Bloody Mary - Mary Tudor
Mary Tudor's story begins with her larger than life father, King Henry VIII of England.
Mary was Henry's eldest child, born to Catherine of Aragon, the first of his six wives. The royal couple could not conceive a son, and Henry, after much dispute with the Papacy who refused an annulment of the marriage, defied the Pope and had his own Bishopry divorce him. Henry's second wife, Anne Boleyn, gave birth to Elizabeth, and his wife no. 3, Jane Seymour, to a male heir, Edward.
Mary, Mary, Bloody Mary
Some say that if you stand in front of a mirror in a dark room and repeat the words, Mary, Mary, Bloody Mary, you may see a hooded female apparition behind you in the glass. Though this has no definite connection with the Mary Tudor story, it has been around a long time and must have been a deliciously frightening game for English Protestant children in the years following Mary's death. Surely after such a bad life, her tortured spirit would still walk abroad...
And Finally -
You deserve a drink for reading this far. Vodka, bitters, tabasco, Worcestershire sauce, tomato juice and a twist of lemon. Shake with ice. Serve with a stick of celery. The acceptable face of Bloody Mary.
The Birth of Anglicanism
Meanwhile, Henry's relations with the Vatican had gone from bad to worse, and he had declared himself head of the Church in England. This was the birth of Anglicanism. As an aside, the break was political, not theological, and to this day the Anglican Church far more closely resembles the Catholic Church than do the true Protestant Churches of much of Northern Europe.
Following Henry's death, Edward sat on the English throne for a brief six years. His health had never been good (it is considered likely that all three of Henry's children were born syphilitic) and he died in his teens, childless, to be succeeded by his elder half-sister, Mary.
Mary's Reign of Blood
Mary had never forgiven her father for divorcing her mother, nor had she accepted his break with Rome. Immediately on acceding to the throne, she set out on her personal mission of returning England to the Church of Rome.
Her methods were uncompromising. She invoked old heresy laws to make an example of prominent supporters of Anglicanism, and had no fewer than 300 of her subjects burned at the stake on such charges, most famously, Thomas Cranmer, the Archbishop of Canterbury. This earned her the name Bloody Mary.
Her mission was doomed to failure, in part because she reigned for only five years and in part because her fanaticism made her extremely unpopular. Marrying Philip II of Spain, England's enemy, did nothing to help her cause, nor did he give her an heir. All in all, her reign was a national and personal tragedy.
Mary was succeeded by her younger half-sister Elizabeth, a confirmed Anglican and a highly intelligent and talented politician. Elizabeth's reign restored some much needed stability to the realm.