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Bloody Queen Mary: What's In A Name?

1113 words - 4 pages

Nicknames are generally defined as subterfuge given to a person to better understand their personalities. In order to understand whether Queen Mary deserves her nickname we must first look at her history. Mary I of England was born on February 18th 1516. She was the only surviving child of Henry VIII’s first wife, Catherine of Aragon. Due to her gender and her mother’s incapability to produce a male heir, they were both cast away. It was after the death of Edward VI in which Mary made a bid for her birthright as heir to the throne. Edward VI and his council intended for his cousin Lady Jane Grey to succeed him because of her protestant faith. However, after only nine days Jane Grey was dethroned by Mary by popular support. During her reign of 5 years, Queen Mary I went to drastic measures to return England to the Roman Catholic faith. Her attempts however were short-lived as they were quickly reversed by her successor and half-sister, Queen Elizabeth I. It was also during the reign of Queen Elizabeth I that Queen Mary I was unfairly given the nickname, Bloody Queen Mary. Therefore Queen Mary did not deserve this nickname because it was a bias depiction of her through the eyes of Queen Elizabeth the protestant who later succeeded her, the 16th century (during her reign) was essentially a brutal time and thus actions should not be highlighted as brutal because of her violent surroundings and due to her gender, Mary had to be brutal in order to maintain respect.
The essential part of this nickname is that it was given by the Protestants who later succeeded her. Alex Haley once wrote “History is written by the winners”. Sadly the legacy of this queen is an unfortunate example of this. It is due to John Foxe’s famous book, Book of Martyr that Queen Mary was cast aside in the pages of history as a brutal queen. This book was a bias portrayal of the reign of Mary through the eyes of a protestant. One would argue that this was a book simply retelling of the burnings that were in fact ordered by Queen Mary. Therefore, the nickname Bloody Queen Mary would be appropriate. This is a strange assumption because monarchs have ordered the deaths of people long before Mary even existed. William the Conqueror’s army killed around 5000 Anglo-Saxons during the battle of Hastings. This staggering number is almost 16 times larger than the 283 Protestants Mary had executed. However, one would argue that the Battle of Hastings was in fact a battle. Its death tolls could not possibly be compared to the Protestants who were burned during Mary’s reign. However, here the lies the real question. What is so different between those who were slaughtered during a battle and those who were slaughtered during peacetime? In both circumstances, the head of the state was doing what they thought best for their country. William wished to expand Normandy’s borders and Queen Mary wanted to restore England to the Roman Catholic church so that England would be spiritually restored in the...

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