Mary, Bloody Mary (Young Royals Series)

Mary, Bloody Mary (Young Royals Series)

4.6 100
by Carolyn Meyer

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The story of Mary Tudor's childhood is a classic fairy tale: A princess who is to inherit the throne of England is separated from her mother; abused by an evil stepmother who has enchanted her father; stripped of her title; and forced to care for her baby stepsister, who inherits Mary's rights to the throne. Believe it or not, it's all true.
Told in the… See more details below


The story of Mary Tudor's childhood is a classic fairy tale: A princess who is to inherit the throne of England is separated from her mother; abused by an evil stepmother who has enchanted her father; stripped of her title; and forced to care for her baby stepsister, who inherits Mary's rights to the throne. Believe it or not, it's all true.
Told in the voice of the young Mary, this novel explores the history and intrigue of the dramatic rule of Henry VIII, his outrageous affair with and marriage to the bewitching Anne Boleyn, and the consequences of that relationship for his firstborn daughter. Carolyn Meyer has written a compassionate historical novel about love and loss, jealousy and fear--and a girl's struggle with forces far beyond her control.

Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher

"Riveting."-Publishers Weekly
"Engrossing emotional intensity."-Kirkus Reviews (pointer review)
"Meyer writes powerfully and sympathetically, mixing the grim details of life in the 1500s with glamorous, fascinating descriptions of life in the court of Henry VIII."-Booklist
"This interesting and well-researched fictional biography brings a bit of history vividly and compellingly to life."-VOYA

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Steve Lavis looks at animals foreign and domestic with two Peek-Through Board Books. On the Farm follows the wooly sheep as he searches out who has eaten its breakfast. As each page is turned, more animals become visible through the die-cut spaces. The culprits are found behind the tractor. In the Jungle follows the same format, only this time a crocodile is in hiding. "Here I am!" shouts the crocodile on the last spread. Then he asks, "Who wants to hide next?" ( Apr.) Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information.
Children's Literature
Soon after Mary's death, she was given the name "Bloody Mary" and her reputation has been sullied ever since. Carolyn Meyer has succeeded, in this disturbing novel, to show the reader that there was another side to Mary. She was not just a fanatically religious and harsh queen. Before she even came to the throne, Mary was a child whose father cast her off. For many years she suffered dreadful indignities and privations. After the marriage between her parents was annulled, Mary was deprived of her title as Princess of Wales and was expected to answer to the title of "Lady Mary." Mary's stepmother, the unpredictable and often cruel Anne Boleyn went out of her way to make Mary's life a misery. After the birth of Princess Elizabeth, Mary was given the job of taking care of the baby, including being expected to change Elizabeth's filthy diapers. Mary was not allowed to see or write to her mother, and there were long periods of time when she feared for her life. It is not surprising that Mary turned inward and relied heavily on her faith to get her through these dreadful years. Carolyn Meyer shows us how, over time, Mary developed a deep hatred of Anne Boleyn and of what she considered to be "heresy" of any kind. Mary was truly shaped, even twisted, by the events in her childhood and young adulthood. Carefully researched, this book gives the reader an exceptional picture of the times of Henry VIII and the danger that existed in his court. One of three books in the "Young Royals" series. 1999, Harcourt Inc.,
— Marya Jansen-Gruber
Mary Tudor, daughter of King Henry VIII and his first wife, Catherine of Aragon, narrates the story of her life from age ten to twenty in this wellwritten work. Two constants in Mary's life are her struggle to control her temper and her hatred of Anne Boleyn, Henry's second wife and mother of the future queen, Elizabeth. When King Henry breaks from the Roman Catholic Church to divorce Catherine and marry Anne, Mary's life changes dramatically. She is no longer a pampered princess with three hundred servants, but is forced to become a servant in Anne's household, changing her halfsister's diapers and emptying her stepmother's slop bucket. Worse yet, when Henry's marriage to Catherine is invalidated, Mary is declared a bastard with no claim to the throne. Many detailsfrom historical events, such as Anne Boleyn's coronation, to household trivia, such as the fact that Cardinal Wolsey's luxury mattress was stuffed with thirteen pounds of sheep's woolare skillfully woven into the narrative through conversations, letters, and overheard gossip. Modern readers will identify with the queentobe as she faces certain timeless problems: the pain of learning her parents no longer love each other, the anguish of being separated from her mother and ignored by her father, her powerlessness over many aspects of her life, and the sorrow of a failed romance. In a historical note, the author states that Queen Mary restored the Roman Catholic religion and then ordered hundreds of Protestants to be burned at the stake. The book's only flaw is this jump from a sympathetic child to a monarch who murdered. This interesting and wellresearched fictional biography brings a bit of history vividly andcompellinglyto life. VOYA CODES: 4Q 4P M J (Better than most, marred only by occasional lapses; Broad general YA appeal; Middle School, defined as grades 6 to 8; Junior High, defined as grades 7 to 9). 1999, Gulliver/Harcourt Brace, Ages 12 to 15, 256p, $16. Reviewer: Florence H. Munat
Kirkus Reviews
Meyer (Gideon's People, 1996, etc.) presents the youth of Mary Tudor, oldest daughter of Henry VIII, as a bitter tale of mistreatment, political machination, and battling wills. From the outset, Mary blames the witch, Anne Boleyn, for separating her and her mother, Catherine of Aragon, then depriving them of wealth and security; for persuading the king to declare Mary illegitimate; for forcing her at last into the role of scorned servant, charged with changing the infant Elizabeth's nappies. Certain that she will one day be queen, Mary fights back in the only ways she can, by becoming an accomplished spy, holding in her anger, and refusing for years to sign the acknowledgement of her illegitimacy. Meyer gives Mary, Henry, and Anne strong, distinct personalities and motives, enlivens historical events with closely observed details of dress and ceremony, and drives it all forward with engrossing emotional intensity—climaxed by an eyewitness's lingering account of Anne Boleyn's beheading: " `We heard the dreadful sound—there is none like it in all this world.' " It's an absorbing story, compellingly told, and if Mary doesn't come off as the religious fanatic she evidently was, her later brutality is not soft-pedaled in the appended historical note. Follow this up with Rosalind Miles's equally powerful I, Elizabeth (1994). (Fiction. 12-15)

