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Bloody Mary - Mary Tudor

Updated on February 22, 2017

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 Tudor

Mary I of England, "Bloody Mary"
Mary I of England, "Bloody Mary"

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.

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    • profile image

      anna smitherna 8 years ago

      you now that i am young an really really scared of bloody mary did you now that in tudor times if you say bloody mary 3 times she will come and kill you

    • Paraglider profile image
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      Dave McClure 8 years ago from Kyle, Scotland

      Relax, Anna - she is long dead and not to be feared nowadays.

    • glassvisage profile image

      glassvisage 8 years ago from Northern California

      Great Hub. I was just studying for a history test and learned that she was called Bloody Mary... one of my favorite drinks! :P

    • Paraglider profile image
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      Dave McClure 8 years ago from Kyle, Scotland

      Thanks Glassvisage. She was a pretty tough cookie, Mary.

    • profile image

      dn 8 years ago

      thx a lot! this really helped me in my essay !!!

      copy and paste!!

    • profile image

      Katie 8 years ago

      did Mary Tudor deserve to known as Bloody Mary?

    • Paraglider profile image
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      Dave McClure 8 years ago from Kyle, Scotland

      Katie - she had 300 people burned at the stake. What do you think?

    • profile image

      melissa 8 years ago

      bloody mary has a time when she will kill you

    • Paraglider profile image
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      Dave McClure 8 years ago from Kyle, Scotland

      Who, just me, or everyone? She'd have to be one busy ghost...

    • profile image

      bonita 7 years ago

      bloody mary aint real every body knows that . you guys are all just punks.

    • Paraglider profile image
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      Dave McClure 7 years ago from Kyle, Scotland

      Mary Tudor was very real, bonita. No need for gratuitous insults.

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      Abi  7 years ago

      i got my exams tomorrow and i need to know how long she was queen so this isn't helpful to me at all

    • Paraglider profile image
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      Dave McClure 7 years ago from Kyle, Scotland

      Abi - I wrote 'she reigned for only five years'. Good luck tomorrow!

    • profile image

      rebekah 7 years ago

      lol she looks funny

    • heyju profile image

      heyju 7 years ago

      Good Hub Para, by the way what did Mary die from? I remember reading about her getting very ill but can't for the life of me remember what from. Didn't she threaten to kill Elizabeth as well at one time? Well they all wanted to kill everyone didn't they lol. Thanks for the great read.

    • Paraglider profile image
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      Dave McClure 7 years ago from Kyle, Scotland

      heyju - I think all three of Henry VIII's children were reckoned to be syphilitic, thanks to their father's youthful adventures. In those days, that was more or less a death sentence.

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      watever 7 years ago

      what were the changes she made????????

      tell the people who want to know.

    • profile image

      Ali 7 years ago

      @ Paraglider: Well if you think about it, maybe Mary Tudor really didn't deserve the epithet "Bloody" Mary. Her father had well over 27,000 people executed for heresy. Elizabeth I also sentenced as many heretics as Mary did, just in a longer spand of time. Logically speaking, Henry VIII should have been Henry "Bloody" Henry.

    • Paraglider profile image
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      Dave McClure 7 years ago from Kyle, Scotland

      Ali - valid points. I think the biggest difference was that Elizabeth was a good queen in many ways and for a long time. Mary had few redeeming features. Henry lost the plot as he aged. But they were bloody times, the Tudor days. Thanks for reading,

    • profile image

      Kayamay 7 years ago

      useful website, helpful for my homework, it gave a bit of behind the scenes info i needed, thanks

    • Paraglider profile image
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      Dave McClure 7 years ago from Kyle, Scotland

      Kayamay - nice, thanks for telling me :)

    • habee profile image

      Holle Abee 7 years ago from Georgia

      Excellent hub, but Mary was really no worse then her sister, and she wasn't nearly as bad as her father!

    • Paraglider profile image
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      Dave McClure 7 years ago from Kyle, Scotland

      Habee - they were all pretty bloodthirsty in the Tudor household. But of the three, Elizabeth was best for England.

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      Angel Eucreylitia  7 years ago

      This is good for my essay! I got my exams about her tomorrow so I will copy it down! Thanks for all the information!

