Lady Mary Tudor’s desperate cries to her Father on paper

Mary Tudor played by Sarah Bolger
Mary Tudor played by Sarah Bolger

On June the Tenth 1536 Mary wrote to her father and Cromwell, of the former she sent Cromwell a copy begging him to restore her to favor: “Most humbly I prostrate before your noble feet, your most obedient subject and humble child, that hath not only repented her offences hitherto, but also decreed simply from henceforth and wholly next to Almighty God, to put my state, continuance and living in your gracious mercy.”

In her letter to Cromwell she said she would submit to her father’s demands as long as they didn’t offend her conscience:
“I trust you shall perceive that I have followed your advice and counsel, and will do in all things concerning my duty to the King’s Grace (God and my conscience not offended) for I take you for one of my chief friends, next unto his Grace and the Queen.
Wherefore, I desire you, for the passion which Christ suffered for you and me, and as my very trust is in you, that you will find such means through your great wisdom, that I be not moved to agree to any further entry in this matter than I have done. But if I be put to any more (I am plain with you as with my great friends) my said conscience will in no way suffer me to consent thereunto.”

Cromwell’s response was to submit to all of her father’s demands but Mary wrote back saying that she wouldn’t.
“Good Master Secretary,
I do thank you with all my heart, for the great pain and suit you have had for me for which I think myself very much bound to you. And whereas I do perceive by your letters, that you do mislike mine exception in my letter to the King’s Grace, I asure you, I did not mean as you do take it. For I do not mistrust that the King’s goddness will move me to do anything, which should offend God and my conscience. But that which I did write was only by the reason of continual custom. For I have always used, both in writing and speaking, to except God in all things.
Nevertheless, because you have exhorted me to write to His Grace again, and I cannot devise what I should write more but your own last copy, without adding or diminishing; therefore I do send you by this bearer, my servant, the same, word for word; and it is unsealed, because I cannot endure to write another copy. For the pain in my head and teeth hath troubled me so sore these two or three days and doth yet so continue, that I have very small rest, day or night.
Your assured bounded loving friend during my life,
Mary”

With the same determination, she wrote to her father:
“I have written twice unto Your Highness, trusting to have, by some gracious letters, token or message, perceived sensibly the mercy, clemency and pity of Your Grace, and upon the operation of the same, at the last also to have attained the fruition of your most noble presence, which above all worldly things I desire: yet I have not obtained my said fervent and hearty desire, nor any piece of the same to my great and intolerable discomfort I am enforced, by the compulsion of nature, effstones to cry unto your merciful ears, and most humbly prostrate before your feet for some little spark of my humble suit and desire praying to God to preserve Your Highness, with the Queen, and shortly to send you issue which shall be gladder tidings to me that I can express in writing,
Your Most Humble and Obedient Daughter and Handmaid,
Mary.”

Mary’s boldness infuriated Henry further who was getting frustrated with her stubbornness and he sent a delegation of councilors to confront Mary. At the head of this council was the Duke of Norfolk who told Mary that if she was his daughter he would punish her behavior by bashing her head against the wall until it was soft like a boiled apple. Later Chapuys visited her and told her that her cousin the Emperor was also urging her to submit, if she did not then her father would surely killed her. Mary never believed her father would go to such lengths but recent developments had made her see otherwise. Henry was not the same man Mary knew as a child. Any man or woman who defied Henry’s position as Head of the Church would be put to death, Mary was no different.

On June 22, Mary finally signed. The document entitled “The Confession of Me the Lady Mary” stipulated that she was a bastard born of incest and her parents’ marriage had been invalid.

“I do freely, frankly recognize and acknowledge that the marriage heretofore had between His Majesty and my mother (the late Princess Dowager) was by God’s law and Man’s law, incestuous and unlawful.
(Signed) MARY”

Mary was quickly back in favor and reestablished in her father’s court. Her submission had saved her life but cost her dearly. The imperial ambassador wrote that “this affair of the Princess has tormented her more than you think” and indeed it had, but it had also made her stronger. Chapuys would later write that Mary had become more pragmatic and conciliatory than her mother and her good understanding of people and politics had left her with many friends and allies at court.

