Mary I by Antonis Mor
Mary I by Antonis Mor

On this day in history, 1st October 1553, Mary I, daughter of Henry VIII and Catherine of Aragon, was crowned queen at Westminster Abbey by Stephen Gardiner, Bishop of Winchester.

Here are links to some articles I wrote for the Tudor Society on the lead-up to Mary’s coronation in 1553:

Mary had been proclaimed queen on 19th July 1553 thirteen days after the death of her half-brother, Edward VI, and in place of Lady Jane Grey who had been proclaimed queen on 10th July 1553.

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8 thoughts on “Mary I’s Coronation”
  1. I sometimes wonder if Mary would have been a successful ruler like Elizabeth if she had compartmentalized her religious beliefs instead of being fanatical. So much suffering both by Mary’s subjects and Mary herself.

  2. I might be more sympathetic to her if she hadn’t ordered people burned alive at the stake as public policy. Edward was a religious fanatic as was Mary. Elizabeth was the best of the bunch!

  3. Mary’s unhappy childhood and teenage years shaped her into the woman she eventually became, she had seen the old religion quashed in favour of the new one, she had seen monasteries dissolved and religious turmoil, when her brother came to the throne he chastised Mary for being a papist and didn’t like the fact that she still celebrated mass, she has seen faithful followers of her mother beheaded for defying her father and refusing to accept him as head of the church instead of the Pope, she grew up in a violent suspicious age where she had to fight for her throne after her brothers tragic early death, is it any wonder when she came to the throne she was determined to bring back the old religion and persecute anyone who was in her eyes a heretic? Is it any wonder she was sour and resentful? Also we have to remember the heresy laws on burning were not of her making but she had to uphold them as monarch, I feel she had a personal grudge here to, her beloved mother had been cast aside and her beloved Catholic Church condemned as nothing less than idolatry, she believed it was the true religion and her mother and both she had suffered because of the reformation, I’m not condoning the burning of the 300 Smithfield martyr’s but if a physcologist could look into Mary’s mind I believe he/ she would see it was a direct result of the trauma of her parents separation, having to bow down to her father as head of the church which caused her very real anguish as she felt she had betrayed her mother, the dreadful position she found herself in during her brothers reign and finally the trauma of having to fight for her inheritance.

    1. This is so, so beautiful. Thank you. For Queen Mary the First is certainly much better than Elizabeth.

  4. 136 years on from Mary’s accession, one John Locke wrote his ‘Letter Concerning Toleration”, which I feel sure Mary would have most certainly abhorred, and yet needed to hear, and it goes… “If any man err from the right way, it is his own misfortune, no injury to thee; nor therefore art thou to punish him in the things of this life because thou supposest he will be miserable in that which is to come. Nobody, therefore, in fine, neither single persons nor churches, nay, nor commonwealths, have any just title to invade the civil rights and worldly goods of each other upon pretence of religion.”
    It is a declaration which values the individual man and weighs his rights against those of prelates and monarchs and the idea that differing opinions create a direct threat to the good order of the state. It represents a giant step in man’s rational thinking, I’m thinking……

    1. I couldn’t have said it better myself Globerose. And heaven help the human race if everybody who had a tragic childhood like Mary had the power to lash out like she did.

  5. Beautiful articles. Enjoyed all of them, very festive, a great insight into the coronation of the first full Queen Regnant, who after all of the efforts of her father and brother to prevent this day, must have made her feel fully alive and deeply aware of her destiny and her own vindication. Yes, her reign, wrongly, has gone down with negative and inaccurate legacies, but she was successful in many ways. She was successful in her social and political reforms, her reform of taxation, her trade reforms and her use of education and texts as well as the unfortunate use of prosecution against religious dissent was also successful, but has left her reign marred by the tragic death of Protestant martyrs. Neither Mary or her government set out to burn so many, they wanted to convert people and attempted to do so in many cases. The information about this time is often exaggerated and it is forgotten that Elizabeth I also persecuted those who disagreed with her, making the practice of, conversion to and the priesthood treason. There is often much debate over the reasons behind Mary and Elizabeth’s intolerance, but the truth is, this was the way things were, the excuses may have contributed, but it is also valid to argue that the reformation caused such a rift and suspicious rupture in society that what people called heresy or any other creed to the ruler, was seen as the worst threat around. Security and unity and stability came first, people and rulers were almost paranoid about the new beliefs and Elizabeth was paranoid about Catholics. Whether or not this paranoia was justified, it was very deep at every level of English society, as it was on the continent. Mary Tudor was not unique, she was normal. Unfortunately, her better qualities have been forgotten about because of the focus on her religious political agenda. She was also generally merciful, she was intelligent, caring, generous and popular. She had a good education policy and reformed the navy. She had a successful community and social policy and she also championed the arts and exploration. This aspect of her reign is not always talked about. It is a great pity that she did not have a longer reign and heir to succeed her.

  6. Mary is to some extent at least, a victim of the victors writing history. Had the counter reformation stuck in England, she would be considered a great Queen.

    What is striking about her coronation is that she broke tradition in having WInchester, rather than Canterbury, crown her. How she must have loathed Cranmer!

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