Mary I was queen regnant of England (1553-58). Her reign sought to undo Protestant influences in both church and society. Born on 18 February 1516, Mary was the only surviving child of Henry VIII* and Catherine of Aragon. Educated according to the theories of the Spanish humanist Juan Luis Vives,* Mary studied languages, music, and history. Never formally invested with the title "Princess of Wales," by age nine Mary lived near the Welsh Marches with a household appropriate for the heiress to the throne. Early marriage negotiations established short-lived betrothals, especially with Charles V,* but no marriage followed.
Mary's life began to change in 1527-33 when Henry sought an annulment of his marriage to Catherine. Her father's marital intrigues led to the national independence of the English church. While canon law would have allowed for Mary to retain legitimate status, political concerns about the succession dictated that she be decreed illegitimate. During her father's life Mary endured periods of favor and disfavor, but none as dangerous and devastating as the period 1533­36, when Mary was threatened with arrest and trial for refusing to acknowledge her own illegitimacy. Mary swore an oath acknowledging Henry's supremacy over the church and her own bastardized status in 1536.
During the reign of her brother, Edward VI (1547-53), Mary opposed the government's Protestant policies as illegal because of the minority of the king. Mary continued to observe the Latin Mass, and after an entry into London in March 1551 with her household displaying rosaries in sight of the crowds that had come to greet her, the Privy Council lessened its demands for Mary's con­formity.
Mary became queen after her brother's death and a contested succession in July 1553. Two issues dominated her reign. One was the restoration of Catholic worship and the 1554 reconciliation with the Holy See. In 1555 Mary's gov­ernment began the burning of heretics, martyring over three hundred individuals within three years and earning her the label "Bloody Mary." The second im­portant issue of Mary's reign was her marriage to Philip II* of Spain. Opposition to the Spanish alliance produced Thomas Wyatt's rebellion, which was defeated in 1554. Mary and Philip were married in Winchester Cathedral in late 1554, but Philip became king in title only. He influenced Mary to declare war against France in 1557, which resulted in the English loss of Calais. Mary I died on 17 November 1558.
D. Loades, Mary Tudor: A Life, 1989.
Gary G. Gibbs

Renaissance and Reformation 1500-1620: A Biographical Dictionary. . 2001.

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