Mary was the only surviving child of Henry VIII and Katharine of Aragon. After a happy and privileged childhood, she was thrust aside by the marriage of Henry to Anne Boleyn and forced to agree she was illegitimate. Returned to the succession by Parliamentary Act in 1544, there was an attempt to block her accession that she resisted with spirit and determination. Unfortunately, memories of the more successful aspects of her reign are overshadowed by the remembrance of religious persecution.Read Mary's Life Story
Mary lived her life largely in the south and east of England, with the exception of the three years spent in the Welsh Marches where, although a child, she presided over the Council of Wales, as de facto, although not de jure, Princess of Wales.View Mary's Footsteps
The sixteenth century was a period when realistic portraiture became an art-form used by monarchs and Mary was frequently portrayed – a small, slight, red-haired woman, who, like her father and sister was fond of elaborate clothes and expensive jewellery. She owned one of the most celebrated natural pearls ever found, a gift related to the marriage that, in retrospect, has been seen as a disaster.
Mary has been the subject of several modern biographies, including those by Linda Porter, Anna Whitelock and John Edwards, and some interesting collections of essays, such as that edited by Susan Doran and Thomas Freeman, reviewed here.