Mary I (February 18, 1516 – November 17, 1558), also known as Mary Tudor, 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 VIII 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, correctly, that she would reverse the Protestant reforms that had begun during his reign. On his death, leading politicians proclaimed Lady Jane Grey as queen. Mary speedily assembled a force in East Anglia and deposed Jane, who was ultimately beheaded.
Mary I, Queen Regnant of England and Ireland. Queen Consort of Spain, Naples and Sicily, Archduchess of Austria, Duchess of Milan.
Mary was—excluding the disputed reigns of Jane and the Empress Matilda—the first queen regnant of England. In 1554, Mary married King Felipe II of Spain, becoming queen consort of Habsburg Spain on his accession in 1556.
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 VIII and Anne Boleyn, at the beginning of the 45-year Elizabethan era.
After Felipe II’s visit in 1557, Mary thought she was pregnant again, with a baby due in March 1558. She decreed in her will that her husband would be the regent during the minority of their child. However, no child was born, and Mary was forced to accept that Elizabeth would be her lawful successor. Mary was weak and ill from May 1558.
Felipe II, King of Spain, Portugal, Naples and Sicily, Archduke of Austria and Duke of Milan.
In pain, possibly from ovarian cysts or uterine cancer, she died on November 17, 1558, aged 42, at St James’s Palace, during an influenza epidemic that also claimed the life of Reginald Pole later the same day. She was succeeded by her half-sister Elizabeth. Felipe II of Spain who was in Brussels, wrote to his sister Joan: “I felt a reasonable regret for her death.”
Although Mary’s will stated that she wished to be buried next to her mother, she was interred in Westminster Abbey on December 14, in a tomb she would eventually share with Elizabeth. The Latin inscription on their tomb, Regno consortes et urna, hic obdormimus Elizabetha et Maria sorores, in spe resurrectionis (affixed there by James I when he succeeded Elizabeth), translates to: “Consorts in realm and tomb, we, sisters Elizabeth and Mary, here lie down to sleep in hope of resurrection.”
Elizabeth I, Queen of England and Ireland.