18 February 1516 – Birth of Queen Mary I

Feb18,2013 #birth of Mary I #Mary I

At Greenwich Palace in the early hours of 18th February 1516, Catherine of Aragon gave birth to a healthy baby girl, the future Mary I.

You can read more about her birth in my article The Birth of Mary I – 18 February 1516 and here are some other articles on Mary I:

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16 thoughts on “18 February 1516 – Birth of Queen Mary I”
  1. Thanks for the post, Claire – and congratulations on all of your accomplishments in 4 years!

    I read the link to your article “Anne Boleyn and Bloody Mary”. It is no wonder Mary had so many physical ailments, the stress and pain she must have felt at the hands of her father! Being denied to see your mother, working in the new princess’ household, while being declared a bastard. I can’t imagine her grief.

    I do think it is interesting, or rather unfair, that history refers to Mary as “Bloody Mary” when so many monarchs before her had sent many more to their deaths. Can you tell me, was she the first female to rule England as a full monarch? Sorry, I need a history lesson today 😉 This could be the reason she was so tainted – since women are always quick to receive the blame, and with the new reigning monarch being a woman – I’m sure this was difficult for the Tudor paradigm.

    After all, I feel she could not have been too “bloody” since she spared Elizabeth’s life, when she could have easily signed her death warrant.

    1. Yes, Mary was the first Queen Regnant of England (or I should say undisputed Queen regnant — the flap over Matilda vs. Stephen had taken place five hundred years previously). Mary’s reputation is not, in my opinion, entirely deserved, but it wasn’t all about her being female or a sheer numbers game — her sister oversaw enough executions, after all, but emerged with quite a different reputation. An important difference lay in their political acumen — Elizabeth had lots of it, Mary hardly any, and she did shortsighted and cruel things partly in consequence. David Loades has a good biography of Mary, and Eric Ives also discusses her background and its effect on her extensively in his book on Jane Grey.

  2. I guess I’m a little biased when it comes to Mary. My 16th great-grandfather Nicholas Richard Woodman was burnt as a Protestant heretic along with nine others on 22 June 1557 in front of the Star Inn in Lewes, Sussex, England. His account is actually listed in John Foxes Book of Martyrs. Several weeks ago, I watched something on the History Channel about medieval executions, and they talked about burning at the stake. They showed three different types of stakes that were used, and one was the type they used during the Marian persecutions. They had all different types of meters set up to measure how hot the fire got, and you could see the flames just shoot out into the air…it was really scary. I mean REALLY scary, because imagine if you were in that situation. :Shudder:
    I guess, what I’m trying to say is Mary is NOT one of my favorite Tudors. Was she as bloody as they say? No, she had a kind heart and was compassionate person. (More than Elizabeth could be at any rate) But, the mania at her persecution of the Protestants is almost as if she was taking out her frustrations (marital and personal) out on them. I don’t know, that’s my theory at any rate.
    “When these with violence were burned to death, We wished for our Elizabeth.”

  3. black-mamba sad your 16th century great grand father was burnt as a protestant heretic. You should know that Britain and other European countries colonised many countries especially African and Asian. During that period Africans did suffer and many of them died fighting for independence. Allow me to include slavery one of the greatest crimes ever committed which started from the 15th century to 19th century, historians claim that over 100 million Africans died during that period, people suffered. What ever catholics and protestants did to each other can never be compared to the disguting, inhuman and greedy practice of African slavery. But very rare do you here people complain about what their ancestors went through, if anything the world tries to ignore slavery and men like George Washington are praised.
    All i can say is that no body was perfect back then, they all justified their actions.
    Mary was born into a difficult world for women, her father was king and her mother was a stubborn spanish princess. She did have a sad life but that does not excuse her burning protestants. DOES IT MEAN HER NICK NAME BLOODY MARY IS FAIR? MY ANSWER IS NO, NO MONARCH WAS PERFECT THEY ALL KILLED.
    If Mary was a protestant queen who had burnt 300 catholics protestants like foxe would have justified her actions and not nick named her bloody mary.

