Sunday, 17 October 2010

Mary Tudor: England's First Queen

History has vilified her as Bloody Mary. Why? Because she burnt over 300 heretics in her reign. She tried to stem the tide of Protestantism in England, to return the country to the Catholicism that reigned at her birth and until her father's lust (for both power and women) got the better of him. Unable to produce an heir, the crown returned to a Protestant (Queen Elizabeth I) and Mary was consequently vilified on religious grounds.

I had always thought that Elizabeth was the first queen of England and that her sister Mary was Mary Queen of Scots. How little I knew! Mary Tudor was a phenomenal woman. She lived in interesting times. To have your entire family turned against you for your beliefs - beliefs that they shared until very recently - must be extremely disorienting for anyone. She handled herself extremely well. I am impressed by her complete belief and the way that she was willing to stand by her belief and not simply renounce it for another, milder version of the same faith as so many others did. Unlike Elizabeth, she was not willing to pretend to comply with the religious dictates of her family and the law. She was prepared to die for what she believed. History would have been far kinder to her if she had.

This is a story of a remarkable woman. I admire her greatly for her unwavering determination to do what she believed was right. I may not agree with what she believed, or what she did, but I admire the courage that she showed at a time when she was abandoned by all who should have supported her. This is a woman who did much for the equality of women and the rights of women at a time when the notion was never even considered. This is a highly recommended biography.

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