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Mary Tudor: Princess, Bastard, Queen

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  • Posted September 23, 2010

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    "In many ways Mary failed as a woman but triumphed as a queen."

    Serious scholars have in recent years set about revisiting Mary Tudor, Henry VIII's daughter. This review is about Anna Whitelock's 2010 biography, MARY TUDOR: PRINCESS, BASTARD, QUEEN. Whitelock gives a balanced overview, essentially favorable, albeit less narrowly focused on the re-Catholicization of England 1553 - 1558 than Professor Eamon Duffy's 2009 FIRES OF FAITH: CATHOLIC ENGLAND UNDER MARY TUDOR. ***** London University Lecturer Anna Whitelock stresses over and over again that Mary Tudor (1516 - 1558) was the first female ever crowned and anointed an English monarch. She had to battle long odds to outflank her enemies upon the death in 1553 of her half-brother King Edward VI. But when she came to power she created precedent after precedent, doing things that only male monarchs had done before. These precedents made it possible for Mary's half-sister Elizabeth to succeed her peacefully and for such later female monarchs as Anne, Victoria and Elizabeth II to be kingly in their own right. ***** Mary Tudor's biography moves through 66 Chapters and an Epilogue distributed among numbered parts each prefaced in the Index by "SHE WAS": One: A KING'S DAUGHTER, Two: A KING'S SISTER, Three: A QUEEN, Four: A KING'S WIFE. ***** Mary Tudor became the first female monarch of England because she was the legitimate daughter of the second Tudor King, Henry VIII. But she had a ruler's genes and was raised to expect to succeed her father. Her maternal grandmother was Christopher Columbus's patron, Queen Isabella, first female monarch of Castile. And she raised all her daughters to prepare to become rulers in their own right, should that be the will of Heaven. And Mary Tudor's mother was Isabella's daughter, Katherine of Aragon. For 17 years Mary was the apple of Henry VIII's eye. But when Henry divorced Katherine, Mary was declared a bastard and continuously humiliated until she won the throne in 1553. ***** Her great project was to restore England's unity with Papal Rome. With the help of her royal cousin Cardinal Reginald Pole she was well on the way to complete success. But she was on the throne for only five years before dying of cancer at age 42. Another 20 years and England would have remained solidly Roman Catholic, as the argument goes. Mary Tudor was a linguist, a careful dresser, personally devout, free from personal scandal and a woman who worked hard at her duties until after midnight. Her weaknesses: a profound tendency to melancholy and her choice of a husband, her widowed cousin Philip of Spain, whom she adored but who saw Mary solely as a chessman in the great balancing act of international politics. Knowing that she was dying, Philip did not even visit Mary's sickbed. "In many ways Mary failed as a woman but triumphed as a queen." ***** A good solid read. Well researched and end-noted. A keeper. -OOO-

    7 out of 7 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 7, 2010

    Excellent introduction to on often misunderstood queen!!

    Sadly everyone knows who Henry VIII was and everyone knows who Elisabeth I was. But most people don't really know about Mary Tudor or confuse her with Mary Queen of Scots, which is a shame. Known by many as Bloody Mary, Mary Tudor was so much more than just the queen responseble for the executions of traitors and heretics during her brief reign. Anna Whitelock does an excellent job of writing a balanced yet sympathetice view of Mary's life as the daughter of Katherine of Aragon and Henry VIII. She illustrates how the traumas of her life were what forged her strong character and precipitated some of her unusual choices as an adult and monarch.

    Whether or not you agree with all of the author's conclusions, this is a fascinating read that is well documented with a plethora of primary sources.

    5 out of 5 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 18, 2012

    Shadow

    Helooooo.... river isnt supposed to be here...

    0 out of 9 people found this review helpful.

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