Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Question from Kelly - Numbering of a future Queen Jane

Supposing someone named 'Jane' became Queen (Queen Regnant that is) one day in the future.
Would she be 'Jane I' or 'Jane II'? I know that Lady Jane Gret was an illegal queen, but should the 'new' Queen Jane be 'Jane II' to differentiate her from the other?


Tamise said...

I think she would be Queen Jane I as Lady Jane Grey/Dudley was never crowned Queen.

Phd Historian will know!

PhD Historian said...

A wonderful question! Jane Grey Dudley became queen of England on 10 July 1553 following the death of Edward VI on 6 July. Her reign lasted just 9 days, until Mary gathered enough support to replace her.

Edward had named Jane as his heir, and his action had been supported before his death by the Privy Council, the senior law judges, the aldermen of the City of London, and other leading officials. And there was a plan in place for Parliament to meet in September to make it law.

Whether or not her reign was "illegal" is open to debate. Eric Ives has a biography of Jane forthcoming in mid 2009 in which he argues that it was completely legal. He has also published several scholarly articles on the issue.

One thing must be remembered : It is a mistake to say that because Mary was Henry's eldest surviving child, she was the "legal" heir. Strict lineal inheritance of the crown was not part of English law at the time, especially where women are concerned. Ives argues that it is also a mistake to rely on the Act of Succession that named Mary, because that Act also empowered the monarch to change the succession through his will. Edward took advantage of that provision, and did so legally, Ives argues.

But to answer your question directly : I think we would have to wait and see. The National Archives at Kew organizes historic government documents according to the reign in which they were produced. They do keep a section labeled "Queen Jane." They do not keep sections for other uncrowned "monarchs" (the male children of James II, for example). That would seem to imply that the National Archives, a department of the British government, does recognize Jane as an actual Queen of England. And many historical reference sources also list her among England's official kings and queens. The official website of the Royal Family, however, does not list Jane as an "official" queen.

Because there is a difference of opinion, both within the British government and among historians, it is quite likely that if a woman named Jane ever inherited the crown (highly unlikely) there would be a big controversy at that time as to whether she is Jane I or Jane II. So I think the only real and rational answer is that we would have to wait and see.

I might note that the same could apply to anyone named Matilda.

Kathy said...

I just wanted to add that a king or queen does not have to be crowned to be king or queen. Edward VIII was never crowned, but I'm certain if they get another Edward, he would be Edward IX.

Lara said...

And back closer to the Tudor period, Edward V never got a coronation, but the next Edward was called Edward VI.

Foose said...

It does open up some interesting questions. Would a future King Philip be Philip II, since Mary Tudor's husband was referred to as "king of England," although never crowned? Would a future Queen Matilda be Matilda II? And what if the royal family starts bringing back the fine old Anglo-Saxon names - Alfred, Ethelred, etc.?

I understand the Scots were somewhat narked that the present Queen chose to be Elizabeth II, which they thought discounted the Scottish contribution to the United Kingdom. Although perhaps they should have expected it after Edwards VII and VIII.

olivia said...

well, i don't know if she'd be Jane II of the UK... maybe she'd be jane of england and wales, and II of scotland? phd historian do you think thats possible?

Anonymous said...

Katherine Howard wasnt crowned but is remembered in her brass over her buriel site in the Tower as Queen Katherine although she was a consort Queen. Maybe Jane should be rememebered as Jane Queen Of England rahter than Queen Jane

PhD Historian said...

Olivia, did you get it reversed? Did you mean Jane II of England and Wales and Jane I of Scotland?

In any event, the answer is "no." Because England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland are now constitutionally all a single "United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland," any potential future queen named Jane would be Jane II, Queen of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland.

You may be basing your idea on James VI & I and James VII & II? They were so styled because they reigned over two kingdoms that were then constitutionally separate. They did not become a single kingdom until the Act of Union of 1707. A King James today would be simply James III, not James VIII and III, because he would be ruler of only one kingdom.

Bearded Lady said...

Great question. This one has always confused me.

Phd Historian, - Parliamentary law is especially confusing. It makes my head hurt. Ok help me straighten something out regarding the Act of Succession because I know Jane Grey is your specialty.

I thought a parliamentary statute could not be overturned by any royal decree? I have not read any of Ives articles on the subject, but I did sludge through The Sovereignty of Parliament: History and Philosophy By Jeffrey Denys Goldsworthy. He argues that illegality of Jane Grey’s reign is caused by the fact that Edward VI did not have the power to overturn Henry’s third Act of Succession. So who is right- Ives or Goldsworthy?