    1. I agree that Britain, Europe and the USA, as you have mentioned, have parts of our history we definately can not be proud of.

      But I doubt there are very few Countries in this world that can claim innocence from inflicting suffering on others, be it on other nationalities or their own kind.

      Though I can not agree with your comment stating when slavery started.
      Slavery started thousands of years before then.

      To my mind all large Empires and advanced cultures have built themselves on the backs of slaves, of their own kind or captured.
      Eygptians had many slaves, their Pyramids were built by them.
      Ghengas Khan enslaved those he didn’t kill.
      The Romans had slaves for all duties, not to mention for sport in the arena..
      before them the Anicient Greeks, who saw as having slaves as an important part of their economy.. and so on.
      The vast numbers of these slaves came from many parts of the world that the conquering forces invaded and captured, so it certainly didn’t start in the 15th century.
      This of course goes without saying, that I am not underminding what happened to the Africans/Asians, it was abhorrent. But if you are talking sheer numbers here, then there has been Billions of slaves throughout time, including now, taken by many countries, and abused in unspeakable ways.

      Don’t take this the wrong way, as I am not intending to be rude, but I actually find your view of events in Tudor history relating to African slavery a little strange, and in a way too far apart, time wise, to compare…

      But I do think you are right in saying Mary had a sad life and was born in a time that was hard for women, especially as a ruling Queen.

      1. Reply to Dawn,
        i do agree with you that slavery began thousands of years.
        I did not bring up African slavery to single out one particular family and make it look like they were the most evil and did it alone, a good number of European countries were involved but in case you do not know according to historians the say African slavery began in the 15th century and that the countries in involved were Spain, Portugal, England, Netherlands, France e.t.c thats were people get the term ” 500 years of history.” Those that were rulers profited from it.(www.bbc.co.uk/history/british/abolition/africa-article-01.shtml)
        As for the religious conflicts during the reformation and after among Christians, it is a disgrace. I personally used to look at catholics as the evil guys and the protestants as good and kind. For me Mary 1 represented evil and cruelty and her sister Elizabeth 1 represented good and kindness.
        Until i decided to read further the real truth about Christainity and how Christians treated each other. I also had to read about how the baptists and anabaptist were treated, i was surprised to find out that in actual both catholics and protestants persecuted baptists and anabaptists. I also read that what catholics did to protestants is exactly what protestants did to baptist and anabaptists. Both catholics and protestants burnt, tortured and brutally persecuted the baptists and anabaptists. During the reigns of both Mary 1 and Elizabeth 1 baptists/anabaptists suffered, including other so called protestant kingdoms in Germany, Switzerland and Holland. The catholics were intolerant of those who never agreed with them men like Thomas More, the pope, Gardiner, Pole and protestants were not tolerant with those who disagreed with their religious views men like John Calvin, Cranmer Latimer, Hooper, Luther e.t.c. Neither group catholic or protestants were better than the other. They justified their actions all in the name of God. (www.wayoflife.org/database/protestantpersecutions)
        I no longer consider Mary the most evil no do i consider Elizabeth evil they both loved their countries and did their very best.

      1. Thanks for your reply, ds 370:
        I did know that a lot of Europe was involved in the Black slave trade and also that vast profits were made out of this appalling practise, by many.
        I believe you when you say that it began in Europe, Britain in the time scale that you have stated, but what I was trying to say, was, and I am sorry if I didn’t explain properly, is that the African people were being exploited relentlessly, well before then, by the Romans, Eygptians, and other cultures, and I would imagine the numbers were also unbelievably high also, whether there is any documented evidence of this I have no idea, but you only have to watch history programmes on these Ancient Cultures to see the numbers of slaves used were vast, from across the spectrum..
        And I certainly don’t say that to try and put Europe, Britain or the U.S. in a more favourable light, any country that had a hand in Slavery are as guilty as each other no matter what..

        I am not quite sure what you mean by, ‘single out one particular family, to make them look the most evil and they did it alone’, as no Family was mentioned? Do you mean Country?

