Mary I

The "Bloody" Queen of England


Mary I was Queen of England from 1553 to 1558. Many people often dwell on her bloody history as she executed many of her subjects in the name of Catholicism. However, historians often forget the tragic events in her life that groomed her to be portrayed as a religious fanatic. She led a hard life that was marred by the divorce of her parents, the death of her mother, a religious crisis, and many civilian attempts to revolt and usurp her throne. This is a brief biography of the eldest daughter of Henry VIII.

Early Childhood

Mary was the daughter of Henry VIII and his first wife, Catherine of Aragon. However, when Henry VIII was seduced by Anne Boleyn, he tried to divorce Catherine so he could be free to pursue other women. He eventually created the Church of England, of which he was head. Henry broke away from the Catholic church and divorced his wife on his own authority. In doing so, Mary was made illegitimate. During her adolescent life, Mary was kept separated from her mother, who was desperately trying to win back the King. She was reared as a devout Catholic like her mother, and remained a Catholic her entire life. When her mother died, Mary was called back to court by the king to wait on Anne Boleyn as she rose to power. She was there to witness the birth of her younger siblings, Elizabeth and Edward.

Rise to Power

Mary I had a long way to the throne. Because she was a woman, the crown of England went to her younger brother first. Edward had grown up as a Protestant, and under the rule of him and his father England had become a Protestant-friendly place. In fact, the Catholic people were persecuted because English citizens were required to be part of the Church of England. However, this did not stop Mary's faith, despite her brother's attempts to convert her. When Edward died, the Duke of Northumberland staged a revolution and placed his daughter, Lady Jane Grey, on the throne. Mary fled to Suffolk to gather support. Luckily for her, the people of England wanted her to be their next Queen. Jane was deposed after only nine days as Queen of England, and Mary came into power.

Mary, Bloody Mary

At this point, Mary began to increase the freedoms of the her Catholic subjects. She reopened the monasteries that had been closed and called for Mass to be held again. On the tails of her victory against the Duke of Northumberland and Lady Jane Grey, Mary married Philip of Spain, who was also Catholic. She dismantled the reforms the Protestant Parliament had created and established heresy laws that punished those who went against the teachings of the Catholic church. In addition, Mary had many Protestant bishops burned at the stake when they refused to renounce their beliefs. When this did not quell the Protestant movement, Mary had over 250 English citizens burned at the stake for their Protestant beliefs as well. Her executions were widespread and her regime was repressive, earning her the nickname "Bloody Mary."

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Philip of Spain and Mary Tudor

Mary decided to marry Philip of Spain after looking at the list of available and acceptable princes she could marry. Philip was ten years younger than her, and he was not attracted to her at all. Unfortunately, Mary was deeply in love with Philip, making it an awkward, one-sided relationship. Philip left England shortly after they were married to rule Spain and to get away from Mary, returning only once in 1557. He was made the King of Spain in 1556. Despite outrage from her subjects, Mary went to war with Philip against the French and lost Calais, the last remaining English territory in France. This was one of her deepest regrets in life. She had two phantom pregnancies during her marriage with Philip, but died childless. On her deathbed, she attempted to make Elizabeth, her sister and the heir to the throne, convert to Catholicism but was unsuccessful. When she died, her husband was too busy plotting how to make Elizabeth marry him and gain power to return for his wife's funeral.

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