The Sisters Who Would Be Queen

The Sisters Who Would Be Queen

Mary, Katherine, and Lady Jane Grey : A Tudor Tragedy

Book - 2008
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NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER * "Leanda de Lisle brings the story of nine days' queen Lady Jane Grey and her forgotten sisters, the rivals of Elizabeth I, to vivid life in her fascinating biography." --Philippa Gregory

Mary, Katherine, and Jane Grey-sisters whose mere existence nearly toppled a kingdom and altered a nation's destiny-are the captivating subjects of Leanda de Lisle's new book. The Sisters Who Would Be Queen breathes fresh life into these three young women, who were victimized in the notoriously vicious Tudor power struggle and whose heirs would otherwise probably be ruling England today.

Born into aristocracy, the Grey sisters were the great-granddaughters of Henry VII, grandnieces to Henry VIII, legitimate successors to the English throne, and rivals to Henry VIII's daughters, Mary and Elizabeth. Lady Jane, the eldest, was thrust center stage by greedy men and uncompromising religious politics when she briefly succeeded Henry's son, the young Edward I. Dubbed "the Nine Days Queen" after her short, tragic reign from the Tower of London, Jane has over the centuries earned a special place in the affections of the English people as a "queen with a public heart." But as de Lisle reveals, Jane was actually more rebel than victim, more leader than pawn, and Mary and Katherine Grey found that they would have to tread carefully in order to avoid sharing their elder sister's violent fate.

Navigating the politics of the Tudor court after Jane' s death was a precarious challenge. Katherine Grey, who sought to live a stable life, earned the trust of Mary I, only to risk her future with a love marriage that threatened Queen Elizabeth's throne. Mary Grey, considered too petite and plain to be significant, looked for her own escape from the burden of her royal blood-an impossible task after she followed her heart and also incurred the queen's envy, fear, and wrath.

Exploding the many myths of Lady Jane Grey's life, unearthing the details of Katherine's and Mary's dramatic stories, and casting new light on Elizabeth's reign, Leanda de Lisle gives voice and resonance to the lives of the Greys and offers perspective on their place in history and on a time when a royal marriage could gain a woman a kingdom or cost her everything.
Publisher: New York : Ballantine Books, c2008.
Edition: 1st U.S. ed.
ISBN: 9780345491350
0345491351
Characteristics: xxx, 350 p., [16] p. of plates : ill. (some col.), maps (some col.), geneal. tables ; 25 cm.

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BlueHippo
Sep 09, 2015

Well written and very interesting account of the lives of 3 Grey sisters. I not only liked the fact that this was very well researched yet very readable, I also enjoyed reading about characters who are often not given much "press" as historical works go. The genealogy charts are very helpful-it can be hard to keep the people straight.

crankylibrarian Sep 19, 2011

Most Tudor-philes are familiar with Lady Jane Grey, the tragic "9 Days Queen" bullied by her parents and in-laws into usurping the crown from Mary Tudor. The story is far more complicated however; Jane and her 2 younger sisters were considered the true heirs by a significant portion of the British population, and Jane's accession was the honest intent of the young King Edward. The Grey sisters had three advantages over Henry VIII's daughter Mary: they were unquestionably legitimate, they were Protestant, and they were 100% English with English husbands. De Lisle dispels many of the romantic myths that have grown up around Lady Jane: though shy, she was no innocent pawn but considered herself a leader of the Protestant cause. De Lisle also redeems from obscurity Jane's younger sister Katherine, whose secret marriage to a Protestant nobleman produced a male heir, making the Greys more of a threat to Queen Elizabeth's throne than the infamous Mary, Queen of Scots.

A fascinating dissection of how gender, religion, and xenophobia continued to threaten the succession for several generations.

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