Mary I of England

Mary I of England
Mary I
Mary has a high forehead, thin lips and red hair
Queen Mary by Hans Eworth
Queen of England and Ireland (more...)
Reign 19 July 1553 – 17 November 1558[1]
Coronation 1 October 1553
Predecessor Jane (disputed) or Edward VI
Successor Elizabeth I
Co-monarch Philip
Queen consort of Spain
Tenure 16 January 1556 – 17 November 1558
Spouse Philip II of Spain
House House of Tudor
Father Henry VIII of England
Mother Catherine of Aragon
Born 18 February 1516(1516-02-18)
Palace of Placentia, Greenwich
Died 17 November 1558(1558-11-17) (aged 42)
St James's Palace, London
Burial 14 December 1558[2]
Westminster Abbey, London
Religion Roman Catholicism

Mary I (18 February 1516 – 17 November 1558) was queen regnant of England and Ireland from July 1553 until her death.

She was the only surviving child born of the ill-fated marriage of Henry VIII and his first wife Catherine of Aragon. Her younger half-brother, Edward VI, succeeded Henry in 1547. By 1553, Edward was mortally ill and because of religious differences between them, he attempted to remove Mary from the line of succession. On his death, their cousin Lady Jane Grey was at first proclaimed queen. Mary assembled a force in East Anglia, and successfully deposed Jane, who was ultimately beheaded. In 1554, Mary married Philip of Spain, and as a result became queen consort of Habsburg Spain on his accession in 1556.

As the fourth crowned monarch of the Tudor dynasty, Mary is remembered for her restoration of Roman Catholicism after the short-lived Protestant reign of her brother. During her five year reign, she had over 280 religious dissenters burned at the stake in the Marian Persecutions. Her Protestant opponents gave her the sobriquet of "Bloody Mary". Her re-establishment of Roman Catholicism was reversed after her death in 1558 by her successor and younger half-sister, Elizabeth I.


Birth and family

Mary was the only child of King Henry VIII of England and his first wife Catherine of Aragon to survive infancy. Her mother had many miscarriages,[3] and Mary had been preceded by a stillborn sister and three short-lived brothers, including Henry, Duke of Cornwall.[4] Through her mother, she was a granddaughter of King Ferdinand II of Aragon and Queen Isabella I of Castile. She was born at the Palace of Placentia in Greenwich, London, and was baptised three days later at the Church of the Observant Friars.[5] Her godparents included her great-aunt the Countess of Devon, Lord Chancellor Thomas Wolsey, and the Duchess of Norfolk.[6] The King's cousin once removed Margaret Pole, 8th Countess of Salisbury, stood sponsor for Mary's confirmation, which was held immediately after the baptism.[7] The following year, Mary became a godmother herself when she was named as one of the sponsors of her cousin Frances Brandon.[8] In 1520, the Countess of Salisbury was appointed as Mary's governess.[9] Sir John Hussey, later Lord Hussey, was her chamberlain, and his wife, Lady Anne, daughter of George Grey, 2nd Earl of Kent, was one of Mary's attendants.[10]

Education and marriage plans

Mary's mother Catherine of Aragon

Mary was a precocious child.[11] In July 1520, when scarcely four and a half years old, she entertained a visiting French delegation with a performance on the virginals (a type of harpsichord).[12] It was said that the princess was very beautiful in her youth, as a child and young woman. A great part of her early education came from her mother, who consulted the Spanish humanist Juan Luis Vives for advice.[13] By the age of nine, Mary could read and write Latin.[14] She studied Greek, music, and dance. Henry VIII doted on his daughter and boasted to the Venetian ambassador Sebastian Giustiniani, "This girl never cries";[15] he sometimes showed delight in her developing musical skills.[16] Despite this obvious affection, Henry was deeply disappointed that his marriage had produced no sons.

By the time Mary was nine years, it was apparent that her mother would have no more children, and that likely Henry would have no legitimate male heir. In 1525, Henry sent Mary to the border of Wales to preside, presumably in name only, over the Council of Wales and the Marches.[17] She was given her own court based at Ludlow Castle and many of the Royal Prerogatives normally reserved for the Prince of Wales. Vives and others called her the Princess of Wales, although she was never technically invested with the title.[18]

Mary as a snub-nosed girl with red hair
Portrait miniature of Mary at the time of her engagement to Charles V. She is wearing a square brooch inscribed with "The Emperour".[19]

Throughout Mary's childhood, Henry negotiated potential future marriages for her. When she was only two years old she was promised to the Dauphin, the infant son of King Francis I of France, but after three years the contract was repudiated.[20] In 1522, at the age of six, she was instead contracted to marry her 22-year-old first cousin, the Holy Roman Emperor Charles V.[21] However, within a few years, the engagement was broken off by Charles with Henry's agreement.[22] Cardinal Wolsey, Henry's chief adviser, then resumed marriage negotiations with the French, and Henry suggested that Mary marry the Dauphin's father, King Francis I himself, who was eager for an alliance with England.[23] A marriage treaty was signed which provided that Mary marry either Francis I or his second son Henry, Duke of Orleans,[24] but Wolsey then secured an alliance with France without the marriage.


