Mary Tudor whom many refer to as “Bloody Mary” was born to Henry VIII and his first wife Katherine of Aragon on February 18, 1516 in Greenwich Palace. Her name came from Henry’s best-loved sister Mary Tudor, whom had a very different nickname the “Tudor Rose.”
As a child Mary was rumoured to have had great talents and beauty. It was documented that at the young age of four she provided entertainment for a visiting delegation with her performance on the virginals. She was able to both read and write Latin by the age of nine and studied Greek, dance and music. Although her father, Henry VIII showed great affection for Mary, he felt that if she became Queen it would make for a weak government and potentially even a civil war. This led to her father’s numerous marriages in quest for a son to be future King.
Mary suffered from irregular menstruation and depression and found herself sick quite frequently following 1531. However it was never determined if these illnesses were caused by puberty, stress or even a more severe disease. When her mother and father divorced she was forbidden to see he mother as she had been sent to live away from court.
The Archbishop of Canterbury, Thomas Cranmer proclaimed Henry VIII’s marriage to Catherine was void and and his marriage to his second wife Anne valid. This resulted in Mary Tudor losing her title of “Princess” and she was referred to as “The Lady Mary.” Shortly after, Henry VIII declared himself as the head of the Church of England and broke with the Roman Catholic Church. This would later be the reason behind Mary’s demise.
When Henry VIII’s second wife Anne was later beheaded, her daughter Elizabeth was also downgraded to “Lady”, paving the way for his third wife Jane. Queen Jane urged Henry to make amends with Mary, which he ended up doing after he bullied her into signing a document that agreed with his demands. He had requested she acknowledge him as the Head of the Church and recognize her illegitimacy. Upon signing the document she resumed her place at court.
When Queen Jane died in 1537 shortly after giving birth to her son Edward, Mary was made godmother to her half-brother. It wasn’t until Henry married his sixth wife Catherine Parr in 1543 that both Mary and Elizabeth returned to their line of succession, placing them after Edward. They were both however, still considered to be illegitimate.
In 1547 Henry passed away, making Edward king. Mary, at the time was passed down several estates. While regency council dominated by Protestants tried to initiate their own faiths Edward was a mere child, Mary remained strictly faithful to the Roman Catholicism. Mary’s strong Catholic continued to be an argument between she and Edward right up to his death in 1553.
Due to their differences in religious beliefs, Edward had attempted to have her excluded from the line of succession as he had feared she restore Catholicism and undo his reforms. Edward’s attempts failed though and at the age of 37 Mary became Queen.
In her first month as Queen, Mary claimed she wouldn’t compel anyone to follow her religion, however eventually that all changed. John Bradford, John Hooper, Thomas Cranmer, John Rogers and Hugh Latimer were all imprisoned and in 1553, she had the marriage between her mother and father declared valid. Mary later abolished Edward’s religious laws and in 1555, after reuniting the English Church with Rome she banned any English translations of the Bible.
Despite being advised against it, Mary executed almost 300 Protestants who refused to give up their religion. She burned them at the stake and received the name “Bloody Mary.” Mary died November 17, 1558 and was buried in Henry VII’s chapel in Westminister Abbey.
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