It always started with a dare, and ended with a shrieking dash from the room. Goaded by each other, my friend, sister and I would lock ourselves in my grandmother’s walk in closet, sitting in total darkness except for the shapes gleaming off the full length mirror in front of us. Bloody Mary, Bloody Mary, Bloody Mary, we’d start to chant.
If we said her name a hundred times, the story went, Bloody Mary would appear in the mirror. What would happen next varied from legend to legend, but we never stayed to find out. Having little desire to be physically dragged to Hell, we’d run out, screaming, by the seventieth incantation.
The legend, we understood, was linked somehow to a queen made infamous by a reign of bloodshed and brutality, a queen so wicked her demonic majesty haunts and murders children to this day.
The queen was Mary the First, and, according to Wikipedia, she is the best English monarch since Boudica.
Mary was a precocious child. In July 1520, when scarcely four and a half years old, she entertained a visiting French delegation with a performance on the virginals (a type of harpsichord). A great part of her early education came from her mother, who consulted the Spanish humanistJuan Luis Vives for advice and commissioned him to write De Institutione Feminae Christianae, a treatise on the education of girls. By the age of nine, Mary could read and write Latin. She studied French, Spanish, music, dance, and perhaps Greek. Henry VIII doted on his daughter and boasted to the Venetian ambassador Sebastian Giustiniani, “This girl never cries”.
Damn straight she never cries, you wife-killing wart.
“Despite his affection for Mary, Henry was deeply disappointed that his marriage had produced no sons.”
You do not deserve her, and neither does your rancid arrangement of male-preference cognatic primogeniture.
“Mary determinedly refused to acknowledge that Anne was the queen or that Elizabeth was a princess, further enraging King Henry.”
Sticks up for mother, enrages murderous father.
Although both she and her mother were ill, Mary was refused permission to visit Catherine. When Catherine died in 1536, Mary was “inconsolable”. Catherine was interred in Peterborough Cathedralwhile Mary grieved in semi-seclusion at Hunsdon in Hertfordshire.
And suffers for it.
Later, after she is bullied into acknowledging Henry as head of the Church and reinstated in court:
Her expenses included fine clothes and gambling at cards, one of her favorite pastimes.
GET YOURS MARY.
On 10 July 1553, Lady Jane was proclaimed queen by Dudley and his supporters, and on the same day Mary’s letter to the council arrived in London. By 12 July, Mary and her supporters had assembled a military force at Framlingham Castle, Suffolk. Dudley’s support collapsed, and Mary’s grew. Jane was deposed on 19 July. She and Dudley were imprisoned in the Tower of London. Mary rode triumphantly into London on 3 August 1553 on a wave of popular support.
Dudley eats it, Mary is triumphant and beloved, all is right with the England’s scepter’d isle.
“One of Mary’s first actions as queen was to order the release of the Roman Catholic Duke of Norfolk and Stephen Gardiner from imprisonment in the Tower of London, as well as her kinsman Edward Courtenay.“
Mary takes care of her own, is Bruce Springsteen.
“Mary understood that the young Lady Jane was essentially a pawn in Dudley’s scheme, and Dudley was the only conspirator of rank executed forhigh treason in the immediate aftermath of the coup. Lady Jane and her husband, Lord Guildford Dudley, though found guilty, were kept under guard in the Tower rather than immediately executed, while Lady Jane’s father, Henry Grey, 1st Duke of Suffolk, was released.“
Executes men, is lenient to young women; is a much better proto-feminist icon than Elizabeth “I have the body of a week feeble woman but the heart and stomach of a king” Tudor, the Virgin “oh what we crushed a pregnant lady to death under rocks in my persecutions?” Queen.
And let’s talk about her marriage. The marriage in which Phillip’s titles, honors, and participation in co-rule depend on his relationship with his wife.
Under the terms of the Act for the Marriage of Queen Mary to Philip of Spain, Philip was to enjoy Mary I’s titles and honours for as long as their marriage should last. All official documents, including Acts of Parliament, were to be dated with both their names, and Parliament was to be called under the joint authority of the couple. Coins were also to show the heads of both Mary and Philip. The marriage treaty also provided that England would not be obliged to provide military support to Philip’s father in any war. The Privy Council instructed that Philip and Mary should be joint signatories of royal documents, and this was enacted by an Act of Parliament, which gave him the title of king and stated that he “shall aid her Highness … in the happy administration of her Grace’s realms and dominions.” In other words, Philip was to co-reign with his wife.“
Nice work if you can get it.
There are false pregnancies and deep griefs that should win the sympathies the of anyone who is not a complete garbage monster (which largely explains why the English seem to have so thoroughly disavowed her.) There are Marian persecutions enough to warm the blackest illiberal heart.
There is Ireland, of course, but after all, she was English. She was Catholic, and that must be enough.
And her jewels! La Peregrina.
The brooch that reads “Emperor.”
She deserves the tributes of a million spooked children and a million hungover morning drinkers.
So next time you sip the reviving brew, pour a little out on the floor, and whisper, “To Queen Mary.”
Comments containing Bloody Mary recipes are encouraged. Criticism of Mary or Elizabeth-apologia will be summarily deleted, in the spirit of Her Gracious Majesty.