Meanwhile, the marriage of Mary's parents was in jeopardy. Disappointed at the lack of a male heir, and eager to re-marry, Henry attempted to have his marriage to Catherine annulled, but Pope Clement VII refused his requests. Henry claimed, citing biblical passages (Leviticus 20:21), that his marriage to Catherine was unclean because she was previously married, briefly at age 16, to his late brother Arthur. Catherine claimed that her marriage to Arthur was never consummated, and so was not a valid marriage. Indeed, her first marriage had been annulled by a previous Pope, Julius II, on that basis. Clement may have been reluctant to act because he was influenced by Charles V, Catherine's nephew and Mary's former betrothed, whose troops had surrounded and occupied Rome in the War of the League of Cognac.[25]

From 1531, Mary was often sick with irregular menstruation and depression, although it is not clear whether this was caused by stress, puberty or a more deep-seated disease.[26] She was not permitted to see her mother, who was sent by Henry to live away from court.[27] In 1533, Henry married Anne Boleyn, who was pregnant with his child. Shortly thereafter, Thomas Cranmer, the Archbishop of Canterbury, formally declared the marriage with Catherine void, and the marriage to Anne valid. Henry broke with the Roman Catholic Church and declared himself head of the Church of England and the Church of Ireland. Catherine was demoted to Dowager Princess of Wales (a title she would have held as the widow of Arthur), and Mary was deemed illegitimate. She was styled "The Lady Mary" rather than Princess, and her place in the line of succession was transferred to her newborn half-sister, Elizabeth, Anne's daughter.[28] Mary's own household was dissolved;[29] she was expelled from Court; her servants (including the Countess of Salisbury and Mary's favourite maid Susan Clarencieux) were dismissed from her service, and in December 1533 she was sent to serve as a lady-in-waiting to Elizabeth.[30]

Mary determinedly refused to acknowledge that Anne was the Queen or that Elizabeth was a princess, further enraging the King.[31] Under strain and with her movements restricted, Mary was frequently ill, which the royal physician attributed to her "ill treatment".[32] Circumstances between Mary and her father worsened; they did not speak to each other for three years.[33] Although both she and her mother were ill, Mary was refused permission to visit Catherine.[34] When Catherine died in 1536, Mary was "inconsolable".[35] Catherine was interred in Peterborough Cathedral while Mary grieved in semi-seclusion at Hunsdon in Hertfordshire.[36]


In 1536, Anne Boleyn fell from the King's favour and was beheaded. Elizabeth, like Mary, was downgraded to the status of Lady and removed from the line of succession.[37] Within two weeks of Anne's execution, Henry married Jane Seymour. Queen Jane urged her husband to make peace with Mary.[38] Henry insisted that Mary recognise him as head of the Church of England, repudiate papal authority, acknowledge that the marriage between her parents was unlawful, and accept her own illegitimacy. She attempted to reconcile with him by submitting to his authority as far as "God and my conscience" permitted, but she was eventually bullied into signing a document agreeing to all of Henry's demands.[39] Reconciled with her father, Mary resumed her place at court.[40] Rebels in the North of England, including Lord Hussey, Mary's former chamberlain, campaigned against Henry's religious reforms, and one of their demands was that Mary be made legitimate. The rebellion, known as the Pilgrimage of Grace, was ruthlessly suppressed.[41] Along with other rebels, Hussey was executed.

Henry VIII

The following year, 1537, Queen Jane died after giving birth to a son, Edward. Mary was made godmother to her half-brother Edward and acted as chief mourner at the Queen's funeral.[42] Henry granted her a household (which included the reinstatement of Mary's favourite, Susan Clarencieux), and Mary was permitted to reside in royal palaces. Her privy purse expenses for nearly the whole of this period have been published and show that Hatfield House, the Palace of Beaulieu (also called Newhall), Richmond and Hunsdon were among her principal places of residence. Her expenses included fine clothes and gambling, which was one of her favourite pastimes.[43] She was courted by Duke Philip of Bavaria, but Philip was Lutheran and his suit for her hand was unsuccessful.[44]

Over 1539, the King's chief minister, Thomas Cromwell, negotiated a potential alliance with the Duchy of Cleves. Suggestions that Mary marry the Duke of Cleves, who was the same age as her, came to nothing, but a match between Henry and the Duke of Cleves' sister Anne was agreed.[45] When the King saw Anne for the first time in late December 1539, a week before the scheduled wedding, he did not find her attractive but was unable, for diplomatic reasons and in the absence of a suitable pretext, to cancel the marriage.[46] Cromwell fell from favour and was arrested for treason in June 1540; one of the unlikely charges against him was that he had plotted to marry Mary himself.[47] Anne consented to the annulment of the marriage, which had not been consummated, and Cromwell was beheaded.[48]

Mary as a young woman
Mary in 1544

In 1541, Henry had Mary's old governess and godmother, Margaret Pole, 8th Countess of Salisbury, executed on the pretext of a Catholic plot, in which Margaret's son (Reginald Pole) was implicated. Her executioner was "a wretched and blundering youth" who "literally hacked her head and shoulders to pieces".[49] In 1542, following the execution of Henry's fifth wife, Catherine Howard, the unmarried Henry invited Mary to oversee the royal Christmas festivities "in default of a Queen". At court, while her father was between marriages and without a consort, Mary acted as hostess.[50] In 1543, Henry married his sixth and last wife, Catherine Parr, who was able to bring the family closer together.[51] Henry returned Mary and Elizabeth to the line of succession, through the Act of Succession 1543, placing them after Edward. However, both women remained legally illegitimate.[52]

In 1547, Henry died and Edward succeeded as Edward VI. Mary inherited estates in Norfolk, Suffolk and Essex, and was granted Hunsdon and Beaulieu as her own.[53] Since Edward was still a child, rule passed to a regency council dominated by Protestants, who attempted to establish their faith throughout the country. For example, the Act of Uniformity 1549 prescribed Protestant rites for church services, such as the use of Thomas Cranmer's new Book of Common Prayer. Mary remained faithful to Roman Catholicism, and appealed to her cousin Charles V for protection so that she was able to practise her religion privately in her own chapel.[54]

