Queen Jane’s Proclamation of Accession of 1553 and Gendering of the English Monarchy

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Event Series Event Series: Evening Lectures

Queen Jane’s Proclamation of Accession of 1553 and Gendering of the English Monarchy

April 4 @ 5:00 pm - 6:00 pm


Queen Jane’s Proclamation of Accession of 1553 and Gendering of the English Monarchy

by Dr J. Stephan Edwards

This lecture will analyze the text of the Proclamation of Accession of Queen Jane (Grey Dudley) through the lens of gender and relative to specific gender role expectations prevalent in England during the Tudor period. The document is effectively unique among English and British proclamations of accession in that it presents an argument for altering the line of succession in contravention of feudal custom related to the royal succession and of the Third Act for the Succession of 1543/4. The lecture will argue that the proclamation is a heavily gendered document that attempts, albeit cryptically, to persuade the populace of a necessity to preserve the English monarchy as gendered exclusively male. Despite proclaiming Jane as Queen of England following the death of Edward VI in July 1553, the document implicitly accepts a coded expectation that actual regnal power would be vested principally, if not exclusively, in Jane’s husband, Guildford Dudley. The document does not mention Guildford, but instead offers a lengthy argument denouncing the prospect of a foreign prince subverting the realm should Mary or Elizabeth Tudor wed a non-English consort. And while an overwhelming majority of the English people had perhaps never heard of either Jane Grey or Guildford Dudley, the citizenry of London had only recently witnessed three days of pageants and celebrations associated with their marriage on 25 May 1553 at Durham Place in The Strand. The event was even conducted as a state occasion, with the wedding party’s finery supplied by the Royal Wardrobe, despite Edward VI’s absence due to mortal illness. Queen Jane’s proclamation of accession was written by the Privy Council and was likely intended primarily for the London audience in an effort to suppress any public expressions of support that might arise there for the better-known Mary Tudor. The effort was initially successful within London but a failure at the national level.

The lecture is extracted from my monograph on Jane Grey and the English succession crisis of 1553 currently under review for inclusion in Palgrave MacMillan’s Queenship and Power Series. That book-length study argues that Edward VI was the prime mover in the attempt to alter of the succession, and his fundamental basis for doing so lay in a deep-seated personal aversion to monarchy vested in a woman, itself an extension of Henry VIII’s obsessive pursuit of a specifically male heir. The issue of gender undergirded Edward’s concern for the preservation of his reformist religious settlement, as well. Women were denied authority in matters of religion, so Jane would likely be powerless to continue Edward’s religious agenda. But as king consort, her husband Guildford was likely to do so in her stead as the pair established a new Dudley royal dynasty.

This lecture builds upon previous presentations to the Society in 2019 by Dr Rebecca Tomlin and Louise Horton on the proclamation as an historical artefact and on 14 September 2021 by Professor Susan Doran entitled “A Monstrous Regiment of Women: Queenship in Early Modern England?”.

This event will be both in person at Burlington House and online. Please select the appropriate ticket below.

Attendance at Burlington House:

  • Open to anyone to join, Fellows, Affiliates and General Public.
  • Places in person will be allocated on a first-come, first-served basis.
  • The event will begin at 17.00 BST. Please arrive in plenty of time.
  • Tea/Coffee is served from 16.30 BST.
  • Registration is essential for non-Fellows but we encourage Fellows to register as well.
  • Fellows must ensure they sign the guest book and sign their guests in.

The schedule for the evening if attending in person:

  • Refreshments are served from 16.30 BST in the council room.
  • The meeting begins at 17.00 BST with the lecture starting at approximately 17.10 BST.
  • Lectures run for approximately 45min and are followed by a short Q&A.
  • Sherry is served in the Foyer following the lecture.

Attendance by Live Stream:

  • Open to anyone to join, Fellows, Affiliates and General Public.
  • The event will be live-streamed to YouTube here
  • The event will begin at 17.00 BST.
  • You will receive an email reminder with the link to join the day before the lecture.

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If you have any questions, please contact us at [email protected]

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April 4
5:00 pm - 6:00 pm