Saturday, February 02, 2008

Question from Phillip - Mary Tudor before becoming Queen

I am doing a project on "Bloody" Mary Tudor for school. I find her a very fasinating person but I can't find many books written about her.

I'm mainly looking for information about her youth (before she became queen and after Anne Boleyn's death.) Did she ever have a love interest? How was her relationship with her father after she was recieve back to court?

15 comments:

PhD Historian said...

There are a lot of books available on Mary Tudor. I would suggest Carrolly Erickson's "Bloody Mary" as a starting point. Most public libraries will have it. David Loades' "Mary Tudor: A Life" is also very good. You might also read the section on Mary in Alison Weir's "The Children of Henry VIII."

monica said...

I have never read of Mary having a love interest before she married. Maybe this is why she fell so madly in love with Philip when she married him.

Her relationship with her father was quite good afer her return, especially during his marriages to Jane Seymour and Katherine Parr. She did not get on with her stepmother Catherine Howard, who was younger than her. This soured her relationship with Henry for a time. It was in 1543, when Henry married Katherine Parr, that the three children of Henry VIII became part of a more normal family set-up, with separate establishments but much more contact. Mary was then twenty-seven.

Foose said...

There is a letter written by Catherine of Aragon to her daughter in 1534 (when they had been separated) in which she warns Mary to "keep your heart with a chaste mind ... not thinking or desiring any husband for Christ's passion." Mary was then about 17 or 18, when it would have been normal for her to develop an interest in men ... perhaps this letter had a strong psychological effect on her, making her feel that she ought not to have feelings for any man unless he was her promised bridegroom.

Other commenters, what do you think Catherine's motives were in writing this? Was it simply a warning to stay out of trouble, since it was easy for a woman to get a bad reputation and Mary had to keep hers if she was to be eligible for the throne? Or that Mary getting involved with a man -- unsuitable or politically dangerous -- might be a way for Anne to liquidate her? Do you think she had perhaps heard that Mary had a crush on someone? Or that Anne's party or Henry might have promised her a husband if she would conform? Or was there some personal bitterness in Catherine's counsel, i.e. that husbands were not to be relied on?

monica said...

Foose, I think it's more likely that this was general religious advice, especially as she was at an age to marry, combined with worry about the consequences of an illicit arrangement. Any child born to Mary would be a direct threat to the children of Henry and Anne Boleyn, and Katherine was probably concerned about Henry and Anne's reaction which would certainly have involved Mary being sent to the Tower, with the possibility of execution. Mary was a slow developer, so it may be that she had recently reached the age where she could conceive.

As to hearing of a crush on someone, well she would have been a very strange teenage girl if she had not felt an attraction to someone, and this would probably have been noticed by those around her. Katherine was also probably worried about Mary being used by a faction for their own ends. Katherine continued to believe in the sanctity and importance of marriage, which is evidenced in the letters she wrote from her deathbed. She blamed Anne rather than Henry, but still, yes, she must have felt some bitterness at the fickleness of husbands. She would also have wanted her daughter to marry a mighty prince, not one of her servants, who were the only people there was the possibility of arranging a secret marriage with.

I short, I don't know...probably a combination of all the reasons you suggested! But it doesn't sound like it was about a specific incident to me.

PhD Historian said...

I agree with Monica that Katherine's letter was probably meant as general religious instruction. The admonition is one that occurs commonly among the writings of the more religiously devout, both male and female, Roman Catholic and (later) Protestant. It is almost a verbatim repetition of the content of numerous well-known sermons of the period. And Katherine was unquestionably religiously devout and anxious to impart the same fervor to her daughter ... an effort that proved very successful.

Foose said...

Thanks, Monica!

I have been thinking ... Margaret Douglas, Mary's cousin whom she was close to, had an affair (or secret marriage) with Anne Boleyn's uncle, Thomas Howard. I don't know when it began, but he was sent to the Tower for it in 1536. Perhaps Anne had encouraged this; she had already engineered Henry Fitzroy's marriage to Mary Howard.