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Product Details

Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
Publication date:
Young Royals Series, #1
Edition description:
Sales rank:
Product dimensions:
4.19(w) x 6.88(h) x 0.65(d)
830L (what's this?)
Age Range:
12 - 17 Years

Read an Excerpt

Chapter 1

King Francis

I inherited King Henry's fiery temper–no one would deny that! And so, on the day I learned that he had betrothed me to the king of France, I exploded.

"I cannot believe that my father would pledge me to that disgusting old man!" I raged, and hurled the bed pillows onto the floor of my chamber. "I shall not, not, NOT marry him!"

I was but ten years old and had yet to master my anger nor learn its use as a weapon. I shouted and stamped my feet until at last my fury subsided in gusts of tears. Between sobs I stole glances at my governess, the long-nosed Lady Margaret, countess of Salisbury. She stitched on her needlework as though nothing were happening.

"Come now," the countess soothed, her needle flicking in and out, in and out, "it is only a betrothal, and that–as you well know–is quite a long way from marriage. Besides, madam, the king wishes it."

Her calm made me even angrier. "I don't care what he wishes! My father pays so little attention to me that I doubt he even remembers who I am!"

A thin smile creased Salisbury's face, and she set down her embroidery hoop and dabbed at my cheeks with a fine linen handkerchief. "He knows, dear Mary, he knows. You grow more like him every day–his fair skin, his lively blue eyes, his shining red-gold hair." She tucked the handkerchief into the sleeve of her kirtle and sighed. "And, unfortunately, his temper as well."

Suddenly exhausted, I flung myself onto my great bed. "When is it to be, Salisbury?" I murmured.

"King Francis and his court intend to arrive in April for the Feast of Saint George. We have three months to prepare. The royal dressmaker will soon begin work on your new gown. Your mother, the queen, sent word that she favors green trimmed with white for you. You're to have a cloak made of cloth of gold."

"I hate green," I grumbled. Perhaps this was a battle I could win, although my gentle, patient mother matched my father in stubbornness. "And I absolutely do not care if green and white are our royal colors!"

"It seems that today madam dislikes nearly everything," Salisbury said. "Perhaps in the morning the world will look better."

"It will not."

"Nevertheless, madam, it is time for prayers."

I slid down from my lofty mattress and knelt on the cold stone floor beside the governess, as I did every night and every morning, and together we recited our prayers.