        I am also not quite sure why you have commented on the behaviour of Religious factions and the atrocities they have committed on each other, Christian on Christian? As I did not make any remark on religious matters, you can not be interested in Tudor history and not know the horrors of religious intolerance and confliction, and the sickening way they murdered each other. I hold no favour to anyone in Tudor times, or our times, because of religious preference. But I do realize how important Religion was to them and to people now.. And I agree each side of the religious coin did/can justify their behaviour in the name of God, and I have never said anything to the contrary.

        I too used to have a harsh view of Mary, but as I have read, and grow wiser with age, hopefully, in my opinion Mary had a lot of psychological problems steming from her lonely, desolate life to content with, and made some bad judgements because of them, but like I said this is only my opinion.
        As for Elizabeth, I do realise that she wasn’t a paragon of perfection either, far from it, she also had her own demons to contend with, again because of her upbringing.

        If you are saying that people were enslaved by their religion in Tudor times, as the African people were by others, and terrible abuses arose from the two things, then yes, I can see a little, why you used them in comparison.

        1. Dawn thank you for your reply. I mentioned the religious problems not because of your reply but to make a point that no nasty things where done same thing as the slave trade.

        2. Hi Dawn 1st and ds 370. During the reign of King Ferdinand and Queen Isabella, Catherine of Aragon’s parents, the Pope, along with the Spanish monarchy set out to Christianize the ‘savages’ they had discovered, by whatever means. An actual ‘bull’ (Papal declaration) was issued. Queen Elizabeth I also told her ‘privateers’ to tame and Christianize the savages. These monarchs were Catholic and Protestant. So believe it or not, the most recent African slave trade did begin then and was crucial to the European economy. Catherine of Aragon’s parents became the richest monarchs on earth because of the trade.

          Because the Spanish conquistadors had decimated the Indian tribes in the west Indies, they turned to Africa and imported slaves to to work the land there. It was found that the slaves were immune to the European diseases, syphilis, chicken pox, small pox etc that all but wiped out the Indians. Also the Africans were sturdier.

          In actual fact, the Spanish Armada episode was partly due to the fact that Elizabeth I’s ‘privateers’ regularly mugged Spanish ships as they left the West Indies and south America, laden with Gold, Silver, Sugar and god knows what else. Of course Philip of Spain, Elizabeth’s brother-in-law, was not amused.

          So ds370, you are more than justified and quiet right when you link the slave trade with the Tudor period, for the late 1400’s was indeed the first link in what became a very long and brutal chain.

        3. Just as a matter of interest, the information in my previous post was extracted during my study of The TUDOR period and NOT the slave trade as I’ve never studied that. I don’t know about anyone else but I enjoy discovering the wider picture of things. Did you know for example, that’ Ivan the Terrible’ offered his hand in marriage to Elizabeth I. The Tudor world was bigger and brasher than we could ever imagine.

  4. My heart goes out to Mary. She really did have a terrible life. I can’t help to think that her persecution of protestants was not only for religious beliefs but also a bit of revenge on her part for how her Mother and herself were treated by Anne Boleyn. However, compared to other monarchs she hardly deserves the name “bloody”. If England remained Catholic, Mary would be known as Good Queen Mary I and Elizabeth would be known as Bloody Lizzy !
    It’s all in the way it’s spun.

  5. Claire – many thanks for setting the record straight on Mary I. So sad that she has not been seen within the context of her time, and in comparison to other monarchs, especially within her own family! I also believe that, because of the same anti-Catholic bias, Mary, Queen of Scots, has not been acknowledged for having put so few people to death. Had she been a Protestant Queen, she may have gone down in history as something like Mary, ‘the peaceful’ ! (not a reference to her personal life, but to not creating martyrs…).

  6. Although religion and political ability have certainly impacted on the comparative reputations of Mary and Elizabeth, I think that the length of their reigns also has a lot to do with it.