For most of Edward's reign, Mary remained on her own estates, and rarely attended court.[55] A plan between May and July 1550 to smuggle her out of England to the safety of the European mainland came to nothing.[56] Religious differences between Mary and Edward continued. When Mary was in her thirties, she attended a reunion with Edward and Elizabeth for Christmas 1550, where 13-year-old Edward embarrassed Mary, and reduced both her and himself to tears in front of the court, by publicly reproving her for ignoring his laws regarding worship.[57] Mary repeatedly refused Edward's demands that she abandon Catholicism, and Edward repeatedly refused to drop his demands.[58]


On 6 July 1553, at the age of 15, Edward VI died from a lung infection, possibly tuberculosis.[59] Edward did not want the crown to go to Mary, who he feared would restore Catholicism and undo his reforms, as well as those of Henry VIII. For this reason, he planned to exclude her from the line of succession. However, his advisors told him that he could not disinherit only one of his sisters, but that he would have to disinherit Elizabeth as well, even though she embraced the Church of England. Guided by John Dudley, 1st Duke of Northumberland, and perhaps others, Edward excluded both of his sisters from the line of succession in his will.[60]

Queen Mary enters London with Lady Elizabeth

In contradiction of the Succession Act, which restored Mary and Elizabeth to the line of succession, Edward VI and his advisors devised that he be succeeded by Dudley's daughter-in-law Lady Jane Grey, the granddaughter of Henry VIII's younger sister Mary Tudor, Queen of France. Lady Jane's mother was Frances Brandon, who was Mary's cousin and goddaughter. Just before Edward VI's death, Mary was summoned to London to visit her dying brother. She was warned, however, that the summons was a pretext on which to capture her and thereby facilitate Lady Jane's accession to the throne.[61] Instead of heading to London from her residence at Hunsdon, Mary fled into East Anglia, where she owned extensive estates and Dudley had ruthlessly put down Kett's Rebellion. Many adherents to the Catholic faith, opponents of Dudley, lived there.[62] On 9 July, from Kenninghall, Norfolk, she wrote to the privy council with orders for her proclamation as Edward's successor.[63]

Mary in an ornate dress
Mary by Hans Eworth, 1554. She wears a jewelled pendant bearing the pearl known as La Peregrina set beneath two diamonds.

On 10 July 1553, Lady Jane was proclaimed Queen by Dudley and his supporters, and on the same day Mary's letter to the council arrived in London. By 12 July, Mary and her supporters had assembled a military force at Framlingham Castle, Suffolk.[64] Dudley's support collapsed, and Mary's grew.[65] Jane was deposed on 19 July.[66] She and Dudley were imprisoned in the Tower of London. Mary rode triumphantly into London on 3 August 1553 on a wave of popular support. She was accompanied by her half-sister Elizabeth, and a procession of over 800 other nobles and gentlemen.[67]

One of Mary's first actions as Queen was to order the release of the Roman Catholic Duke of Norfolk and Stephen Gardiner from imprisonment in the Tower of London, as well as her kinsman Edward Courtenay.[68] Mary understood that the young Lady Jane was essentially a pawn in Dudley's scheme, and Dudley was the only conspirator of rank executed for high treason in the immediate aftermath of the coup. Lady Jane and her husband, Lord Guildford Dudley, though found guilty, were kept under guard in the Tower rather than executed, while Lady Jane's father, Henry Grey, 1st Duke of Suffolk, was released.[69] Mary was left in a difficult position, as almost all the Privy Counsellors had been implicated in the plot to put Jane on the throne.[70] She appointed Gardiner to the council and made him both Bishop of Winchester and Lord Chancellor, offices he held until his death in November 1555. Susan Clarencieux became Mistress of the Robes.[71] On 1 October 1553, Gardiner formally crowned Mary Queen of England at Westminster Abbey.[72]

Coronation portrait of Queen Mary


Spanish marriage

Interior scene of the royal couple with Mary seated beneath a coat of arms and Philip stood beside her
Philip and Mary

At age 37, Mary turned her attention to finding a husband and producing an heir, thus preventing the Protestant Elizabeth (still her successor under the terms of Henry VIII's will and the Act of Succession of 1544), from succeeding to the throne. Edward Courtenay and Reginald Pole were both mentioned as prospective suitors, but her cousin Charles V suggested she marry his only son, Prince Philip of Spain.[73] Philip had a son from a previous marriage, and was heir apparent to vast territories in Continental Europe and the New World. It is said[by whom?] that upon viewing the full-length portrait of Philip by Titian, now in the Prado,[74] which was sent to her in September 1553,[75] Mary declared herself to be in love with him.

Lord Chancellor Gardiner and the House of Commons unsuccessfully petitioned her to consider marrying an Englishman, fearing that England would be relegated to a dependency of the Habsburgs.[76] The marriage was as unpopular in England as it was in Spain. Philip's courtiers and servants had no desire to follow him to a "chilly land of barbarous heretics", whereas his other subjects did not desire to see him go. Those who were aware of the terms of the marriage thought that Philip's honour had been disparaged. It is probable that Philip himself felt so;[77] Gardiner and his allies opposed it on the basis of patriotism, while Protestants were motivated by a fear of Catholicism.[78] When Mary insisted on marrying Philip, insurrections broke out. Thomas Wyatt the younger led a force from Kent to depose Mary in favour of Elizabeth, as part of a wider conspiracy now known as Wyatt's rebellion, which involved the Duke of Suffolk, the father of Lady Jane.[79] Mary declared publicly that she would summon Parliament to discuss the marriage, and if Parliament decided that the marriage was not to the advantage of the kingdom, she would refrain from pursuing it.[80] On reaching London, Wyatt was defeated and captured. Wyatt, the Duke of Suffolk, his daughter Lady Jane, and her husband Guildford Dudley, were executed. Courtenay, who was implicated in the plot, was imprisoned, and then exiled. Elizabeth, though protesting her innocence in the Wyatt affair, was imprisoned in the Tower of London for two months, then was put under house arrest at Woodstock Palace.[81]