That finished, two of the serving maids came to remove my kirtle and dress me in my silk sleeping shirt. They snuffed out the candles until only one still burned. I climbed back onto my high bedstead and, propped on one elbow, watched my governess stretch out carefully on the narrow trundle next to my bed and draw up the satin coverlet. Salisbury was tall, and the coverlet was short. When she pulled the coverlet up to her sharp chin, her feet stuck out. This was the first all day that I had felt the least bit like laughing.

Soon after my eleventh birthday in the spring of 1527, I, Mary Tudor, daughter of Henry VIII, king of England, and his wife, Queen Catherine of Aragon, teetered on a stool. The royal dressmaker and her assistants pulled and pushed at my betrothal gown, pinning and tucking the heavy green silk. Would they never be done with it? My head ached, and my stomach felt queasy.

"Come, madam," the dressmaker coaxed. "You want to please your bridegroom, do you not?"

"No, I do not," I snapped. From everything I had overheard from the gossiping ladies of the household, Francis, king of France, was extremely ugly and repulsive, a lecherous old man afflicted with warts and pockmarks and foul breath.

"But your father, the king, wishes it," the dressmaker reminded me.

I sighed and stood straight and motionless. Your father, the king, wishes it. How I had come to dread those words! Soon the French king and his court would arrive, and I, obeying my father's wishes, would place my little hand in the grisly paw of the horrible Francis and promise to be his bride.

Finally the gown was ready, the preparations finished, and my trunks packed for the journey to London from my palace in Ludlow, near the Welsh border. Traveling with my entourage of courtiers and ladies-in-waiting, Salisbury and I were carried in the royal litter, which was lined with padded silk and plump velvet cushions and borne between two white horses. After almost two weeks of bumping over washed-out roads, we arrived, muddy and bedraggled, at Greenwich Palace on the River Thames, five miles east of London.

As I ran through the palace to find my mother, I found myself surrounded by commotion. New tapestries had been hung along the walls in the Great Hall. The royal musicians and costumers bustled about arranging masques and other entertainments. Carts delivered provisions for the banquets to the palace kitchens.

Despite the excitement, or perhaps because of it, I felt unwell. As the arrival of the French king neared, I suffered headaches and a queasiness of the stomach. My physician treated them with doses of evil-tasting potions, but they did no good.

Then word came that the ships carrying King Francis and his attendants had been delayed by storms. My bridegroom would not arrive until the weather cleared. An idea occurred to me: Maybe his ship will be lost. Maybe he will drown and I won't ever have to marry him. Almost as soon as the thought crossed my mind, I regretted it. As I had been instructed since early childhood, I would have to admit these wicked thoughts to my confessor, do penance, and receive absolution.

But as long as I had committed such a sin–a rather small one, in my opinion–I decided that I might as well try to turn it to my advantage. Kneeling on the hard stone floor, my spine straight as a lance, my hands clasped beneath my chin, my eyes turned toward Heaven, I prayed: Dear God, if it be thy will to take King Francis, please send a good husband in his stead!

I was not sure what a good husband was. For that I put my trust in God.

For nearly three weeks the storms raged and then suddenly abated. Toward mid-April King Francis and his huge retinue of courtiers and servants landed in Dover. They made their way to Greenwich, escorted by my father's knights and henchmen.

"Perhaps he won't find me to his satisfaction after all," I said hopefully to Salisbury.

"Perhaps, but that is improbable, madam," said Salisbury. Her face, plain as a plank, was as serene as ever. "The French king requested a portrait, which your father sent him, nicely presented in an ivory box with the Tudor rose carved upon the cover. King Francis much liked the sweet countenance he saw therein."

How infuriating! "Salisbury, why must it be this way? If I had asked for his portrait, to see if he pleased me, would I have gotten it?"

Copyright © 1999 by Carolyn Meyer, published by Harcourt, Inc. All rights reserved.

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What People are saying about this

From the Publisher
"Riveting."-Publishers Weekly
"Engrossing emotional intensity."-Kirkus Reviews (pointer review)
"Meyer writes powerfully and sympathetically, mixing the grim details of life in the 1500s with glamorous, fascinating descriptions of life in the court of Henry VIII."-Booklist
"This interesting and well-researched fictional biography brings a bit of history vividly and compellingly to life."-VOYA

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