Mary Tudor: Princess, Bastard, Queen

Mary Tudor: Princess, Bastard, Queen

by Anna Whitelock


$19.54 $28.00 Save 30% Current price is $19.54, Original price is $28. You Save 30%.
View All Available Formats & Editions

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781400066094
Publisher: Random House Publishing Group
Publication date: 09/07/2010
Pages: 432
Product dimensions: 9.50(w) x 11.28(h) x 1.17(d)

About the Author

Anna Whitelock has a Ph.D. in history from Corpus Christi College, Cambridge University. Her articles and book reviews on various aspects of Tudor history have appeared in publications including the Guardian, the Times Literary Supplement, and BBC History. Mary Tudor, her first book, was one of five shortlisted titles for Britain’s prestigious annual The First Biography Prize. She was also the winner of the Arts Club Emerging Writer Award in 2010. She has taught at Cambridge and is now a lecturer in early modern history at the University of London.

Read an Excerpt

Mary Tudor

Princess, Bastard, Queen
By Anna Whitelock

Random House

Copyright © 2010 Anna Whitelock
All right reserved.

ISBN: 9781400066094

Chapter One


Mary, the daughter of king henry viii and katherine of Aragon, was born at four in the morning of Monday, February 18, 1516, at Placentia, the royal palace at Greenwich, on the banks of the Thames River in London. Three days later, the nobility of England gathered at the royal apartments to form a guard of honor as the baby emerged from the queen's chamber in the arms of Katherine's devoted friend and lady-in-waiting, Elizabeth Howard, countess of Surrey. Beneath a gold canopy held aloft by four knights of the realm, the infant was carried to the nearby Church of the Observant Friars.1 It was the day of Mary's baptism, her first rite of passage as a royal princess.

The procession of gentlemen, ladies, earls, and bishops paused at the door of the church, where, in a small arras-covered wooden archway, Mary was greeted by her godparents, blessed, and named after her aunt, Henry's favorite sister. The parade then filed two by two into the church, which had been specially adorned for the occasion.

Jewel-encrusted needlework hung from the walls; a font, brought from the priory of Christchurch Canterbury and used only for royal christenings, had been set on a raised and carpeted octagonal stage, with the accoutrements for the christening--basin, tapers, salt, and chrism--laid out on the high altar.2 After prayers were said and promises made, Mary was plunged three times into the font water, anointed with the holy oil, dried, and swaddled in her baptismal robe. As Te Deums were sung, she was taken up to the high altar and confirmed under the sponsorship of Margaret Pole, countess of Salisbury.3 Finally, with the rites concluded, her title was proclaimed to the sound of the heralds' trumpets:

God send and give long life and long unto the right high, right noble and excellent Princess Mary, Princess of England and daughter of our most dread sovereign lord the King's Highness.4 Despite the magnificent ceremony, the celebrations were muted. This was not the longed-for male heir, but a girl.

Six years earlier, in the Church of the Observant Friars, Henry had married his Spanish bride, Katherine of Aragon. Within weeks of the wedding, Katherine was pregnant and Henry wrote joyfully to his father-in-law, Ferdinand of Aragon, proclaiming the news: "Your daughter, her Serene Highness the Queen, our dearest consort, has conceived in her womb a living child and is right heavy therewith."5 Three months later, as England awaited the birth of its heir, Katherine miscarried. Yet the news was not made public, and with her belly still swollen, most likely with an infection, she was persuaded by her physician that she "remained pregnant of another child."6 A warrant was issued for the refurbishment of the royal nursery, and in March 1511 she withdrew to her apartments in advance of the birth.7

For weeks the court waited for news of the delivery, but labor did not come. As Katherine's confessor, Fray Diego, reported, "it has pleased our Lord to be her physician in such a way that the swelling decreased."8 There was no baby.

Luiz Caroz, the new Spanish ambassador, angrily condemned those who had maintained "that a menstruating woman was pregnant" and had made her "withdraw publicly for her delivery."9 Many councillors now feared that the queen was "incapable of conceiving."10 Fearing her father's displeasure, Katherine wrote to Ferdinand in late May, four months after the event, claiming that only "some days before" she had miscarried a daughter and failing to mention the subsequent false pregnancy. Do "not be angry," she begged him, "for it has been the will of God."11

Hope soon revived, and while writing letters of deceit to her father, Katherine discovered she was pregnant once more.12 Seven months later, on the morning of New Year's Day, bells rang out the news of the safe delivery of a royal baby. It was a living child and a son; England had its male heir. Celebrations engulfed the court and country, and five days later the child was christened and proclaimed "Prince Henry, first son of our sovereign lord, King Henry VIII." The king rode to the Shrine of Our Lady at Walsingham in Norfolk to give thanks and hold a splendid joust in his son's honor. But the celebrations were short-lived. Three weeks later Prince Henry died. It did not augur well. Over the next seven years, failed pregnancy followed failed pregnancy, each ending in miscarriage, stillbirth, or infant death.

