In Defence of Mary I of England.

This idea came from nowhere during a lesson on drugs…

I’ve been thinking a while about ‘bloody Mary’ and whether her various nicknames are true or not.

First, if we look at the facts, she did kill about 300 people she considered heretics, she executed poor Lady Jane Grey after promising mercy and she imprisoned her sister and even considered executing her…

Put it like that, ‘Bloody Mary’ is pretty accurate.

However, when we put this in a personal perspective, I think the situation changes.

Firstly, think about her descendants. Through her mother, Katherine d’Aragon, she was granddaughter of the formidable Ferdinand and Isabella the ‘Catholic Kings’ and founders of the Spanish Inquisition. And if you thought Mary’s reign was bad, the Spanish Inquisition is a whole lot scarier…

Next, her childhood. There is a book of her titled ‘Princess, Bastard, Queen.’ For the first eleven or so years she’d been in blissful happiness as Henry and Katherine’s only child and thus heir and for a while had been invested as Princess of Wales. She was treated as it, even being betrothed to the Holy Roman Emperor, Charles V, for some time. Then her life is shattered with Anne Boleyn and the English Reformation. She was separated from her mother, ignored and neglected, and to humiliate her further was set up as a maid to Anne’s daughter, Elizabeth. Not to mention her faith being stripped from her. And the one topic that I think ‘The Tudors’ expressed well was that later in Henry’s reign, as both of his daughters became neglected under him, was that by the standards of the day, she really should have been married, maybe have children. Which I think contributed to the speedy marriage to Philip of Spain and hopes that we would think silly during her phantom pregnancies. She had a series of stepmothers: Anne Boleyn, who treated her as a servant and contributed greatly to her unhappiness in early life, maybe leaving some long-term damage; Jane Seymour, the woman who tried to have her and her religion restored only to die very soon after in the birth of her son, Edward (VI), whom Mary was made godmother of by Jane (I think Mary would consider Jane to be Henry’s wife as Katherine was dead and she never considered Anne as queen anyway she was described as ‘inconsolable’ at her mother’s death in January 1536 and became ill); Anne of Cleves was only a year older than Mary and I like to think they did remain friends; Catherine Howard who was considerably younger than her and probably did not enjoy a loving relationship (during her time as queen, Mary faced another personal loss in the execution of her governess and godmother, Blessed Margaret Pole, who was literally hacked to death); and finally Katherine Parr, again who she was a similar age to. Katherine later named her daughter after Mary and they enjoyed a warm relationship and secure friendship until Katherine’s death in 1548. Katherine fought for Henry to be reconciled with his daughters and succeeded and under Katherine Mary was restored to the line of succession. Then her father dies leaving her insecure again. Under her brother and godson, Edward VI, there is a full reformation.

Now add the fact that she had a husband who didn’t love her and frequently abandoned her and her feeling of helplessness and failure when she couldn’t even conceive, let alone have a healthy male heir.

Put it like that and I think her actions are pretty justifiable…

What does everyone else think?



Filed under Misjudgment debate, Tudor

3 responses to “In Defence of Mary I of England.

  1. Tanya Singh

    I sort of agree loll x Even though she was treated quite badly and unfairly in some events of her life, I still don’t think she had the complete right to kill all those people who had nothing to do with her unjust :O

    Anywaysss….xxx keep posting! im loving your blog 😉
    tanya 😀 😉

  2. I’m really not sure… I’ve recently fell in love with her after watching Sarah Bolger play her in The Tudors and it just made me think… was it justifiable?
    she was a very strong woman and i think she does us a great favour by telling us that we must NEVER forget who we are 🙂
    But then again, who else will we excuse now?? Hitler, Stalin, Lenin, Henry VIII (some excuse him already for mental illness…)
    I don’t know! Bethiee 🙂 xxxxxxxxxxxxxx

  3. Ma'at

    Put into perspective, understandable how she might make some unkind choices having not seen much kindness growing up. But never justified.

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