Letters of Queen Jane
from the Tower of London
Jane's letter to Queen Mary on 5 Aug, giving a full and honest account of her nine days' reign:
' Although my fault be such that but for the goodness and clemency of the Queen, I can have no hope of finding pardon...having given ear to those who at the time appeared not only to myself, but also to the great part of this realm to be wise and now have manifested themselves to the contrary, not only to my and their great detriment, but with common disgrace and blame of all, they having with shameful boldness made to blamable and dishonourable an attempt to give to others that which was not theirs...[and my own] lack of prudence...for which I deserve heavy punishment...it being known that the error imputed to me has not been altogether caused by myself. [The Privy Council]...who with unwontd caresses and pleasantness, did me such reverence as was not at all suitable to my state. He [Dudley] then said that his Majesty had well weighed an Act of Parliament...that whoever should acknowledge the most serene Mary...or the lady Elizabeth and receive them as the true heirs of the crown of England should be had all for traitors...wherefore, in no manner did he wish that they should be heirs of him and of that crown, he being able in every way to disinherit them. And therefore, before his death, he gave order to the Council, that for the honour they owed to him...they should obey his last will...As to the rest, for my part, I know not what the Council had determined to do, but I know for certain that twice during this time, poison was given to me*, first in the house of the Duchess of Northumberland and afterwards here in the Tower...All these I have wished for the witness of my innocence and the disburdening of my conscience.'
* There is no (surviving) evidence that Jane was poisoned. Indeed, it was in the Duke of Northumberland's best interests that she remain alive.
Jane was preparing to die with as much grace and dignity she could summon. She chose her dress, composed her speech, and appointed the two members of her household who would accompany her and dispose of her body. She sent a letter to her sister Catherine:
' I have sent you, good sister Catherine , a book, which although it be not outwardly trimmed with gold, yet inwardly it is more worth than precious stones. It is the book, dear sister, of the laws of the lord: It is His Testament and Last Will, which He bequeathed unto us wretches, which shall lead you to the path of eternal joy, and if you, with a good mind read it, and with an earnest desire, follow it shall bring you to an immortal and everlasting life.
It will teach you to live and learn you to die...[the book] shall win you more than you should have gained by the possession of your woeful father's lands, for as if God prospered him, you shall inherit his lands...[the contents contain] such riches as neither the covetous shall withdraw from you, neither the theif shall steal, neither let the moth corrupt...And as touching my death, rejoice as I do and consider that I shall be delivered of this corruption and put on incorruption, for as I am assured that I shall for losing of a mortal life, find an immortal felicity. Pray God grant you and send you his grace to live in the love...
Farewell good sister, put only your trust in God, who only must uphold you,
Your loving sister, Jane Duddley.
and one to her father, the Duke of Suffolk (brought to the Tower on 10 Feb):
'Although it hath pleased God to hasten my death by you, by whom my life should rather have been lengthened, yet can I patiently take it, that I yield God more hearty thanks for shortening my woeful days, than if all the world had been given unto my possession, with life lengthened at my own will. And albeit, I am well assured of your impatient dolours redoubled many ways, both in bewailing your own woe and especially, as I am informed, my woeful estate; yet, my dear father, if I may without offence rejoice in my own mishap, herein I account myself blessed, that washing my hands with the innocency of my face, my guiltless blood may cry before the Lord, 'Mercy to the innocent...In taking [the crown] upon me, I seemed to consent and therein greviously offended the Queen and her laws...And thus, good father, I have opened unto you the state in which I presently stand, my death at hand,although to you it may seem woeful, yet to me, there is nothing more welcome than from this vale of misery to aspire to that heavenly throne of all joy and pleasure, with Christ our saviour...
Your obedient daughter 'til death Jane Duddley.'
In her prayer book, Jane wrote:
' The Lord comfort your Grace and that in His word wherein all creatures only are to be comforted. And though it hath pleased God to take two of your children, yet think not, I most humbly beseech your Grace, that you have lost them. But trust that we, by leaving this mortal life, have won an immortal life. And I, as for my part, as I have honoured your Grace in this life, will pray for you in another life.
Your Grace's humble daughter, Jane Duddley
Written on the eve of her execution:
'If justice be done with my body, my soul will find mercy with God Died will give pain to my body for its sins, but the soul will be justified before God If my faults deserve punishment, my youth at least, and my imprudence, were worthy of excuse; God and posterity will show me favour.'
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