Wow! I am amazed at how quickly I read this book! (I suppose this already gives you guys a hint as to how much I enjoyed reading ‘Crown of Blood’ by Nicola Tallis..?)
‘Crown of Blood: The Deadly Inheritance of Lady Jane Grey’ by Nicola Tallis, is a refreshing, awe-inspiring and revitalising account of of this renowned English Queen. The entirety of Jane Grey’s short yet dramatic life, flows effortlessly off the pages and I found myself reading this book for hours at a time. It certainly had me well and truly hooked!
I’m sure that many of you have heard Lady Jane Grey’s tragic tale as England’s Nine-Day-Queen. This infamous heroine in Tudor history was forced to wear the English Crown against her will, in spite of her royal Catholic cousin Mary I. Poor Jane ruled for a mere 9 – (or 13!) – days, before Mary usurped her place on the throne, and eventually had Jane executed within the grim confines of the Tower of London. The life of Lady Jane Grey was swiftly cut short (excuse the pun!), before she was even 18 years old! Is it any wonder then, that the story of Lady Jane Grey has endured in popular memory for nearly 500 years?
However, what Tallis recognises in her book is that poor Jane is remembered simply because of her brutal death. What about Jane’s life and character, which Tallis argues is just as fascinating? Tallis aims to shine light on Jane’s impressive royal lineage; her forceful personality, her devotion to the Protestant faith and ultimately, Jane’s astoundingly high intellect and passion for learning.
I have to say that Tallis did extremely well in presenting Jane as a compelling heroine in her own right. I often forgot that I was reading about a girl who was not yet out of her teens! Tallis unveils a girl who excelled at her education, during a time when female learning was widely frowned upon. Many of Jane’s male contemporaries who were praised for their intellectual triumphs, acknowledged just how talented Jane was in her intellectual pursuits. There is little doubt that if Jane had lived longer, she would have become a celebrated figurehead for female learning in Tudor England.
Jane is also depicted as a girl who remained fiercely loyal towards her Protestant faith, despite the many trials that she faced because of it. She was willing to anger many of her powerful Catholic rivals and consequently risk her life, all for her religious beliefs. After discovering the many merits of Jane’s character, which is unearthed throughout ‘Crown of Blood’, I could not help but mourn the loss of a fiercely committed, and intellectually-gifted young woman.
Despite the limited surviving documents which tell us about Jane’s story, Tallis did considerably well in tackling some of the myths and speculations that surround her lifetime. This includes Jane’s upbringing, her date of birth and appearance. Tallis understandably could not avoid all of the ‘what ifs’, simply because of the lack of evidence. Yet I still thoroughly enjoyed exploring Jane’s story in ‘Crown of Blood’, and was still strongly persuaded by Tallis’ theories.
All in all, I would recommend this book to all history lovers out there. Nicola Tallis maintains the tragic element of Lady Jane Grey’s tale that we all know so well. The chapters covering Jane’s downfall are exquisitely written, and will leave readers breathless and overwhelmed due to the suddenness of it all. Readers will still feel great sympathy towards Jane’s plight, (whilst avoiding painting Mary I in a bad light too..!)
On the other hand, Tallis had achieved her aim of enhancing Jane’s zealous, spirited and independent character to a modern-day audience. She has combated the common view of Lady Jane Grey as a pitiful heroine, who was over-powered by her more powerful relations. Instead, the Jane that emerges from ‘Crown of Blood’ is a young woman who fought for her voice to be heard; who ultimately died the most gruesome death because of her steadfast beliefs and treasured ancestry. The Jane that is introduced to Tallis’ readers is not the tragic figure of England’s Nine-Day-Queen, but a powerful female icon who was a force to be reckoned with.
NICOLA TALLIS’ WEBSITE:
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