Mary was—excluding the brief, disputed reigns of Jane and Empress Matilda—England and Ireland's first Queen regnant. Further, under the English common law doctrine of jure uxoris, the property and titles belonging to a woman became that of her husband upon marriage, and it was feared that any man she married would thereby become King of England and Ireland in fact and in name.[82] While Mary's grandparents, Ferdinand and Isabella, had retained sovereignty of their own realms during their marriage, there was no precedent to follow in England.[83] Under the terms of the marriage treaty, Philip was to be styled "King of England", all official documents (including Acts of Parliament) were to be dated with both their names, and Parliament was to be called under the joint authority of the couple, for Mary's lifetime only. Coins were to show the heads of both Mary and Philip. England would not be obliged to provide military support to Philip's father in any war, and Philip could not act without his wife's consent or appoint foreigners to office in England.[84] Philip was unhappy at the conditions imposed, but his view of the affair was entirely political, and he was ready to agree for the sake of securing the marriage.[85] He had no amorous feelings toward Mary and sought the marriage for its political and strategic gains; he wrote to a correspondent in Brussels, "the marriage was concluded for no fleshly consideration, but to remedy the disorders of this kingdom and to preserve the Low Countries."[86]

To elevate his son to Mary's rank, Emperor Charles V ceded the crown of Naples, as well as his claim to the Kingdom of Jerusalem, to Philip. Therefore, Mary became Queen of Naples and titular Queen of Jerusalem upon marriage.[87] Their marriage at Winchester Cathedral on 25 July 1554 took place just two days after their first meeting.[88] Philip could not speak English, and so they spoke in a mixture of Spanish, French, and Latin.[89]


In September 1554, Mary stopped menstruating. She gained weight, and felt nauseated in the mornings. Virtually the whole court, including her doctors, thought she was pregnant.[90] In the last week of April 1555, Elizabeth was released from house arrest, and called to court as a witness to the birth, which was expected imminently.[91] According to Giovanni Michiel, the Venetian ambassador, Philip may have planned to marry Elizabeth in the event of Mary's death in childbirth,[92] but in a letter to his brother-in-law, Maximilian of Austria, Philip expressed uncertainty as to whether his wife was pregnant.[93]

Thanksgiving services in the diocese of London were held at the end of April after false rumours that Mary had given birth to a son spread across Europe.[94] Through May and June, the apparent delay in delivery fed gossip that Mary was not pregnant.[95] Susan Clarencieux revealed her doubts to the French ambassador, Antoine de Noailles.[96] Mary continued to exhibit signs of pregnancy until July 1555, when her abdomen receded. There was no baby. Michiel dismissively ridiculed the pregnancy as more likely to "end in wind rather than anything else".[97] It was most likely a phantom pregnancy, perhaps induced by Mary's overwhelming desire to have a child.[98] In August, soon after the disgrace of the false pregnancy, Philip left England to command his armies against France in Flanders.[99] Mary was heartbroken and fell into a deep depression. Michiel was touched by the Queen's grief; he wrote she was "extraordinarily in love" with her husband, and was disconsolate at his departure.[100]

Elizabeth remained at court until October, apparently restored to favour.[101] In the absence of any children, Philip was concerned that after Mary and Elizabeth, one of the next claimants to the English throne was the Queen of Scotland, who was betrothed to the Dauphin of France. Philip persuaded Mary that Elizabeth should marry his cousin, Emmanuel Philibert, Duke of Savoy, to secure the Catholic succession and preserve the Habsburg interest in England, but Elizabeth refused to comply and parliamentary consent was unlikely.[102]

Religious policy

In the month following her accession, Mary issued a proclamation that she would not compel any of her subjects to follow her religion, but by the end of September leading reforming churchmen, such as John Bradford, John Rogers, John Hooper, Hugh Latimer and Thomas Cranmer were imprisoned.[103] Mary's first Parliament, which assembled in early October 1553, declared the marriage of Henry and Catherine valid, and abolished Edward's religious laws.[104] Church doctrine was restored to the form it had taken in the 1539 Six Articles, which, for example, re-affirmed clerical celibacy. Married priests were deprived of their benefices.[105]

Mary by (after) Mor, Sir Anthonis (Antonio Moro)

Mary had always rejected the break with Rome instituted by her father and the establishment of Protestantism by Edward VI. She and her husband wanted England to reconcile with Rome. Philip persuaded Parliament to repeal the Protestant religious laws passed by Mary's father, thus returning the English church to Roman jurisdiction. Getting agreement took many months, and Mary had to make a major concession: the monastery lands confiscated under Henry were not returned to the church but remained in the hands of the new landowners, who were very influential.[106] Pope Julius III approved the deal in 1554; the same year the Heresy Acts were revived.

