On This Day: Birth of England’s Mary I in 1516

  February 18, 2016 at 8:18 am by

500 years ago today, the Princess who became England’s first female monarch, Mary I, was born.

As the only surviving child of Henry VIII of England and Catherine of Aragon, she was cherished by her parents. When Mary was 9, her father gave her a separate court, as well as many powers and privileges, normally only given to Prince of Wales. Her childhood was also marked by matrimonial plans – Henry was negotiating a possible match with French and Spanish Royal Houses.

Princess Mary Tudor, ca. 1530

However when Catherine failed to produce a male heir, necessary for the newly-founded Tudor dynasty, Henry started divorce process and later married Anne Boleyn. Since her parents’ marriage was annuled, Mary was proclaimed illegitimate. She refused to acknowledge the divorce and had to face many difficulties. Mary’s life improved after Henry married Jane Seymour, who she was close to. Mary became godmother to her half-brother Edward but when Edward became King, the relationships between the two cooled. Mary was a loyal Catholic, Edward was a no-less loyal Protestant. In case he would die childless, Edward didn’t want either Mary, or Elizabeth succeed him (in contrast with Henry VIII’s will). Instead, he named Jane Grey as his heir.

Queen Mary I, ca. 1553

After his death it wasn’t difficult for Mary, who had support among people and the army, to take the throne. Jane was executed and Mary became the first crowed Queen of England and her first Act of Parliament was validating her parents’ marriage. Her reign, however, was not a happy or successful one. Mary’s main goal was to bring the Catholic religion back. She prosecuted and executed numerous Protestants, for which she was nicknamed ‘Bloody Mary’.

Her personal life was no happier – she married her cousin, Philip II of Spain, which made her even more unpopular, since Mary usually supported him in his military campaigns, against the will of the people. Most notably, as a result of his campaign against France (which she supported), the country lost Calais, England’s last remaining continental possession.

Mary didn’t have children and her half-sister Elizabeth succeeded her in November 1558 to begin her glorious reign.

From the August 2007 TRF Newsletter.

Filed under Historical Royals, The United Kingdom
Tagged , , , .

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.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

Royal News to your Email

Royal News Delivered to your Email!

You can get the latest Royal News right in your inbox. Just sign up below and we will send you an email when the latest royal news is posted.

Close [X]