J. Stephan Edwards
As the Lady Jane Grey Dudley walked solemnly across the frozen ground of the Tower of London and toward the scaffold on which she was to be executed, she read silently from a tiny hand-written book of reformist prayers that she carried with her. The prayers contained within the book were already very familiar to the seventeen-year-old Lady Jane, but she drew strength from reading them again, allowing her to remain remarkably composed as she approached the block and the executioner’s axe. The Lady Jane’s exceptional dignity in the face of death would earn for her the title of religious martyr. She was but the first of many such Protestant martyrs during the brief reign of Queen Mary Tudor, known today as “Bloody Mary.” The Lady Jane’s prayer book has survived the centuries and is now held by the British Library, where it is occasionally displayed as part of the Treasures of the British Library permanent exhibition. Access to it is otherwise strictly limited, so that its full contents have until now not been seen by the general public. This volume offers for the first time a page-by-page photographic reproduction of the colorfully-decorated miniature book, British Library Harley Manuscript 2342, in its entirety. Each page of the original volume is depicted in full color and at actual size, and each image is accompanied by a precise transcription of its text together with a rendering of that text in modern English. The volume also includes an Introduction by Dr J. Stephan Edwards, an academic expert on Lady Jane Grey and on the Tudor succession crisis of 1553 with which she is associated. His Introduction places the prayer book in its full historical context and provides a brief biographical sketch of the Lady Jane Grey. The book is a valuable resource for scholars of religion, of the Reformation, and of women’s devotional literature. It is also an inspirational text for modern persons of faith and carries a compelling personal association with one of the first of the Marian Protestant martyrs from the early years of the Protestant Reformation of the sixteenth century.