Under the Heresy Acts, numerous Protestants were executed in the Marian Persecutions. Many rich Protestants, including John Foxe, chose exile, and around 800 left the country.[107] The first executions occurred over a period of five days in early February 1555: John Rogers on 4 February, Laurence Saunders on 8 February, and Rowland Taylor and John Hooper on 9 February.[108] The imprisoned Archbishop of Canterbury Thomas Cranmer was forced to watch Bishops Ridley and Latimer being burned at the stake. Cranmer recanted, repudiated Protestant theology, and rejoined the Catholic faith.[109] Under the normal process of the law, he should have been absolved as a repentant. Mary, however, refused to reprieve him. On the day of his burning, he dramatically withdrew his recantation.[110] All told 283 were executed, most by burning.[111] The burnings proved so unpopular, that even Alfonso de Castro condemned them,[112] and Philip's advisor, Simon Renard, warned him that such "cruel enforcement" could "cause a revolt".[113] Mary persevered with the policy, which continued until her death and exacerbated anti-Catholic and anti-Spanish feeling among the English people.[114] The victims of the persecutions became lauded as martyrs.[115]

Reginald Pole, the son of Mary's executed governess, Margaret Pole, 8th Countess of Salisbury, and once considered a suitor, arrived as papal legate in November 1554.[116] He was ordained a priest and appointed as Archbishop of Canterbury immediately after Cranmer's death in March 1556.[117][118] Mary came to rely on him for advice.

Foreign policy

Mary in a black gown
Mary, circa 1555, unknown artist

Henry VIII's creation of the Kingdom of Ireland in 1542 was not recognised by Europe's Catholic powers. In 1555 Mary obtained a papal bull confirming that she and Philip were the monarchs of Ireland, and thereby the Church accepted the personal link between the kingdoms of Ireland and England. Furthering the Tudor conquest of Ireland, the midlands counties of Laois and Offaly were shired and named after the new monarchs respectively as "Queen's County" and "King's County". Their principal towns were respectively named Maryborough (now Portlaoise) and Philipstown (now Daingean). Under Mary's reign, English colonists were settled in the Irish Midlands to reduce the attacks on the Pale (the colony around Dublin).

In January 1556, Mary's father-in-law abdicated and Philip became King of Spain, with Mary as his consort. They were still apart; Philip was declared King in Brussels, but Mary stayed in England. Philip negotiated an unsteady truce with the French in February 1556. The following month, the French ambassador in England, Antoine de Noailles, was implicated in a plot against Mary when Sir Henry Dudley, a second cousin of the executed Duke of Northumberland, attempted to assemble an invasion force in France. The plot, known as the Dudley conspiracy, was betrayed, and the conspirators in England were rounded up. Dudley remained in exile in France, and Noailles prudently left Britain.[119]

Philip returned to England from March to July 1557 to persuade Mary to support Spain in a renewed war against France. Mary was in favour of declaring war, but her councillors opposed it because French trade would be jeopardised, it contravened the marriage treaty, and a bad economic legacy from Edward VI's reign and a series of poor harvests meant England lacked supplies and finances.[120] War was only declared after Reginald Pole's nephew, Thomas Stafford, invaded England with French help in an attempt to depose Mary.[121] As a result of the war, relations between England and the Papacy became strained, since Pope Paul IV was allied with Henry II of France.[122] In January 1558, French forces took Calais, England's sole remaining possession on the European mainland. Although the territory was financially burdensome, it was an ideological loss that damaged Mary's prestige.[123] Mary later lamented that when she died the words "Philip" and "Calais" would be found inscribed on her heart. England became full of factions and seditious pamphlets of Protestant origin inflaming the country against the Spaniards.

Commerce and revenue

Mary in a brown gown, holding a flower
Mary by Antonis Mor, 1554

The years of Mary's reign were consistently wet. The persistent rain and subsequent flooding led to famine.[124] Another problem was the decline of the Antwerp cloth trade. Despite Mary's marriage to Philip, England did not benefit from their enormously lucrative trade with the New World. The Spanish guarded their trading revenue jealously, and Mary could not condone illegitimate trade (in the form of piracy) because she was married to a Spaniard. In an attempt to increase trade and rescue the English economy, Mary continued Northumberland's policy of seeking out new commercial opportunities. She granted a royal charter to the Muscovy Company, whose first governor was Sebastian Cabot,[125] and commissioned a world atlas from Diogo Homem.[126] Adventurers like John Lok and William Towerson sailed south in an attempt to develop links with the coast of Africa.[127]

Financially, Mary tried to reconcile a modern form of government—with correspondingly higher spending—with a medieval system of collecting taxation and dues.[128] A failure to apply new tariffs to new forms of imports meant that a key source of revenue was neglected. To solve this problem, Mary's government published the "Book of Rates" (1558), which listed the tariffs and duties for every import. This publication was not extensively reviewed until 1604.[129] Mary appointed William Paulet, 1st Marquess of Winchester, as Surveyor of Customs and assigned him to oversee the revenue collection system.

Mary continued the currency reform overseen by Thomas Gresham, started in 1551, to counteract the dramatic devaluation that had characterised the 1540s and early 1550s. However, these measures were largely unsuccessful.


After Philip's visit in 1557, Mary thought herself pregnant again with a baby due in March 1558.[130] She decreed in her will that her husband be the regent during the minority of her child.[131] However, no child was born, and Mary was forced to accept that Elizabeth was her lawful successor.[132]

Mary was weak and ill from May 1558,[133] and died aged 42 at St. James's Palace during an influenza epidemic that claimed the life of Reginald Pole later the same day, 17 November 1558. She was in pain, possibly from ovarian cysts or uterine cancer.[134] She was succeeded by her half-sister, who became Elizabeth I. Philip, who was in Brussels, wrote in a letter, "I felt a reasonable regret for her death."[135]

Although her will stated that she wished to be buried next to her mother, Mary was interred in Westminster Abbey on 14 December in a tomb she eventually shared with Elizabeth. The Latin inscription on their tomb, Regno consortes & urna, hic obdormimus Elizabetha et Maria sorores, in spe resurrectionis (affixed there by James VI of Scotland when he succeeded Elizabeth as King James I of England) translates to "Consorts in realm and tomb, here we sleep, Elizabeth and Mary, sisters, in hope of resurrection". The Latin plays on the multiple meanings of consorts, which can mean either sibling or sharer in common.


