The Monarch Archives

Join Peyton Leahy as she tells us the history of Bloody Mary and how she came to be!


By Peyton Leahy

February 18, 1516. King Henry VIII and Catherine of Aragon, after many miscarriages and losses, had given birth to their heir: a girl, Mary. Given the name after the Virgin Mary. Catherine had a strong Catholic faith and shared that bond with her daughter.

Henry was disappointed at this news, as he wanted a son to be the rightful heir. Catherine had six miscarriages and the death of her one-month-old son. She was still joyful to have finally given birth to a living child despite the child being female.

However, Mary is remembered as one of the vilest rulers England has ever seen. Given the name more commonly known as Bloody Mary.

In her early years, she struggled with a sickness more commonly known today as influenza. She called it her old guest that she would grow to suffer throughout her life.

She was two years old when she was betrothed to Francis, Dauphin of France. But after three years, he dismissed the contract because he did not want to wait to marry her and went on to marry someone else.

In 1522, at the age of 6, she was instead contracted to marry her 22-year-old cousin Charles V, Holy Roman Emperor. But she was again dismissed for him being too old.

Henry was frustrated with not having a son and falling for the lady-in-waiting from France: Anne Boleyn. He divorced Catherine of Aragon and broke England from the Catholic church because Anne was Protestant. This not only tore Mary to pieces but tore her relationship with her mother.

Both Catherine and Mary never recognized Anne Boylen as the rightful Queen of England and beloved Catherine Mary agreed that only Catherine of Aragon was the rightful queen of England and wife to Henry. This is why Henry cruelly sends Catherine to Kimbolton’s castle and forbids Mary and Catherine from seeing each other. They never saw each other again, only in the form of letters.

Henry VIII was famously known for his five wives while Mary had many different relationships with them.
She had despised Anne Boylen and never recognized her as queen, saying that her mother Catherine was the rightful Queen of England and wife of Henry. Anne would later give birth to her daughter Elizabeth after her two miscarriages. She was declared next in line as heir and Mary a bastard. Henry was again disappointed not having the son he wanted he framed her for incest and adultery, and she was sentenced to be beheaded.

Henry had also fallen in love with Jane Seymour. Another lady-in-waiting for Anne months before her execution. Jane Seymour however felt for Mary. Jane was the one who restored Mary to court as well as the royal succession.

When Jane Seymour while having given birth to the son Henry wanted, Edward VI passed in childbirth,
Henry married Anne of Cleves. Anne treated Mary with respect. But Henry never loved Anne because of her looks. Henry had declared their marriage null and void.

When Henry married Katherine Howard, Mary disliked her. Katherine was around 18 years old while Henry was in his 50s when they were married. Katherine was two years younger than Mary. Mary never saw her as her stepmother because of it.

When Katherine Howard was beheaded for treason Henry married Katherine Parr, his last wife before his death in 1547. While Katherine Parr wanted to maintain a good relationship, it was difficult for Mary to do so because Katherine was Protestant, and Mary was Catholic.

When Henry passed his son Edward VI became king at just age 9. But there was never a steady relationship between Mary and Edward.

Historians report that Mary and Edward would have burst-out arguments about religion because Edward was protestant. And because of this, Edward, laid on his deathbed, had signed that his cousin Lady Jane Gray would be the Queen of England instead of Mary or Elizabeth.

But when the citizens of England recognized Mary as the rightful queen instead of Jane, Jane was beheaded.
She became queen in 1553. She vowed to return England to the Catholic church. In doing so, she married the Habsburg prince Phillip of Spain. While they did cherish each other, Phillip never truly loved her.

To keep England in the Catholic faith, she not only burned protestants at a stake, but she imprisoned Elizabeth, her half-sister. She would never let Elizabeth be next in line for the throne because of her protestant beliefs.

Mary soon found herself pregnant. She was filled with joy. A joy that she was finally going to have an heir that will continue to put England in the hands of the Catholic faith.

Ladies in waiting had prepared her nursery for the day she would give birth to the new heir, but as more months went by, many citizens began to suspect there was a baby at all.

In the modern age, this is a case of Phantom pregnancy. An uncommon condition where a woman believes she is pregnant. Phillip, believing there was no baby at all, had fled back to England.

Mary began to become sicker, and soon near her death, she had the choice to sign Elizabeth’s death. But for reasons unknown, she never did.

Nov. 17, 1558, Mary passed away at age 42. She had passed from the flu but was more than likely from ovarian cysts or uterine cancer due to her sickness in her early years.

Mary I of England was a woman who struggled physically and emotionally in her life. The only saving grace she had was the religion she shared with her mother. To save her and other citizens of England, she took innocent lives and paid the price for it.

A corrupted and flawed mind, Mary Tudor
February 18, 1516 – November 17, 1558