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This article is about the English queen. For other uses, see Mary.
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"You would think a woman's reign would be a gentle reign–but it is all death and fear. She has no heir though, which encourages me to hope that maybe... No, if I write more it would be treason."
Tilly Middleton[6]

Mary I (18 February 1516 – 17 November 1558) was the first Queen of England. She was the only surviving child of Henry VIII with his first wife, Catherine of Aragon. Mary was a devout Catholic all of her life. After her the death of her half-brother Edward VI, Mary reigned for six years and was succeeded by her half-sister, Elizabeth I.


Early life[]

Mary was born on 18 February 1516,[3][4] the only surviving child of King Henry VIII and Catherine of Aragon. Her maternal grandparents were Queen Isabella of Castilla and León and King Ferdinand of Aragón, and her paternal grandparents were King Henry VII of England and Elizabeth of York.

At age six, she was betrothed to her cousin, Charles V, whom came to England for the betrothal ceremony.

1525 – 1536[]

In 1525, nine-year-old Mary was given her own household at Ludlow Castle. Charles broke the engagement the same year, which Henry took as a "personal insult." In 1526, the French King Francis I proposed an engagement to Mary. A delegation was sent to England for negotiations in April 1527. The Frenchmen questioned Mary's legitimacy, which Cardinal Wolsey quickly assuaged. The engagement later fell through. Around the same time, Mary's father began to seek a divorce from her mother so he could marry Anne Boleyn. He forbade Mary from seeing Catherine. In March 1531, she fell ill and was brought from Ludlow to London to be under her mother's care. After her recovery, Henry allowed Mary to accompany court to Woodstock.

After Henry separated from Catherine, Mary was permitted to visit her mother only once more in January 1532. Having made himself head of the Church of England, Henry had his marriage to Catherine declared "null and void" and married Anne Boleyn in 1533. Mary was firmly on her mother's side, saying that "she would never accept that her mother was anything other than the rightful Queen of England." In September, Mary's half-sister Elizabeth was born. Mary was stripped of her title of Princess and her household at Beaulieu was disbanded. She was then sent to Hatfield to serve as an attendant to Elizabeth, whom she seemed quite fond of at the time. Mary's mother passed away on 7 January 1536. Anne Boleyn was executed on adultery charges the following May.

1536 – 1548[]

In May 1536, Henry married his third wife, Jane Seymour. A few months later, Mary was allowed to return to court after she agreed to accept her father as head of the church. Jane furthermore helped repair Mary and Henry's strained relationship. The following year, Jane died of childbirth fever after giving birth to Edward. Mary was the chief mourner at her funeral. She took charge of her half-sister Elizabeth, whom was left without a nurse at the time. In 1540, Henry wed his fourth wife Anne of Cleves, whom Mary "came to like" despite her qualms about Anne being a Lutheran. However, Mary found the ostentation of his young fifth wife, Catherine Howard, off putting. After Catherine's execution in 1542, Henry once again attempted to marry off Mary though no plans came to fruition.

In 1543, Henry married his final wife Catherine Parr. Mary became very good friends with her, despite their opposing religions. Mary became closer to the Lord Chancellor Thomas Wriothesley in 1545, but later distanced herself from him. The King died on 28 January 1547 and Mary's younger half-brother Edward ascended the throne. Per her father's will, Mary was next in line to inherit the throne if Edward died without issue. Mary lived with Catherine Parr for a short time, before establishing her own household in Hunsdon. She initially disapproved of Catherine's marriage of Thomas Seymour, but later congratulated her. In 1548, Mary was appointed godmother of Catherine's baby, whom was named Mary after her. Catherine died about a week later of childbed fever.

1548 – 1558[]

During Edward's reign, he and his council put through many Protestant reforms. Mary continued worshipping as she always had, including holding mass. She and Edward quarreled several times at her refusal to change. Before dying on 6 July 1553, Edward disinherited his half-sisters and named their cousin, Lady Jane Grey, his successor. Mary fled east where she gained support in Norfolk and Suffolk. On 19 July, Mary was declared queen by the Privy Council. Mary was inclined to pardon Jane. However, in January 1554, Thomas Wyatt began an uprising against her due to Mary picking a Catholic husband. Jane's execution was carried out in February. Mary also briefly had Elizabeth imprisoned at the Tower of London, suspecting that she was involved with the rebellion.