At her funeral service John White, Bishop of Winchester, praised Mary: "She was a King's daughter; she was a King's sister; she was a King's wife. She was a Queen, and by the same title a King also."[136] She was the first woman to successfully claim the throne of England, despite competing claims and determined opposition, and enjoyed popular support and sympathy during the earliest parts of her reign, especially from the Roman Catholic population. However, her marriage to Philip was unpopular among her subjects, and her religious policies resulted in deep-seated resentment.[137] The failed harvests, poor weather and military losses of her reign increased public discontent. Philip spent most of his time abroad, while his wife remained in England, leaving her depressed at his absence and undermined by their inability to have children. After Mary's death, he sought to marry Elizabeth, but she refused him.[138] Thirty years later, Philip sent the Spanish Armada to overthrow Elizabeth, without success.

By the seventeenth century, Mary's persecution of Protestants had led them to call her Bloody Mary.[139] John Knox attacked her in The First Blast of the Trumpet Against the Monstrous Regimen of Women, published in 1558, and she was prominently featured and vilified in Foxe's Book of Martyrs, published by John Foxe in 1563, six years after Mary's death. Subsequent editions of the book remained popular with Protestants throughout the following centuries, and helped shape perceptions of her as a bloodthirsty tyrant.[140]

Titles, style and arms

Shield bearing many quarterings held between a black eagle and a lion and surmounted by a crowned helm
Arms of Mary I, impaled with those of her husband, Philip II

Like Henry VIII and Edward VI, Mary used the style "Majesty", as well as "Highness" and "Grace". "Majesty", which Henry VIII first used consistently, did not become exclusive until the reign of Elizabeth I's successor, James I.

When Mary ascended the throne, she was proclaimed under the same official style as Henry VIII and Edward VI: "Mary, by the Grace of God, Queen of England, France and Ireland, Defender of the Faith, and of the Church of England and also of Ireland in Earth Supreme Head" (Latin: Maria Dei Gratia Angliae, Franciae et Hiberniae Regina, Fidei Defensor, et in terra ecclesiae Anglicanae et Hibernicae supremum caput). The "supremacy phrase" at the end of the style was repugnant to Mary's Catholicism; from 1554 onwards, she omitted the phrase without statutory authority, which was not retroactively granted by Parliament until 1555.[141]

Under Mary's marriage treaty with Philip, the couple were jointly styled Queen and King. Philip became Mary's co-ruler, while she became merely his consort as Duchess of Brabant, Limburg, Lothier, Guelders and Luxemburg, Marquise of Namur, Countess Palatine of Burgundy and Countess of Artois, Flanders, Charolais, Hainaut, Zutphen, Holland and Zeeland.

The official joint style reflected not only Mary's but Philip's dominions and claims; it was "Philip and Mary, by the grace of God, King and Queen of England, France, Naples, Jerusalem, and Ireland, Defenders of the Faith, Princes of Spain and Sicily, Archdukes of Austria, Dukes of Milan, Burgundy and Brabant, Counts of Habsburg, Flanders and Tyrol".[87] This style, which had been in use since 1554, was replaced when Philip inherited the Spanish Crown in 1556 with "Philip and Mary, by the Grace of God King and Queen of England, Spain, France, both the Sicilies, Jerusalem and Ireland, Defenders of the Faith, Archdukes of Austria, Dukes of Burgundy, Milan and Brabant, Counts of Habsburg, Flanders and Tyrol".[142]

Mary I's arms were the same as those used by all her predecessors since Henry IV: Quarterly, Azure three fleurs-de-lys Or [for France] and Gules three lions passant guardant in pale Or [for England]. Sometimes, her arms were impaled (depicted side-by-side) with those of her husband. She adopted "Truth, the Daughter of Time" (Latin: Veritas Temporis Filia) as her personal motto.[143]

Mary's marital title Queen of Spain carried with it, the title "Queen of the Spanish East and West Indies and of the Islands and Mainland of the Ocean Sea". This titulary held by Philip came from his father, her cousin, Charles, under the original form "Rex Hispaniarum et Indiarum" (i.e., King of the Spaniards and the Indians). The shorthand for this is usually rendered as the Viceroyalty of New Spain.


Both Mary and Philip were descended from John of Gaunt, 1st Duke of Lancaster, a relationship which was used to portray Philip as an English king.[144] John had once claimed lands in Spain jure uxoris by the Infanta Constance of Castile. John's Lancastrian descendents in Spain and Portugal honoured the English Royal Family by naming several children Eduardo or Duarte (Edward) after John's father, Edward III of England. Edmund of Langley, 1st Duke of York, from which the Yorkist party derived (as well as her father Henry VIII's maternal line), married Infanta Isabella of Castile, so the Anglo-Castilian connection in right of Portugal had certainly influenced not only Mary's parental background, but her own marriage to Philip, whose own heritage was not simply Habsburg (which at that time was novel), but Burgundian and important for the Yorkist factor, as well as the Anglo-French wars in general.

