her cheek.
In all this ceremonial as well as in the feasting and
the entertainments that followed it, the Princess
Elizabeth was in every way ranked next to the queen.
Elizabeth wore the coronet of a princess. "It is very
heavy," she whispered to the
 French ambassador. "Be patient," murmured he, "it will
be parent to a better one."
Parliament was soon in session, and one of the
important questions to be decided was what should be
done with Lady Jane.
"She attempted to seize the crown from Mary, who is our
rightful sovereign," declared one, "and she should be
put to death as a traitor."
"What she did was done at the bidding of the Duke of
Northumberland," said another. "She was but a tool in
his hands, and she should be freed."
"That cannot well be," objected a third. "Whoever
commits a crime is guilty of that crime and must bear
"Yes," agreed the first, "and moreover, some who would
question Elizabeth's right to the throne would
perchance unite under the banner of Jane.
There will be neither rest nor safety in the kingdom so
long as she is spared to lead any rebellious faction
that may need a head."
Parliament decided that Lady Jane was guilty of
treason, and she was sentenced to be either burned or
beheaded as the queen should choose. Everyone was sorry
for her. Even those that
 condemned her could hardly look upon the young girl
without tears, and when she was taken back to her
prison in the Tower, crowds of weeping people followed
"She is to be put to death 'at the queen's pleasure,' "
said one royal attendant to another. "Do you believe it
will be soon?"
"He who dwells in a palace should see but not speak,"
answered the other. "To you, however, I may venture to
whisper that the death of Lady Jane will never be 'the
queen's pleasure.' "