Perhaps Catherine was aware of Margaret's entanglement and feared that Anne was aiming to neutralize all rival heirs to Elizabeth by marrying them to Howards. I recall that Anne threatened to marry Mary to "some varlet" but Henry wouldn't have allowed that; it's more likely that she would have tried to get her married to a lesser Howard who could be controlled...? The Duke of Norfolk had apparently made some overtures in the 1520s to get his son Surrey considered as a candidate, but Henry had firmly discouraged it. I expect Anne would have too, it would have been too threatening a combination.

I think this letter set up a sort of psychological vise on Mary, that she felt she couldn't love until she had her mother's permission in effect. And the person her mother was most likely to approve of was Charles V, the head of her family, and barring him, his son Philip.

And at the same time, the marriage would have really annoyed Henry, so perhaps Mary could satisfy two emotional needs at one stroke!

Anonymous said...

Why didn't Henry marry Mary off to some nobleman? Espeically to some nobleman who was against Catholism, that certaintly would have kept her in check, being that in those days women were suppose to obey their husbands. Perhaps having a married child would have made him feel old?

PhD Historian said...

I suspect Henry did not "marry off" his eldest daughter because her status vis-a-vis the succession was so complex. She was, at various times, his heir, barred by Act of Parliament from inheriting, and/or reinstated to the royal inheritance under certain conditions that Henry was free to specify by will prior to his death (in the end, he did not avail himself of the opportunity). And Mary was declared illegitimate by the first Act for the Succession, further complicating her status. Lastly, if she were married domestically, her adult husband might exert a claim to the throne in right of Mary and against that of Henry's child-heir, Edward. Henry VIII was no fool when it came to succession matters. Keeping Mary a spinster was the optimum way to prevent her (or her putative husband) from meddling in the succession.

monica said...

No husband of Mary's could be relied on not to aim for the throne, it was too big a prize. Anne Boleyn was also careful not to give the Howards too much power - she was certainly disrespectful to her uncle, the leader of the clan, the Duke of Norfolk. He referred to her as a great whore who treated him like a dog. If Mary was married, a faction would try to put them on the throne, whether they wanted to or not (see what happened to Jane Grey).

It's an interesting theory, foose, that Anne Boleyn may have encouraged Margaret Douglas and Thomas Howard's affair, although she would have benefitted most from Margaret staying a spinster, or marry in Scotland, this wasn't a bad option. Certainly the Devonshire MS shows members of Anne's circle - Thomas Wyatt, Mary Howard, Mary Shelton - as being involved in the affair. But I have never seen any evidence and Henry seems to have been unaware of the relationship until after Anne's execution.

Foose said...

There's an interesting new book that came out last year in Britain, by Linda Porter, I think it's called "Mary Tudor: England's First Queen." The author makes some points I hadn't heard of before -- the one that most intrigued me was that Mary only came out in opposition to her father when her own position was threatened, not when Catherine's was in jeopardy. One of the book's themes is that Mary was a more sophisticated (and/or cynical?) politician than she's usually depicted. If anyone else has read this book, I would certainly appreciate hearing their views on it.

Anonymous said...

read mary, bloody mary by carolyn meyer

PhD Historian said...

"Mary, Bloody Mary" is children's fiction, not history.

Anonymous said...

Wasn't Thomas Crowmell planning on marrying her? Isn't that one of the reseasons he was beheaded?

Foose said...

I never heard that Cromwell planned to marry Mary -- sounds intriguing!

I recall that his wife did die before he hit the big time, and one reviewer of Cromwell's latest biography did complain that the book did not address why Cromwell never married again. And he must have had a lot of people eager to ally themselves with him, even if they couldn't stand him personally and thought of him as a jumped-up cur.

He does seem to have been rather soft on Mary politically, but I always thought it was a case of Henry VIII and him playing "good cop, bad cop" to get her to conform.

I can't see Henry allowing it, even if he had several sons to safeguard the succession. The Emperor and the Queen of Hungary would have had apoplexy.

Anonymous said...

While I was reading a comment I read that there is a book out in England which talks of Mary the first being the first queen of England. This is wrong. If this author wanted to get technical she was not the first but the third. Before her there was Matilda and then Jane and then Mary! Anyway there are several other books on Mary but if I can think of them off hand I really can't.