King Edward VI of England played by Jordan Peters in My Lady Jane
(Prime Video)

Just Like Everything Else in ‘My Lady Jane,’ the Affliction Also Has Its Historical Counterpart

Hint: it's very much lung-related.

My Lady Jane, currently available for streaming on Prime Video, is a chaotic and fantasy-esque take on the life of the real Lady Jane Grey, who was the unfortunate ruler of England for only nine days before losing her head.

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Don’t worry, though—this adaptation of My Lady Jane, a novel by authors Cynthia Hand, Brodi Ashton, and Jodi Meadows, has none of the historical tragedy and all the romantasy tropes that we all know and love. 

Spoilers ahead for the first season (hopefully the first of many more to come) of My Lady Jane

One of the several plot points of this absolutely bonkers and marvelously brilliant show starts with the illness seemingly plaguing the young King Edward VI, son of the infamous Henry VIII—and his third wife Jane Seymour—and our main character’s beloved cousin. In fact, Edward reveals to Jane early on that what ails him isn’t just any sickness but the terrible Affliction, known for leaving no survivors behind.

Of course, it’s soon discovered that Edward doesn’t have the affliction at all but is instead being poisoned by his absolutely unhinged eldest half-sister Mary—who wants to off him so she can get her hands on the crown—with Acqua Tofana, a well-known poison that however would be invented in Italy only around the first half of the following century. But I mean, in a show where your lady’s maid turns into a hawk it’s not like we’re bothering with details as trivial as a hundred years’ time lapse. 

So what is the Affliction in My Lady Jane?

Considering the symptoms that are shown in My Lady Jane—particularly the coughing up blood, which is what Jane fakes when she is trying to get out of marrying Guildford Dudley—it seems that the Affliction is modeled after tuberculosis.

This particular illness of the lungs, also known throughout history as consumption, could also be what the real-life King Edward VI died of. We know from historical chronicles that he fell sick around the beginning of 1553 and that his condition worsened for the following six months—which is when he put in place his plans for the succession of Lady Jane to preserve the Protestant reformation in England from a return to Catholicism with Mary—until his death in July of that same year. 

While it’s not always easy to retroactively establish a real cause of death without modern scientific knowledge, tuberculosis seems like a valid option, maybe after the young King had contracted another sickness like measles or smallpox that weakened his immune system. Other theories claim Edward died of a form of acute pneumonia, which caused a series of life-ending conditions from sepsis to kidney failure. Since the times were particularly restless, many people suspected that Edward had instead been poisoned—by Catholics or by powerful barons—but no evidence has ever been found to support these rumors.

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Benedetta Geddo
Benedetta (she/her) lives in Italy and has been writing about pop culture and entertainment since 2015. She has considered being in fandom a defining character trait since she was in middle school and wasn't old enough to read the fanfiction she was definitely reading and loves dragons, complex magic systems, unhinged female characters, tragic villains and good queer representation. You’ll find her covering everything genre fiction, especially if it’s fantasy-adjacent and even more especially if it’s about ASOIAF. In this Bangtan Sonyeondan sh*t for life.