Mary I, Bloody Mary
Who was Mary I or Bloody Mary?
Mary I, nicknamed "Bloody Mary," was the Queen of England (as well as ireland) from 1553 to 1558. She is known for her severe persecution of Protestant Christians, which is where she gets the nickname, "Bloody Mary. She was born in 1516 and she died in 1558.
Mary was the only child born of the ill-fated marriage of Henry VIII and his first wife Catherine of Aragon who survived to adulthood. Her younger half-brother, Edward VI, succeeded Henry in 1547. When Edward became mortally ill in 1553, he attempted to remove Mary from the line of succession because of religious differences.
On his death, their cousin Lady Jane Grey was at first proclaimed queen. Mary assembled a force in East Anglia and successfully deposed Jane, who was ultimately beheaded. In 1554, Mary married Philip of Spain, becoming queen consort of Habsburg Spain on his accession in 1556.
As the fourth crowned monarch of the Tudor dynasty, Mary is remembered for her restoration of Roman Catholicism after the short-lived Protestant reign of her half-brother. During her five-year reign, she had over 280 religious dissenters burned at the stake in the Marian persecutions. Her re-establishment of Roman Catholicism was reversed after her death in 1558 by her younger half-sister and successor, Elizabeth I.
Birth and family
Mary was born on 18 February 1516 at the Palace of Placentia in Greenwich, London. She was the only child of King Henry VIII and his first wife, Catherine of Aragon, to survive infancy. Her mother had many miscarriages; before Mary's birth, four previous pregnancies had resulted in a stillborn daughter and three short-lived or stillborn sons, including Henry, Duke of Cornwall.
She was baptised into the Catholic faith at the Church of the Observant Friars in Greenwich three days after her birth. Her godparents included her great-aunt the Countess of Devon, Lord Chancellor Thomas Wolsey, and the Duchess of Norfolk. Henry VIII's cousin once removed, Margaret Pole, 8th Countess of Salisbury, stood sponsor for Mary's confirmation, which was held immediately after the baptism.
The following year, Mary became a godmother herself when she was named as one of the sponsors of her cousin Frances Brandon. In 1520, the Countess of Salisbury was appointed Mary's governess. Sir John Hussey, later Lord Hussey, was her chamberlain from 1530, and his wife, Lady Anne, daughter of George Grey, 2nd Earl of Kent, was one of Mary's attendants.
Education and marriage plans
Mary was a precocious child. In July 1520, when scarcely four and a half years old, she entertained a visiting French delegation with a performance on the virginals (a type of harpsichord). A great part of her early education came from her mother, who consulted the Spanish humanist Juan Luis Vives for advice and commissioned him to write De Institutione Feminae Christianae, a treatise on the education of girls.
By the age of nine, Mary could read and write Latin. She studied French, Spanish, music, dance, and perhaps Greek. Henry VIII doted on his daughter and boasted to the Venetian ambassador Sebastian Giustiniani, "This girl never cries".
Despite his affection for Mary, Henry was deeply disappointed that his marriage had produced no sons. By the time Mary was nine years old, it was apparent that Henry and Catherine would have no more children, leaving Henry without a legitimate male heir. In 1525, Henry sent Mary to the border of Wales to preside, presumably in name only, over the Council of Wales and the Marches.
She was given her own court based at Ludlow Castle and many of the royal prerogatives normally reserved for the Prince of Wales. Vives and others called her the Princess of Wales, although she was never technically invested with the title. She appears to have spent three years in the Welsh Marches, making regular visits to her father's court, before returning permanently to the home counties around London in mid-1528.
In 1536, Queen Anne fell from the king's favour and was beheaded. Elizabeth, like Mary, was downgraded to the status of Lady and removed from the line of succession. Within two weeks of Anne's execution, Henry married Jane Seymour. Jane urged her husband to make peace with Mary.
Henry insisted that Mary recognise him as head of the Church of England, repudiate papal authority, acknowledge that the marriage between her parents was unlawful, and accept her own illegitimacy. She attempted to reconcile with him by submitting to his authority as far as "God and my conscience" permitted, but she was eventually bullied into signing a document agreeing to all of Henry's demands.
