Who is Mary Tudor? Readers with some inkling of English history may recognize the last name. Mary Tudor was the daughter of King Henry VIII and his first wife and queen, Catherine of Aragon. She was the oldest surviving child of Henry’s marriages, but because there was a living male heir at the time of Henry’s death, Mary did not become Queen until the death of her brother, King Edward VII.
When Henry VIII divorced Catherine, Mary and Catherine were kept apart under virtual house arrest. Henry’s second wife, Anne Boleyn, was unfriendly toward Mary and Catherine. Anne, though, did not live long to maintain this animosity. Henry married again, and Mary was still under guard. Though she was given some education, it was not sufficient for what she would really need to be Queen. She was not expected to become Queen; it was anticipated that she would be married off to some nobleman or European monarch.
Mary was free to practice her religion - Roman Catholicism - during the reign of Henry VIII. When Henry died and her brother Edward became King, Mary began to be persecuted for her religion. Edward was not old enough to rule, so a regent and a council of advisors actually ruled the country. The Duke of Somerset, the uncle of the new King, was proclaimed the “protector”. While Henry VIII broke from the papacy, he still liked to have the Mass in Latin. Somerset and his group leaned more to a Protestantism that disapproved of the Mass. Somerset influenced his nephew into supporting changes for the Church of England that were more in line with Protestantism.
Mary, though, would not give into these changes. She even invited people in the region near her home to join her at Mass. King Edward’s uncle had been removed as protector and replaced by the Earl of Warwick, a staunch Protestant who demanded that Mary not open her chapel to the people to attend Mass. He and his council told Mary she would be allowed only a personal, private Mass, but she refused to obey the protector in this issue. Just when things were on their way to getting worse for Mary and other Catholics, King Edward died on July 6, 1553. The Earl of Warwick supported Jane Grey, the King’s cousin, who had married his son. Mary and her followers moved quickly to raise an army and march on London. The people of London did not support Jane and allowed Mary and her followers in; Jane and her husband were sent to the Tower of London.
Mary Tudor was now the first Queen of England and in control of the country. She decided to restore the Roman Catholic Church to England and punished those who opposed this. Some say she killed too many people, winning her the nickname “Bloody Mary.” Not adequately prepared to be Queen, Mary did try her best. She married King Philip II of Spain, though he did not rule as King in England. Their marriage did not produce any offspring. Mary became paranoid thinking that her opponents - including her half-sister, Elizabeth - were plotting to kill her. She even thought she was pregnant when she was not. Mary became mentally and physically ill and died around November 17, 1558, and Elizabeth became the second Queen of England.
David Loades says that Queen Mary I has been neglected by historians; part of this neglect may be due to her short reign and being overshadowed by Elizabeth I. Some of this neglect may also be anti-Catholicism.
David Loades provides copies of important documents and letters from the time. He also has color illustrations from the National Archives of Queen Mary and others. At the end of the book are endnotes and an index. This book is recommended to those interested in English history, the English monarchy, and in Tudors.
David Loades is the author of Elizabeth I (2006), The Church of Mary Tudor (2006), Intrigue and Treason (2004), John Foxe at Home and Abroad (2004), Sir John Hawkins (2005), Kings and Queens (2003), Elizabeth I (2003), Chronicles of the Tudor Queens (2002), The Reign of Philip and Mary (2001), Mary Tudor: A Life (1992), and many other books.