What are Ethians And Verity in My Lady Jane?

Image Credit: Jonathan Prime/Prime Video

Prime Video’s ‘My Lady Jane’ presents an alternate history of Lady Jane Grey, who became the Queen of England for a handful of days before she was overthrown and met a tragic fate. A well-educated and highly intelligent person, Jane Grey’s fate is considered incredibly tragic, especially because of her promising intellect and the young age at which she died. The TV show, based on the book of the same name by Brodi Ashton, Cynthia Hand, and Jodi Meadows, reimagines Jane’s fate and wonders what would have happened had she had better luck.

In the rewriting of history, the story is also imbued with supernatural elements, which help explain away a lot of stuff, allowing the writers to stay relatively true to the history while also throwing something entirely unexpected at the audience. The presence of something called the Ethians and Verities is an important part of the story. SPOILERS AHEAD

Ethians are the Outcasts in My Lady Jane

The presence of supernatural beliefs is not an alien concept in history. History books have documented witches, ghosts, spirits, demons, and other such entities. People have actually been killed in the name of these things, so it made sense for the writers of ‘My Lady Jane’ to include something similar in the story but with a twist. This is where the Ethians come in.

Image Credit: Jonathan Prime/Prime Video

In the ‘My Lady Jane’ universe, an Ethian is a person who can turn into an animal. Each Ethian has a different animal form, which they have not chosen. They are born with the Ethian gene, which generally kicks in when they reach puberty. The gene’s presence itself can be very erratic. One’s parents might not be Ethians, and yet the child might be born so. This seems to have happened with Guildford Dudley, Jane’s husband, who turns into a horse. His father isn’t an Ethian, and as far as anyone knows, neither is his mother.

The opposite of Ethian is a Verity, who is in the majority, especially within the palace, and wants things to be normal, like them, for the rest of the kingdom as well. A strong hatred exists among them (especially a select few, like Mary Tudor) for Ethians. While some want the race banished from the kingdom, others want them eradicated altogether. The story plays rather wittingly with this aspect of history and uses the Ethian-Verity bias to explain some of the more important events in history.

My Lady Jane Makes Important Historical Figures Ethians

The hatred for Ethians drives a lot of Lords and Ladies in the court, and none is as motivated as Princess Mary, the firstborn of late King Henry VIII, who believes herself the rightful heir to the throne. Her father’s inability to hold on to one marriage and quickly jump into another is well-known. Notably, he had six wives, two of whom were executed. Historically, adultery is the given excuse for the beheading of Anne Boleyn and Catherine Howard, Henry VIII’s second and fifth wives, respectively. The Prime Video show, however, adds something else to the narrative.

Image Credit: Jonathan Prime/Prime Video

To display the realm’s hatred for the Ethians, it is revealed that Anne Boleyn was executed because she was revealed to have been an Ethian. Later in the story, it is hinted that Henry himself would have been an Ethian as well (which the book confirms) as his son Edward VI, born from his third wife, Jane Seymour, is also expected to be an Ethian by his great-grandmother, who is also an Ethian. With Anne being accused of being an Ethian, the show extends this doubt to her daughter as well.

This also explains Mary’s hatred for Ethians. Her father left her mother, Catherine of Aragon, for Anne Boleyn, an Ethian. He didn’t just divorce Catherine but had their marriage annulled, which is what put the tag of an illegitimate child on Mary. While clearly she was Henry’s daughter, Catherine’s previous marriage to Henry’s elder brother and then-king made a lot of people suspicious about Mary’s parentage. This suspicion was later used by Henry to annul the marriage, which made it more difficult for Mary to get herself to the throne even though she was the firstborn. This makes her hate Ethians with all her heart, but it is interesting to note. If her father was an Ethian, does this mean she has the Ethian gene, too? What will happen when Mary discovers she is the very thing she hates?

Read More: My Lady Jane: Was King Edward VI Black?