See also

English Royalty
House of Tudor
Coat of Arms of England (1554-1558).svg
Royal Coat of Arms
Henry VIII
   Henry, Duke of Cornwall
   Mary I
   Elizabeth I
   Edward VI
Mary I
House of Habsburg
Spanish line
Coat of Arms of Philip II of Spain, English King Consort-Spanish Variant (1556-1558).svg
Emperor Charles V
(King Charles I)
Philip II of Spain
Maria, Holy Roman Empress
Joan of Spain
Don John (illegitimate)
Margaret of Parma (illegitimate)
Philip II
Children include
Carlos, Prince of Asturias
Isabella of Spain
Catherine, Duchess of Savoy
Philip III of Spain
Maria of Spain
Philip III
Children include
Anne, Queen of France
Philip IV of Spain
Maria Ana, Holy Roman Empress
Infante Carlos
Cardinal-Infante Ferdinand
Philip IV
Children include
Balthasar Charles, Prince of Asturias
Maria Theresa, Queen of France
Margaret, Holy Roman Empress
Charles II of Spain
Charles II


  1. ^ Her half-brother died on 6 July; she was proclaimed his successor in London on 19 July; her regnal years were dated from 24 July (Weir, p. 160).
  2. ^ The Gentleman's magazine. F. Jefferies. 1886. p. 233. 
  3. ^ Waller, p. 16; Whitelock, p. 8
  4. ^ Weir, pp. 152–153
  5. ^ Porter, p. 13; Waller, p. 16; Whitelock, p. 7
  6. ^ Porter, pp. 13, 37; Waller, p. 17
  7. ^ Porter, p. 13; Waller, p. 17; Whitelock, p. 7
  8. ^ Porter, p. 15
  9. ^ Porter, p. 16; Waller, p. 20; Whitelock, p. 21
  10. ^ Hoyle, p. 407
  11. ^ Whitelock, p. 27
  12. ^ Porter, p. 21
  13. ^ Porter, p. 30
  14. ^ Porter, p. 28; Whitelock, p. 27
  15. ^ Domine Orator, per Deum immortalem, ista puella nunquam plorat, quoted in Whitelock, p. 17
  16. ^ Farquhar, Michael, A Treasure of Royal Scandals (Penguin Books, New York, 2001, ISBN 0739420259) p. 101
  17. ^ Porter, pp. 38–39; Whitelock, pp. 32–33
  18. ^ Waller, p. 23
  19. ^ Whitelock, p. 23
  20. ^ Porter, pp. 20–21; Waller, pp. 20–21; Whitelock, pp. 18–23
  21. ^ Porter, pp. 21–24; Waller, p. 21; Whitelock, p. 23
  22. ^ Whitelock, pp. 30–31
  23. ^ Whitelock, pp. 36–37
  24. ^ Whitelock, pp. 37–38
  25. ^ Porter, pp. 56, 78; Whitelock, p. 40
  26. ^ Waller, p. 27
  27. ^ Porter, p. 76; Whitelock, p. 48
  28. ^ Porter, p. 92; Whitelock, pp. 55–56
  29. ^ Porter, p. 92; Whitelock, p. 57
  30. ^ Whitelock, p. 57
  31. ^ Porter, pp. 97–101; Whitelock, pp. 55–69
  32. ^ Dr William Butts, quoted in Waller, p. 31
  33. ^ Porter, p. 100
  34. ^ Porter, pp. 103–104; Whitelock, pp. 67–69, 72
  35. ^ Letter from Emperor Charles V to Empress Isabella, quoted in Whitelock, p. 75
  36. ^ Porter, p. 107; Whitelock, p. 76–77
  37. ^ Whitelock, p. 91
  38. ^ Porter, p. 121; Waller, p. 33; Whitelock, p. 81
  39. ^ Porter, pp. 119–123; Waller, pp. 34–36; Whitelock, pp. 83–89
  40. ^ Porter, pp. 119–123; Waller, pp. 34–36; Whitelock, pp. 90–91
  41. ^ Porter, pp. 124–125
  42. ^ Porter, pp. 126–127; Whitelock, pp. 95–96
  43. ^ Porter, pp. 129–132; Whitelock, p. 28
  44. ^ Porter, pp. 135–136; Waller, p. 39; Whitelock, p. 101
  45. ^ Whitelock, p. 101
  46. ^ Whitelock, pp. 103–104
  47. ^ Whitelock, p. 105
  48. ^ Whitelock, pp. 105–106
  49. ^ Contemporary Spanish and English reports, quoted in Whitelock, p. 108
  50. ^ Waller, p. 37
  51. ^ Porter, pp. 143–144; Whitelock, p. 110
  52. ^ Waller, p. 39; Whitelock, p. 112
  53. ^ Whitelock, p. 130
  54. ^ Porter, pp. 160–162; Whitelock, pp. 133–134
  55. ^ Porter, p. 154; Waller, p. 40
  56. ^ Porter, pp. 169–176; Waller, pp. 41–42; Whitelock, pp. 144–147
  57. ^ Porter, p. 178; Whitelock, p. 149
  58. ^ Porter, pp. 179–182; Whitelock, pp. 148–160
  59. ^ Porter, p. 187
  60. ^ Porter, pp. 188–189
  61. ^ Waller, pp. 48–49; Whitelock, p. 165
  62. ^ Waller, pp. 51–53; Whitelock, p. 165, 138
  63. ^ Porter, p. 195; Whitelock, p. 168
  64. ^ Porter, p. 203; Waller, p. 52
  65. ^ Porter, pp. 213–214; Waller, p. 54; Whitelock, pp. 170–174
  66. ^ Porter, p. 210; Weir, pp. 159–160
  67. ^ Waller, pp. 57–59
  68. ^ Waller, p. 59; Whitelock, p. 181
  69. ^ Waller, pp. 59–60; Whitelock, pp. 185–186
  70. ^ Whitelock, p. 182
  71. ^ Whitelock, p. 183
  72. ^ Porter, pp. 257–261; Whitelock, pp. 195–197
  73. ^ Porter, pp. 265–267
  74. ^ Museo del Prado, Catálogo de las pinturas, 1996, pp. 398–399 (#411), Ministerio de Educación y Cultura, Madrid, ISBN 8487317537
  75. ^ Porter, p. 310
  76. ^ Porter, pp. 279–284; Waller, p. 72; Whitelock, pp. 202–209
  77. ^ Loades, p. 75
  78. ^ Waller, p. 73
  79. ^ Porter, pp. 288–299; Whitelock, pp. 212–213
  80. ^ Porter, p. 300; Waller, pp. 74–75; Whitelock, p. 216
  81. ^ Porter, pp. 311–313; Whitelock, pp. 217–225
  82. ^ Waller, pp. 84–85; Whitelock, pp. 202, 227
  83. ^ Porter, p. 269; Waller, p. 85
  84. ^ Porter, pp. 291–292; Waller, p. 85; Whitelock, pp. 226–227
  85. ^ Porter, pp. 308–309; Whitelock, p. 229
  86. ^ Letter of 29 July 1554, quoted in Porter, p. 320
  87. ^ a b Porter, pp. 321, 324; Waller, p. 90; Whitelock, p. 238
  88. ^ Porter, pp. 318, 321; Waller, pp. 86–87; Whitelock, p. 237
  89. ^ Porter, p. 319; Waller, pp. 87, 91
  90. ^ Porter, p. 333; Waller, pp. 92–93
  91. ^ Porter, p. 338; Waller, p. 95; Whitelock, p. 255
  92. ^ Waller, p. 96
  93. ^ "The queen's pregnancy turns out not to have been as certain as we thought": Letter of 25 April 1554, quoted in Porter, p. 337 and Whitelock, p. 257
  94. ^ Waller, p. 95; Whitelock, p. 256
  95. ^ Whitelock, pp. 257–259
  96. ^ Whitelock, p. 258
  97. ^ Waller, p. 97; Whitelock, p. 259
  98. ^ Porter, pp. 337–338; Waller, pp. 97–98
  99. ^ Porter, p. 342
  100. ^ Waller, pp. 98–99; Whitelock, p. 268
  101. ^ Antoine de Noailles quoted in Whitelock, p. 269
  102. ^ Whitelock, p. 284
  103. ^ Whitelock, p. 187
  104. ^ Waller, p. 65; Whitelock, p. 198
  105. ^ Porter, p. 241; Whitelock, pp. 200–201
  106. ^ Porter, p. 331
  107. ^ Waller, p. 113
  108. ^ Whitelock, p. 262
  109. ^ Porter, pp. 355–356; Waller, pp. 104–105
  110. ^ Waller, pp. 104–105; Whitelock, p. 274
  111. ^ Duffy, p. 79; Waller, p. 104
  112. ^ Porter, pp. 358–359; Waller, p. 103; Whitelock, p. 266
  113. ^ Waller, p. 102
  114. ^ Waller, pp. 101, 103, 105; Whitelock, p. 266
  115. ^ See for example, the Oxford Martyrs
  116. ^ Waller, p. 94
  117. ^ Porter, p. 357
  118. ^ Although he had been a cardinal since 22 December 1536, Pole was not ordained until the day of his appointment.
  119. ^ Porter, pp. 381–387
  120. ^ Whitelock, p. 288
  121. ^ Porter, p. 389; Waller, p. 111; Whitelock, p. 289
  122. ^ Whitelock, pp. 293–295
  123. ^ Porter, pp. 392–395; Whitelock, pp. 291–292
  124. ^ Porter, pp. 229, 375; Whitelock, p. 277
  125. ^ Porter, p. 371
  126. ^ Porter, p. 373
  127. ^ Porter, p. 372
  128. ^ Porter, p. 375
  129. ^ Porter, p. 376
  130. ^ Porter, p.398; Waller, pp. 106, 112; Whitelock, p. 299
  131. ^ Whitelock, pp. 299–300
  132. ^ Whitelock, p. 301
  133. ^ Whitelock, p. 300
  134. ^ Waller, p. 108
  135. ^ Quoted in Waller, p. 109 and Whitelock, p. 303
  136. ^ Whitelock, p. 305
  137. ^ Waller, p. 116
  138. ^ Porter, p. 400
  139. ^ Waller, p. 115
  140. ^ Porter, pp. 361–362, 418; Waller, pp. 113–115
  141. ^ England: Kings and Queens: 1066–1649. Retrieved 11-03-2010.
  142. ^ e.g. Waller, p. 106
  143. ^ Waller, p. 60; Whitelock, p. 310
  144. ^ Whitelock, p. 242


  • Duffy, Eamon (2009) Fires of Faith: Catholic England Under Mary Tudor. Yale University Press. ISBN 0300152167
  • Hoyle, R. W. (2001) The Pilgrimage of Grace and the Politics of the 1530s. Oxford: Oxford University Press. ISBN 0199259062
  • Porter, Linda (2007) Mary Tudor: The First Queen. London: Little, Brown. ISBN 978-0-749-90982-6
  • Waller, Maureen (2006) Sovereign Ladies: The Six Reigning Queens of England. New York: St. Martin's Press. ISBN 0312338015
  • Weir, Alison (1996) Britain's Royal Families: The Complete Genealogy. London: Pimlico. ISBN 0712674489
  • Whitelock, Anna (2009) Mary Tudor: England's First Queen. London: Bloomsbury. ISBN 978-1-408-80078-2

Further reading

External links

Mary I of England
Born: 18 February 1516 Died: 17 November 1558
Regnal titles
Preceded by
Edward VI
or Jane
Queen of England and Ireland
19 July 1553 – 17 November 1558
with Philip (1554–1558)
Succeeded by
Elizabeth I
Royal titles
Title last held by
Isabella of Portugal
Queen consort of Naples
25 July 1554 – 17 November 1558
Title next held by
Elisabeth of France
Queen consort of Spain and Sicily
16 January 1556 – 17 November 1558

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