Mary I

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Mary I,

1553-1558

Born:

18 February 1516, daughter of Henry VIII and his first wife, Katherine of Aragon, at Greenwich Palace

Crowned:

1 October 1553 at Westminster Abbey, London

Died:

17 November 1558 at St. James Palace, London

Buried:

Westminster Abbey

Married:

25 July 1554 Philip of Spain in Winchester Cathedral

Succeeded by:

Elizabeth I (younger sister)

he only surviving child of Henry VIII’s first marriage, Mary was profoundly loyal to the Catholic church and to her mother. Both were cast off by Henry. Mary suffered humiliation and danger until, under intense pressure, she finally acknowledged the invalidity of her parents’ marriage (and her own illegitimacy). In turn, Henry named her second in succession, after his son Edward, and gave her great estates. Mary was deeply religious but she was not austere. Once in her own household, she could indulge her love of music, dancing, fine clothes and jewelry.

When Edward came to the throne, Mary held to the old religious ways, steadfastly maintaining that Edward was too young to effect further changes. On Edward’s death, Mary brushed aside an effort to crown Jane Grey. Proclaimed queen to great public rejoicing, she entered London with her younger sister, Elizabeth, daughter of Anne Boleyn, by her side. It was the high point of their relationship.

Mary was England’s first ruling queen. That alone broke boundaries and set precedents that would someday benefit Elizabeth. Mary, however, allowed her religion and her marriage to dominate her reign. Intent on restoring the Catholic Church and ensuring a Catholic heir, Mary married Philip of Spain against the wishes of Parliament.

Mary was 38. Her reserve hid a passionate, romantic soul. Her first cousin, Philip, was 27, haughty and indifferent. Mary did her best. Philip was styled “King of England” (although not crowned).

Mary threw England into Spain’s war against France (thereby losing Calais, England’s last French toehold), and she stepped up her battle against “heresy.” Her executions of three hundred Protestants gained her the sobriquet “Bloody Mary” and everlasting historical infamy. It did not win Philip’s affection.

Mary died alone and childless after five years on the throne, succeeded by her detested Protestant half-sister.

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