Bloody Mary, Catherine of Aragon, Edward VI, Felipe II of Spain, Ferdinand & Isabella, Henry VIII, King Henry VIII of England, Kings and Queens of England, Mary Tudor, Philip II of Spain, Protestant Reformation, Queen Mary I, Queen Mary I of England
On this date in History. February 18, 1516, birth of Queen Mary I of England and Ireland.
Mary I (February 18, 1516 – November 17, 1558) was the Queen of England and Ireland from July 1553 until her death. She is best known for her aggressive attempt to reverse the English Reformation, which had begun during the reign of her father, Henry VIII. The executions that marked her pursuit of the restoration of Roman Catholicism in England and Ireland led to her denunciation as “Bloody Mary” by her Protestant opponents.
Mary was the only child of Henry VIII by his first wife, Catherine of Aragon, to survive to adulthood. Her younger half-brother Edward VI (son of Henry and Jane Seymour) succeeded their father in 1547 at the age of nine. When Edward became mortally ill in 1553, he attempted to remove Mary from the line of succession because he supposed (accurately) that she would reverse the Protestant reforms that had begun during his reign. On his death, leading politicians tried to proclaim Lady Jane Grey as queen. Mary assembled a force in East Anglia and deposed Jane, who was ultimately beheaded. Mary was—excluding the disputed reigns of Jane and the Empress Matilda—the first queen regnant of England.
When Mary ascended the throne after the death of her brother Edward VI, she was proclaimed under the same official style as Henry VIII and Edward VI: “Mary, by the Grace of God, Queen of England, France and Ireland, Defender of the Faith, and of the Church of England and of Ireland on Earth Supreme Head”. The title Supreme Head of the Church was repugnant to Mary’s Catholicism, and she omitted it by Christmas 1553.
In 1554, Mary married the future King Felipe II of Spain, becoming queen consort of Habsburg Spain on his accession in 1556. Both Mary and Felipe were descended from legitimate children of John of Gaunt, 1st Duke of Lancaster, by his first two wives, a relationship which was used to portray Felipe as an English king. Mary descended from the Duke of Lancaster by all three of his wives, Blanche of Lancaster, Constance of Castile, and Katherine Swynford. On her mother’s side Felipe and Mary were first cousins once removed.
Under the English common law doctrine of jure uxoris, the property and titles belonging to a woman became her husband’s upon marriage, and it was feared that any man she married would thereby become King of England in fact and in name. While Mary’s grandparents, Fernando II-V and Isabella I of Castile and Aragon (Spain’s) had retained sovereignty of their own realms during their marriage, there was no precedent to follow in England. Under the terms of Queen Mary’s Marriage Act, Felipe was to be styled “King of England”, all official documents (including Acts of Parliament) were to be dated with both their names, and Parliament was to be called under the joint authority of the couple, for Mary’s lifetime only.
England would not be obliged to provide military support to Felipe father in any war, and Felipe could not act without his wife’s consent or appoint foreigners to office in England.Felipe was unhappy at the conditions imposed, but he was ready to agree for the sake of securing the marriage. He had no amorous feelings toward Mary and sought the marriage for its political and strategic gains; Philip’s aide Ruy Gómez de Silva wrote to a correspondent in Brussels, “the marriage was concluded for no fleshly consideration, but in order to remedy the disorders of this kingdom and to preserve the Low Countries.”
Under Mary’s marriage treaty with Felipe, the official joint style reflected not only Mary’s but also Felipe’s dominions and claims: “Philip and Mary, by the grace of God, King and Queen of England, France, Naples, Jerusalem, and Ireland, Defenders of the Faith, Princes of Spain and Sicily, Archdukes of Austria, Dukes of Milan, Burgundy and Brabant, Counts of Habsburg, Flanders and Tyrol”. This style, which had been in use since 1554, was replaced when Philip inherited the Spanish Crown in 1556 with “Philip and Mary, by the Grace of God King and Queen of England, Spain, France, both the Sicilies, Jerusalem and Ireland, Defenders of the Faith, Archdukes of Austria, Dukes of Burgundy, Milan and Brabant, Counts of Habsburg, Flanders and Tyrol”.
During her five-year reign, Mary had over 280 religious dissenters burned at the stake in the Marian persecutions. After Mary’s death in 1558, her re-establishment of Roman Catholicism was reversed by her younger half-sister and successor Elizabeth I, daughter of Henry and Anne Boleyn, at the beginning of the 45-year Elizabethan Era.