Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Question from Diane - Jane Grey and royal rituals

If Jane Grey had lived and remained Queen, would she have participated in traditional royal rites such as the blessing of the cramp rings on Good Friday, the King's Evil ceremony and the washing of the feet of the poor? Obviously, washing the feet of the poor is following Jesus's example, but would she, as a Protestant, consider the other rites superstitious?


  1. As regular readers will know, I am not a fan of counter-factual speculation ... but since this question falls within my own area of expertise, I feel obligated to address it.

    By the time of her accession as queen in July 1553, Jane Grey Dudley had become a follower of that strain of religious reform that was most opposed to traditional Roman Catholic ritual practices. Whether she would have continued in that strain or instead been influenced by leaders of less radical elements cannot be known. But such scholars as Eamon Duffy have shown that believers continued to cling to many of the traditional ritual observances despite admonitions from their clergy to abandon them. Jane seems to have been relatively malleable in matters of religion (in my opinion), so she could have gone either way depending on the strength of the influences around her.

  2. For PhD Historian or any other who'd like to comment: Do you think Jane (or even Edward VI) would have become a Puritan if she or he had been allowed to study and worship as they chose? By Puritan I mean no candles or incense, bare altars and strict adherence to Biblical laws. Is there anything in their surviving letters, journals, etc. that shows what might have been if they'd lived a normal lifespan?

  3. Certainly some of Edward's leading religious advisors were followers of a "brand" of reform that would eventually result in what was later called "Puritanism." Had Jane remained queen, it is likely that those advisors would have remained in place and that she too would have embraced a radical (i.e., "Puritan") agenda. The religious civil wars of the 1640s might easily have occurred in the 1560s instead.


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