    • Paraglider profile image
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      Dave McClure 7 years ago from Kyle, Scotland

      Angel - try to put it into your own words ;)

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      pretty boy 7 years ago

      they was stoopid trifling back thenen

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      prettydarkhorse 7 years ago from US

      Hi Dave, she must have been a Bloody Mary (vindictive woman LOL and rebellious too (marrying somebody which is the enemy of England), I mean strong woman, I understand now the birth of Anglicanism, thanks for the information,,,and for the piece of history...

      might drink my fav drink Bloody Mary later on..

      have a good day always! Maita

    • Paraglider profile image
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      Dave McClure 7 years ago from Kyle, Scotland

      Maita - I like bloody marys but anything with tomato juice in it I drink far too fast. So mostly I stick with the beer!

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      Mary Wagner 7 years ago

      Paraglider, I am honored to meet you. I've read several of your hubs today. My Sunday has a special ambiance as a result.

      Thank you for the link to Teresa's hub about Elizabeth I. I followed her link to youtube and got my eyes full of the Tudors.

      This period in history is one of my favorites because they began to break the hold on the dogma of religion as well as other aspects of civilized community living.

      If any of them (Tudors) were alive today, I believe they would give themselves good marks for "bringing down the walls."

      BTW - thanks for the drink - nice, hospitable touch.

    • Paraglider profile image
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      Dave McClure 7 years ago from Kyle, Scotland

      Mary - thanks for the appreciation. It's always pleasant to know someone's enjoying the 'output'. The Tudor era was nothing if not exciting. Dangerous times to be on the wrong side, of course!

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      Tricia Mason 7 years ago from The English Midlands

      Dangerous indeed ~ but fascinating.

      Interesting item ~ thanks :)

    • profile image

      Itz Mee :) 7 years ago

      Dont you think that she was only buring protestants because she wanted them to become catholic like her?

    • Trish_M profile image

      Tricia Mason 7 years ago from The English Midlands

      I think that it was about politics, as well as religion.

    • Paraglider profile image
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      Dave McClure 7 years ago from Kyle, Scotland

      Trish - politics and religion go hand in hand, then and now. They are both about power and control.

    • Trish_M profile image

      Tricia Mason 7 years ago from The English Midlands

      Absolutely so, Paraglider. :)

    • profile image

      Babeey_Girll 6 years ago

      I Have A Project To Do On Tudors :)

      Bloody Mary Is Weird :l

      Dont Come Back And Haunt Me Coz I Said That Please:)

    • profile image

      preety girl 247 6 years ago

      i think she was a good person and this helped me in my essay thankyou

    • ethel smith profile image

      Eileen Kersey 6 years ago from Kingston-Upon-Hull

      Although this period of History is brutal it is also fascinating

    • Paraglider profile image
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      Dave McClure 6 years ago from Kyle, Scotland

      It is, Ethel. Last time I was on a long haul flight I listened to David Starkey's book, 'Monarchy'. Wonderful insight into the royals through the ages.

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      William Thomas 6 years ago from That Great Primordial Smash UP of This and That Which Gave Rise To All Beings and All Things!

      Good Day Paraglider

      Thank you for this hub. I'm something of a history enthusiast. The tragic reign of Mary Tudor, as you have outlined it here, reminds me of the tragic, abbreviated American presidency of Richard Milhouse Nixon (1969-1974).

      For Nixon the bogey was the 'Eastern Establishment' and the 'liberal media,' and so forth. He damaged his own soul as well as the country with his own fanaticism culminating in the dreadful escalation of the war in Vietnam (including the massive bombing of Cambodia, etc.) and Watergate.

      Mary seems to have her twin demons of a kind of 'liberal,' 'Eastern Establishment' with the Anglican Church on the political level; and her relentless, vindictive hatred for Henry VIII for divorcing her mother (it was the 'liberal' or more flexible Anglican bishopry that had allowed this too), on the personal level.

      Anyway, I'm going to take the time to read Teresa McGurk's hub about Elizabeth, which you linked to (I bet you got good 'hub karma.').

    • Paraglider profile image
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      Dave McClure 6 years ago from Kyle, Scotland

      I'd say that Henry's bishops weren't so much liberal as pragmatic. With a powerful angry king on your shoulder and an uncooperative pope 1000 miles away by sailing ship, which one do you obey?

      Interesting parallel with Nixon though. Thanks for that.

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      May 6 years ago

      Thanks Paraglider, this really helped for my history assesment. ;)

    • Paraglider profile image
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      Dave McClure 6 years ago from Kyle, Scotland

      Most welcome, May :)

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      Tony McGregor 6 years ago from South Africa

      Dave - a always an informative and interesting read - thank you!

      I have just started reading Antonia Fraser's "Marie Antoinette" which promises to be a good read. The intertwining of religion and politics was real in her life too. The royals of all ages seem to me to be rather a sorry lot overall. They do reflect their times in a rather special way.