So when in the spring of 1515 the thirty-one-year-old queen fell pregnant for the seventh time, there was a somewhat subdued response. This pregnancy, however, followed its natural course, and in the early weeks of the New Year the royal couple moved to the royal palace at Greenwich, where Henry had been born twenty-four years before and where preparations were now under way for the queen's confinement.

The Royal Book, the fifteenth-century book of court etiquette for all such royal events drawn up by Margaret Beaufort, Henry VIII's grandmother, outlined the necessary arrangements. The queen's chamber was to be turned into a tapestried cocoon, the floor covered with thickly laid carpet; the walls, ceiling, and windows hung with rich arras and one window left loosely covered to allow in air and light. The wall tapestries, the queen's canopied bed, and the bed hangings were to be of simple design, with figurative images avoided for fear of provoking dreams that might disturb mother and child.

There was to be a cupboard stacked with gold and silver plate to signify the queen's status, and crucifixes, candlesticks, images, and relics placed on an altar before which she could pray. At the foot of her canopied bed was placed a daybed, covered with a quilt of crimson satin and embroidered with the king and queen's arms, where the birth would take place.13

In late January, with all made ready, Katherine began the ceremony of "taking her chamber." First she went to the Chapel Royal to hear Mass; then, returning to the Presence Chamber, she sat beneath her cloth of estate--the mark of her rank--and took wines and spices with members of the court. Lord Mountjoy, her chamberlain, called on everyone to pray that "God would give her the good hour"—safe delivery--and the queen was accompanied to the door of her bedchamber in solemn procession. There the men departed, and Katherine entered the exclusively female world of childbirth. As The Royal Book stipulated, "All the ladies and gentlewomen to go in with her, and no man after to come in to the chamber save women, and women to be inside."14 She would not be in male company again until her "churching," the purification after labor, thirty days after the birth. Officers, butlers, and other servants would bring all manner of things to the chamber door, but there the women would receive them.

After days of seclusion and hushed expectancy, the February dawn was broken with bells ringing in the news: the queen had delivered a healthy baby, but a girl. Writing two days later, Sebastian Giustiniani, the Venetian ambassador, assured the doge and Senate that he would offer their congratulations but added that, had the baby been a son, "[he] should have already done so, as in that case, it would not have been fit to delay the compliment."15 Eventually, the ambassador sought an audience with King Henry and congratulated him "on the birth of his daughter, and on the wellbeing of her most serene mother Queen." The state would have been "yet more pleased," he added, "had the child been a son." Henry remained optimistic. "We are both young," he insisted; "if it was a daughter this time, by the grace of God, sons will follow."16


Excerpted from Mary Tudor by Anna Whitelock Copyright © 2010 by Anna Whitelock. Excerpted by permission.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

See All Customer Reviews

Mary Tudor 3.8 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 23 reviews.
Ausonius More than 1 year ago
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-
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
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.
ForeignCircus on LibraryThing 10 months ago
My interest in Tudor history began early- I was booted off a tour of the Tower of London at age 13 for the running commentary I was sharing with my mother! Elizabeth has always been my focus, so I was very excited to see this book on Mary because she is so often treated as only a springboard to Gloriana. Unfortunately, this book just missed the mark for me.Despite the wealth of information and historical references, this book never made Mary a person to me. The manuscript seemed disjointed, and at times contraditory in its assessment of possible motivations. Quite frankly, the portions about Katharine of Aragon were the most human; her daughter Mary still came off as a cardboard figure throughout the rest of the book.I appreciated the effort to reveal more about this fascinating woman's story, but was left feeling as disconnected as ever from Mary Tudor. This book is a decent history, but reading it was not a particularly enjoyable experience.
Meggo on LibraryThing 10 months ago
A perfectly serviceable biography of Mary Tudor, but one that does not bring anything really new to the table. The book is written well and is a quick read, as far as these things go, but it has all been done before, better, by others.
pak6th on LibraryThing 10 months ago
Revisionist history of Mary Tudor, who was a princess, then a bastard, then a King's sister, and finally a Queen. She kept her faith against the odds, and like her mother brought the English to the side of the church and the Spanish throne. But Mary was a pawn in the game of English politics for many years. When Mary is finally Queen, Whitelock shows the power of her statecraft and endurance in the Catholic faith. The burnings of the heretics, and her title of Bloody Mary is only a part of Mary's reign and importance as the first female reigning monarch of England.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago