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The Tudor Monarchs


More about Mary I at this site:

Mary I Biography Part 1
Princess Mary

Mary I Gallery

Mary I's Will

The Chronicle of Queen Jane and Two Years of Queen Mary


Last update: 6 February 2012

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Queen Mary I by Hans Eworth
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Born: 18 February 1516
Greenwich Palace

Proclaimed Queen: 19 July 1553
St. Paul's Cathedral, London

Coronation: 1 October 1553
Westminster Abbey

Died: 17 November 1558
St. James's Palace

Buried: 14 December 1558
Westminster Abbey

Of the conspirators who tried to place Jane on the throne, only a few were initially executed, including the Duke of Northumberland, John Dudley. Jane and Guildford were found guilty of treason, but Mary refused to execute them. Guildford's brothers, the other three sons of John Dudley, were kept in the Tower, but not killed. The Duke of Suffolk (Henry Grey), Jane Grey's father, was released.

As Mary approached the outskirts of London, she was met by her sister Elizabeth, who offered her congratulations and rode in a place of honor with the new Queen. When Mary made her formal entry into London on the 30th of September, Elizabeth and the surviving wife of Henry VIII, Anne of Cleves, rode in a chariot behind the Queen's in the great procession.

On the morning of October 1, Mary made the short walk from Westminster Palace to Westminster Abbey across the street for her coronation. It was nearly 5 o'clock before the ceremony was finished and the court made it's way back to Westminster Palace for the banquet in the Great Hall.


Parliament met four days after the coronation and in the second session (three days later), Mary began to introduce the legislations that she had long hoped for. First, there was an act proclaiming Henry VIII's marriage to Catherine of Aragon valid and legal. This act passed with little resistance. However, the other main act was to repeal all the religious laws passed in the reign of Edward VI, and this didn't pass as easily.

The next step for Mary was to begin searching for a suitable husband. One of the possibilities was Edward Courtenay, who had spent most of his life in the Tower. He was younger than Mary, but he was one of the last descendants of the House of York and one of the most obvious choices for a husband. One of Courtrenay's greatest attractions in the view of the people was that he was an Englishman, not a foreign Prince.

However, the Emperor Charles V (Mary's cousin), who had been an instrumental advisor to the English Queen, had other idea and was already making plans to suggest his son, Prince Philip of Spain as Mary's best choice of husband. The ambassador formally suggested this to the Queen a short time after her coronation. After much thought and prayer on the matter, Mary accepted the proposal. Negotiations of the contract began, although the public sentiment was not in favor of the match.


During this time, plots were being hatched to depose Mary and place Elizabeth and Edward Courtenay on the throne. It turns out that there were a total of four plots at hand. One involved Sir Thomas Wyatt the Younger (son of the poet Thomas Wyatt, a courtly suitor of Anne Boleyn) and the Duke of Suffolk, Henry Grey (already released from the Tower after his involvement with the Northumberland plot) who would lead rebel armies from various parts of England. Wyatt's army reached London, but the rebellion was put down at the city gates. He and his fellow conspirators were arrested.

Mary realized the mistake she had made before in her lenient treatment of Northumberland's rebels, and vowed not to make it again. In all, roughly 100 rebels were hung, although the Queen pardoned 400 others. Lady Jane Grey and her husband would also have to be put to death now, as they may be the possible focal point for another rebellion. Edward Courtenay was put back in the Tower where he had spent much of his life. Elizabeth had been summoned to London for questioning and was eventually imprisoned in the Tower as well, although she was later sent to Woodstock.


In March, 1554, Mary acted in a proxy betrothal, with the Count of Egmont standing in for Prince Philip. He eventually set sail for England on July 12, arriving at the Isle of Wight a week later. On July 23, he arrived at Winchester where he would meet his bride for the first time. It is not known exactly what language they used to converse (quite possibly Latin), but Philip and Mary talked into the evening and by all appearances seemed to be getting along well.

The marriage took place two days after their meeting, on July 25th, the day of St. James- patron saint of Spain. After the wedding, they were proclaimed:

Philip and Mary, by the grace of God, King and Queen of England, France and Naples, Jerusalem and Ireland, defenders of the faith, Princes of Spain and Sicily, Archdukes of Austria, Dukes of Milan, Burgundy and Brabant, Counts of Habsburg, Flanders and the Tyrol.

After dancing and dinner, the couple was put to bed in accordance with the ancient blessing ritual.


In September, one of the Queen's physicians announced that she was pregnant. In fact, she did seem to show many of the signs including nausea and an enlarging belly.

Meanwhile, Mary began to act on her intention to restoring the Catholic faith in England. The nobles were allowed to keep the lands gained in the dissolution of the monasteries by Henry VIII, but the Queen encouraged returning former Church property (mainly furniture and plate) and set an example by doing so herself. The medieval heresy laws were restored by Parliament, which meant that heretics could be killed and their property and holdings given over to the Crown.

In January 1555, the arrests began. John Hooper (former Bishop of Gloucester), John Rogers and John Cardmaster were arrested after they refused to cease their heretical activities and put on trial. All three were condemned to be burnt at the stake, with Rogers the first to die.

Instead of deterring the Protestants, the burnings mainly served to increase their hatred of the Queen. In all about 275 people died and were later included in John Foxe's Acts and Monuments of the English Martyrs. It was because of these burnings that the Queen gained the epitaph "Bloody Mary".


As Mary's pregnancy progressed, Philip began to make plans for the succession if the Queen were to die in childbirth, a relatively common occurrence in Tudor England. Mary would most likely want to exclude Elizabeth from the throne, which meant that the crown would then fall to Mary Queen of Scots, who was about to marry the son of the King of France and was unacceptable for Spanish interests. Philip suggested marrying Elizabeth to a Catholic (and ally of the Holy Roman Emperor): Philibert, Duke of Savoy.

Mary had refused to allow Philip and Elizabeth to meet, but in April when the Court moved to Hampton Court Palace Elizabeth was brought there as well (she had still been at Woodstock until then). She had few visitors and had not been granted an audience with the Queen, since she was still in disgrace. However, one evening the Queen sent over a rich dress to Elizabeth with the message that she was to wear it that evening. She met the King and was later brought into see the Queen. Foxe records that Philip was hiding behind a tapestry during the interview. At the end, Mary agreed to welcome Elizabeth at court.

Mary had retreated into privacy awaiting the birth of her child, as was customary. She waited for the labor pains to begin, but her due date came and went without the birth of a child. The doctors predicted the child would come on June 6, then June 24, and then finally July 3... but none came to pass.

It is thought that Mary did in fact suffer what is called a 'phantom pregnancy' arising from her great wish to have a child. She may have actually been pregnant at some point, but miscarried, or the child died and was not properly expelled. Whatever the case, it became quite clear that the Queen was not going to give birth, since it was now nearly a year after she was first reported to be with child.

After a while, Mary began to receive again and the signs of her "pregnancy" disappeared. The subject was not brought up in the Queen's presence.


In August, Philip left England to conduct business for Spain in the Netherlands. The Queen was overcome with sadness at his departure and wrote to him almost daily.

Meanwhile, the trials and burnings continued. Hugh Latimer (former Bishop of Worcester) and Nicholas Ridley (former Bishop of London) were condemned and burnt at the stake in October 1555. In March 1556, Thomas Cranmer (former Archbishop of Canterbury) followed, thrusting his right hand into the fire first because it had signed his earlier recantation of the Protestant faith.

Philip eventually returned to England in March 1557. Shortly afterwards, England declared war on France following a raid on Scarborough, England by Thomas Stafford, who had been in exile in France. The French King Henry II denied initiating the raid.

Philip led forces into France and took the town of St. Quentin and surrounding lands. But France struck back and took the city of Calais, the last foothold of England on the Continent. It had been in English hands since 1347.


With this loss came some good news, however. The Queen was sure she was pregnant again, now at the age of 42. She entered seclusion in late February 1558, thinking her confinement for labor would come in March. Those around her seemed to have doubts about the validity of this pregnancy after the earlier incident.

On March 30, Mary drafted her will and it is worded in such a way to portray that the Queen thought she was indeed with child. But, by April, no child had come and the Queen knew that she was once again mistaken. After the symptoms began to fade, Mary was left quite ill. From then on, she became progressively worse. In late October, she added the codicil to her will but did not expressly name Elizabeth as her heir in it.

The Queen drifted in and out of consciousness, but at one point was lucid enough to agree to pass the crown to her half sister, adding that she hoped Elizabeth would maintain the Catholic faith in England. It was around this time that Philip learned of the death of both his father and his aunt.

On November 16, 1558, Mary's will was read aloud keeping with custom. She was lucid during the Mass held in her chamber the next morning. The priest performed the Last Rites, and the Queen died.


Elizabeth gave her sister a royal funeral and she was interred in Westminster Abbey in the chapel built by her grandfather, Henry VII. During the reign of Elizabeth, Mary's tomb became buried under piles of stones from broken altars. When Elizabeth herself died, James I built a magnificent tomb for both sisters (although only Elizabeth's figure is on it). A plaque on the marble reads -- translated from the Latin --

Partners both in throne and grave, here rest we two sisters, Elizabeth and Mary, in the hope of one resurrection.