Saturday, August 15, 2015

Marys All Over the Place. Today's Mary: Mary I

Mary as a snub-nosed girl with red hair

Mary I, Queen of England, was born on to a vaguely disappointed Henry VIII and Catherine of Aragon. 
(The vague disappointment was down to that troublesome male heir problem that plagued Henry throughout the entirety of his adult life.)
Mary was born Princess Mary on 18 February, 1516 .
For the first eleven or twelve years of her life, she was the darling of the Tudor court.
Her mother, Catherine of Aragon, raised her daughter to be polite, obedient, charitable to those less fortunate, to be pleasant in all company, and to know her place (royal and above everyone.)

That was the nurture part of the child Mary.

The nature part of the child Mary was entirely different. 
When her father fell in love with Anne Boleyn and jettisoned both Catherine and Mary in favor of his new flame, Mary's nature presented.
It was a real shocker to her father: a streak of mulish stubborn immovability and all the warrior qualities of both her mother and her maternal grandmother.
Catherine of Aragon and her mother, Queen Isabella of Spain had no problem getting dressed in armor and climbing aboard a war horse to lead their country's troops into battle - solo. 
The Princess Mary came of that same stock.
When asked, requested, ordered, forced to behave with civility towards Anne Boleyn, Mary's reaction was something like this:

 And who could blame her?
Her mother the Queen, beloved by everyone in the country, was shoved aside, moved to a moldy, cold castle in a far-flung corner of nowhere, then forced to hand over all her jewelry for her ex-husband's trophy wife.
Mary was declared a bastard.
Being called a bastard in those days didn't mean 'you creep piece of shit' like it does today. 
When Princess Mary was declared a bastard, it made her no longer a Princess, it made her mother a dirty slut, and it threw bucketloads of shame over both of them. 

Mary faced Anne Boleyn, by then married to Henry and Queen in name, and told Anne that there was no queen Mary was aware of in England excepting her loving mother, Catherine. 
This was the sixteenth century version of 'f.o.a.d.' 
Henry grew less and less tolerant of his headstrong daughter's refusal to acknowledge the new missus, and when the new missus had a daughter, Mary dug in her heels even more.
Princess Mary would not budge; her father was asking her to declare herself a bastard in order that Anne Boleyn's new baby, Elizabeth, might take over as heir to the throne.

Finally, after years of stressful infighting in the Tudor family, and Catherine of Aragon died of cancer, Mary caved. 
She signed the paper declaring herself a bastard.
Next, she had to pack up her duds and go live in the same house as her new baby half-sister - and, get this, act as a servant (of sorts) to the child.
Can you say sibling rivalry?

The years went by; Henry VIII 's next wife gave birth to a baby boy; within two weeks she died of infection.
Princess Mary had three more stepmothers after that - and when her father died, passing the throne on to the little boy born to his third wife, Mary, Elizabeth, and Edward VI, the new boy-king, were all orphans.

Edward ruled five years before dying of tuberculosis.

Image result for Edward VI babyHenry VIII's long-awaited son, Prince Edward
He named his successor - and it was not Princess Mary, it was a cousin, Lady Jane Grey, who shared the same religion as Edward.
Princess Mary was a staunch Catholic.
Edward VI, not so much.
Princess Mary called bullshit on Edward's named successor.
"Not so fast, bitches. That throne? It's MINE." - Mary I 
She formally claimed the throne as her own, then gathered an army of supporters in case anyone thought she was kidding, and rode into London.
"Here I am, the rightful queen." 
She was fearless.
She was a warrior.
She was Catholic.

Her reign of England is remembered mostly for the religious clash between Catholic Mary I, and Protestant-leaning England.
Yes, she is the 'Bloody Mary' you've heard of, although I call bullshit on that - as she was no better nor worse about torture and long, drawn-out painful deaths than any of her relatives who also sat on England's throne.

Mary I married Philip of Spain, a younger man who made it pointedly clear he was doing his duty by sleeping with Mary, and that he preferred her sister, Elizabeth.
Sibling rivalry, anyone?
Mary I had Elizabeth jailed in the Tower of London, also held her under house arrest, due to Elizabeth's supporters attempting to overthrow the Catholic queen.
There was never enough evidence for Mary to have Elizabeth executed, although Mary made it very clear she wished there were - Mary's conscience would not allow her to take that step without solid proof.
Lucky for Elizabeth that her sister had scruples about things like that. 

Mary I never had any children.
Although she had little love for her younger, half-sibling, those scruples of hers wouldn't allow her to pass the throne to anyone but one of Henry VIII's children.
She named the next ruler: her sister, Elizabeth.
Elizabeth I ruled a Protestant England for over forty years.Image result for Elizabeth I reign

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