Tuesday, 9 September 2014

Innocent Traitor

According to Alison Weir, Lady Jane Grey’s upbringing would send the strictest parent running to a social worker screaming “child abuse”. Enduring the wrath of her parents for being born a girl, Jane’s life is pretty bleak, save for the ever-present governess, Mrs Ellen, who devotes her life to Jane, and Queen Katherine Parr, who takes Jane into her household until her untimely death following childbirth.
Sadly, just as Weir presents the events, these were common occurrences in Tudor households, especially the aristocratic. Jane’s parents’ excuse for their behaviour is their noble blood, being cousins of the royal family, however many girls, like Jane, were mistreated in the name of teaching them social protocol, in order to be bartered to the highest bidding (and ranking) husband.
Weir’s portrayal, although given artistic licence on many of the dramatic deathbed scenes, seems accurate, and even includes some obscure events, such as Mary Tudor being forced to sign a document acknowledging the illegitimacy of her parents’ marriage, and Elizabeth Tudor’s alleged scandalous behaviour with Katherine Parr’s final husband, Thomas Seymour. Weir skips between points of view, ranging from Lady Jane herself, to her mother, both Tudor girls and Queen Katherine Parr. Although I’m not a fan of the jumpy tone this gives the book, it does allow a broad view on the motives for every event Weir details, although still leans heavily on the basis that Jane is an innocent party in all aspects.

Although I find that Weir uses her artistic license rather liberally, Innocent Traitor is a great insight into the workings of Tudor upbringings, and the lead-up to the fateful 9 day end to Lady Jane Grey.


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