Happy Birthday Mary I

Posted By on February 18, 2010

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.


8 thoughts on “Happy Birthday Mary I”

  1. julie b says:

    Scary lady!! She seems like she was a bit crazy. I also see her as a person with an attitude problem and that is why she did alot of the terrible things to people.

  2. Claire says:

    I think she was very damaged by her father’s treatment of both her and Catherine. Linda Porter talks of how a deputation of council was sent to Mary, “a group of aristocratic thugs”, who assaulted Mary with “vicious verbal abuse” and tried to bully her into the articles that her father had drawn up. The Earl of Essex said to her that “since she was such an unnatural daughter as to disobey completely the king’s injunctions, he could hardly believe that she was the king’s own bastard daughter. Were she his or any other man’s daughter, he would beat her to death, or strike her head against the wall until he made it as soft as a boiled apple”! These were men sent by her father and she had just lost her mother, how cruel! Henry must have understood that Mary would have felt that she was betraying both her mother and her faith by signing his articles, yet he bullied her in this way. No wonder she suffered with depression! Poor woman!

  3. Bella44 says:

    Happy birthday Mary! I have to admit I’ve got rather a soft spot for Mary, for some reason she’s always struck me as the most personable of the Tudor monarchs, even though I find Elizabeth a more fascinating character. Mary was treated horribly by her father and overcame great odds to win her throne when the smart money was on Lady Jane Grey and the Duke of Northumberland. Sometimes I think she was just as strong as Elizabeth even if she showed it in different ways

  4. Lexy says:

    I think that, though Mary was a sixteenth century woman, she went through the same path as children of “badly negociated” divorce. She saw her parent’s wedding crumbling, her father leaving for another woman, raising a ne family, the trial… And the wort is that while the main thing in modern divorces is protecting the kids and reassuring them that it’s not their fault, Mary was in a way made responsible since she was of the wrong sex. Enough to give anybody a huge traumatism!

  5. lisaannejane says:

    I agree with Claire that Mary was a very damaged person, both physically and emotionally. It seems that the more she was made to denounce her faith, the more she clung to it. I wonder if Edward V! was not so bent on forcing reformist beliefs on her, she might have been more open-minded about changes and if she had not inherited the throne at such a late stage in life, 37, she might have made better choices about the religious problems that England was facing. All of this is just speculation, of course. It seems her greatest contribution was showing Elizabeth what not to do when she became queen.

  6. Jeanette says:

    She was very hurt when she was young that hurt stayed with all her life.
    I thing deep in her heart she was a loving person when Elizabeth was little she was a loving sister to her.
    I thing she was cruel because she shelter hersself from getting hurt again.

  7. Ashley says:

    I think if Mary was not treated so badly as a child she could have been a better queen.

  8. Christine says:

    I too feel sorry for Mary she had an unhappy life it’s a pity she was fanatical about her faith as it ruled her life as did her mothers, Katherine told her to obey her father in all things except that were her conscience was troubled, I think she was wrong to say that to her daughter as Mary’s obstinacy was to blame for the rift between her and her father which went on for years, I would have just wanted to keep out of it, trouble was she believed she was the heir to the throne, I understand going from Princess to bastard must have been awful but she was a girl anyway and surely she wouldn’t have wanted to rule? She’d have been better of accepting Anne Boleyn and then her father would have allowed her to visit Katherine when she wanted, Mary and Katherine were both very obstinate and they lost in the end because Henry was the King and he did what he wanted, she had such a sad life but she chose to disobey her father and therefore made a rod for her own back

Please note: Comment moderation is currently enabled so there will be a delay between when you post your comment and when it shows up.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *