Mary I

1 October 1553

Mary Tudor was the 5th child of Henry VIII and Catherine of Aragon but the only one who survived infancy. She was born on 18 February 1516 at Greenwich Palace. After her parents' divorce she lived at Hatfield with her half-sister Elizabeth and succeeded to the throne on the death of Edward VI. She was crowned in the Abbey on 1 October 1553 and married Philip II of Spain (1527-98) in Winchester Cathedral in 1554. However he left England a few years later when he realised he would have no heir. Her reign saw the persecution of hundreds of Protestants, but she did revive the Roman Catholic monastery at Westminster for a few years. England also lost its last remaining possession in France at this time and Mary is supposed to have said that when she was dead the word 'Calais' would be found engraved on her heart. Dying childless on 17 November 1558 she was buried in the north aisle of Henry VII's Lady Chapel. The wooden effigy carried at her funeral still exists but only the head is displayed in the Abbey Museum. Elizabeth I's coffin was later placed on top of Mary's. James I erected a large monument above the grave but this only bears the effigy of Elizabeth on it. Mary is mentioned in one of the inscriptions, which can be translated "Partners both in throne and grave, here rest we two sisters, Elizabeth and Mary, in the hope of the Resurrection".

The illustration is from a charter of Philip and Mary in the Abbey archives.

Further reading:

Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, 2004
"Mary Tudor. A Life" by David Loades, 1989.

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