Facts about Mary I
Mary I Biography
England’s Queen Mary I was the fourth monarch of the Tudor dynasty, whose five-year reign was marked by a brief return to Catholicism in the midst of the English Reformation. She was the only child of King Henry VIII and Catherine of Aragon to survive to adulthood, and her childhood began pleasantly enough. But when her mother fell from the king’s favor, so did Mary. She was separated from Catherine in 1532, and the next year, when Henry dissolved the marriage, Mary was declared illegitimate by an act of Parliament and taken out of the line of succession. In the face of her mistreatment, she remained defiantly royal; in the face of the rise of Protestantism under Henry, she remained defiantly Catholic. Although she regained some measure of favor after 1536, it was her 9 year old half-brother, Edward VI, who succeeded Henry to the throne in 1547. Under Edward, the Church of England distanced itself even further from the Catholic Church, but Edward’s ill health meant a short reign, with Mary in line for the throne. Powerful Protestants conspired to prevent Mary’s accession, and on 6 July 1553, Edward’s Protestant cousin Lady Jane Grey was named the new queen. Mary, however, rallied her supporters and deposed Jane Grey after only nine days. Once on the throne, Mary set about to restore Catholicism in England, but the tide of popularity that helped her to the throne soon turned against her. She married Philip II of Spain, a Catholic who was 12 years her junior, an unpopular move that raised concerns about European influence over English affairs, and nearly 300 Protestants were proclaimed heretics and burned at the stake — including Thomas Cranmer, the Archbishop of Canterbury who produced The Book of Common Prayer (and the man who had annulled Henry’s marriage to Mary’s mother). She earned the nickname “Bloody Mary,” and her reputation was forever tarnished. After five years on the throne, Mary died of what is now thought to have been ovarian cancer, in 1558. She was succeeded by her half-sister, Elizabeth I, a Protestant who reversed Mary’s reversals.