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Elizabethan England

Mary Tudor

by Lexi Giger, Theresa Gumprecht,
and Scott Raynolds

There are many misconceptions about Mary Tudor. She was modest, affectionate, well-educated, kindly, an accomplished musician, and quite charming. These descriptions are not what we usually associate with "Bloody Mary." Mary Tudor was born February 18, 1516. She was the only surviving child of Henry VIII and his first wife, Catherine of Aragon. Cardinal Wolsey, her godfather, raised Mary to be a strong and fervent Catholic.

When Henry divorced Catherine, Mary was greatly disgraced. Mary was close to her mother, and she soon fell into disfavor with the king. Sadly, Mary and her mother were forcibly separated. King Henry then married Anne Boleyn. The new Queen looked down upon Mary and treated her harshly, bringing about rumors that Mary and Catherine were to be sent to the gallows. Catherine died in January, 1536. Anne Boleyn's execution followed a few months later, and Jane Seymour then arose as the new Queen. Unlike Anne, Jane seemed to try to befriend the already sadened Mary Tudor, who was then only a young woman of 20. However, Jane Seymour died shortly after giving birth to Edward in 1542.

Mary remained next to little Edward in the line of succession to the throne. After Henry's death in 1547, Edward took the throne. Edward died on July 6, 1553. News of Edward's death was kept from Mary for several days.

Mary's direct ascension to the throne was blocked by Northumberland, the Lord President of the Council, who contrived things so that the young king would disinherit both Mary and her half-sister Elizabeth (the daughter of Henry and Anne Boleyn) in favor of Northumberland's own daughter-in-law, Lady Jane Grey. However, Mary acted quickly, and with rallies of men from Eastern counties and members of the Council, she was proclaimed as Queen in London. Only a few days after this, Northumberland hurried to make peace with her.

Under the influence of her advisors, Mary assented to the death of Northumberland and his two followers, who were seen as "arch traitors." The Catholic bishops were restored to their Sees, and Mary did not carry out the execution of Northumberland or Lady Jane Grey. Archbishop Cranmer was sent to the Tower for being involved with the rebellion, but there was yet to be bloodshed.

Mary was crowned at Westminster in September. She intended full obedience to the papal authority, and negotiations had already been opened with the Pope. Meanwhile, Mary was influenced into marrying Philip II of Spain. She announced her intentions of marriage in 1554. A rebellion was led by Sir Thomas Wyatt in opposition to Mary's wishes. However, she was determined despite the rallies against her, and the rebellion was easily crushed. The leaders of the rebellion were executed, and with them the Lady Jane Grey.

Restoration of the English Catholic Church was moving very rapidly, and traditions were going back to the ancient rituals. Mary's efforts also incited several fanatics who rallied with great emotion and power. Speaking with her advisors, Mary decided that peace would never come until these revolts were silenced. Once again Mary enforced the heresy laws. In four years, 277 people were burned to death in the name of peace in the Church. In her defense, however, Mary thought that this was the only way to establish the Church again and to restore peace within the country.

The rest of Mary's life was bitter and sad. Her life had been plagued with illnesses, and her dropsy (the pathological accumulation of diluted lymph in body tissues and cavities) had not become fatal. The sad Queen was deeply in love with her husband, who never returned the affection and gave up on the Queen and England forever when she was unable to bear no heirs. The last of Mary's life was depressing for her. She died at St. James's Palace in London in 1558, at the age of 42.

See also "Bloody Mary"

Works Consulted

Erickson, Carolly. Bloody Mary. Garden City, New York: Doubleday and Company, 1978.

This book is a good place to look for information on Mary Tudor's reign as queen. It also gives the reader a little background information on her childhood to help understand her position as Queen.

*The Kings and Queens of England and Scotland. A Dorling Kindersley Book. London:Grove Press, 1990.

This book is an excellent source for pictures, and it also has a extremely helpful time line of Mary's life. It also features stories on Henry VIII and his six wives, complete with time lines and pictures.

Loades, David. Mary Tudor, A Life. Oxford: Basil Blackwell Ltd., 1989.

This book gives great detail on Mary's family, her relatives, and the influence they had on her as Queen. This book also has an excellent account of her life in general, from childhood to death.

Roll, Winifred. Mary I. New Jersey: Prentice Hall, Inc., 1980.

This book had a map of Mary's life dealing more with her childhood and focusing on her later decisions of execution because of her strong ties with the Catholic Church.

*St. John Parker, Michael. Britain's Kings and Queens. London: Pitkin Pictorials Ltd., 1974.

This is an excellent source for pictures of the Queen and her family.

Thurston, Herbert. Mary Tudor.http://www.knight.org/advent.

This excerpt is from the Catholic Encyclopedia. It gives a full story of Mary's life and talks about her special ties with the church. It is an excellent reference for quick information that is complete in telling the whole story.

*Woodward, G.W.O. The Six Wives of Henry VIII. London: Garrod and Lofthouse International Limited, 1972.

This book is mainly pictures of the six wives, but there are stories of them and their relations to the royal family. If I were doing a report on Henry VIII or any of his wives, I would pick up this book.

* Sources for visuals.


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