Mary Tudor- Princess, Bastard, Queen by Anna Whitelock was my choice for last week. I think the best way for me to review/discuss this book is in the form of a letter to Queen Mary Tudor herself because I’m sure she has some Google Alerts out on her name and therefore will see this.
Dear Queen Mary,
Let me first say this- I’m very sorry for ever calling you “Bloody”. I realize now, that that moniker was the product of a very successful propaganda machine and not an accurate portrayal of your rein or life. I also would like to apologize for trying to call your ghost into this world by saying “Bloody Mary, Bloody May, Bloody Mary” and turing three times and looking in a mirror. Although, in my defense, every time I did that all I was hoping was to ask you some questions about Tudor England. Anyway, I’m sorry.
I never really had much sympathy for you and that’s because I don’t think I ever really focused on all that you had to go through. Also, I hope I’m not being too forward by saying I think your Father (Henry VIII) was a total and complete wanker. The way he treated you while he was attempting to divorce your Mother was inexcusable and I think your courage in holding out as long as you did against his bullying was immensely commendable. Well done you! I would also like to say how truly sorry I am that you were separated from your Mother during that time and weren’t able to be with her when she died. Your childhood wasn’t particularly pleasant and I think you handled it admirably. Oh yeah- even though I usually look at her as an early feminist- Anne Boleyn was an utter biatch to you, there is no denying it.
The beginning of your rein was marked by moderation and forgiveness, which I found surprising considering your nickname. But, the truth is that is was a moderate approach. You didn’t immediately execute Lady Jane Gray, and in fact, it seems you were quite reluctant to do so. Your Privy Council was made up of staunch supporters as well as those who didn’t immediately acknowledge you as monarch. Bravo! Although- I really feel that Lady Jane Gray’s execution, delayed though it may have been, was unjust. I’m just sayin. Also, I think your unwavering trust in Holy Roman Emperor Charles V was a bit misplaced, especially considering he didn’t actually come to your aid when you most needed him. Again, I’m just sayin.
In fact, you know what Mary? Can I call you Mary? Cool. I think that all the main men in your life, you Father, cousin (Charles V), and husband (Prince Phillip) all treated you poorly and as nothing more than a pawn in a game of chess. Of course, that was typical treatment for a women of your stature in that day so maybe it didn’t bother you as much. But I think it did.
Finally, I would like to say “Thank You” because truly, you paved the way for Elizabeth I and all female regnants of England. You were the precedent and the standard of a female ruler in England, and no matter what people think of your religious fanaticism, you did an admirable job of it. Speaking of your religious fanaticism, can I just say Mary, that I now recognize that compared to Elizabeth I or Henry VIII, you were no executioner. “Bloody Mary” wasn’t a very fair or accurate nickname- although- I mean, you really didn’t need to have anyone executed for their religion. That was wrong. Very wrong indeed. I’m just saying that, compared to Elizabeth I and Henry VIII, you were less wrong (i.e. less of a blood-thirsty, death sentence imposing monarch) even though most people think the opposite.
All in all, you get a bum deal out of historical recollection and I’m sorry that I’m just recognizing that now. If you get a chance, you might want to try and send Anna Whitelock a gift basket or flowers or a title or a crown jewel or something like to say “Thanks” because she did a lovely job of chronicling you life. Her book about you was not only massively informative, but a truly enjoyable read. At least send her a card- I know she would appreciate it and she really deserves it (seriously, I don’t know if you’ve read it because it’s about you and you probably know the details, but you should read it because it is really really good).
All my best to your Majesty,
Girl on the Contrary.