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Mary Tudor

1516-1558. Queen of England. Mary was the third and only surviving child of Henry VIII* and Catherine of Aragon. Early in life she was a pawn on the chessboard of international politics. At the age of two she was betrothed to the dauphin of France and at six promised to Emperor Charles V. In 1526 she was sent as Princess of Wales to Ludlow. The divorce of her parents greatly troubled her, and after 1531 she never saw her mother again. In 1533 she was declared a bastard and cut out of the succession to the throne. Between 1534 and 1536 her father tried to break her “Spanish pride” by petty persecution; after her mother's death in 1536 she even acknowledged under duress that the marriage of her parents was “by God's and man's law incestuous and unlawful.” But during 1536-47 her life was fairly easy and carefree. For six years after the death of her father her problems were chiefly religious. She liked Edward VI,* but disliked his Protestantism. She conceded nothing and remained faithful to Catholicism.

On 19 July 1553 she was proclaimed queen in London, and on 3 August entered her capital in triumph. Parliament annulled the divorce of Catherine of Aragon, established Mary's legitimacy, and restored the church to what it was at the end of Henry VIII's reign. But within weeks Mary's popularity had gone. The most sincerely religious and moral of the Tudors was opposed by most of her people. This was because she was a Spaniard first, a Tudor second, and an English Tudor last. She insisted on restoring papal Catholicism and seeking a husband in Spain (Philip II in July 1554). Reginald Pole arrived as papal legate and archbishop of Canterbury, and in 1555 the statute de heretico comburendo was re-enacted, giving power to ecclesiastical courts to deal with “heresy.” In 1555-56 T. Cranmer,* J. Hooper,* H. Latimer,* and N. Ridley,* with others, were burned as heretics. Mary's actions ensured that England would be a Protestant country after her death.

See J.M. Stone, History of Mary I, Queen of England (1901), and H.F.M. Prescott, Mary Tudor (1952).