Bloody Mary Tudor
She had almost 300 Religious Dissenters Burned at the Stake



Bloody Mary Tudor
She had almost 300 Religious Dissenters Burned at the Stake

Mary I (February 18th, 1516 – November 17th, 1558) was Queen regnant of England and Ireland from July 1553 until her death. She was the eldest daughter of Henry VIII and only surviving child of Catherine of Aragon.

As the fourth crowned monarch of the Tudor dynasty, she is remembered for restoring England to Roman Catholicism after succeeding her short-lived Protestant half brother, Edward VI. In the process, she had almost 300 religious dissenters burned at the stake in the Marian Persecutions, earning her the sobriquet of "Bloody Mary".

Her re-establishment of Roman Catholicism was reversed by her successor and half-sister, Elizabeth I.


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.

It is said that upon viewing the full-length portrait of Philip by Titian, now in the Prado, which was sent to her in September 1553, Mary declared herself to be in love with him.

Lord Chancellor Gardiner and the House of Commons unsuccessfully petitioned her to consider marrying an Englishman, fearing that England would be relegated to a dependency of the Habsburgs.

The marriage was unpopular with the English; Gardiner and his allies opposed it on the basis of patriotism, while Protestants were motivated by a fear of Catholicism. When Mary insisted on marrying Philip, insurrections broke out.

Thomas Wyatt led a force from Kent to depose Mary in favour of Elizabeth, as part of a wider conspiracy now known as Wyatt's rebellion, which also involved the Duke of Suffolk, the father of Lady Jane.

Mary declared publicly that she would summon Parliament to discuss the marriage, and if Parliament decided that the marriage was not to the advantage of the kingdom, she would refrain from pursuing it.

On reaching London, Wyatt was defeated and captured. Wyatt, the Duke of Suffolk, his daughter Lady Jane, and her husband Guildford Dudley were executed. Courtenay, who was implicated in the plot, was imprisoned, and then exiled. Elizabeth, though protesting her innocence in the Wyatt affair, was imprisoned in the Tower of London for two months, then was put under house arrest at Woodstock Palace.

Mary was—excluding the brief, disputed reigns of Jane and Empress Matilda—England's first Queen regnant. Further, under the English common law doctrine of jure uxoris, the property and titles belonging to a woman became that of her husband upon marriage, and it was feared that any man she married would thereby become King of England in fact and in name.

While Mary's grandparents, Ferdinand and Isabella, had retained sovereignty of their own realms during their marriage, there was no precedent to follow in England. Under the terms of the marriage treaty, Philip was to be styled "King of England", all official documents (including Acts of Parliament) were to be dated with both their names, and Parliament was to be called under the joint authority of the couple, for Mary's lifetime only.

Coins were to show the heads of both Mary and Philip. England would not be obliged to provide military support to Philip's father in any war, and Philip could not act without his wife's consent or appoint foreigners to office in England.

Philip was unhappy at the conditions imposed, but his view of the affair was entirely political, and he was ready to agree for the sake of securing the marriage. He had no amorous feelings towards Mary and sought the marriage for its political and strategic gains; he wrote to a correspondent in Brussels, "the marriage was concluded for no fleshly consideration, but in order to remedy the disorders of this kingdom and to preserve the Low Countries."

In order 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 25 July 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.

 
Mary was the only child of Henry VIII and Catherine of Aragon to live past infancy. Crowned after the death of Edward VI and the removal of The Nine Days Queen-Lady Jane Grey, Mary is chiefly remembered for temporarily and violently returning England to Catholicism.

Many prominent Protestants were executed for their beliefs leading to the moniker Bloody Mary. Fearing the gallows a further 800 Protestants left the country, unable to return until her death.



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.




 

In September 1554, Mary stopped menstruating. She gained weight, and felt nauseous in the mornings. Virtually the whole court, including her doctors, thought she was pregnant. 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 Michiel, 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 rumours 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. Michiel dismissively ridiculed the pregnancy as more likely to "end in wind rather than anything else". It was most likely a phantom pregnancy, perhaps induced by Mary's overwhelming desire to have a child.

In August, soon after the disgrace of the false pregnancy, Philip left England to command his armies against France in Flanders. Mary was heartbroken and fell into a deep depression. Michiel was touched by the Queen's grief; he wrote she was "extraordinarily in love" with her husband, and was disconsolate at his departure.

Elizabeth remained at court until October, apparently restored to favour. 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 Scotland, 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.

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 Henry and Catherine 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.

Getting agreement took many months, and Mary 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. Pope Julius III approved the deal in 1554; the same year the Heresy Acts were revived.

The Twisted Tale of Bloody Mary


Under the Heresy Acts, numerous Protestants were executed in the Marian Persecutions. Many rich Protestants chose exile, and around 800, including John Foxe, 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 one of Philip's own ecclesiastical staff condemned them, and Philip's advisor, 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, Margaret Pole, 8th Countess of Salisbury, and once considered a suitor, arrived as papal legate in November 1554.

He was ordained a priest and appointed as Archbishop of Canterbury immediately after Cranmer's death in March 1556. Mary came to rely on him for advice.

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, who became Elizabeth I. Philip, who was in Brussels, wrote in a letter, "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 eventually shared with Elizabeth.

The Latin inscription on their tomb, Regno consortes & 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". The Latin plays on the multiple meanings of consorts, which can mean either sibling or sharer in common.