      Thanks again.

      Love and peace

      Tony

    • Paraglider profile image
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      Dave McClure 6 years ago from Kyle, Scotland

      Hi Tony - I'm not a great fan of the royals either. They have a habit of dragging everyone into their petty feuds!

    • profile image

      JBL 6 years ago

      NO SHE KILLED 284 PEOPLE

    • profile image

      bob 6 years ago

      284 that's right

    • profile image

      rayanna 6 years ago

      mary tudor had approx. 290 people burned at the stake in her efforts to return england to the cathlotic religion. she did not come and kill you if you said bloody mary 3 times, in fact... that is just a story made up to scare children, and it worked.

    • Paraglider profile image
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      Dave McClure 6 years ago from Kyle, Scotland

      rayanna - yes, that's right :)

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      Circle K 6 years ago

      This is awesome man, i used to do the bloody mary thing all the time when i was little but it never worked. -.-

      But it is nice to actually know who she really is 'cuase i was always told it was Mary from the bible.

    • Paraglider profile image
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      Dave McClure 6 years ago from Kyle, Scotland

      Circle K - you should be glad it never worked :) Thanks for the visit.

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      coola 6 years ago

      paraglider this is no help

    • Paraglider profile image
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      Dave McClure 6 years ago from Kyle, Scotland

      No problem - don't use it ;)

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      Lucy 6 years ago

      found everyone's comments/questions really interesting to read, im presenting a short seminar on different theories behind the story of 'bloody mary'

      so this helps me to understand about queen mary a lot more

    • Paraglider profile image
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      Dave McClure 6 years ago from Kyle, Scotland

      Thanks Lucy. This page just scratches the surface. If you want to dig deeper, read David Starkey, a real historian.

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      tom 6 years ago

      Abi-look at the bottom paragraph you dim-witt

    • profile image

      daniel and seb  5 years ago

      thanks

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      Joseph 5 years ago

      As a Catholic I can sympathize with Mary's efforts to restore Catholicism to England, but by her methods she probably helped seal the fate of the Catholic Church in England for all time. Call it the law of unintended consequences.

    • Paraglider profile image
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      Dave McClure 5 years ago from Kyle, Scotland

      Joseph - She certainly helped seal the fate of the RC Church, but if you check out the Stuart dynasty you'll see she wasn't the last monarch to make the attempt.

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      Joseph 5 years ago

      Hi Paraglider,

      I know about James II and the Restoration, but by then anti-Catholicism, at least in some quarters, was too deeply embedded, so the Restoration was doomed from the start. The result was the "Glorious Revolution" (of William and Mary), the final nail in the coffin of the Catholic Church in England.

    • Paraglider profile image
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      Dave McClure 5 years ago from Kyle, Scotland

      Yes, that certainly was the end of the movement, and to this day I think it is still illegal for anyone in direct succession to marry a Catholic. (Unless that's been repealed).

    • profile image

      tj 5 years ago

      mary mary bloody mary

    • profile image

      Ellie 5 years ago

      Hello paraglider,

      Ive been learning about "Bloody Mary" in my GSHES and I wondered if you could tell me, why didn't her father 'Henry vIII' care about her anymore? Also how old was she when her parents spit-up?

      Thanks for your help

    • Paraglider profile image
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      Dave McClure 5 years ago from Kyle, Scotland

      Ellie - I think you are thinking in too modern a way. The world was very different back then. Henry was interested in power and succession (via a male heir). Mary was a devout Roman Catholic whose mother had been put away for not producing a son. People really believed in heaven and hell as physical places. Divorce was a 'sin' punishable on earth by excommunication and after death by hell fire. Not pretty!

    • profile image

      Mary Tudor 5 years ago

      Muwahhhhhhhhaahahahaahahahahahahahahaaaa! I will come and kill you aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaalllllllllllllllllllllllll!!!!

    • profile image

      Jack Smith 5 years ago

      Help me! Bloody Mary is walking around my house and she has already killed my wife and kid1 help me, please help me god!!!! Oh no! here she comes. Heeeeellllllllllllllllllppppppppf6ynct5cn75555555555555

    • profile image

      hotguy1985 5 years ago

      Doe she really kill

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      Help me 5 years ago

      Im doing a history and essay and was wondering if anyone knew 5 people she had burnt at the stake and a drawing or picture of this process will help a lot thank you!

    • profile image

      blob1 5 years ago

      'bloody mary' isn't real! its just fake!