And how exactly did Edward VI overturned the Act of Succession? (I am trying to understand it purely from a legal standpoint).

PhD Historian said...

Since you asked, Bearded Lady ... but be warned, this is a long one (LOL) ....

Prior to the three Acts for the Succession of the 1530s and 1540s, Parliament played absolutely no role whatsoever in determining the succession. That power, such as it was, was limited to the titled nobility, who had the ability to recognize and swear fealty to an heir to the crown ... or not. Thus some nobles swore fealty to Stephen of Blois, while others chose Matilda. Some chose Henry VI, others Edward IV. And the child Edward V had been put aside because a majority of nobles supported adult Richard III instead. In cases where no clear majority favored one candidate, civil war could result (Stephen vs Matilda, Henry VI vs Edward IV). Prior to the 1530s, the royal succession was determined by feudal custom, not by Parliamentary statute law.

That changed in the 1530s when Henry VIII became so obsessive about the succession and created such a mess with multiple wives and multiple children of questionable legitimacy. In order to un-do some of the mess and confusion, Henry requested from Parliament their confirmation of his wishes of the moment. In essence, Henry determined the succession and Parliament did his bidding and made his wishes into law. (And Henry should be credited with starting the process of making Parliament more powerful, in real legal terms, than the Crown by repeatedly turning to Parliament to confirm his own wishes. Henry set a precedent that became impossible to un-do.)

In the Third (and final) Act for the Succession, passed at Henry VIII's specific request by Parliament in 1544, Mary Tudor and Elizabeth Tudor were explicitly named as successors to Edward, in the event that Henry died without having more sons and Edward died without children. BUT ... the Act also empowered Henry to use a last will and testament written at any time after the Act either to confirm Mary's and Elizabeth's places in the succession OR to remove one or both of them, for any reason whatsoever. In other words, the Act put both women back in the succession, but it also gave Henry the power to take them back out again if he thought he had any reason to do so.

One might speculate that Parliament had grown a little weary of debating and passing multiple acts for the succession, especially since all they were really doing was "rubber stamp" confirming Henry's expressed desires. It is entirely possible that Parliament included the clause allowing Henry to alter the succession after 1544 by means of his last will and testament simply as a way of side-stepping having to deal with the issue ever again during Henry's lifetime. It might be argued that Parliament granted to the king the power to determine the succession as a way of avoiding having to get involved in the mess themselves, especially since heads tended to roll every time Henry changed his mind.

In the end, Henry did not change his mind again, and thus his will did not specifically address the succession beyond Edward. Both women therefore remained in place in the succession order, consistent with the Act of 1544.

But when Edward was dying in 1553, he decided to alter the succession and to remove Mary and Elizabeth, and in their place he named Jane Grey Dudley as his heir. He did so my means of a will, which he titled "My Devise for the Succession." In making this will or "Devise," Edward assumed that the Act had given the power to alter the succession by will to the Crown in general, not just to Henry alone.

Edward had good reason to make that assumption. There is valid historical precedent for absorbing new powers into the "royal prerogative" in this fashion, and Ives takes this position (in part ... I'm greatly simplifying to keep it shorter). It is a true-ism in political history the world over that when one holder of an office gains a new power, all of his or her successors also have that power.

Opponents argue that because the Act gave the power of will to Henry by name, the power was limited to Henry alone and did not become a royal prerogative. (I tend to favor this argument.)

So the issue really becomes a question of whether Parliament intended to grant to Henry alone the power to alter the succession by means of a will, or whether Parliament intended every subsequent monarch also to have that power.

But we cannot really know what Parliament intended in 1544. And indeed, the Privy Council and the law judges were also uncertain in June 1553 when Edward's Devise for the Succession was published, just 9 years after the Act for the Succession had been passed. As Ives argues, they initially supported the idea that Edward did indeed have the power to determine the succession by will. For various reasons, most of them having nothing at all to do with real statute law, they changed their minds on 18 and 19 July 1553, and decided that perhaps Edward did not have the power after all. But it is important to note that a Parliament was planned for September 1553 to ratifiy Edward's will, suggesting that there was some genuine doubt as to its legality all along. It also suggests that they intended to follow Henry's prior example of using Parliament to turn royal wishes into incontrovertible law, removing thereby any questions of legality. But it takes time to gather a Parliament, and time was not on Edward's side. He died before the Parliament could meet and turn his Devise into statute law.

