Sunday, November 22, 2009

"Bloody Mary"

An article in First Things by Stephanie Mann about how recent biographies have reassessed the brief and tragic rule of the first reigning Queen of England, Mary Tudor. To quote:
Even without the debate about the burnings, was this reign just an interlude in the history of a nation destined to be Protestant? Was the restoration of Catholicism in England doomed from the start—and not just because Mary and Cardinal Pole just didn’t have enough time? That is the harder question to answer....

The crucial issue for the success or failure of her reign was whether she had a Catholic heir to succeed her. Since she did not, Elizabeth succeeded to the throne and dismissed all of Pole’s bishops save one. As Elizabeth ignored her last will and testament, historians ignored Mary’s circumstances, forgot her efforts and achievements and she gained a nickname she might not deserve. But she and Cardinal Pole left a legacy beyond the fires of Smithfield: an underground counter-reformation Catholicism in England, supporting the faithful and ready for revival again—even if it had to wait almost 300 years.
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12 comments:

MadMonarchist said...

What struck me the most when reading up more on Queen Mary, getting past the stereotype of her, was how all those closest to her said she was the most kind, compassionate and thoughtful woman. Most books, movies, histories etc tend to portray her as cruel, uncaring and rather shrewish but those who knew her best said she was a very kind, thoughtful and generous woman. There was much more too her than most people know.

Leslie Carroll said...

She continues to fascinate me. She had such a dreadful childhood and adolescence after Henry began the hearings on the Great Matter and she and her mother were treated so ignominiously, I can't help but think that the experiences shaped who she became as queen, for better or for worse. She had the stubbornness of both parents, but she also had the soft heart that both of had when they were head over heels in love. It's sad the way she practically threw herself at Philip of Spain, because she was so much in love with him; and his feelings for her were hardly mutual.

elena maria vidal said...

I agree with you, MM. She had a heartbreaking life.

Thanks for visiting and commenting, Leslie. I see Mary the same way. She went from being the golden girl of Europe, the heiress to the throne of England, to being declared a bastard, separated from her mother and having to wait upon Anne Boleyn's child. And what is sad is that her mother was raising her to be a great ruling queen, which she could have been had she not been practically destroyed as a teenager.

Stephanie A. Mann said...

Thank you for linking this, Elena Maria! Mary is a fascinating mystery of a person: she never wanted Jane Grey Dudley to be executed (and evidently thought it possible she could be released from the Tower at some point) but she wanted Thomas Cranmer punished, not for his crimes against the State but for his sins against the Church. Mary forgave the girl who tried to usurp her throne but she did not forgive the man who taught heresy and promoted the division of England from the Catholic Church, wrecking her and her mother's lives in the process. It is as though she could accept the attack against her right to the throne but not the attack on the Catholic Church and her mother.

tubbs said...

Ya GOTTA Laugh --- at the consistantly bad casting Hollywood has always done with Mary I, ( as Hollywood can usually be expected to tow the old Whig party line.) Funny though, that her contemporaries consistantly reported her to be a pretty little thing. Yet the Screen always has her as a fat old slob with a bad disposition. She had the more Celtic look of her mother than the Norman look of the corpulent English Nero (and both her parents were auburn red-heads).
Poor Mary Stuart is another one who hasn't been getting a fair break lately. In the spate of Elizabeth I movies out in the last twenty years, the hooked-nosed haridan is portrayed by some Hottie, while the Cindy Crawford of the sixteenth century is portrayed by some Frump!!! Go Figure!!!

elena maria vidal said...

You are so right about the movie portrayals!!

But Tubbs, don't forget that fiery Welsh blood from the Tudors. Mary came by that honestly, too. Mary also had Plantagenet blood through Katherine of Aragon, who was descended from Katherine Plantagenet, the daughter of John of Gaunt, who married into the royal house of Castile.

elena maria vidal said...

Thanks for the article, Stephanie, and your additional points. Excellent!

Leslie Carroll said...

The Cate Blanchett "Elizabeth: The Golden Age" had particularly insane casting for the 6' tall Mary who had russet hair and spoke with a predominantly French accent. Mary was played by the petite, blonde, Samantha Morton (occasionally in red wig) -- and with a heavy Scots burr! Morton is usually a fine actress but utterly miscast as Mary, Queen of Scots!

P.S. Elena -- I love this blog and linked it with mine!

elena maria vidal said...

Thank you, Leslie, I noticed and linked to your Lady Novelist blog!

Leslie Carroll said...

Thank you, Elena -- I just noticed that!

And ... it's so much fun to find such articulate and passionate history fans, esp. royal history aficionados, since that's what I love to write about.

elena maria vidal said...

Yes, so do I!

Matterhorn said...

That has always been my favorite portrait of Queen Mary. The colors are gorgeous.