Nine Days a Queen (aka Tudor Rose) (1936)
Director: Robert Stevenson.
Starring: Cedric Hardwicke (Earl of Warwick), John Mills (Lord Guilford Dudley), Felix Aylmer (Edward Seymour), Leslie Perrins (Thomas Seymour), Frank Cellier (Henry VIII), Desmond Tester (Edward VI), Gwen Frangcon Davies (Mary Tudor), Martita Hunt (Lady Grey - Jane's Mother), Miles Malleson (Duke Henry Grey - Jane's Father), Sybil Thorndike (Ellen), Nova Pilbeam (Lady Jane Grey).
Lady Jane Grey's short life
1547. King Henry VIII is dying and political men are jockeying for good positions for themselves, their friends or their relatives. The Earl of Warwick arrives at the palace. He walks to the room where the King is three-quarters dead, according to the Earl of Warwick's aide. Another man comes in. He walks over to Edward Seymour, who tells Thomas Seymour that they start for Hartford as soon as the King is dead. Are the horses saddled? Yes. The Earl of Warwick says to his aide that Edward Seymour is in an alliance.
The King thinks the councilors waiting in the shadows are headless ghosts. He is informed that those are not ghosts, but his councilors. The King orders the councilors to come to his bedside. He tells the men that his successor will be his son Edward followed by his heirs. Failing any heirs, then his daughter Mary (whose mother was the Spanish Catherine of Aragon) and her heirs. Failing them, then his daughter Elizabeth (whose mother was Anne Boleyn) and her heirs. Failing them, my sister's grandchild, Jane Grey.
The King dies. Edward and Thomas take off, followed by the Earl of Warwick and his aide. Edward and Thomas ride off to Hartford, but Warwick says for the moment, he will wait and watch for the mistakes committed by his rivals.
Prince Edward, a young boy, is practicing his archery and he needs a lot of practice. Edward, however, is more interested in a gun. He asks his uncle why can't he have a gun? Uncle Edward Seymour says Edward's father knows best, but he has sad news for Edward. Edward is now the new King. His father has passed away. And as his father said with his last words, he, Edward Seymour, will be his regent and Edward must listen to his uncle and do as he says.
Edward VI now sits on the royal throne. Edward Seymour comes in and the King reads that Edward Seymour is now the Lord Protector and the King will follow his instructions. Warwick says to Thomas Seymour that he must be very proud of his brother's achievement. Thomas replies: "My Lord, you read my very thoughts." Warwick says that Thomas is a bit of a disappointment for his friends, who are the enemies of Edward Seymour. Thomas lacks ambition and they expected more from him.
The King gets worn out and frustrated at having to sign so many documents and he doesn't even know what the documents say. And he's mad because the Lord Protector has still not gotten him the gun he wanted. In fact, he says if he were older he would fire the Lord Protector and get a new one. The King goes outside. Thomas Seymour is there and he has a gun for the King. Edward VI is ecstatic over the gift. He fires the gun and the recoil knocks him down, but he did manage to hit the archery target. He runs over to the target but collapses. Thomas asks him what's wrong and Edward says it's his heart.
Having heard the gunshot, Edward Seymour comes out. He is angry with his brother for buying the gun for the boy King. Edward tells his brother to go away and never come back here. Thomas agrees to stay away. After Edward leaves, Thomas tells his aide that Edward VI will be dead within the year. The aide says then it will be Mary Tudor. Thomas says no because Mary is a Catholic. Then it's Elizabeth. Again Thomas says no, because they declared Elizabeth illegitimate. "It's Jane Grey." So, now they will ride north.
Thomas goes to speak to the parents. He says he will take Jane to London where she can hobnob with the elite of England. He will also find her a good husband. The father says he's not rich and Thomas says he will pay the expenses. And yet, still the father says he doesn't like it. The mother, however, likes the idea and she will bully the father until he gives in.
Thomas pays a visit to Jane, who is with her tutor. The tutor leaves and Thomas asks Jane if she would like to go to London with him. She likes the idea but says her parents will not let her go. Thomas says that soon the door will open and her father will say that he has been talking it over with mother and now he has made up his mind to let Jane go to London with Thomas Seymour. And sure enough, father comes in and says these words and Thomas and Jane have a good laugh about it, which puzzles father.
Jane's nanny Ellen tells Jane that she does not approve of her going to London. It's a sinful place and she would never go herself, but she will go to tend to Jane. Mother comes in and Jane tells her what Ellen has been saying. Mother is not pleased with Ellen and says she shouldn't be putting these thoughts into Jane's head. Ellen is not contrite about what she said.
Thomas takes Jane and Ellen on a boating tour of London on the River Thames. Jane is very excited to be in London.
The Earl of Warwick speaks to Edward Seymour, telling him that his brother Thomas, a very ambitious man, has brought Jane Grey to London. Edward is furious. He tells Warwick to keep quiet about the matter for the sake of peace in the realm.
