Death of Mary Tudor

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Death of Mary Tudor

St James's, London The 17th of November 1558 AD

Mary came to the throne with the nation in sympathy with her, brushing aside the hopeless attempt to put Lady Jane Grey on the throne. But at the end of her life the ill-treatment of her youth that had engendered that sympathy was forgotten in her brutal treatment of heretics, some 300 of whom are thought to have been burned at the stake in her reign - and shortened her life - she was worn out, eyesight going, looking far older than her 42 years, incapable of fighting the illnesses that beset her.
Earlier in her marriage to Philip II of Spain Mary had suffered one false pregnancy, and at the end of her life, after the second visit of Philip to his wife in England, she underwent another. Though it is not certain, the symptoms Mary suffered are said to be consistent with ovarian or pituitary cancer. She was also desperate for a child, not only for emotional reasons, but reasons of state - should Mary die without issue her half-sister, Elizabeth, would succeed her, and England would again in all likelihood slide towards what Mary viewed as heresy.
Mary's child was expected in March 1558, but that month and April came and went and no child arrived. Pathetically, her prayer book after her death was found to be sodden with tears on the pages devoted to prayers for women in labour. As well as the probable cancer she was laid low by flu or some similar disease. In the autumn she slipped into a coma, and though she regained consciousness more than once, it was evident she was close to death. Having in one lucid period named Elizabeth as her successor (not that there was really an alternative that would have been acceptable to the English), she had as was customary to listen to her will being read aloud as she lay on her deathbed. The next day Mary received the last rites and died at St James's Palace on November 17 1588.
Contrary to her instructions Mary was buried in Westminster Abbey ; and contrary to her wishes England, sickened by the Catholic reaction of Bloody Mary's reign, chose the Protestant route to redemption rather than her beloved Catholicism.

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Comment

From Martin on 17th November 2011
That is the single longest piece of feedback we have seen thus far. Though calling it feedback is dubious given it seems to pick holes in and fights with stuff we haven't even mentioned. Seems heartfelt though. As an atheist I'd like to say I'm glad to be living in a time when the faithful don't have the power to burn those with whom they disagree.