    Elizabeth reigned for almost forty-five years, Mary for only five. Towards the end of Elizabeth’s reign in the post-Armada period, things were not going so well – there were problems both at home and abroad, with long wars, higher taxes, poor harvests and a general economic decline. She also increased persecution of Catholics. But Elizabeth had a long history of positive achievements to be weighed against this. Mary’s short reign also ended on a low note with the war with France and the loss of Calais, and was plagued throughout by bad weather and poor crop yields. The good aspects, which Claire has highlighted, therefore tended to be forgotten both then and subsequently

    1. Jiilian,I sooo agree with your reply ,Mary1 was as bloody as HenryV111 and in 4 years took England into a poor brocken State.It was infact a marriage were England did marry Spain,the Spanish King was replused by her,she burning anyone who did conform to her religous believes.Had her half sister arrested,and kept enamies far to close.The Duke of Norfolrk,and far to many Spanish enemies.When Elizabeth1 took the Crown ,England was in ruin because Of Mary1.Spain had a very bad taste for the English for robbing there ships comming back from the New World and lotting there gold sliver,spices,Jewells ect,which Elizabeth1gave the go Ahead to do so and thats is how she pulled England out of Mary’s mess,after she died.One of the mane reasons Elizabeth1 found her enemies out and had them beheaded,Duke of NorFolk,Spanish tratiors,aswell as those who were out to kill Elizabeth.So as far as I see and these are just my thoughts Mary1 worst Queen EVER!!! THX Baroness x

  7. Mary did much to rebuild the economic and social institutions in England, to establish the gender free concept of the crown which allowed her illegitimate half sister Elizabeth to succeed, having spared her life when she was implicated in a rebellion and plot to kill her, she maintained the independent nature of England and ensured Philip had little to do with the authority here. She reformed the navy and military and restored the coinage. Mary was courageous and stood her ground in the face of rebellion and challenges to her life and faith. She pardoned most of those who betrayed her. Her persecution was in line with other monarchs although I would never condone hers or her sisters or fathers which were far worse. Sadly she was unable to have children and suffered terrible cancers. Before any idiots out there state that was “karma” you don’t understand what the word means and are speaking nonsense . Mary rallied her people and gained popular support when her crown was kept from her by Northumberland and Henry Grey in favour of the will of Edward vi and support of Jane Grey. She agonized over what to do with Jane, whom she was going to pardon until her father supported Wyatt. Mary also rallied her people by a personal appeal when Wyatt was going to attack London and unlike Elizabeth she didn’t run off and hide in the countryside. Mary saw the sense of consenting to Elizabeth as her successor. She made mistakes, yes, but no her rule wasn’t a disaster and she was successful in much. Her reputation was tarnished via Protestant propaganda under Elizabeth I. However, her religious reforms and the restoration of the Catholic Church was actually popular as England wasn’t a “Protestant” country and the majority of her subjects were still Catholic and expected her to be harsh on dissent. Instead she began a two year campaign of education, pamphlets and preaching and tried to keep the prosecution of heresy to a minimum. Most people prosecuted were brought fairly to trial by local magistrates and local people. Opportunities for recanting and to return to the true faith under Mary were actually very generous and heretics were given a long period of time in which to do so before being punished under the law. Far less patience was shown with Catholics tried and executed for their faith under Elizabeth I, who also persecuted Puritanism and heretics. However, 280 must still be considered an unusual number in a short period of time. It is this which is most shocking, not that heretics were lawfully tried and executed as they were under every contemporary Government. These were terrible times and again these religious persecutions are horrifying. I am merely saying Mary was a much more benevolent lady than her unjust reputation suggests. She was personally very generous and merciful on a number of occasions. Under her the Church was vibrant and beautiful and
    both powerful and popular. It was also charismatic and leaning towards evangelical and teaching in its outlook. Mary compromised when it came to restoring the religious orders by not removing old Church land from secular landowners, mostly her gentry and nobles. She created many charitable and social foundations as well as opening up trade routes with Russia and the East. She was merely unfortunate in that she didn’t have a child to carry on her work, which her sister undid, otherwise her reign and life would be regarded in a much more positive light.

    I would recommend books by Linda Porter and Anna Whitelock and Judith Richards and Catholic Queen by Edwards as well as The Kings Pearl by Melita Thomas.

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