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  • 7/19/2010

The Day in History:

Mary I Begins Reign as Queen of England (1553)


Mary Tudor is the name of both Mary I of England and her aunt, Mary Tudor, Queen of France.

Mary I (18 February 1516 – 17 November 1558), was Queen of England and Queen of Ireland from 19 July 1553 until her death. The fourth crowned monarch of the Tudor dynasty, she is remembered for restoring England to Roman Catholicism after succeeding her short-lived half brother, Edward VI, to the English throne. In the process, she had almost three hundred religious dissenters burned at the stake in the Marian Persecutions, resulting in her being called Bloody Mary. Her re-establishment of Roman Catholicism was reversed by her successor and half-sister, Elizabeth I.

Childhood and early yearsMary was the only child of Henry VIII and his first wife Catherine of Aragon to survive infancy. A stillborn sister and three short-lived brothers, including Henry, Duke of Cornwall, had preceded her. Through her mother, she was a granddaughter of Ferdinand II of Aragon and Isabella of Castile. She was born at the Palace of Placentia in Greenwich, London, on Monday 18 February 1516. She was baptised on the following Thursday with Thomas Cardinal Wolsey standing as her godfather. Mary was a sickly child who had poor eyesight, sinus conditions and bad headaches.

Despite her health problems Mary was a precocious child. A great part of the credit for her early education likely came from her mother, who consulted the Spanish scholar Juan Luis Vives upon the subject and was Mary"s first instructor in Latin. Mary also studied Greek, science, and music. In July 1521, when scarcely five and a half years old, she entertained some visitors with a performance on the virginal (a smaller harpsichord). Henry VIII doted on his daughter and would boast in company, "This girl never cries". When Mary was nine years old, Henry gave her her own court at Ludlow Castle and many of the Royal Prerogatives normally only given to a (male) Prince of Wales, even calling her the Princess of Wales. In 1526, Mary was sent to Wales to preside over the Council of Wales and the Marches. Despite this obvious affection, Henry was deeply disappointed that his marriage had produced no sons.

Throughout her childhood Henry negotiated potential marriages for Mary. When she was only two years old she was promised to the Dauphin Francis, son of Francis I, King of France, but after three years, the contract was repudiated. In 1522, she was instead contracted to marry her first cousin, the Holy Roman Emperor Charles V, then 22, by the Treaty of Windsor. Within a few years, however, the engagement was broken off. It was then suggested that Mary wed the Dauphin"s father Francis I, who was eager for an alliance with England. A marriage treaty was signed which provided that Mary should marry either Francis I or his second son Henry, Duke of Orléans. However, Cardinal Wolsey, Henry VIII"s chief adviser, managed to secure an alliance without the marriage.


Mary I

On 6 July 1553, at the age of 15, the reigning king, Edward VI, died of tuberculosis. Edward did not want the crown to go to Mary, whom he feared would restore the Catholic faith 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 Reformed faith and the Church of England. Guided by the John Dudley, 1st Duke of Northumberland and perhaps others, Edward excluded both of his sisters from the line of succession in his will.

Edward VI and his advisors instead devised that he should be succeeded by Dudley"s daughter-in-law Lady Jane Grey, the granddaughter of Henry VIII"s younger sister Mary, Duchess of Suffolk. However, this exclusion was unlawful since (1) it was made by a minor and (2) it contradicted the Act of Succession. This latter act, passed in 1544, had restored Mary and Elizabeth to the line of succession. Around the time of Edward VI"s death, Mary had been summoned back to London from Framlingham Castle in Suffolk, into which she had recently moved after having left her former residence at the Palace of Beaulieu. However, Mary initially hesitated; she suspected that this summons could be a pretext on which to capture her and, in so doing, facilitate Grey"s accession to the throne.

On 10 July 1553, Lady Jane Grey assumed the throne as Queen of England. However, her support quickly eroded, which led to her being deposed only nine days later. In the wake of Grey"s deposition, Mary rode triumphantly into London on a wave of popular support to assume the crown Grey left behind. For their part, Grey and Dudley were ultimately imprisoned in the Tower of London and executed. Mary feared that if left alive Lady Jane would be a rallying point for rebels who rejected Mary"s rule.

One of Mary"s first actions as Queen was to order the release of the Roman Catholic Thomas Howard, 3rd Duke of Norfolk and Stephen Gardiner from imprisonment in the Tower of London. At this time, the Duke of Northumberland was the only conspirator executed for high treason. 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. She could only rely on Gardiner, whom she appointed both Bishop of Winchester and Lord Chancellor.

On 1 October 1553, Gardiner formally crowned Mary.

Source: encyclopedia.thefreedictionary.com

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