The Wedding of the Century Part I: Mary I and Philip of Spain

Mary I and Philip of Spain

Mary married Philip on the 25th of July 1554 at Winchester Cathedral. The marriage was officiated by Stephen Gardiner. There is no source that speaks about the color of Mary’s dress, but thanks to the inventory, we know that her dress was one of rich purple (purple as everyone will remember, was a color reserved for royalty) with her husband-to-be wearing a robe “ornamented with pearls and precious stones” wearing the collar of the Garter, his breeches and doublet white “and over all a mantle of rich cloth of gold”. Mary’s train was the last one to arrive at half past ten “with all her council and nobility before her”. Her train was carried by the Marchioness of Winchester who was assisted by Sir John Gage, her lord chamberlain. The sword of state was carried by the Earl of Derby and she was attended by a “great company of ladies and gentlewomen very richly appareled.” Philip for his part was attended by the great noblemen of his Spanish court (the Grandees) and other courtiers who “were richly attired that neither His Majesty’s nor his Highness’ court ever saw the like.”

0Mary I dress

Even the heavy rain could not offset the glorious spectacle that was witnessed by English and Spanish courtier, and other guests of honor alike. While pop culture has been unkind to Queen Mary (I) Tudor, it is important to remember that Mary was the first Queen Regnant and as such, she was the subject of many attacks. But she was not a love-sick girl or crazy fanatic. Her policies, although ruthless, reflected the grim reality of the period. And her marriage with Philip reflects her own independence. Before the wedding began, the Bishop of Winchester made a speech in which he reminded his Spanish guests about the marriage treaty which clearly stated that although Philip was Prince of Asturias and King of Naples, he would have little control over English affairs, unless he was given royal permission. He also added that the wedding had been approved by parliament and was done in accordance to the wishes of the realm.

Bishop of Winchester and Chancellor of England, Stephen Gardiner. Left (Tudors), right (Wolf Hall).
Bishop of Winchester and Chancellor of England, Stephen Gardiner. Left (Tudors), right (Wolf Hall).

“With a loud voice Gardiner said that, if there be any man that knoweth any lawful impediment between these two parties, that they should not go together according to the contract concluded between both realms, that they should come forth, and they should be heard.” Then he asked “in English and Latin” who should give the Queen away and the “Marchioness of Winchester, the Earls of Derby, Bedford and Pembroke” gave her away “in the name of the whole realm.”

Afterwards, they heard Mass then went to the Bishop’s Palace where they “dined most sumptuously together” and enjoyed the rest of the celebrations. Over the following weeks, it was reported by a Spaniard visiting the English court, that Mary and Philip appeared “the happiest couple in the world, more in love than words can say” adding that he never left her side “and when they are on the road he is ever by her side, helping her to mount and dismount.” Philip played his role to perfection, as did his wife. But as the weeks turned to months and these turned to years, it became evident that the couple was anything but happy.

Sources:

  • Myth of Bloody Mary by Linda Porter
  • Mary Tudor: England’s First Queen by Anna Whitelock
  • Tudor. Passion. Manipulation and Murder by Leanda de Lisle
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A Faithful Admonition to the Professors of God’s Truth in England

Queen Mary I of England, Ireland and France
Queen Mary I of England, Ireland and France

On July 20th, 1554, John Knox published a controversial pamphlet in which he not only denounced the Catholic Church and England’s first Queen Regnant, Mary (I) Tudor. The pamphlet titled “A Faithful Admonition to the Professors of God’s Truth in England” accused the Queen of being an “incestuous bastard” and compared her actions (of restoring the Catholic Mass) to those of Queen Jezebel. For those who can’t remember, Jezebel was the queen of the biblical King, Ahab. The prophet Elijah denounced her pagan ways and warned the King not to let her invite her priests to their land, but the King was so enchanted with her that he refused. So after her “reign of terror” began against the good God-fearing people of Israel, Elijah began plotting against her. One day he found the answer to his prayers by throwing her out the window. When she fell, the dogs came forward to lick her blood off her corpse. It was a gruesome end to this pagan queen.

John Know was the leading figure of the Evangelical movement in Scotland, he was a pupil of the late George Wishart who died for his beliefs in 1546, this event angered many in Scotland and led to Cardinal Beaton's brutal murder and left Knox as the leader of the movement.
John Know was the leading figure of the Evangelical movement in Scotland, he was a pupil of the late George Wishart who died for his beliefs in 1546, this event angered many in Scotland and led to Cardinal Beaton’s brutal murder and left Knox as the leader of the movement.

