A BRIEF BIOGRAPHY OF QUEEN MARY I
By Tim Lambert
Mary Tudor was Henry VIII and Catherine of Aragon's daughter. Mary was born on 18 February 1516. However when her mother, Catherine fell from favour with Henry VIII Mary suffered. From 1531 she was kept separate from her mother. In 1533 when Anne Boleyn had a daughter, Elizabeth, Mary was asked to accept that her parent's marriage was not valid and so she was illegitimate. Not surprisingly she refused and so she was sent to be lady-in-waiting to her half-sister Elizabeth.
However in 1536, after her mother's execution, perhaps fearing for her life, Mary agreed her parents marriage was unlawful. Henry began to treat her more generously and in 1544 a statute restored her as heir to the throne after her half brother Edward.
Mary was a devout Catholic and she detested the religious changes of her father Henry VIII (1509-1547) and her brother Edward VI (1547-1553). (During their reigns the king had become head of the Church of England and Protestant doctrines were introduced although many people remained loyal to the old Catholic religion). When Edward became king in 1553 Mary continued to attend Catholic mass in her own private chapel. When Edward ordered her to desist she appealed to her cousin, Emperor Charles V. He threatened war with England if she was not left alone.
When she became queen Mary was surprisingly lenient. The Duke of Northumberland was executed in August 1553. However Lady Jane was, at first, spared.
However Queen Mary married Phillip of Spain in July 1554. The marriage was very unpopular and in Kent Sir Thomas Wyatt led a rebellion. He was defeated but Mary was forced to execute Lady Jane, fearing her enemies might try and place Jane on the throne.
Queen Mary was determined to undo the religious changes of the two previous reigns. Catholic mass was restored in December 1553. In 1554 married clergy were ordered to leave their wives or lose their posts. Then, in November 1554 the Act of supremacy was repealed.
In 1555 Queen Mary began burning Protestants, which earned her the nickname 'bloody Mary'. The first martyr was John Rogers who was burned on 4 February 1555. The same year bishops Hugh Latimer and Nicholas Ridley were martyred. Then in 1556 Thomas Cranmer Archbishop of Canterbury was martyred. Altogether between 1555 and 1558 almost 300 Protestants were martyred. (Most of them were from Southeast England where Protestantism had spread most widely). Many more Protestants fled abroad.
However Mary's cruelty simply gained sympathy for the Protestants and alienated ordinary people. She simply drove people away from Roman Catholicism.
Furthermore in 1557 England went to war with France. In 1558 the English lost Calais, which they had hung onto since the end of the Hundred Years War in 1453. It was a major blow to English prestige. Queen Mary died on 17 November 1558. She was 42. Mary was buried in Westminster Abbey.
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