Mary I is also referred to as Mary Tudor or “Bloody Mary”. Mary’s father was Henry VIII and her mother was Catherine of Aragon, Henry’s first wife. She was crowned only after the attempt to put Lady Jane Grey on the throne.
Mary I was queen from 1553 to 1558. When she was crowned queen, she was very popular with the people of England. It was this popularity that helped to quickly overturn the attempt to put Lady Jane Grey onto the throne of England. However this popularity quickly turned sour because of her religious changes and her marriage.
Mary completely reversed the religious changes of Edward. She had been brought up as a strict Roman Catholic and was horrified by her half-brother’s changes.
The Catholic Mass was restored and Holy Communion was banned. All priests had to be Catholic; the basic furniture in the Protestant churches was replaced with the colourful furniture and paintings of the Catholic Church. Services were held in Latin and Cranmer’s English prayer book was banned. The pope was made head of the church again.
The majority of the people of England accepted these changes – the Tudor royal family was still respected throughout the country. However, some did not. Some refused to change and they were burned at the stake for heresy. Nearly 300 people died in this way. One was Archbishop Cranmer who had written the banned English prayer book. The treatment of these heretics, and many were ordinary people, did much to make Mary unpopular – hence her nickname “Bloody Mary”.
English people, at this time, feared the power of Spain. To bring the two countries closer together, Mary accepted a marriage proposal from the king of Spain – Philip II. He was also a very strong Catholic. Mary’s advisors and friends warned her not to marry Philip but she went against their advice and married him in 1554. The people of England greatly feared that Philip would control England and this lead to Mary becoming very unpopular with her people.
The marriage was a disaster. Philip spent much of his time in Spain and the two rarely saw one another. They had no children.
When Mary died in 1558, she was a very unhappy person. Her marriage, on which she had placed so much hope, failed and the people of England resented her.
Her half-sister Elizabeth became queen on Mary’s death.