Sources: 

  • Inside the Tudor Court by Lauren Mackay
  • Mary Tudor: England’s First Queen by Anna Whitelock
  • The Myth of Bloody Mary by Linda Porter

Feliz Dia de Reyes (Happy Kings’ Day!)

Adoration of the Magi by 'El Greco' c. 1568.
Adoration of the Magi by ‘El Greco’ c. 1568.

(Or as you say in English, Happy Day of the Epiphany or Kings’ Day!)

In this Dia de Reyes, I’m at home, watching my favorite movie while taking a bite from my rosca de reyes. Crossing my fingers that me and my friend get stuffed soon so we don’t have to find the little white doll that means we will have to throw a party next time around, we read on the latest articles exploring the myths and traditions that gave birth to this famous celebration. In my country it is certainly famous, you don’t have to be Christian, Catholic or a religious person of any kind to celebrate this. This is a tradition celebrated regardless of your core beliefs. It is another opportunity to get together and as me and my friends put it “tragar!” (eat more!) and spend more time with our loved ones.

But as a history buff I am always curious on finding out about the traditions we celebrate. In the Tudor times, the feast of the epiphany marked the last day of the twelve days of Christmas. (Yes the Tudors celebrated Christmas big style! Not just the twenty fifth, but all the way to the sixth). The Feast of the Epiphany or Kings’ Day commemorated the three wise men who according to the gospel of Mark came to see the savior, Jesus Christ and brought him three gifts: Myrrh, Gold, and Frankincense.

These gifts are very significant because

as some biblical scholars have pointed out, were representations of Kingship and deity. The other school of thought was that the three gifts were meant to be seen as medicinal rather than material goods. Regardless of the significance, they’ve gone down into popular lore. Everyone today knows about the three wise men and their gifts. Their story has been parodied and represented countless times in plays, biblical dramas and comedy shows such as Family Guy or my personal favorite ‘The Simpsons’.

But what was the root of this story. Did it have another meaning? Some scholars believe that if Jesus did exist than he would not have been born on December 25 or anywhere near these days. Why? Because it is too much of a coincidence that Christmas date and furthermore, the entire celebration of the twelve days of Christmas with the pagan holiday of Saturnalia.

Saturnalia was a pagan Roman holiday that celebrated Saturn (Jupiter’s father and once King of the Gods) birth. Almost every pagan religion celebrated in like manner, by feasting on for various day. Winter Solstice after all meant the end of the cycle and the birth of another. May Day which was also celebrated in the middle ages had a lot to do with this holiday. It symbolized a fertility ritual in which the God and the Goddess had sexual intercourse and on the start of Winter Solstice, she gave birth to the Sun God.

When the Roman celebrations began, it was customary to celebrate with sweet cake. As the Christians officially recognized the birth of Jesus in December 25th, effectively obliterating centuries of pagan traditions and mixing old traditions with the new faith; the celebration of the twelve days of Christmas began.
With time the celebration evolved to the point that it was introduced in many countries of America (including my own) in the sixteenth century. With the introduction of Christianity, as before, pagan traditions were mixed with those of the new faith. While in my country we call this delicious pastry ‘Rosca de Reyes’ in other parts of the world such as Switzerland, the cake is known as gâteau de Rois  and in other places such as Greece it is much smaller.

Rosca de Reyes or Kings' Cake is called differently in many places that still celebrate this tradition. As with many Christian traditions today, it has its roots in pagan traditions. The feast of Saturnalia was celebrated with sweet bread, honey and dates. Naturally when Christianity became the official religion of the Roman Empire, the evolution of this cake turned into what we know now today as Kings' Cake or Rosca de Reyes. Where ever you are, enjoy your cake! :)
Rosca de Reyes or Kings’ Cake is called differently in many places that still celebrate this tradition. As with many Christian traditions today, it has its roots in pagan traditions. The feast of Saturnalia was celebrated with sweet bread, honey and dates. Naturally when Christianity became the official religion of the Roman Empire, the evolution of this cake turned into what we know now today as Kings’ Cake or Rosca de Reyes. Where ever you are, enjoy your cake! 🙂

So wherever you are, enjoy your cake and have a happy holiday time!

Sources: