17 November 1558 – The Death of Queen Mary I

Posted By on November 17, 2014

Mary I, Hans Eworth

Mary I, Hans Eworth

At St James’s Palace, early in the morning of 17th November 1558, Queen Mary I died. This daughter of Henry VIII and his first wife, Catherine of Aragon, was just forty-two years old and had only reigned for five years and four months.

Mary I has gone down in history as “Bloody Mary”, the “killer queen” who murdered nearly 300 Protestants, rubbing her hands with glee as the heretics burned. But that label should not define this woman and her reign. Although many see her reign as a failure, as part of the “Mid-Tudor Crisis”, Mary actually achieved a significant amount during her short reign:

  • The preservation of the Tudor succession
  • The reconciliation of England and Rome
  • Establishment of the “gender-free authority of the crown
  • Reform and renovation of the Church
  • Improvement of the navy and militia
  • Defeat of rebellions
  • Reforms of customs taxes and coinage
  • Encouragement of domestic industries

Mary’s half-sister Elizabeth would certainly have had a harder time of it if she hadn’t had Mary’s achievements to build on.

Please don’t think I’m condoning or belittling the persecution of the Protestants, I’m simply saying that we need to dig deeper than the label “Bloody Mary” and to educate people about this woman and her reign as a whole.

Further reading:

  • The Myth of Bloody Mary, ElizabethFiles.com
  • Mary Tudor: The First Queen, Linda Porter
  • Mary Tudor, David Loades
  • Mary Tudor: Princess, Bastard, Queen, Anna Whitelock

Also on this day in history…

  • 1558 – Death of Cardinal Reginald Pole, Mary I’s Archbishop of Canterbury, at Lambeth Palace in London. He had been ill since September 1558 and died after hearing news of Mary I’s death. He lay in state at the palace for forty days before being buried at Becket’s Corona in Canterbury Cathedral.