I’d like to start this blog post by saying – Mary I was a badass. She was the first official Queen Regnant of England and is often overlooked by modern historians. Well, screw the history books because your friendly neighbourhood nerd is here to tell you a bit about this Tudor kween*.
Background: Mary I was child of history’s most famous King and general #lad Henry VIII, and the Spanish princess Katherine of Aragon. She reigned between 1554-1558, is the successor of her brother, King Edward VI and predecessor of Queen Bess I. Ready to get stuck in on some FUN FACTS?! Of course you are.
1. She wasn’t that bloody. No, really.
As with many women in history, Mary I’s reputation has been dictated by men insert eyeroll here. Mary is probably best known by her historical nickname, ‘Bloody Mary’, which suggests she was a tyrannical blood thirsty dictator. Big fat nope. Some dude called John Fox first coined the name in his ‘Book of Martyrs’, and he was biased.
Let me tell you something kids – as much as the tv wants to tell you differently, England was probably mostly Catholic when Mary I ascended to the throne, but a bunch of Protestants kicked up such a fuss (including John Fox) that their opinions of the Queen were well documented and form the basis of many contemporary historical teachings. To that I say: eff ‘em.
Some sources say around 330 people were killed under Mary’s reign, but compared to her father good ol’ Hezza, who allegedly had tens of thousands of people executed, it really isn’t that much.
2. The girl was a king
Mad, innit? That a woman could be a king? Because Mary I was the first proper Queen Regnant of England, the rules were a bit shady. Many people celebrate Mary’s sister Elizabeth I for never marrying and instead dedicating her life to her country, but this is exactly what Mary did too. In fact, she referred to herself as a prince during one particular speech and addressed her subjects: “I am your Queen, to whom at my coronation, when I was wedded to the realm and laws of the same.” Not bad kiddo, not bad.
Even when she married Prince Phillip of Spain, she made sure that if and when she died, Phil was to have no claim over any of England and his job was basically to sit there and look pretty. He wasn’t even that arsed about learning English. I might be getting a few ideas for my marriage, actually…
3. The Queen almost wasn’t a Queen
Once again, Mary’s life and succession were almost ruined by a MAN. Geez. Her younger brother, Edward VI actually appointed his cousin, Lady Jane Grey as his successor before he died (and for some f*ckin reason called it ‘The Device’??), and she actually kind of became Queen for nine days, but not really. Our girl Mary had to fight, for her right, to paaaaarty (and also become Queen).
She did it though, and had tonnes of support from not only the royal court and Henry VIII’s Will, but also the commoners. Even Lady Jane Grey, when told she was going to be the Queen, declared that it wasn’t her place and that ‘Lady Mary’ was the rightful heir.
I told you she was badass
From being declared illegitimate by her father, to having to fight for her crown, Mary I faced so many hardships in her life but ultimately came out on top. In all honesty, the girl was fierce. She paved the way for her female successors, from her sister Elizabeth to later Queens such as Elizabeth II and Queen Victoria.
If you’ve liked learning about Mary I, then why not see what happened with her stepmother, Anne Boleyn?
What do you think of Mary I? Do you think she gets the recognition she deserves? Leave a comment below!
*I am not an expert, everything I’ve learned is from my history degree and dissertation on Mary I.