Mary I (February 18, 1516 – November 17, 1558) was Queen of England and Ireland from July 1553 until her death. Her executions of Protestants caused her opponents to give her the sobriquet "Bloody Mary".
Early Life & Childhood Edit
Mary was born on February 18, 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 baptized 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 & Engagement Edit
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 as the miniature portrait of her shows, Mary had, like both her parents, a very fair complexion, pale blue eyes and red or reddish-golden hair. She was also ruddy cheeked, a trait she inherited from her father.
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 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.
Throughout Mary's childhood, Henry negotiated potential future marriages for her. When she was only two years old, she was promised to the Dauphin, the infant son of King Francis I of France, but the contract was repudiated after three years. In 1522, at the age of six, she was instead contracted to marry her 22-year-old first cousin, Holy Roman Emperor Charles V. However, the engagement was broken off within a few years by Charles with Henry's agreement. Cardinal Wolsey, Henry's chief adviser, then resumed marriage negotiations with the French, and Henry suggested that Mary marry the Dauphin's father, King Francis I himself, who was eager for an alliance with England. A marriage treaty was signed which provided that Mary marry either Francis I or his second son Henry, Duke of Orleans, but Wolsey secured an alliance with France without the marriage. According to a Venetian observer, Mario Savorgnano, Mary was developing into a pretty, well-proportioned young lady with a fine complexion.
Displaced Princess Edit
Meanwhile, the marriage of Mary's parents was in jeopardy. Disappointed at the lack of a male heir, and eager to remarry, Henry attempted to have his marriage to Catherine annulled, but Pope Clement VII refused his requests. Citing (Leviticus 20:21), Henry claimed that his marriage to Catherine was unclean because she was the widow of his brother Arthur. Catherine claimed that her marriage to Arthur was never consummated, and so was not a valid marriage. Indeed, her first marriage had been annulled by a previous pope, Julius II, on that basis. Clement may have been reluctant to act because he was influenced by Charles V, Catherine's nephew and Mary's former betrothed, whose troops had surrounded and occupied Rome in the War of the League of Cognac.
Illness & Heatache Edit
From 1531, Mary was often sick with irregular menstruation and depression, although it is not clear whether this was caused by stress, puberty or a more deep-seated disease. She was not permitted to see her mother, who had been sent to live away from court by Henry. In early 1533, Henry married Anne Boleyn, who was pregnant with his child, and in May Thomas Cranmer, the Archbishop of Canterbury, formally declared the marriage with Catherine void, and the marriage to Anne valid. Henry broke with the Roman Catholic Church and declared himself Supreme Head of the Church of England. Catherine was demoted to Dowager Princess of Wales, and Mary was deemed illegitimate. She was styled "The Lady Mary" rather than Princess, and her place in the line of succession was transferred to her newborn half-sister, Elizabeth, Anne's daughter. Mary's own household was dissolved; her servants (including the Countess of Salisbury) were dismissed from her service, and in December 1533 she was sent to join the household of the infant Elizabeth at Hatfield, Hertfordshire.
Mary determinedly refused to acknowledge that Anne was the queen or that Elizabeth was a princess, further enraging King Henry. Under strain and with her movements restricted, Mary was frequently ill, which the royal physician attributed to her "ill treatment". The Imperial ambassador Eustace Chapuys became her close adviser, and interceded, unsuccessfully, on her behalf at court. The relationship between Mary and her father worsened; they did not speak to each other for three years. Although both she and her mother were ill, Mary was refused permission to visit Catherine. When Catherine died in 1536, Mary was "inconsolable". Catherine was interred in Peterborough Cathedral while Mary grieved in semi-seclusion at Hunsdon in Hertfordshire.
Displaced and restored Edit
In 1536, Queen Anne fell from the king's favor 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 recognize 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 favorite 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 favorite 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. Along with other rebels, Hussey was executed, but there was no suggestion that Mary was directly involved. The following year, 1537, Jane died after giving birth to a son, Edward. Mary was made godmother to her half-brother and acted as chief mourner at the queen's funeral. In 1543, Henry married his sixth and last wife, Catherine Parr, who was able to bring the family closer together. Henry returned Mary and Elizabeth to the line of succession, through the Act of Succession 1544, placing them after Edward. However, both remained legally illegitimate. In 1547, Henry died and Edward succeeded as Edward VI. Mary inherited estates in Norfolk, Suffolk and Essex, and was granted Hunsdon and Beaulieu as her own.
A defiant sister Edit
Since Edward was still a child, rule passed to a regency council dominated by Protestants, who attempted to establish their faith throughout the country. For example, the Act of Uniformity 1549 prescribed Protestant rites for church services, such as the use of Thomas Cranmer's new Book of Common Prayer. Mary remained faithful to Roman Catholicism, and defiantly celebrated the traditional mass in her own chapel. She appealed to her cousin Charles V to apply diplomatic pressure demanding that she be able to practice her religion.
For most of Edward's reign, Mary remained on her own estates, and rarely attended court. A plan between May and July 1550 to smuggle her out of England to the safety of the European mainland came to nothing. Religious differences between Mary and Edward continued. When Mary was in her thirties, she attended a reunion with Edward and Elizabeth for Christmas 1550, where 13-year-old Edward embarrassed Mary, and reduced both her and himself to tears in front of the court, by publicly reproving her for ignoring his laws regarding worship. Mary repeatedly refused Edward's demands that she abandon Catholicism, and Edward repeatedly refused to drop his demands.