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      me 5 years ago

      Mary was a sad and damaged but strong (beat the odds to become Queen in her own right) women who today would be on strong medication and kept away from large crowds. she showed phycotic (can't spell, sorry!) tendcies andsplit personality disorder. She would of inherited this madness from her grandmother, Isabella 1 of Castile. I see her as a sad, strong women who deserves not to be seen as a bloodthirsty monster. Also, she was a real person.

    • Paraglider profile image
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      Dave McClure 5 years ago from Kyle, Scotland

      me - thanks for raising the game :) She was certainly a real person with many personal problems. Moet probably she believed she was doing God's work in restoring the Catholic church to its 'rightful' position. Nevertheless, that was of little comfort to the many who suffered at her hands.

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      borbora 5 years ago

      she was the good girl

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      bob 5 years ago

      this was good help but what were her qualitys?

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      yo 5 years ago

      my friend brandon sai bloody mary got burnt

    • Paraglider profile image
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      Dave McClure 5 years ago from Kyle, Scotland

      No, she died naturally and was buried inside Westminster Abbey.

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      Yashvi joshi 5 years ago

      I think she was not buried, she was killed by her smaller sister elizabeth 1

    • Paraglider profile image
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      Dave McClure 5 years ago from Kyle, Scotland

      Yashvi - you need supporting evidence when you want to change history. Evidence, not guesswork.

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      Zoe 5 years ago

      My history teacher told me that she died of stomach cancer. He said that she felt strange twinges in her stomach and thought that she was pregnant.

      Thank's for the info, really helped with my h/w (:

    • Paraglider profile image
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      Dave McClure 5 years ago from Kyle, Scotland

      Zoe, that's true. They didn't call it cancer in those days but it was still around. And yes, she did think she was pregnant. Wishful thinking of course. She wanted an heir.

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      lisadpreston 5 years ago from Columbus, Ohio

      The Tudor era is the most interesting of times in history. The characters are so unbelievably colorful. One cannot help but to admire the women whether they be right or wrong in their convictions. All little girls want to be a queen but in reality it was quite dangerous and not very glamorous. Thank you for the lesson in history. I can never get enough of the Tudors. They are a real, live soap opera!!!!

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      Dave McClure 5 years ago from Kyle, Scotland

      Lisa - I'd agree with that. I think, with the Tudors, for the first time we begin to see people we can recognise as 'modern', and with the years of domestic peace (relatively) under Elizabeth, we start to see the flowering of music, theatre, art that has truly stood the test of time. Thanks for commenting :)

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      Tunia 5 years ago

      i think bloody mary is reall because i got scars from her !! so ya cheap

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      LEON 5 years ago

      WHat were the nmes of the people she burnt at the stake

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      lala 4 years ago

      what does SHE have to do with the renaissance?!?!

    • Paraglider profile image
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      Dave McClure 4 years ago from Kyle, Scotland

      Very little. The Renaissance didn't really kick in until her sister Elizabeth was Queen.

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      snakeslane 4 years ago from Canada

      Hello Paraglider, interesting and colourful history session you've got going here. I like the Bloody Mary drink link in keeping with your theme. There is a real fascination with all things Henry VIII in our culture. The television series 'The Tudors' portrays him as a fabulous looking charismatic man, when in reality he was overweight and ill with diabetes and all the ensuing complications brought on by poor health. The series also makes poor little Mary out to be a victim, so it is no wonder so many people feel sympathy for her. I love Cate Blanchette's portrayl of Elizabeth in the movie role. It seems most of the impressions I have of the Tudors are taken from movies, television dramas and the myths and legends surrounding Henry VIII's drastic measure's to secure a male heir. Thanks for sharing, quite enjoyed the read, and the comments. Regards, snakeslane

    • Paraglider profile image
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      Dave McClure 4 years ago from Kyle, Scotland

      Hi Snakeslane - I don't venture much into historical writing, but this one seemed to fall out of a conversation I was having. It was a fascinating period, but one I'm glad I didn't have to experience first hand!

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      Johnkadu123 4 years ago from Toronto, Canada

      I just landed on this interesting hub. Love Tudor history. I believe that Mary was emotionally destroyed by a brutal father whose antics are notorious up to this day. How could you not get damaged by a dad with six wives two of whom were brutally murdered at his behest, two divorced on very dubious grounds, one dead after giving birth to a sickly child and another very nearly killed for reading the Bible! Talk about the early Taliban.

    • Paraglider profile image
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      Dave McClure 4 years ago from Kyle, Scotland

      I agree with you. The amazing thing is that her half-sister Elizabeth turned out so much more rational and controlled.

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      jimbob 4 years ago

      hello thx for infoing me for my homework

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