Friday, July 18, 2008

Question from Missy - Did Mary I have bisexual tendencies?

I read some where that when the Duchess of Alba was presented to Queen "Bloody" Mary, Mary shocked everyone giving the duchess a french kiss. I know that Mary was deeply in infatuated with her husband Phillip, but is it possible that she was harboring some bi-sexual tendenices? After all, she wasnt married until her late thirties and she had very close relationships with her ladies in waiting. Assuming she was a person with a normal sex drive, is it possible that she may have had some late night fun with her ladies?

8 comments:

PhD Historian said...

It would be very important to know WHERE you read this tale. If you can track down where you read this story, and then tell us where that author got it from (is there a footnote, and if so, what does that footnote say?), we'd all have a better idea of how much credence to lend it. For my own part, I find it utterly unimaginable that Queen Mary would have kissed ANY person publicly with such passion (i.e., "with tongue"). Did she have "bisexual tendencies"? I very seriously doubt it.

Nicole said...

As pious and religious as Mary I was, I highly doubt that she would have harbored or acted on any homosexual tendencies.

And the fact that she wasn't married until her thirties is not any indication of her sexual preferences. As a woman and a princess should could only marry when and to whom her father wished. As soon as she was a Queen in her own right she arranged for a marriage for herself.

Anonymous said...

IMO, no.

Mary was such a fanatic about her religion that anything that would even hint of not being approved by The Church would have been steered clear away from. Woman to woman would have been a definite no-no with a French Kiss. A peck on the cheek, or a quick peck on the lips would have been ok.

Giving kisses to strangers was a habit of English ladies during this period of time. It seems to be a custom which wasn't done in Europe, if comments by ambassadors and visitors to England are believed. These folks were always amazed at how they were greeted...and most enjoyed the experience.

Anonymous Tracey

kb said...

Mary had a well-known dislike of the Duchess of Alba who was very close to Mary's husband Philip. I suspect the kiss was actually 'in the French style' of 3 kisses on alternating cheeks. [right, left, right] I also suspect that this greeting was given in an effort to please her husband.

It is true that Mary was extremely close to some of her ladies-in-waiting but I doubt, given her religious convictions that the affection was also sexual.

Women did sometimes sleep in her bed with her - but this was considered very normal. Elizabeth also had extremely close relationships with some of her female attendants who occasionally slept in her bed with her.

That said, elite early modern sexuality is even more under-studied than that of the middling and lower sorts. SO it's not impossible, but I think it unlikely. It would be very cool, in a geeky historian sort of way, if I was wrong.

Elizabeth M. said...

The idea that Mary may have been bi-sexual flies in the face of her deeply held religious beliefs. Homosexuality was condemned by the Catholic as strongly then as it is today, so I seriously doubt Mary would have done anything against the tenets of her religious faith.

Lara said...

My first reaction was the same as kb - that is was a French style of kissing on alternate cheeks.

The only reference I found to Mary greeting the Duchess in Loades' "Mary Tudor: A Life" was that they had a prolonged exchange of courtesies and they both ended up sitting on the floor because each kept refusing to let the other sit lower. How amusing that would have been to see!

Lara said...

Sorry - forgot to add in my previous message that Loades' source was the Calendar of State Papers, Spanish, XIII, 33.

kb said...

There are several comments on the differing style of greetings in various sources. Those from the continent commented frequently on the unusual greeting style of elite English women who kissed 'hello' on the lips (mouth closed). This was considered a bit shocking. If Mary chose to greet the Duchess in the continental instead of English style, it would have been noted.