The Lord Protector comes to talk with Thomas. Edward tells Thomas that he warned him about interfering in royal matters. He says it's treason! Thomas says that his brother is too quick to jump to conclusions. Edward warns him: "One last word. . . . You fool! Many a thrashing have I given you as a boy and all to no purpose. Well, this new folly will cost you more than a thrashing. It will cost you your head."
Jane has heard the yelling and she runs over to the door to see what's going on. She opens the door to see the two men. Edward says: "The guilt of it and the blood are upon your own head." Edward leaves. Jane asks Thomas about it, but he just says that's it nothing for Jane to worry her little head about. Jane tells Thomas that she's scared that Edward might do something to his brother. At this time the authorities come in to arrest Thomas. Thomas tells Jane that it may be some while before he returns and he wants her to go back home to the countryside.
A young male servant with a worried look says that this is the end for his master. It's the Tower Hill and the ax. He tells Jane that she's the only one who can save his master. He asks her to go to her cousin, the King. and beg for the life of the master? Jane says she will do it.
Jane with the servant fellow go to speak with Edward to ask for Thomas to be saved. The King gives his royal word that Thomas will be set free.
Now the King speaks with the Lord Protector, who asks the boy does he think the Lord Protector would stain his hands with the blood of his own brother if he did not have a very good reason for doing it? He doesn't say what crime Thomas has committed. Rather he sends the boy to his room.
The death sentence is now pronounced before the public. Thomas' servant starts stirring up the public, saying that this is against the wishes of the King. This is all the doing of the traitor Edward Seymour who overrules the King. Warwick is pleased by all this. He says one Seymour will lose his head and the other Seymour will lose his popularity. He tells his aide that he told him that it would be beneficial to wait for the others to make mistakes.
Moving men start taking furniture out of Thomas' house. Ellen tells them not to take it because the King has ordered Thomas Seymour to be spared. The moving men don't know what to do. They say that if Thomas does lose his head, they will know it with the noise of the cannon that will be fired. The servant comes in with a message for Jane from Thomas. He asks that she forgive him. Jane starts really getting upset shouting that the King gave her his royal word to spare Thomas. Then the roar of the cannon is heard. Jane cries on Ellen's shoulder.
Edward is a follower of the preacher John Knox. And this Sunday John Knox speaks of the death of Abel at the hands of his brother Cain. He shouts: "So I ask of thee: is there no man who will turn the wrath of heaven and avenge a brother's blood?" A man standing next to Warwick says that John Knox is looking to Warwick to avenge a brother's blood, as they all do. Warwick plays the part of the reluctant man. He says he is no politician, but for the sake of this land they both love: "Make what use of me that you can."
Warwick takes to the field. Edward tries to get the royal troops to defend him, but they refuse to do so. Edward has to come to the King for help, but the boy King tells him that Edward himself told him to stay out of the matter. And so now he's following the example that Edward Seymour set for him. Warwick arrives with his guards. He tells the guards to take Edward Seymour away. Now Warwick acknowledges the King. He then asks that the King make him, the Earl of Warwick, the Lord Protector. The King asks Warwick if he can shoot his gun? Yes. Can he ask cousin Jane over to the castle? Yes. So the King accepts the Earl of Warwick as his Lord Protector.
Edward has Jane sit on his right hand side at the banquet table. She says that she's heard that Warwick will have Edward Seymour's head. The King says no. To kill one uncle is bad enough. To kill two uncles would be terrible. Jane is doubtful about this so the King gives a toast to Warwick. During the toast, the roar of the cannon is heard again. The King asks Warwick what does the roar of the cannon mean? Warwick says: "An execution, Your Majesty." The King asks if the man is Edward Seymour and Warwick says it's best to speak now of the late Edward Seymour. The King goes a little crazy, shouting that he commanded that Warwick not kill Edward Seymour. He keeps shouting until his heart can't take the stress and he faints.
When Warwick is told by the doctors that Edward will die, the man calls the doctors fools and says they better use their best prescriptions on the King to save him. The head doctor again says they cannot save the King. The doctors leave. Warwick says to his aide: "This boy shall not cheat me by his death."
Jane visits with the King. She tells him she is going back to her country home. Warwick sees Jane come out of the room and he tells her that he will have her stay here in the palace for awhile. They will fix up an apartment for her. Jane says the King just said she could go home. Warwick says Jane's presence will help with the King's recovery, so he will have her stay in the palace.
Warwick goes to Jane's parents and asks for their daughter's hand in marriage to his son. The father asks if the son agrees to the marriage? Warwick says his son does not know of the marriage, but when he is informed, he will do his duty.
Warwick's son is Guilford and he is a young man. Guilford goes to talk with Jane. Jane thinks this young fellow is one of Warwick's spies. Guilford says no. Jane asks if the fellow hates Warwick too? Guilford says Warwick is difficult to get along with, but why does Jane hate the man so much? She says she was made to stay at the palace to help the King's recovery, but not once has she been into see the King. And she is being followed and spied upon wherever she goes. She says she's frightened. They are interrupted when a messenger tells Jane that Lord Warwick will now speak with her.
Jane finds her parents with Warwick. They tell her about the upcoming wedding. Jane tells them that she will not obey her parents on this one thing, because Warwick has set up this wedding for purposes of his own. Warwick tells Jane she will obey her parents in this matter. All the arrangements have been made for noon tomorrow.
At night Jane tries to escape, but the guards start chasing her. She goes up to the parapet of the castle and there sees Guilford. Guilford goes over to the guards and asks them why are they following him? The guards turn around and leave.
Guilford asks Jane what is she doing? She says she's running away because of Warwick. He is forcing her to marry his son, but she will not marry his son. She hates the son as much as she hates Warwick. Guilford says he's a friend of the son and knows him well. He says if Jane doesn't want to marry Guilford, then Guilford will certainly not marry her. So, he pleads with her not to run away tonight.
At the wedding, the couple meet again and Jane realizes that Guilford is the groom. They smile at each other. They marry.
Warwick comes to the King to get him to sign a document to make Jane Grey the Queen. The King absolutely refuses to sign. He says Jane wants to stay in the countryside and be happy. So, Warwick gives the order for someone else to place the King's signature on the document.
The King dies.
Jane and Guilford ride in the countryside. She says she is so happy and will never go back to London again. When they return to the palace, however, a whole roomful of people are there to greet the couple. They are told that King Edward VI is dead and Jane is now the Queen of England. Before his death, the King named Jane his heir in a signed document. Jane tells the people: "I refuse." Warwick is in the back and he says that a refusal is impossible. He says if Jane refuses, Mary Tudor will raise an army and there will be Civil War in England. So Jane gives in to Warwick and says she will do her duty for her people to the best of her abilities.
A messenger comes to Mary Tudor. She is on the road with her guards. The messenger says that Mary must not go up that road for Warwick's men await her in ambush. Mary protests that her brother wrote her letters to come. The messenger informs her that the King is dead. And those letters to her were forged bait to get her and her guards into an ambush. Mary says that they shall return home and tomorrow she will be declared the Queen of England.
Mary goes to her coronation.
Warwick is told that there have been demonstrations in support of Mary as Queen. Warwick tells his men not to worry because he has sent men and now Mary resides in prison. The commander of the ambush setup now comes in to tell Warwick that Mary turned back for home last night. She fled to Suffolk. Now the men want to change sides to Mary. Warwick gets up and says if they go to Mary, they surely shall lose their heads as traitors to Mary. That gets the men to calm down. Warwick says now he is going to lead his army to face Mary's army.
Warwick goes to tell Jane and Guilford. He tells his son to get ready to ride within the hour. Mary has dared to raise an army. Jane doesn't want her husband to go, but he says he must go with his father.
Jane asks a guard on the parapet if there has been any news? No, but Her Majesty mustn't worry for Warwick has never lost a battle.
A little later the news comes that Mary is now marching on London.
Jane receives the bad news. While sitting on her throne, her father comes to tell Jane that she can come down from the throne, because she's no longer Queen. Warwick is defeated and Mary declared Queen. Now the guards come in to arrest Jane in the name of Queen Mary. Jane goes with them.
Warwick and Guilford are taken with their hands bound together to London. The people jeer at the rebels.
Jane is under house arrest. With her is Ellen, who thinks that Mary will be merciful.
Queen Mary comes to Jane. She says she feels pity for Jane, but she can show no mercy. And her husband Guilford will have to die. Mary explains that it's better to kill two, then to lose 2,000 in a battle with an army raised in the name of Jane.
Guilford is taken to be executed. He looks up to the window and sees Jane. They wave to each other. After a short while, Jane hears the cannon roar. She cries.
And now it's Jane's turn. She is taken to the place of execution. The executioner asks her to forgive him. She says she does so willing.
As she awaits her execution, she hears the voices of the people who got her into this terrible situation. Ellen is there with her. She lowers her head and turns away from the scene.
The cannon roars with the death of Lady Jane Grey.
This is a sad movie about how ambitious men will even use children for their own selfish purposes to advance their own political fortunes. Edward Seymour uses the boy King Edward VI to advance himself. His brother, Thomas Seymour, uses the King's young cousin Jane Grey to advance himself. This leads to a conflict between the two brothera. The Earl of Warwick takes advantage of the brothers' quarrel to gain control over Jane Grey, who he uses to further his advancement. Through various manipulations, he makes Jane the new Queen of England. Poor Jane doesn't really know what's happening to her or what will happen to her. And yet, what about Mary Tudor? She is rightfully the next Queen of England, not Jane Grey. Do they really think that Mary will not fully assert her rights to be Queen? Sometimes it's just better to stay out of politics altogether, if you want to keep your head.
Patrick Louis Cooney, Ph. D.
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