Mary Tudor: Princess, Bastard, Queen
By Ana Whitelock
(402 pages, nonfiction, 2009)
You may have heard of her, Mary, “Bloody Mary.” Not to be confused with the urban legend. Though this Mary does have blood on her hands.
How could someone burn 300 people and yet wash the feet of the poor? Mary Tudor is a contrasting character. She is pious to the utmost. Loyal to her husband. Kind in her faith. But go against her faith or her husband and she was ruthless. Shaped by her devoutly Catholic mother, Katherine of Aragon, and father, Henry VIII — who had her mother imprisoned and kept Mary from visiting her. Mary was stripped of her crown when Anne Boleyn birthed Elizabeth.
It’s the story of the making of a villain. But whether she was good or bad depends on which side of the cross you were on. Mary took heresy to be the worst sin and felt it needed to be extinguished before it infected others. Purified by fire, she burned Protestants at the stake. Did she do it out of vengeance for her father’s actions? Was she crazy from Anne Boleyn’s attempt to poison her? Or was it a desperate attempt to keep her title and her husband?
Anna Whitelock does a good job of analyzing Mary’s soft side (as well as her reasoning behind her actions) in a way that only a woman can relate to. I liked that this book was a quick read as far as history books go. It didn’t give too many details, even if that meant you might not fully understand everything. And the parts that did go into a lot of detail were either interesting or you could skip them without consequence. If you’ve ever watched the TV show The Tudors, I feel like this book reveals how accurately that show portrays the events that happened, and gives you even more insight into what royal life was like. So was Mary Tudor crazy or just a queen trying to hold onto her crown? Read this book and decide for yourself.
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