From Lyn-Marie Taylor on 11th October 2010
England did not reject Catholic Faith of Mary, nor was her policy unpopular. That is Protestant Myth. Her policy to reconcile England to the Catholic Faith was accepted and was popular, even though the Spanish marriage was not. She was trying to find a way to make sure that people came to the faith slowly and freely at first, but when the worst offenders persisted she became more and more frustrated in her attempts in the south of England to have them accept the Catholic Faith. It was not unusual for a monarch to insist that the people they ruled followed the faith of the state and she was no more cruel than any other monarch of her day. What was unusual was that she allowed the execution of ordinary people and not just the most politically resistant and the executions were over a short period of time. However Fires of Faith by Duffy makes it clear that Mary's policy was well thought out and that it was effective and given another few years it would have succeeded totally. The total number is in fact 256 and not 300 plus as many people claim. The number is less than those killed by Elizabeth and it is less than some other monarchs in Europe. Many of these were repeated offenders and most of them were from the radical south and south east of the country. The rate at which people were executed was also slow and steady and spread over a large part of the country. Most of the executions took place in London to make the most impact. They were bound to gain the most support here as well as it was here that the radicals in the country gathered and that the Protestants found influence. In the north of England, the majority of the population were Catholic and a second Catholic rising to restore the Catholic Faith and to get rid of Elizabeth in 1569-1571 proves that neither the Protestant Faith nor Elizabeth were universally accepted. The Protestant Faith was forced on a largely Catholic population and as the practice of the faith and the Catholic clergy were denied the ordinary people they had to conform, or pay fines, go to prison, or in many cases they were put to death by Elizabeth for hiding a priest in their home. If a man wanted to become a priest he had to go to Rome and if he did not give up his living, he went to the Tower or he had one year to leave the country. Then to return and to convert someone to the Catholic Faith was death for the priest and for the family who hid them. Yes, Elizabeth tried officially to balance the Anglican Faith and the need to allow some freedom of private religion, but she found that the extremists in her council would not allow her to do this. Early attempts by the Holy Father to have Elizabeth guarantee the Catholic Faith in England failed and early persecution led to the tragic but sadly inevitable declaration that Elizabeth was a heretic and that she was excommunicated from the Church. This had the unfortunate consequences of issuing a Bull that declared she was a bastard, had no right to rule and absolving her subjects from allegiance to her. It also indicates, not in the bull but in a letter with the bull that any one who sends her out of the world does not sin. The Bull does not tell anyone to kill her! That again is historians and Protestant myth! I have read the Bull and it says no such thing. The letter was a private matter but the bearer did not carry out the wishes of the order and in fact denounced it. Several Jesuits including Father Campion came to England and all denounced the Bull and the letter and all said they were loyal to Elizabeth. They were not involved in any plots and they merely wished to preach the Catholic Faith in England. They were hung, drawn and quartered for their Faith and are holy martyrs. Several men and women followed them, but thousands of others were terrified and as persecution became hysteria drummed up by Walsingham and others like Robert Cecil; it became clear to many that becoming Catholic was pointless. Elizabeth ruled for 45 years; Mary for 6; that is why she was able to force Protestantism on the nation and England became more and more a Protestant country. One Protestant monarch after another made it more and more paranoid and Catholics were denied posts in public office, places of worship, service in the army and navy and many other civil rights until 1829. They could not even have their own schools. So it is not surprising that the country turned Protestant; it had longer to succeed, that is all. Mary, had she given birth to a son would have succeeded in another couple of years to stamp out heresy in England. Her policy had support in the north and the midlands and in many of the clergy. Her council also accepted her policy. That was the way things were. Her policy was not criticized and her public tracts on the need to return to the true faith were also widely published and well read. She had a propaganda machine that supported her the same way that Elizabeth and her father had. Elizabeth was not chosen by election or some miracle of God; nor by popular demand; she was the next heir. That she was popular as well and knew how to court that popularity was fortunate for her. That she also managed to give the English people a myth and image of the glory of herself as the Virgin Queen and they fell for it, is also fortunate for her. Elizabeth had gained some sympathy because Mary had put her in the Tower, but she was not universally popular either. Nor was hers always the success story that she is shown in Hollywood. She was a woman who wanted peace, but who spent most of her reign at war in France, Ireland, with Spain or in the Americas. She spent most of her last 20 years of her reign involved in an expensive war of occupation and repression in Ireland and the previous 20 years backing pirate attacks on Spanish and French ships. She executed her own cousin, a fellow monarch, whom was a refugee in her land and then pretended to agonise over Mary, Queen of Scots death for the rest of her life. She is often associated with the navy and naval achievement, but that honour belongs to her father. Henry VIII is the true father of the royal navy, and Elizabeth's galleons were based on new ships that came to England under Mary and Phillip and copied from the three proto types that they built. Elizabeth is hailed for the great victory over the Spanish Armada, 1588, which was more luck than military might and skill and due more to the great British weather than to out gunning or out fighting the Spanish. The Battle of the Solent in 1545 was the really dangerous, close up and personal battle, that tested our defences, guns and ships, and was Henry's forgotten victory. Yes, Elizabeth created the myth of England as a nation, based largely on that of the King, her father, and yes she allowed her captains to go out and discover colonies abroad, but some of those colonies failed and the first were also in the reign of her father. Yes she made England rich, for a short time; the three years of famine and poverty at the end of her reign bankrupted the kingdom again and were hardly golden years. Drake also led a disastrous attack on Panama and died on the voyage home and Ireland rebelled. The rebellion was a disaster for Essex and Elizabeth and emptied the treasury. Again, hardly a golden time! Elizabeth may have had longer results with the colonies and the ships that came about as a result and the arts that came from her reign, but please do not try to say that we chose Elizabeth and Protestantism as we did not like the Catholic Faith of Mary I. That is late Protestant propaganda from the time of William and Mary, and I am sorry to say we are no more a totally Protestant nation today, than we were at the end of the reign of Elizabeth. And as to the Queen rejecting the Catholic Faith; well she may do privately, but she is quite happy to accept that Catholics as well as Protestants and just about anyone else has the right to free religious thought and practice. The Holy Father has just paid the country a successful state visit and the Queen has paid him one as well. The Queen may be the Head of the Church of England, but she is no longer the Head of the Church in England. We are no longer as stupid as that! Catholics are no longer forced to swear to the Crown as the head of the church and Protestants are just one other religion in a multi cultural country. The Queen still has a title given to Henry VIII by the Pope: Defender of the Faith; a title she has no right to hold as she does not defend the Catholic Faith as he did in 1521 when he was given the title by Leo OX. Catholics and Protestants share many things in common and we now recognise our common faith in Christ. However in the reign of Mary, this was not possible. Mary could not recognise Protestants as anything more than heretical and enemies of the state. That is simply the normal way for them to be seen, just as Elizabeth in the end could not see Catholics as anything less than traitors. Under her laws that was the way they were seen. It may not be logical, it may not be right; but that is how things were. England did not denounce the Catholic Faith in favour of the Protestant one; she simply inherited it, through Elizabeth as the next heir under the terms of the will of Henry VIII. Old Henry may as well have had a crystal ball; it seems he saw everything that was to happen and prepared for it; ruling and directing England's destiny, even from beyond the grave.

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On this day:
The White Ship Sinks - 1120, Battle of Solway Moss - 1542, The 'Mousetrap' opens - 1952, Lennon Returns MBE - 1969
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