Saturday, November 17, 2012

Queen Mary I of England is Born - 1516

Queen Mary I of England was born on November 17, 1516, at the Palace of Placentia in London.

She was the only living child of Henry VIII and Catherine of Aragon. During Mary's childhood, as the daughter of the King of England her value as a potential marriage partner for the ruler of another realm was high. Mary was promised in marriage to the dauphin, son of Francis I of France, and later to the emperor Charles V. A 1527 treaty promised Mary to Francis I or to his second son. Soon after that treaty, however, Henry VIII began the long process of divorcing Mary's mother, his first wife, Catherine of Aragon. With the divorce of her parents, Mary was declared illegitimate, and her half-sister Elizabeth, the daughter of Anne Boleyn, successor to Catherine of Aragon as wife of Henry VIII, was declared Princess instead. Mary refused to acknowledge this change in her status. Mary was then kept from seeing her mother from 1531 on; Catherine of Aragon died in 1536. After Anne Boleyn was disgraced, charged with being unfaithful and executed, Mary finally capitulated and signed a paper accepting that her parents' marriage was unlawful. Henry VIII then restored her to the succession. Mary, like her mother, was a devout and committed Roman Catholic. She refused to accept Henry's religious innovations. During the reign of Mary's half-brother, Edward VI, when even more Protestant reforms were implemented, Mary held fast to her Roman Catholic faith. On Edward's death, Protestant supporters briefly put Lady Jane Grey on the throne. But Mary's supporters removed Jane, and Mary became Queen of England, the first woman to rule England with full coronation as Queen in her own right. Queen Mary's attempts to restore Catholicism and Mary's marriage to Philip of Spain (July 25, 1554) were unpopular. Mary supported harsher and harsher persecution of the Protestants, eventually burning more than 300 Protestants at the stake as heretics over a four year period, earning her the nickname "Bloody Mary." Two or three times, Queen Mary believed herself pregnant, but each pregnancy proved to be false. Philip's absences from England grew more frequent and longer. Mary's always-frail health finally failed her and she died in 1558. Some attribute her death to influenza, some to stomach cancer which was misinterpreted by Mary as pregnancy. She was buried at Westminster Abbey. Mary named no heir to succeed her, so her half-sister Elizabeth became Queen, named by Henry VIII as next in succession after Mary. 

Michael Thomas Barry’s new book – Great Britain’s Royal Tombs: A Guide to the Lives & Burial Places of British Monarchs can be purchased from Amazon and Barnes & Noble through the following links –  

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