With 3,000 men flocking to his standard, Wyatt had taken Kent and more uprisings arose in Devon, the Midlands, and Wales but these failed to materialized. Mary nonetheless sprung into action and sent the Duke of Norfolk to confront the rebels in Rochester on January 29. The Duke wrote that it would be unlikely they would be defeated “they have fortified the bridge at Rochester, so it will be hard passing them.” He was already preparing to disperse his men when Mary decided that if she wanted to turn the tide in her favor, she had to take matters into her own hands.
A great precursor to her sister’s more famous and best known speech at Tilbury in 1588 on the onset of the Armada; Mary summoned her councilors to ride with her to Guildhall at London on February the 1st of 1554 where she gave the speech of her life: “I was wedded to the realm. The spousal ring whereof I wear on my finger, and it ever has, and never shall be left off.” The city then told her their worries and Mary responded in regards of her intended marriage that she would not wed Philip if her people and Parliament thought it was not best for her:
“If the subjects may be loved as a mother doth her child, then assure yourselves that I, your sovereign lady and your queen, do earnestly love and favor you.” and “On the word of a Queen I promise you that if it shall not probably appear to all the nobility and commons in the high court of parliament that this marriage shall be for the benefit and commodity of the whole realm, then I will abstain from marriage while I live.”
This shifted public opinion in her favor. When Wyatt’s forces arrived in London they met with little opposition but this soon changed and he rebellion soon faded away with those captured executed right away. As a consequence of this rebellion were the executions of Jane Grey and her husband Guildford Dudley, among others. Jane Grey wrote to her sister saying she was committed to martyrdom and that Katherine should not accept the Catholic faith or else “God will deny you and shorten your days.”
Mary had been known for her mercy. She had even used experienced Protestant soldiers to stand guard at St. James Palace but the Wyatt Rebellion had changed everything.
- Tudor: Passion Manipulation Murder by Leanda de Lisle
- On This Day in Tudor History by Claire Ridgway
- Mary Tudor by David Loades
- The Myth of Bloody Mary by Linda Porter