Clearly, John Knox was comparing himself to the prophet Elijah, and Mary to Jezebel. To many Protestants, the Catholics were pagans because they worshiped idols and people like Mary, had to be stopped. But there was also a misogynist element to it. Mary was the first woman to ever rule England –the only other woman who came this close was her ancestor, Lady Matilda. And because of this she was constantly under attack. When John Knox accused her of being another Jezebel, he said she was worse than the original pagan queen, because she (Jezebel) had “never erected half so many gallows in all of Israel, as mischievous as Mary has done in London alone.” And he went on to criticize her intended marriage with Philip of Spain (who coincidentally arrived on England that day), saying:

“Oh England! If you obstinately will return into Egypt:  That is, if you contract marriage, confederacy or league, with such princess as maintain and advance idolatry … if for the pleasure and friendship of such princes, you return to your old abominations, before used under the Popery, then assuredly, Oh England! You shall be plagued and brought to desolation by means of those whose favors you seek, and by whom you are procured to fall from Christ and to serve the Antichrist.”

Queen Jezebel
Queen Jezebel

Knox’s use of the bible was enough to scare any follower and turn them against their new Queen and her intended marriage with the Prince of Asturias and King of Naples. But as her father. Mary was determined to get her own way.

Sources:

  • Tudors vs Stewarts: The Fatal Inheritance of Mary, Queen of Scots by Linda Porter
  • On this day in Tudor History by Claire Ridgway
  • The Myth of Bloody Mary by Linda Porter
  • Mary Tudor byy Anna Whitelock

The Confession of the Lady Mary Tudor

Lady Mary played by Sarah Bolger in "Tudors" season 3. In this scene she is forced to sign the dreaded act which she says will haunt her to the end of her days.
Lady Mary played by Sarah Bolger in “Tudors” season 3. In this scene she is forced to sign the dreaded act which she says will haunt her to the end of her days.

On the 22nd of June 1536 the King’s eldest daughter, the Lady Mary Tudor, signed the document titled “The Confession of Me the Lady Mary” in which she accepted that she was never the trueborn daughter of Henry VIII of England but a product of incest born out of the unlawful union of her mother, Katherine of Aragon and her father the King. The Confession was signed twelve days after she had explicitly said no to her father’s ministers who had done the impossible and bullied her to get to accept. It was Chapuys and Cromwell who finally convinced her by telling her that if she didn’t sign then she would be deemed a traitor and tried as such. To her father, blood ties didn’t matter when the security of the realm was at stake. The articles of the confession go as follows:

  1. First, I confess and acknowledge the King’s Majesty to be my sovereign lord and King, in the Imperial Crown of his realm of England, and do submit myself to His Highness, and to all and singular laws and statues of this realm, as becometh a true and faithful subject to do.
  2. I do recognize and accept and take and repute and acknowledge the King’s Highness to be Supreme Head in Earth under Christ of the Church of England and do utterly refuse the Bishop of Rome’s pretended authority, power and jurisdiction within this realm heretofore usurped.
  3. 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 Tudor

The Confession would haunt Mary for the rest of her life. In signing it, she felt that she was not only betraying what she believed in, but her mother who never wavered in her faith and stopped calling herself Queen and fought for her daughter’s right to be her father’s heir. No doubt, Mary was doing this for survival and the two men must have made a point that she would do more good to her cause alive than dead, especially Chapuys who had grown very close to the young woman.

Lady Mary and her father Henry VIII at her re-introduction at court.
Lady Mary and her father Henry VIII at her re-introduction at court.

Following her surrender, she was welcomed back in court. Those who believed they had beaten the former princess would soon be disappointed. If anything, it reshaped her character making her prouder, more resilient and optimistic about her future.

Sources:

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

Queen Mary I’s last will.

Mary I played by Sarah Bolger
Mary I played by Sarah Bolger

On the 30th of March 1558, Queen Mary I made her will believing she was still pregnant and would soon give birth. Bringing a (male) heir would solve many of her problems regarding her religious establishment –which maintained her father’s establishment and differed very little from it. One of her wishes was that her mother’s remains would be moved from St. Peterborough Cathedral to Westminster. After Mary became Queen, she legitimized her status as her parents’ true daughter and her mother’s status as Henry VIII’s true Queen. While this has been criticized by many biographers as proof of her fanaticism, in fact, the decision was a smart one and one she needed to do. Her grandfather, the first Tudor monarch, Henry VII, legitimized his future wife’s (Elizabeth of York) family, therefore making his union to her the following year more symbolic, as a true union of the Houses of Lancaster and York.
Furthermore, before the year was over, in November 7, 1485 during his first Parliament he reaffirmed the Beauforts legitimacy, re-enacting the statue of 1397 by Richard II and overturning the one of 1407 which had barred them from the succession.
Mary’s decision to rebury her mother at Westminster was not so much a religious one as a dynastic one, if she would indeed bear a son, her son needed to have all taint of illegitimacy gone from him and also bare the prestige of a great lineage. And possibly, a personal one, based on how her mother had been humiliated in her later years and buried as a ‘Princess Dowager’; Mary wanted to give her mother the justice she never had in her last years.

