NOTE: Mary 1, Queen of England is sometimes confused with Mary 1, Queen of Scots. Therefore, a short biography is included in this Mary Queen of Scots’ website in order to clarify the difference for the students who visit. Please see Genealogy Charts below for further information.
Mary Tudor, Queen of England was born on Monday, 18th of February 1516, at the Palace of Placentia in Greenwich. She was the only surviving child of Henry VIII and his first wife Catherine of Aragon. Mary was the first Mary Queen of England and is known as Mary 1, Queen of England and Ireland.
She shared a common ancestor with Mary Queen of Scots. Mary Queen of England was the granddaughter of Henry VII and Mary Queen of Scots was the great granddaughter of Henry VII. Therefore, Mary Queen of England and Mary Queen of Scots were first cousins, once removed.
Her mother was Catherine of Aragon, her father was Henry VIII. Catherine, her mother, was Henry’s first wife. She had first wed Prince Arthur the oldest son of Henry VII, but, unfortunately, during an official visit to Wales they both became ill from an infection which was widespread in the area. Catherine recovered but Arthur died. She then became betrothed to Arthur’s younger brother the future Henry VIII. They married June 11, 1509; Henry’s coronation was shortly after on June 24, 1509. Catherine was also known as the Princess of Wales.
In the year 1527 Henry began to seek an annullment since Catherine still had not produced a male heir. The pope would not grant the annullment and in 1533 the marriage was finally annulled by Henry’s own bishops allowing him to remarry. Henry had now split from the Roman Catholic church and declared his next wife would be Anne Boleyn, who would become the mother of Elizabeth I.
BROTHERS AND SISTERS
Mary I was the fifth child to be born to Henry and Catherine. Three brothers and a sister did not survive, in fact Mary was to be their only child as the sixth and last child, also a daughter, was stillborn. At the time, Henry didn’t appear to be unhappy about the delivery of a daughter. He told the Venetian Ambassador (Giustinian) that “Sons will follow” mentioning that both he and the queen were still young. At this point he still had hopes for a son and heir.
THE YOUNG MARY
Still just a child, Mary was used in Henry’s many plots and political maneuverings. He was already suggesting suitable bridegrooms. Mary, at 2 1/2 years old, was betrothed to the infant Dauphin of France. Charles V, the Duke of Orleans and the Duke of Milan were some of the other suggested bridegrooms.
She was well educated having tutors who believed in educating girls as well as boys. A belief that was not widely held. Her first tutor was Linacre a scholar and physician who had been tutor to Arthur. She knew Latin as well as French, Italian and some Spanish. She also studied Greek, science and music.
After the English Bishops annulled his marriage, Henry basically ignored Mary. When Henry split from the Catholic Church he formed the Church of England with himself as the Head of the Church. With the annullment, it was now claimed that Mary was illegitimate. She was no longer welcome at court. Her royal way of life changed dramatically. Instead of being served by ladies in waiting, servants, etc., she was forced to become one herself. She came to be in the service of Lady Shelton, the aunt of Henry’s new wife Anne Boleyn and to her half-sister Elizabeth. To add to all of these indignities Mary was not allowed to visit with her mother who was now a prisoner. Her mother died in the year 1536 and even then, Mary was not allowed to attend the burial.
As time passed, Henry was less harsh in his treatment towards Mary. Mainly due to Mary’s attempts at reconciliation with him. In one instance, after he had ridiculed her Catholic religion, she acknowledged that he was head of the Church. In doing so, she was renouncing the church of Rome and its authority, and also acknowledging that her mother’s marriage to her father was null and void which in turn made her an llegitimate child. In another attempt at reconciliation, she agreed to be godmother to her half brother Prince Edward, child of Jane Seymour. Another fact, not to be ignored, is that Catherine Parr, the sixth wife, made a serious effort to bring the family together. She must have been successful for Henry became less heartless and indifferent in his attitude towards Mary. In fact, he agreed that Mary should once again have her own household and be allowed into the royal palaces.
Henry died in 1547 and was succeeded by his son Edward VI. Edward’s reign was short-lived as he died in 1553. In his will he stated that neither Elizabeth nor Mary were to ascend the throne. Instead, he arranged that the crown would go to Lady Jane Grey, the granddaughter of Henry VIII’s younger sister Mary Tudor, who had married Charles Brandon, Duke of Suffolk.
Lady Jane’s accession to the throne was extremely unpopular and deemed unacceptable by most of the populace. It was also considered illegal because of the 1544 Act of Parliament restoring Lady Mary and Lady Elizabeth to the line of succession.
Lady Jane Grey’s accession took place in July 10, 1553 and was revoked on July 19, 1553. Her reign lasted for only nine days.
Mary then ascended the throne and was crowned Queen of England and Ireland on October 1, 1553.
Her first Act of Parliament was the validation of her mother’s marriage to Henry VIII. This meant Mary was once again the legitimate daughter of a King.
In order to have an heir she now needed a husband. If she had an heir then Elizabeth, a Protestant, would have to step down in the line of succession. Mary, being a staunch Catholic was looking for a Catholic suitor. It was suggested to her that she consider Prince Philip of Spain, the son of her first cousin the Holy Roman Emperor Charles V.
Unfortunately, this suggested marriage was met with such great hostility, that rebellions broke out. The fear being that England would become subservient to Spain.
The rebellions were crushed leading to many of the persecutions which gave her the nickname “Bloody Mary”. The nickname was a bit unfair because the religious persecutions were more the result of the established heresey laws rather than brutality and callousness on Mary’s part. The revival of these old heresey laws resulted in violent conflicts which led to severe punishments such as burning at the stake. Martyrs burned at the stake included such men as Cranmer and Latimer.
She reinstated the Catholic Mass in 1553 and the Pope’s authority was reinstated the following year. The title of Head of the Church, which her father Henry VIII had taken, now passed back to the pope. Roman Catholicism was again the established religion.
Her marriage to Philip took place on July 25, 1554 at Winchester Cathedral. The marriage treaty stated that England would not be drawn into Spanish wars; however, England was forced into the war between France and Spain and as a result England lost Calais which was its last Continental possession.
Several times Mary thought she was pregnant and must have rejoiced at the thought of an heir. This happened several times but it seems they were what is called “phantom” pregnancies and it was thought they came about because of her ill health.
Mary was in love with Philip but he found her to be unattractive (she was 11 years older than him) and after only 14 months of being together Philip left for Spain and never returned.
Mary died without heirs at the age of 42 years on November 17, 1558 at St. James’ Palace. She is buried in Westminster Abbey beside her half -sister Elizabeth.
If you have Acrobat Reader you can click here (**note: please click back button on Acrobat Reader to return to this page) for a genealogy chart of the descendants of Henry VII, showing Mary I, Queen of England as his granddaughter.
If you would like to see the ancestral chart of Mary I, Queen of England please click here.(**note: please click back button on Acrobat Reader to return to this page) This chart shows her parents, two aunts, grandparents and siblings.
|YEAR||SIGNIFICANT EVENTS||CONTEMPORARY WORLD EVENTS|
|1553||Lady Jane Grey proclaimed queen by Northumberland The citizens of London supported Mary Lady Jane Grey her husband, and father were arrested, and Northumberland was executed. Mary now set herself to restore the old religion (Catholic) and reconcile her kingdom with the Pope.|
|1554||Sir Thomas Wyatt’s rebellion easily suppressed. It led to the execution of Lady Jane Grey, her husband, father, and uncle. MARY MARRIED PHILIP THE SECOND OF SPAIN.|
|1555||The statutes of Henry the Fourth and Fifth against heretics were revived. Bishops Hooper, Ridley, Latimer, and many others, were burnt at the stake.|
|1556||Cranmer was burnt at Oxford. The new Archbishop of Canterbury was Cardinal Pole.||Emperor Charles the Fifth abdicated and succeeded by his brother Ferdinand the First in the Empire, and by his son Philip the second in Spain, Naples, and Sicily. Charles became a monk.|
|1557||Mary declared war against France. The first Covenant signed at Edinburgh.|
|1558||Calais is captured by the French, after having been in English hands for two hundred and eleven years. The Queen of Scots (aka Mary Queen of Scots) married Francis, Dauphin of France. Death of Mary on the eve of a great national revolt.|
References: Wives of Henry VIII, Antonia Fraser Mary Tudor a Life, David Loades Mary I, Winifred Roll The Personal History of Henry the Eighth, Francis Hackett