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Bloody Mary


Prints are 8.5 x 11" on cardstock.

England's Tudor dynasty is not noted for the kindness or stability of its monarchs. None exemplify this better than Henry VIII's eldest daughter, and England's first undisputed queen regnant, Mary (1516 - 1558).

Mary was born to Henry's first wife, Catherine of Aragon, and raised in her mother's Catholic faith. Before she was eighteen, she had watched her father descend into madness, divorce her mother, and break his nation away from the Catholic faith. He disinherited Mary, banished Catherine, and married his mistress, Anne Boleyn. Mary never forgave Henry - or her younger half-siblings, Elizabeth and Edward, each of whom in turn took Mary's place as legitimate heir. Both of whom were Protestant.

After the deaths of first Henry, then his young son Edward, Mary revolted against Edward's chosen successor, Lady Jane Grey, and had the nineteen-year-old queen beheaded. Mary took the throne, at first accompanied by her half-sister Elizabeth, though she would later imprison her as a rival. Then she set to work undoing all of her father and half-brother's religious reforms, returning England to Catholic rule.

Like her father, Mary possessed a single-minded, unwavering belief in her rule as divinely ordained and thus beyond human critique. She married a Spanish prince, Philip, which was unpopular enough, but also refused him kingship. Philip, unsurprisingly, chose to spend very little time in England. Mary's deep depression at the absence of her beloved husband manifested in some bizarre ways. During her reign, Mary had not one, but two incidences of false, or "phantom" pregnancy. Once again, as with Henry, the succession of the monarchy became a cause for great public anxiety.

Greater anxieties came from Mary's religious policy. Despite initially promising tolerance, Mary imprisoned notable Protestant leaders, revived the Heresy Acts, and killed or exiled around 1000 Protestant people. Nearly 300 of these were burned at the stake, a punishment that did more than perhaps anything else to strengthen public resentment against the woman that Protestant Englishmen dubbed "Bloody" Mary.

Following her second phantom pregnancy in 1557, Mary fell into a very real illness - possibly uterine cancer. She reluctantly recognized her half-sister Elizabeth as her successor before dying the following year. Mary's brutal religious policy was thrown out, the nation once again and forever cast off its fealty to the Catholic Church, and the twenty-five-year-old Elizabeth took the throne to become one of the most beloved monarchs in English history.