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Elizabethan England

Bloody Mary

by Paul Dalbey, Ed Daniels,
and Tyler Partridge

Mary Tudor was born on February 18, 1516, to Henry VIII and Catherine of Aragon. She was destined to be the only surviving child of this marriage. Henry's mad desire for a male heir lead him to Anne Boleyn, who bore another female, Elizabeth I. Henry VIII deserted Anne for Jane Seymour, who finally bore a male, Edward VI. Since Edward was Henry's only male offspring, he would be the first to succeed Henry VIII.

During Edward's reign, Mary shied away from him. This was partly due to the fact that she was raised by Catherine, who was pro-Spanish, pro-Catholic, and Henry VIII, a man searching for biblical confirmation of fault within his marriage. Henry VIII would eventually found the Church of England to accomodate for his separations. Edward followed closely in his father's footsteps, while Mary had a more profound influence from Catherine. She grew close to many Catholics and saw the suffering they endured at the hands of Edward's protestant governors. The Catholics wanted a change and pushed for a Catholic on the throne.

When Edward died on July 6, 1553, Mary prepared to take the throne. However, John Dudley, a powerful political figure and local high chamberlain, favored the crowning of Lady Jane Grey ,his daughter in law, Queen. The country, however, favored Mary, and soon she rightfully took the throne. It didn't take long for the friends and followers of Edward, seeing that resistance was hopeless, to make their peace with Mary.

After being crowned queen, Mary married Philip II of Spain, perhaps under the influence of Renard, the Spanish ambassador. Phillip was a cruel and sadistic man, and their relationship saw many problems. She was in ill health, he humiliated her in public, and he had many affairs with prostitutes and women of the court. At this same time, Sir Thomas Wyatt was in the midst of organizing a rebellion against the treaty of marriage between England and Spain. Mary acted decisively and with great courage, and all the leaders of the revolt were executed. With them was the unfortunate Lady Jane Grey. Mercy was shown to Mary's sister Elizabeth, whether she had been involved or not, as well as to many others.

During this time, Mary continued to vigorously restore Catholicism. Altars began to be set up again, new bishops were added according to ancient rituals, and High Mass was sung at St. Paul's. An attempt was also made to reenact the statutes against heresy, but this effort was unsuccessful because of resistance of the Lords. Some of this resistance stemmed from the apprehension that Catholicism could only be effected at the expense of the abbey lands being returned to the church. However, when Mary and Philip were married on July 25, it was well known that the Church's property would not be changed. On November 30, Phillip proclaimed himself as the absolute king over the old king and queen and the Parliament. This Parliament was the same one that reenacted the ancient statutes against heresy and reversed the enactments made against Rome during the last two reigns.

Mary, along with many of her advisors, believed that religious peace would not be possible unless many people who spoke against Catholicism were silenced. Even though the Protestant practices of Henry VIII and Edward VI never really ceased, they were brought back to the forefront during the reign of Mary. In less than four years, Mary ordered 277 people to be burned at the stake.

Some of those people were highly influential men such as Hugh Latimer, Archbishop Cranmer, and Bishop Ridley. The majority of those burned were of the lower classes, though. Mary and her advisors believed that they were using the only remedy left to restore religious purity to their society and put a stop to heresy. However, heresy still occurred on an unprecedented scale.

During the later years of her life, Mary was afflicted by one serious illness after another. Although she had a passionate love for her husband, Philip, he never returned the feelings. After he realized that she would never bear him a child, he barely gave her any consideration and, in fact, left England forever. Her last year was filled with misunderstandings with the church for which she had sacrificed so much. When she finally died in 1558 it was with reverence, as she had always lived. She had many good qualities. Even at her death, she was able to inspire and create affection from those who came in contact with her. The story of "Bloody Mary" is still regarded by historians today as one of the most tragic in history.

See also "Mary Tudor"


Works Consulted

*Cannon, John. The Oxford Illustrated History of the British Monarchy. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1988. 331.

This book is a very good source for various pictures and basic information about the British Monarchy. Many pictures are in color and are extremely detailed. It is also a great source of visual resources.

Erickson, Carolly. Bloody Mary. Garden City, New York: Doubleday and Company, 1978. 169-285.

An in depth biography of Queen Mary I, this book goes into great detail on every aspect of her life. It contains quite a bit of information, including how she dealt with problems such as religion, her peers, and suitors.

Roll, Winifred. Mary I. Englewood Cliffs, New Jersey: Prentice-Hall, Inc., 1980. 33-72.

This book is devoted to the life and times of Queen Mary I. It gives an in-depth idea of how Mary's early life may have been influenced by King Henry VIII and Catherine of Aragon. Overall, it is a reputable resource.

Stanton, Doris Mary. The English Woman in History. London: George Allen and Unwin LTD., 1957. 126-229.

This is a definitive book briefly describing Mary's reign and her impact on English society and religion. It compares Mary I to other women of her time period and gives general public opinion of Mary vs. Elizabeth.

Whyte, Ellen Maria. "Mary Tudor." Website. http://best.cde.com.my/~ellen/marytudo.html. (25 Nov. 97).

A general overview of basic information is provided on this web site. It gives detailed information on relations with Henry VIII, Elizabeth, and Phillip II. We found it to be a good online resource for Mary I.

Williams, Penry. Life in Tudor England. London: B.T. Batsford LTD., 1964. 148-167.

This book is all about the reign of the Tudors in England. Limited biographical information about Mary I is given. The book primarily deals with the church's relations with Mary.

* source for visual

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