Reconciled with her father, Mary resumed her place at court. Henry granted her a household (which included the reinstatement of Mary's favourite Susan Clarencieux). Her privy purse expenses for this period show that Hatfield House, the Palace of Beaulieu (also called Newhall), Richmond and Hunsdon were among her principal places of residence, as well as Henry's palaces at Greenwich, Westminster and Hampton Court.
Her expenses included fine clothes and gambling at cards, one of her favourite pastimes. Rebels in the North of England, including Lord Hussey, Mary's former chamberlain, campaigned against Henry's religious reforms, and one of their demands was that Mary be made legitimate. The rebellion, known as the Pilgrimage of Grace, was ruthlessly suppressed.
Religious policy of Mary I
In the month following her accession, Mary issued a proclamation that she would not compel any of her subjects to follow her religion, but by the end of September leading reforming churchmen, such as John Bradford, John Rogers, John Hooper, Hugh Latimer and Thomas Cranmer were imprisoned.
Mary's first Parliament, which assembled in early October 1553, declared the marriage of her parents valid, and abolished Edward's religious laws. Church doctrine was restored to the form it had taken in the 1539 Six Articles, which, for example, re-affirmed clerical celibacy. Married priests were deprived of their benefices.
Mary had always rejected the break with Rome instituted by her father and the establishment of Protestantism by Edward VI. She and her husband wanted England to reconcile with Rome. Philip persuaded Parliament to repeal the Protestant religious laws passed by Mary's father, thus returning the English church to Roman jurisdiction. Reaching an agreement took many months, and Mary and Pope Julius III had to make a major concession: the monastery lands confiscated under Henry were not returned to the church but remained in the hands of the new landowners, who were very influential. By the end of 1554, the pope had approved the deal, and the Heresy Acts were revived.
Under the Heresy Acts, numerous Protestants were executed in the Marian persecutions. Many rich Protestants, including John Foxe, chose exile, and around 800 left the country. The first executions occurred over a period of five days in early February 1555: John Rogers on 4 February, Laurence Saunders on 8 February, and Rowland Taylor and John Hooper on 9 February.
The imprisoned Archbishop of Canterbury Thomas Cranmer was forced to watch Bishops Ridley and Latimer being burned at the stake. Cranmer recanted, repudiated Protestant theology, and rejoined the Catholic faith. Under the normal process of the law, he should have been absolved as a repentant. Mary, however, refused to reprieve him. On the day of his burning, he dramatically withdrew his recantation.
All told 283 were executed, most by burning. The burnings proved so unpopular, that even Alfonso de Castro, one of Philip's own ecclesiastical staff, condemned them, and Philip's adviser, Simon Renard, warned him that such "cruel enforcement" could "cause a revolt". Mary persevered with the policy, which continued until her death and exacerbated anti-Catholic and anti-Spanish feeling among the English people. The victims of the persecutions became lauded as martyrs.
Reginald Pole, the son of Mary's executed governess, and once considered a suitor, arrived as papal legate in November 1554. He was ordained a priest and appointed Archbishop of Canterbury immediately after Cranmer's death in March 1556.
After Philip's visit in 1557, Mary thought herself pregnant again with a baby due in March 1558. She decreed in her will that her husband be the regent during the minority of her child. However, no child was born, and Mary was forced to accept that Elizabeth was her lawful successor.
Mary was weak and ill from May 1558, and died aged 42 at St. James's Palace during an influenza epidemic that also claimed the life of Reginald Pole later the same day, 17 November 1558. She was in pain, possibly from ovarian cysts or uterine cancer. She was succeeded by her half-sister. Philip, who was in Brussels, wrote to his sister Joan: "I felt a reasonable regret for her death."
Although her will stated that she wished to be buried next to her mother, Mary was interred in Westminster Abbey on 14 December in a tomb she would eventually share with Elizabeth. The Latin inscription on their tomb, Regno consortes et urna, hic obdormimus Elizabetha et Maria sorores, in spe resurrectionis (affixed there by James VI of Scotland when he succeeded Elizabeth as King James I of England) translates to "Consorts in realm and tomb, here we sleep, Elizabeth and Mary, sisters, in hope of resurrection".
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- "Mary I." Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia (with minor edits), under GFDL.