There is also a lesser argument that, even if Parliament had intended in 1544 to grant to the Crown into perpetuity the right to determine the succession, Edward was not yet of legal age in June 1553 and therefore not legally eligible to make a will. Factors to consider in relation to this argument include whether or not the Crown, as the source of justice, is bound by issues of legal age. Was the king subject to his own law regarding age and the making of wills, or above it? In 1553, many thought he was above it. Others thought not, and so a Parliament had been planned to make his will legal despite his young age. One must also consider the fact that Edward's Devise was confirmed by exactly the same legal mechanism that had confirmed and made fully legal all of his other acts as monarch. Since the proper process had been followed, perhaps his Devise was already fully legally valid. There is also the issue of whether that consent through the established legal mechanism was freely given or coerced (if coerced, the consent was not valid). And in a position of hindsight, one might also note that Elizabeth I had been pressed by her councillors to name her successor late in her reign, without resort to Parliament, suggesting that the political establishment had accepted by that time the idea that the monarch could determine the succession by will alone (though there is a huge difference in that Elizabeth had no surviving siblings in 1603, while Edward did in 1553).

But returning to your original question, Bearded Lady, the answer is "no," the Crown cannot overturn by royal decree any Act of Parliament. But Edward did not attempt to "overturn" the Act for the Succession of 1544. Instead, he attempted to follow the Act as he understood it. Whether or not his understanding was accurate is open to debate. Ives argues that Edward understood it correctly. I actually sidestep that issue a little and argue that both the Act and Edward's Devise were largely irrelevant in the face of long-established feudal custom (it is a long-established "rule" that Parliamentary law cannot contradict customary law).

Bearded Lady said...

Thanks phd historian! I confess that I had to read your reply twice to fully digest everything, but this finally clears up the confusion.

Kelly said...

She would be Jane I because Jane Dudley was never crowned.

PhD Historian said...

Whether or not a monarch has a coronation is irrelevant to his or her "numbering." Edward V, son of Edward IV, was not crowned before his death in the 1480s, yet Henry VIII's son and successor was still called Edward VI sixty years later, not Edward V. And as another respondent has noted, Edward VIII was not crowned in 1936, but if another Edward ever inherits the throne, he will indisputably be Edward IX.

Kelly said...

you may be right, phdhistorian, but Jane Dudley was queen for 9 days. Edward V probably was king for a lot longer.

PhD Historian said...

Again, length of time a monarch reigns, as with coronations, has no bearing on the numbering of subsequent reigns. There is no law or custom dictating that a king or queen must reign for X number of days, weeks, or months before being considered a "real" monarch.

And Jane is not alone in world history in having had a brief reign.

The Roman Emperor Gordian I reigned just 3 weeks in 238 before committing suicide. His grandson became Gordian III and reigned for just 3 months. (Gordian II was a co-emperor with Gordian I ... the Empire usually had two emperors in the late Imperial period, one for the Western Empire and one for the Eastern Empire.)

The infant John I of France reigned just 5 days in 1316 and was never crowned. His grand-nephew reigned as John II from 1319-1364.

Pedro IV of Portugal reigned for about 10 weeks in 1826 without being formally crowned. His grandson later became King Pedro V of Portugal.

In recent history, Pope John Paul I died just 33 days after becoming Pope. He was also the first Pope in a thousand years to refuse a papal coronation. Yet his successor was still called John Paul the Second, not First.

Edward V's reign lasted about two and a half months ... 9 April - 20 June, 1483. And at age 13, he was too young to rule in his own right. His uncle Richard (later Richard III) served as Protector and was the real holder of power during those ten weeks. Edward V was little more than a child-figurehead. Yet Edward VI is still Edward VI, not V.

So length of reign, whether or not the person undergoes a formal coronation, or whether or not they wield real power has no bearing on regnal numbering. It is sufficient that the individual was recognized as monarch, even if only very briefly, by the appropriate authorities of their time (in England, that was the Privy Council, a majority of the nobility, and the City of London). Jane was so recognized, and the daily operations of government, all the way down to the local village level, operated in her name for those nine days. That is sufficient for any future Queen Jane to be styled Jane II.

Olivia said...

oh yeah i did get it mixed up!! oh well, it was late and i was half-concious!!!!
yes i meant II of england and wales and I of scotland