In July 1554, Mary married Philip of Spain, the son of the Holy Roman Emperor, Charles V, whom Mary was once engaged to. Mary also set to return England back into a Catholic country and had many of the old ways reinstated. She started imprisoning Protestants and had many of them burned at the stake, leading to her being called "Bloody Mary." By early 1555, Mary believed she was expecting her first child. The time to give birth came and went. In August, Philip left to visit the Netherlands. He had returned by June 1557, when Mary agreed to go to war with him against France. In early 1558, Mary thought she was pregnant again. Philip, at this time, had returned to the Netherlands. Once again, a child never came. Her health then began to rapidly decline and she died on 18 November.

Personality and traits[]

Mary's personality was sometimes described as being similar to Catherine Parr's. They were both "very self-controlled and careful, yet full of intellectual excitement."[7] Her sister, Elizabeth thought Mary to be rather grim and remarked that "she never smile[d]." Mary and Katherine also shared in interest in theology, though Mary was a devout Catholic like her mother. She continued practicing her religion throughout Edward's reign, despite mass being banned. Mary was also characterized as "a stickler for correct behavior," but also "never [knew] much about what [was] going on."[8] Furthermore, she spoke Spanish well and was able to translate a book from Latin.

Behind the scenes[]


Marion Day as Mary


In chronological order:


See also[]

My Story characters
Main characters

Nebka | Hatshepsut "Asha" | Claudia | Bran | Tor Scaldbane | Jenkin Lloyd | Eva De Puebla
Elinor Valjean | Lady Jane Grey | Matilda "Tilly" Middleton | Catherine "Kitty" Lumsden | Thomas Hobbs
Remember "Mem" Whipple | Thomas Adamson | Alice Paynton | Susannah Makepeace | Ignatius Sancho
Euphemia Grant | Mary Wade | Elizabeth "Lizzie" Harvey | Isabelle | James Grant | Mary Prince | Bob Jenkins
Dick Maybury | Eliza Helsted | Phyllis McCormack | Lily Hicks | Michael Pope | Hanuman Singh | Clotee Henley
Will Reed | Edith Lorrimer | Jabulani | Sophia Duleep Singh | Florence Finch | Flora Bonnington | Dollie Baxter
Margaret Anne Brady | Jack Fairfax | Daphne "Daffy" Rowntree | Billy Stevens | Noor Inayat Khan
Eleanor Rhys Davies | Rebecca "Becky" Mortkowicz | Harry Woods | Princess Margaret | Sophie Ridel
Peter Rogers | Kitty Langley | Edith "Edie" Benson | Tim Jackson | Andrew "Andy" Pope | Paul Lelaud
Violet Debuchy

Supporting characters

Henry VII | Henry VIII | Catherine of Aragon | Anne Boleyn | Jane Seymour | Anne of Cleves
Catherine Howard | Catherine Parr | Edward VI | Mary I | Elizabeth II

Lists of characters by book

Pyramid of Secrets | Princess of Egypt | Pompeii | Roman Invasion | Viking Blood | Agincourt | My Tudor Queen
Anne Boleyn and Me | Lady Jane Grey | Bloody Tower | The Queen's Spies | Armada | Mayflower | Civil War
The Great Plague | Highway Girl | Ignatius Sancho | The '45 Rising | No Way Back | Transported
The Fall of the Blade | Trafalgar | Mary Prince | Waterloo | Dodger! | Mill Girl | The Hunger | The Crystal Palace
Crimea | Indian Mutiny | Slave Girl | The Sweep's Boy | Victorian Workhouse | Zulu War | Princess Sophia Duleep Singh
Factory Girl | Twentieth-Century Girl | Suffragette | Titanic | The Trenches | Flying Ace | Road to War
Noor-un-Nissa Inayat Khan | Berlin Olympics | Nowhere to Run | The Storm to Come | Battle of Britain
Wartime Princess | Sophie's Secret War | U-Boat Hunter | War Nurse | Blitz | Desert Danger | D-Day
Spy Smuggler | Codename Céline | London Stories

My Royal Story characters

Cleopatra VII | Beatrice Townhill | Elizabeth I | Mary, Queen of Scots | Marie Antoinette | Victoria | Anastasia

Lists of My Royal Story characters by book

Cleopatra | Henry VIII's Wives | Elizabeth | Mary, Queen of Scots | Marie Antoinette | Victoria | Anastasia

My True Story characters

Dora Thewlis | John "Jack" Cornwell | Joe Read | Susan | Vera

Lists of My True Story characters by book

Give Us the Vote! | Standing Alone | Hero at Dunkirk | What If They Find Us?

External links[]