This never happened. Mary died months later in November and she was not buried until December. Neither of her wishes to be buried next to her mother or her mother reburied in Westminster were carried out. Instead, Catherine remained buried at Peterborough and she would not be joined by another Queen until decades later by none other than Mary Stewart, Queen of Scotland. Mary lies buried in Westminster Abbey under her sister in a large golden sarcophagus where only her sister Elizabeth’s effigy is visible.
The pregnancy that Mary experienced was another phantom pregnancy

Sources:

  • The Myth of Bloody Mary by Linda Porter
  • Mary Tudor: England’s First Queen by Anna Whitelock
  • Tudor by Leanda de Lisle
  • On this day in Tudor history by Claire Ridgway
  • Mary I: England’s Catholic Queen by John Edwards

A Royal Princess’ Christening

Maria Red Gown

20 FEBRUARY 1516 -Mary I was Christened at the Church of the Observant Friars.
Her Godparents were Cardinal Thomas Wolsey, the Duchess of Norfolk, her grand-aunt Katherine of York Countess of Devon and Margaret Pole. After she was baptized she was returned to her mother who was waiting for her at the Queen’s Chamber in Greenwich.

Henry whispered to the Venetian Ambassador that he and Katherine were still young and they could have more children. Ironically, these were the same words he whispered to his second wife when she gave him another daughter seventeen years later.
Mary was named after the Virgin Mary and her aunt the Princess Mary Tudor, Duchess of Suffolk and Queen Dowager of France.

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.
Sources:
  • Mary Tudor: England’s First Queen by Anna Whitelock 
  • Mary Tudor by David Loades
  • The Myth of Bloody Mary by Linda Porter.

An Execution Delayed

Jane Grey Victorian Portrait

On Friday, the ninth of February 1554, both Guildford and his wife, Jane Dudley nee Grey, were sentenced to die. However the sentence was delayed after Mary I had been convinced by her personal chaplain John Feckenham, that if Jane were to accept the Catholic Mass she would no longer be a threat. Mary, to the Spanish ambassadors’ view, had been deliberating on this matter for far too long, and she needed to act now if she wanted to remain on the throne. But Mary was indecisive. She finally agreed to her chaplain’s request. Feckenham arrived to the Tower and tried to convince Jane to accept the Mass and recognize Mary’s authority. She claimed as she had done before, that she and her parents had been nothing but tools in others’ schemes (aka John Dudley who had been abandoned by his friends as soon as the going got tougher); and that she recognized Mary as Queen, but she would not submit to her authority as long as she kept the Mass. Feckenahm and her disagreed over many other things but Mary’s chaplain recognized a great thinker in Jane and was sad to see hear of her death three days later.

Jane Grey HBC1

One of the many prayers that Jane had written down and probably said before Feckenham visited her, to give her courage, not to relinquish her beliefs: “Lord, though God and father of my life be merciful unto me lest I being brought too low should despair and blaspheme thee arm me, I beseech thee, with thy armor, that I may stand fast.” She told Feckenham that she welcomed her execution, because she gladly welcomed martyrdom and it was an opportunity to repent from her sins. And told Feckenham that she would be received into Heaven while he, although a great company, would go to hell unless he changed his opinions, but that nevertheless she prayed for him so that God “in the bowed of his mercy to send you his Holy Spirit for he has given you his great gift of utterance, if it pleased him also to open the eyes of your heart.”
Sources:
  • Lady Jane Grey: A Tudor Mystery by Eric Ives
  • Tudor by Leanda de Lisle
  • Sisters Who Would be Queen by Leanda de Lisle
  • On this day in Tudor History by Claire Ridgway

Mary I’s Rallying Cry

Mary I blue background

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:

Mary I played by Sarah Bolger in "The Tudors". She was imposing, and unwavering in her courage and the way she inspected her troops, rode her horse and commanded men, was a great precursor of her sister's one glorious (and best known) speech of 1588.
Mary I played by Sarah Bolger in “The Tudors”. She was imposing, and unwavering in her courage and the way she inspected her troops, rode her horse and commanded men, was a great precursor of her sister’s one glorious (and best known) speech of 1588.


“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.

Sources:

  • 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