Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Bloody Mary

Bloody Mary (not the legend that used to scare the shit out of me as a kid and NOT the cocktail (thumbs down to tomato juice, so icky)), lovingly called Queen Mary I of England, was like the red-headed stepchild of the Tudors. She kind of sucked though to be nicknamed Bloody Mary, but I have more sympathy than I do disdain for this daughter of Henry VIII.

Mary was the only daughter of the infamous Henry VIII and his first wife, Catherine of Aragorn, who survived to adulthood. She was like any educated child of royalty, she could play a musical instrument at age 4, could read and write Latin at age 9, and studied French, Spanish, Greek, music and dance. She was once described by her father as the girl who "never cries."

But Henry VIII being Henry VIII was upset that Catherine could produce no male heirs, and wanted the marriage annulled. And Henry VIII being Henry VIII, got his way. Henry married Anne Boleyn and Mary would suffer greatly from this. She was not permitted to see her mother, was sent away, and deemed illegitimate. She became "The Lady Mary" instead of Princess Mary and her place in the line of succession went to Elizabeth, the newborn daughter of Henry and Anne. little baby bitch. Mary became frequently ill and fell into a deep depression (one of her many). She did not speak to her father for years and was refused permission to visit her mother, even on Catherine's deathbed.

Henry VIII being Henry VIII eventually grew tired of Anne and her daughter Elizabeth suffered the same fate as Mary by being downgraded to the status of 'Lady' and removed from the line of succession. Mary eventually somewhat reconciled with Henry, only on the condition that she recognize him as the head of the Church of England, reject the Pope as authority (she was super Catholic and celebrated traditional mass in her own chapel), acknowledge that the marriage between her parents was "unlawful," and accept her own illegitimacy.

Henry finally produced a male heir, Edward, with his new wife, Jane Seymour, who died weeks after the birth. Mary and Elizabeth were placed back in the line of succession, but after Edward. Henry VIII being Henry VIII eventually died, wait? what? and Edward was crowned. 

Mary was distant from Edward because of their religious differences. Even though they had a nearly twenty year age gap, Edward had the ability to reduce her to tears in front of the court because of these differences. Edward died when he was only 15 years old from a lung infection but not before excluding Mary and Elizabeth from the line of succession once more. Does anyone else picture Edward as Joffrey Baratheon?

Lady Jane Grey, the granddaughter of Henry's younger sister, was proclaimed queen. Mary had had enough, and assembled a military force, to oust Jane. Jane was imprisoned in the Tower of London and in 1553 Mary finally claimed the crown as the first queen of England! Gurl power.

Sweet revenge! NO not quite. Mary's future remained grim until her death. She married Philip of Spain and held the titles of Queen of Naples, titular Queen of Jerusalem, and queen consort of Habsburg Spain but after a false pregnancy, her husband left England to rule abroad. Mary was heartbroken and fell into a deep depression once more. She considered her misfortune to be "God's punishment" for her having "tolerated heretics" in her kingdom.

To try to make good with God she abolished Henry and Edward's Protestant laws and brought her realm's focus back to Catholicism. She kind of murdered nearly 300 people by burning them at the stake (hence the Bloody Mary nickname) and forced another 800 to flee the country. Her religious reforms did not change her luck and after a second false pregnancy, a weak and ill Mary died at age 42 from an influenza epidemic.

In the grand scheme of things, Mary did the best she could with what she was given. She implemented policies of fiscal reform, naval expansion, and colonial exploration. Unfortunately, as the first woman to successfully claim the throne of England, Mary was overshadowed by the contempt people had of her for religious policies, her marriage to Philip, military losses in France, poor weather and failed harvests. 

Elizabeth became queen and reversed Mary's reestablishment of Roman Catholicism. Mary requested to be buried with her mother but was instead interred in a separate location in a tomb she would eventually share with Elizabeth. Life is like a shit sandwich, and shit happens, man.