Trouble with Lady Jane Edit
On July 6, 1553, at the age of 15, Edward VI died from a lung infection, possibly tuberculosis. He did not want the crown to go to Mary because he feared she would restore Catholicism and undo his reforms, as well as those of Henry VIII, and so he planned to exclude her from the line of succession. His advisers, however, told him that he could not disinherit only one of his sisters, but that he would have to disinherit Elizabeth as well, even though she embraced the Church of England. Guided by John Dudley, 1st Duke of Northumberland, and perhaps others, Edward excluded both of his sisters from the line of succession in his will.
Contradicting the Succession Act, which restored Mary and Elizabeth to the line of succession, Edward named Dudley's daughter-in-law Lady Jane Grey, the granddaughter of Henry VIII's younger sister Mary, as his successor. Lady Jane's mother was Frances Brandon, who was Mary's cousin and goddaughter. Just before Edward VI's death, Mary was summoned to London to visit her dying brother. She was warned, however, that the summons was a pretext on which to capture her and thereby facilitate Lady Jane's accession to the throne. Instead of heading to London from her residence at Hunsdon, Mary fled into East Anglia, where she owned extensive estates and Dudley had ruthlessly put down Kett's Rebellion. Many adherents to the Catholic faith, opponents of Dudley, lived there.
On July 9, from Kenninghall, Norfolk, she wrote to the privy council with orders for her proclamation as Edward's successor. On July 10, 1553, Lady Jane was proclaimed queen by Dudley and his supporters, and on the same day Mary's letter to the council arrived in London. By July 12, Mary and her supporters had assembled a military force at Framlingham Castle, Suffolk. Dudley's support collapsed, and Mary's grew. Jane was deposed on July 19. She and Dudley were imprisoned in the Tower of London.
Queen of England at last Edit
Mary rode triumphantly into London on 3 August 1553 on a wave of popular support. She was accompanied by her half-sister Elizabeth, and a procession of over 800 nobles and gentlemen.
One of Mary's first actions as queen was to order the release of the Roman Catholic Duke of Norfolk and Stephen Gardiner from imprisonment in the Tower of London, as well as her kinsman Edward Courtenay. Mary understood that the young Lady Jane was essentially a pawn in Dudley's scheme, and Dudley was the only conspirator of rank executed for high treason in the immediate aftermath of the coup. Lady Jane and her husband, Lord Guildford Dudley, though found guilty, were kept under guard in the Tower rather than immediately executed, while Lady Jane's father, Henry Grey, 1st Duke of Suffolk, was released. Mary was left in a difficult position, as almost all the Privy Counsellors had been implicated in the plot to put Lady Jane on the throne. She appointed Gardiner to the council and made him both Bishop of Winchester and Lord Chancellor, offices he held until his death in November 1555. Susan Clarencieux became Mistress of the Robes. On 1 October 1553, Gardiner crowned Mary at Westminster Abbey.
Marriage and pregnancy rumor Edit
At age 37, Mary turned her attention to finding a husband and producing an heir, thus preventing the Protestant Elizabeth (still her successor under the terms of Henry VIII's will and the Act of Succession of 1544) from succeeding to the throne. Edward Courtenay and Reginald Pole were both mentioned as prospective suitors, but her cousin Charles V suggested she marry his only son, Prince Philip of Spain. Philip had a son from a previous marriage, and was heir apparent to vast territories in Continental Europe and the New World. As part of the marriage negotiations, a portrait of Philip by Titian was sent to her in September 1553. To elevate his son to Mary's rank, Emperor Charles V ceded the crown of Naples, as well as his claim to the Kingdom of Jerusalem, to Philip. Therefore, Mary became Queen of Naples and titular Queen of Jerusalem upon marriage. Their marriage at Winchester Cathedral on July 25, 1554 took place just two days after their first meeting. Philip could not speak English, and so they spoke in a mixture of Spanish, French, and Latin.
In September 1554, Mary stopped menstruating. She gained weight, and felt nauseated in the mornings. For these reasons, almost the entirety of her court, including her doctors, believed her to be pregnant. Parliament passed an act making Philip regent in the event of Mary's death in childbirth. In the last week of April 1555, Elizabeth was released from house arrest, and called to court as a witness to the birth, which was expected imminently. According to Giovanni Michieli, the Venetian ambassador, Philip may have planned to marry Elizabeth in the event of Mary's death in childbirth, but in a letter to his brother-in-law, Maximilian of Austria, Philip expressed uncertainty as to whether his wife was pregnant.
Thanksgiving services in the diocese of London were held at the end of April after false rumors that Mary had given birth to a son spread across Europe. Through May and June, the apparent delay in delivery fed gossip that Mary was not pregnant. Susan Clarencieux revealed her doubts to the French ambassador, Antoine de Noailles. Mary continued to exhibit signs of pregnancy until July 1555, when her abdomen receded. There was no baby. Michieli dismissively ridiculed the pregnancy as more likely to "end in wind rather than anything else". It was most likely a false pregnancy, perhaps induced by Mary's overwhelming desire to have a child. In August, soon after the disgrace of the false pregnancy, which Mary considered to be "God's punishment" for her having "tolerated heretics" in her realm, Philip left England to command his armies against France in Flanders. Mary was heartbroken and fell into a deep depression. Michieli was touched by the queen's grief; he wrote she was "extraordinarily in love" with her husband, and was inconsolable when he departed.
Elizabeth remained at court until October, apparently restored to favor. In the absence of any children, Philip was concerned that after Mary and Elizabeth, one of the next claimants to the English throne was the Queen of Scots, who was betrothed to the Dauphin of France. Philip persuaded Mary that Elizabeth should marry his cousin, Emmanuel Philibert, Duke of Savoy, to secure the Catholic succession and preserve the Habsburg interest in England, but Elizabeth refused to comply and parliamentary consent was unlikely.
The Reign of Bloody Mary I Edit
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.
Death & Burial Edit
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, November 17, 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 "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, (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".