Mary I
Mary I

On this day in history, 18th February 1516, Mary Tudor (Mary I) was born – happy 494th birthday Mary!

To commemorate the birthday of this Tudor monarch, I’ve written a bio or factfile over at The Elizabeth Files – see Mary I Facts – but I thought it would be fun to list some Mary Tudor trivia here:-

  • Mary I is known as “Bloody Mary” for her persecution of Protestants but her father called her “the greatest pearl in the kingdom”.
  • Mary’s motto was “Veritas temporis filia” meaning “Truth, the daughter of time”.
  • She was intelligent, was known as a linguist and loved music and dancing.
  • She was the daughter of Henry VIII and Catherine of Aragon, granddaughter of Henry VII and Elizabeth of York, and also King Ferdinand II of Aragon and Queen Isabella I of Castile.
  • Mary was descended from John of Gaunt, 1st Duke of Lancaster, through both her parents.
  • During her childhood, Mary was betrothed to the Dauphin of France and then Charles V, Holy Roman Emperor.
  • Mary was England’s first ruling queen.
  • It is said that Mary suffered with longterm health problems – menstrual difficulties (dysmenorrhea and perhaps endometriosis or ovarian cysts), melancholy or depression which may have been SAD (seasonal affective disorder), and headaches.
  • Mary I was a devout Catholic – Her aim was to take England back into the Catholic fold.
  • Mary I had to depose Lady Jane Grey to take the throne – she was successful on the 19th July 1553.

A young Mary
A young Mary
  • Mary ordered the burning of Thomas Cranmer, Archbishop of Cranmer, a Protestant who David Loades says she held “responsible for her own humiliation and that of her mother, Catherine of Aragon, in 1533, as well as for the destruction of so much that she held dear in the teachings of the church.”
  • One of her first acts as Queen was to make her parents’ marriage valid and legal, making herself legitimate.
  • It is thought that around 280 Protestants were burned during her reign.
  • It was during Mary’s reign that Calais was lost to the French.
  • Mary I’s marriage to Philip of Spain was hugely unpopular.
  • Mary suffered two phantom pregnancies.
  • The name “Mary Tudor” refers to both Mary I and Henry VIII’s sister Mary.
  • The nursery rhyme “Mary, Mary, Quite Contrary” is said to refer to Mary wth the garden in the rhyme being the graveyard of the Protestants burned during her reign.
  • There is speculation that the nursery rhyme “Three Blind Mice” refers to Mary’s killing of Bishops Ridley, Latimer and Cranmer, but many think that the rhyme is not that old.
  • Mary I died on the 17th November 1558 as the result of an influenza epidemic.


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