Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Mary I

Mary was born on to Henry VIII and his first wife, Katherine of Aragon. After many failed attempts and still births, Mary was the first and only child from the union to survive, thus she was the King's presumed heir. 

Mary was treated as if she were the heir, given a large household of her own and sometimes referred to as the "Princess of Wales." She was doted upon by her father and mother.

However, Henry wanted a son. In 1525 he fell in love with one of Katherine's maids-of-honor, Anne Boleyn. After several years of humiliating divorce court proceedings and the banishment of her mother, Henry broke with the Catholic Church and had parliament declare him Supreme Head of the Church of England. His marriage to Katherine was declared null and void, and Mary was declared a bastard.

With the birth of Elizabeth in 1533, Mary was forced to live in her little sister's household and address her as Princess, while accepting her own bastardy. She refused to do so until 1536, after the death of Anne Boleyn, when she finally gave up the fight. Her mother had been dead for over a year, and those who supported her were fearful of the King.

She began to slip more and more into danger. Her father denounced her for siding with her mother, and she Anne did not get along. Mary refused to address Anne as Queen, but simply as "Lady Marquess of Pembroke," or "My Father's Mistress or Whore."

After the fall of Anne Boleyn, Mary was forced to sign a decree acknowledging her illegitimate status. Once she had done so, Henry and his new queen Jane warmly welcomed Mary back to court.

After several unsuccessful relationships, her father finally married a woman who was able to be mother to all the King's children, Catherine Parr. The two had a good relationship, and Catherine was instrumental in convincing Henry to reinstate Mary and Elizabeth into the line of succession.

After her father and brother's deaths, a struggle for the throne ensued. Edward had named their cousin, Lady Jane Grey, as heir to the throne. Jane reigned for nine days before Mary entered London in triumph, the people pledging their allegiance to her as queen. Mary was crowned Queen of England on Oct. 1, 1553. Mary found herself in a difficult position. She only had a handful of council members she could trust.
Mary began negotiating marriage alliances. She turned to her mother's country of Spain and decided to marry Prince Philip. The people and the council were displeased with the choice and after a failed rebellion by the Duke of Suffolk, Mary had Jane Grey executed. She had become to dangerous to be kept alive, and Philip refused to come to England until domestic matters had been settled.
After the marriage, Mary had two phantom pregnancies. However, she never produced any children and Elizabeth, her younger half sister, was the heir presumptive.

Mary was determined to restore the old order to England. She had been raised a Catholic and had the memories of her mother as a strong Catholic woman. She attempted to restore the Catholic Church, though met much resistance. The Marian Persecutions of many protestant leaders gave Mary the nickname "Bloody Mary." 

Mary, who had always suffered ill health, died on Nov. 17, 1558. Elizabeth was declared Queen upon her half sister's death. She was buried in Westminster Abbey, despite her desire to be buried next to her mother at Peterborough Cathedral.



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