Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Mary Tudor

Today is Mary Tudor’s birthday.

I know, everyone’s really excited that Bloody Mary would be 498 years old today.

Last semester for a history report I read Mary Tudor: Courageous Queen or Bloody Mary?, a Wicked Histories book which gave me some more insight on the infamous queen. For one thing, she was the daughter of the first queen, Catharine of Aragon. She was the only of her mother’s children to survive, and when King Henry VIII split with the Catholic church to divorce Catharine she was declared illegitimate.  She spent her childhood being shunted around and falling in and out of her father’s favor while her country fell further away from Catholicism—one of the few things which gave her any pleasure. She married a good Catholic, a Spanish king, but rather than bringing a happy alliance, she gained the contempt of her subjects and a few miscarriages. She lost Calais to the French, her people starved, three hundred or so Protestants were executed at her hand, and though her reign lasted only four years she is one of the most loathed characters in history.

I feel bad for her.

The tragic thing about Mary is that the entire time during her rule, she was trying so hard to do the right thing.

She believed that she had to bring Catholicism back to England, and restore her people back to the true faith. Unfortunately for her, King Henry VIII had taken all the land from the Catholics and given it to Protestants, and when it came down to it the Protestants didn’t really want to give it back.

Queen Elizabeth I, Mary’s half-sister who took the throne after her, executed way more people than Mary did, but that didn’t matter. People were being terrorized for their faith; they were scared. Mary’s popularity dived.

She wanted to be a good wife, so send Englishmen to die on behalf of her husband, Phillip II, because he asked her to. She didn’t just lose Calais, but she lost her people as well.

Mary’s life wasn’t really easy, nor did she ever have an idyllic “happily ever after.” Even her legacy was cut short, as Elizabeth ruled the country as a Protestant monarch. Sort of a bummer for Mary, although for the most part Elizabeth was a well-liked monarch. (I mean, they kept her around for forty-five years.)

Mary’s tragedy is that her best efforts to do the right thing essentially ruined her. That is probably one of the worst feelings in the world.

So… Happy 498th, Mary.

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