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TheExecution of Lady Jane Grey

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In the Tudor era (and probably in the Middle Ages too) it was customary for the executioner to ask the condemned's forgiveness. It was supposed to show that he held no malice towards the victim; that he was only an extension of the law doing his job. By granting forgiveness the condemned also had a chance of showing magnanimity in the face of death, thus leaving a good impression on the spectators.
Lady Jane Grey forgave her executioner, as did Anne Boleyn and Catherine Howard before her.

Who was Lady Jane Grey? She was designated queen by young king Edward Seymour (the son and successor of Henry VIII, as you remember).
But when he died in 1553, she managed to be queen for only about 2 weeks, because Henry's daughter Mary Tudor had many supporters and so became queen the same year.
The 17 year old Lady Jane Grey, though she didn't plot against Queen Mary herself, became a symbol of resistance and Protestantism and so became dangerous to the Catholic politics of Mary. Queen Mary had her executed for "high treason" in 1554.

You can read the entire story on Wikipedia here: en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lady_Jan…

Even today historians aren't sure if she had a legitimate claim to the throne or not, so she's usually not included in a line-up of English regents.

Hmm. That's quite a lot of death scenes in my portfolio so far. Perhaps I should paint a birth some time...! Nevermind. The next painting, of course, is going to feature Mary Tudor ("the Catholic" or "Bloody Mary" depending on whose side you're on).

Photoshop and Wacom tablet as always, took about 30 hours or so. (Social life? What's that? XD)
Wood and brick wall textures snatched from cgtextures.com .
Screaming guy referenced from alastock - alastock.deviantart.com/art/sc…
Lady-in-waiting referenced from lockstock - lockstock.deviantart.com/art/T…
Special thanks to the folks on Conceptart.org for kicking my butt :heart:

WIP can be seen here: img196.imageshack.us/img196/34…

© Kristina Gehrmann

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Comments253
anonymous's avatar
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Leppardra's avatar
From what is currently known, Jane did have a legitimate claim, but according to Henry VIII's will she was fourth in line behind Henry's son Edward and two daughters Mary and Elizabeth.  Edward later changed his father's will by ruling out Mary and Elizabeth in favor of Jane.  As Jane was Edward's fellow Protestant, he did this to prevent Catholic Mary from ruling and keep England from returning to Papal authority. :nod: 
WiorkaEG's avatar
There is some question from historical point of view... First: Jane Greya was a honorable lady, pretendent to the throne. So, she was executed in full, great robe - not in chemise only. It would be dishonor. Second - beheading with the sword in Europe was without a block. You can break headsman's sword on the block :-) especially on such low. For beheading on the block - headsman use the axe and the block was higher than on your picture - high enough for kneeling person. In some countries the block was lower - and the condemned person was lying on. Your block in unusable ;-) . When headsman used sword - condemned was kneeling or sitting on the chair. In Osman's Imperium condemned was partially supperted on the block, but by the chest - and hist neck and head was out of the support. So they can cut the head by the sword using a block. But this was a different tradition.
So it is enough of the history.
This is great work, full of expression.
urial69's avatar
i live near bradgate park the home of lady jane grey.. only ruins now but still worth a visit if ever in Leicestershire
Tsunarmy2's avatar
The ruins of her home Bradgate house stand in Bradgate park that's not far from where I live since I live on the outskirts of the city of Leicester, It's also said that her ghost haunts the ruins of Bradgate House, and is said to attend Christmas eve mass every year at the church at Newtown Linford, Peapole have heard the sound of a horse-drawn carriage going from the ruins of Bradgate House to Newtown Linford, some have seen the carriage and have even seen Lady Jane Grey holding her severed head in her lap. 
sytim's avatar
Beautifully moving.
chivalryss's avatar
it's an amazing painting, so sad though, all that tragedy.  well don e piece of art.
silviadotti's avatar
Very powerful work!!
MRCJames's avatar
Her claim was shaky at best.  Edward had named her his successor in his will bypassing his half sisters Mary and Elizabeth. 
My understanding is she was the great granddaughter of one Thomas Grey.
One of Elizabeth Woodville's two sons by her previous marriage (before she married Edward IV)
Jane was a cousin to Edward of course ...
the laws of succession were not so well defined then, and any member of the family could put forth a claim (provided he or she had enough swords) 
:( (Sad) 
zemolee's avatar
awesome work x
romangirl's avatar
Looks like an Old World painting.  Excellent!
greenhuntingcat's avatar
The look on her face is powerful!
Red-Jirachi-2's avatar
What the actual fuck was Edward thinking. Even his father wouldn't pull off a stunt like this
QuantumInnovator's avatar
This execution was 1,000,000% unjustified. If Mary didn't want Lady Jane Grey to be the next queen, why didn't she speak up before the coronation took place? She had to have known that it was coming.

Also, I don't think Lady Jane Grey actually ever wanted to be the Queen of England. It was Edward's idea, not Jane's.

Finally, even if Lady Jane Grey had committed treason, that was no reason to execute her. The Bible endorses the death penalty for murderers (see Leviticus 24:17, "And he that killeth any man shall surely be put to death"), but not for what Lady Jane Grey did. I live in the United States, and I cannot understand why some murderers get the death penalty and some don't. I would give ALL convicted murderers the death penalty. And I would make their deaths painful deaths. For example, most executions in the United States are performed by lethal injection. But most murders in the United States are committed using guns and knives. Some are even committed with bombs. The Boston Marathon bomber should be executed the way Lady Jane Grey was executed. It would be more painful and the blade could be reused.
KaynessArt's avatar
Novester-Finch's avatar
I greatly enjoy your work. A great deal of people with "Royal" blood died due to fear by the current ruling branch of the family. While Mary would certainly be before Jane in the succession, there were certainly those rulers that had less strength in their claim to the throne before and after Jane. Looking forward to more of your work!
BRUCE1965's avatar
Lady Jane was beheaded with an axe and chopping block; Anne Boleyn was beheaded with a sword, by a French executioner from Calais. Just wondering why Jane's executioner has a sword in his hand. There is also a chopping block, and a block was not usually used with a sword. Jane was beheaded in the morning, and in late afternoon, a prominent visitor arrived at the Tower, and Jane's headless body and head were still upon the scaffold, according to an account I read. Jane did indeed use a blindfold, and her confessor helped her find the block to place her neck, not being able to find it without her vision. Very excellent artwork, just not historically accurate (sword and chopping block and no blindfold) for this particular execution.
Skoshi8's avatar
I believe that the practice was to use the sword by itself (swung like a baseball bat) and the block was only used with the axe.
ButterflyConcept's avatar
Wow the figures have a strong expression.
I can see what they feel!

You specialize you on the middle age or?
KristinaGehrmann's avatar
Thanks, I specialize in history illustration in general.
ButterflyConcept's avatar
Wow, this is remarkably!

I will watch you and be waiting for more awesome illustrations! ;) (Wink) 
mockingbirdontree's avatar
I think I read a book about that poor girl. Heartbreaking to lose ones life at such a young age. But the pic is awesome.
urzapw2000's avatar
Henry and Mary killed a lot of people...
I like Elizabeth the best
Noojie-Woojie's avatar
She was blindfolded in her execution if im not mistaken. :)
anonymous's avatar
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