MARY TUDOR by Anna Whitelock

MARY TUDOR

Princess, Bastard, Queen

KIRKUS REVIEW

Another dogged attempt to rehabilitate Bloody Mary.

Whitelock (Early Modern History/Univ. of London) does a fine job fleshing out this complex character who was destined for greatness—as the first-born of Henry VIII—yet doomed by the religious schism of the era to become “the queen of regrets.” From an early age, Mary Tudor (1516–1558) was shamelessly used as a pawn in European politics by her father, betrothed alternately to the French then Spanish throne and fixed as Henry’s heir then disinherited with his marriage to Anne Boleyn. Eventually Mary was cast out by her beloved father for her refusal to repudiate her mother, Katherine of Aragon, and her Catholic religion, and she was put under house arrest. However, under the threat of death, she was forced to sign “Lady Mary’s Submission” acknowledging her illegitimate status and Henry as supreme head of the Church of England. Her staunchly Protestant brother Edward VI’s suspicion that Mary would “provoke great disturbances after I have left this life” came swiftly to pass after his untimely death and her rocky accession to the throne in 1553. Catholic rituals were restored, Protestants and other rebels were thrown on the pyre or imprisoned, an unpopular marriage to Philip of Spain was concluded and the country was essentially torn apart. Elizabeth I had witnessed Mary’s courage and defiance as Britain’s first “warrior queen,” and surely marveled at her intelligence, education and ability to run government affairs. Yet Elizabeth prudently forged another way, cautious in all things, keen to popular sentiment, wary of the foreign entanglements that had ensnared her sister and, above all, eschewing marriage to a husband whose power could undermine her own. Whitelock provides a lively, well-structured treatment of this major figure of British history.

Apparently books about British royalty never go out of style, even for American readers, and this is a decent addition to the genre.

Pub Date: Sept. 7th, 2010
ISBN: 978-1-4000-6609-4
Page count: 416pp
Publisher: Random House
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15th, 2010




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