A Princess is Born!

A Very Happy Birthday to Queen Mary I of England who was born on this day in 1516!
Mary I Birthday

Mary Tudor was the eldest surviving daughter of Henry VIII and the only offspring of Katherine of Aragon. She was born at the palace of Greenwich, Placentia at four o’ clock on February 18. Although Henry expected a male heir, he told the Venetian Ambassador, Sebastian Guistiniani, after he congratulated him for his newborn daughter that he and the Queen were both young and “If it was a daughter this time, by the grace of God, sons will follow.” Given Katherine’s age that was highly unlikely but he remained positive, his daughter was the first healthy child they had in six years since the birth of their short-lived son in 1511.

Mary was baptized two days later at the Church of the Observant Friars.

Her godparents were Cardinal Thomas Wolsey, her father’s chief minister, her great-aunt Katherine of York Countess of Devon (Elizabeth of York’s younger sister), the Duchess of Norfolk and Margaret Pole who had the honor of carrying the baby at the end of the ceremony. She was named after paternal aunt Mary Brandon nee Tudor, Duchess of Suffolk and Queen Dowager of France. Afterwards, she was plunged three times into the basin containing the holy water, anointed with holy oil, dried, and swaddled in her baptismal robe. As was customary, Te Deums were sung and she was taken to the high altar where once the rites were concluded, a proclamation was made:

“God send and give good life and long unto the right high, right noble and excellent Princess Mary, Princess of England and daughter of our most dread sovereign lord the King’s Highness.”

Mary would become Queen after  the death of her brother in 1553, and following her victory over the usurpation of her throne from the Grey/Dudley camp, she would be crowned three months later. Her reign would be short and to this day, controversial.
  • Mary Tudor: England’s First Queen by Anna Whitelock 
  • Mary Tudor by David Loades
  • The Myth of Bloody Mary by Linda Porter.

The Birth of Sir Thomas More. Lawyer, Scholar, Author, and Martyr.

Thomas More as a young man.
Thomas More as a young man.

7 February 1478: Thomas More was born on this day to Sir John More who was a successful judge and lawyer, and Agnes Grainger. Thomas followed in his father’s footsteps and also became a successful novelist and renowned intellectual.

The portrait below is a recreation of the original by Hans Holbein which is lost to us now. This shows Thomas and his family, including his adoptive daughter, Margaret Giggs who, together with his eldest, he showed special favor. More was described as a caring father and deeply religious. He schooled all of his daughters in subjects that were reserved for boys, and never touched them with so much -according to one contemporary- “as a feather”.

Thomas More and his Family

He became Lord Chancellor in 1529 but resigned two years later. He was then arrested in 1534 for refusing to recognize the King as Head of the Church and was executed in July of the following year.

Among his many works are The Twelve Properties of a Lover, a biography of Richard III, and his most famous work, Utopia.

In fiction as in history More continues to be a polarizing figure but he doesn’t need to be. Is it possible that we see him and his contemporaries as they truly were? -As men of their times, subject to their era’s prejudices instead of being exempt from them? And more importantly, recognize (in More’s case) his attributes as well?


  • Sir Thomas More by Peter Ackroyd
  • On This Day in Tudor History and Anne Boleyn Files
  • Tudor by Leanda de Lisle