Mary Tudor was the fifth child of Henry VIII and Katherine of Aragon but the only one who survived infancy. She was born on 18th 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. Her reign saw the persecution of hundreds of Protestants, but she did revive the Roman Catholic Benedictine monastery at Westminster for a few years (the illumination featured on this page is from the charter re-founding the monastery). 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.
On 25th July 1554 in Winchester Cathedral she married Prince Philip of Spain. She insisted that Philip receive the title of king consort and all official documents bear their joint names. The chair said to be used at this ceremony is still at Winchester. However Philip left England a few years later when he realised he would have no heir.
She was crowned in the Abbey on Sunday 1st October 1553. Both Anne of Cleves and the future Elizabeth I followed the queen as she processed into the Abbey. Mary had a new supply of coronation oil made, sent by the Catholic bishop of Arras. She felt that the earlier oil had been 'tainted' by her Protestant brother Edward VI at his coronation. The ceremony was conducted by the Bishop of Winchester as the Archbishop of Canterbury had been imprisoned in the Tower of London. The ceremony followed that of 1547 but the Queen eliminated several aspects which she thought were offensive. For example she did not wear St Edward's robe and only carried the orb in the outgoing procession. She also chose not to use the ancient Coronation Chair for the crowning as she thought this might have been 'polluted' by Edward. A new one is said to have been sent to her by the Pope but it is not known what happened to this. (It is only since James I's coronation that the ancient chair has always been used for both anointing and crowning as some earlier monarchs used it for just one part of the ceremony). A large raised platform was constructed in the lantern (so everyone could see her) and she had to climb thirty steps to reach her throne on the top of this.
Burial and funeral effigy
Dying childless on 17th November 1558 she was buried in a vault in the north aisle of Henry VII's Lady Chapel in a coffin, above which the large monument was later erected. The wooden effigy carried at her funeral still exists and both head and unclothed body (having previously been separated) are on view in the new Queen's Diamond Jubilee Galleries.
Elizabeth I's coffin was later placed on top of Mary's in the vault.
James I erected a large monument above the graves 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.
Mary I. England's Catholic Queen by John Edwards, 2011
Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, 2004
The funeral effigies of Westminster Abbey, edited by A. Harvey & R. Mortimer, revised edn. 2003
Mary Tudor. A Life by David Loades, 1989
The drama of coronation by Alice Hunt, 2008
The Real Tudors: Kings and queens rediscovered by C. Bolland and T. Cooper, National Portrait Gallery exhibition 2014
Papers about her funeral are at The National Archives, Kew, Surrey
18th February 1516
17th November 1558
14th December 1558
1st October 1553
14th December 1558