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The Tudor Queens, Elizabeth & Mary

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In Brief History
The Watertons - a brief history
Origins in Lincolnshire
Life as Roman Catholics
Tudor Queens
Thomas More
Hanoverian Rats
Mary Tudor (Bloody Mary - Queen Mary I)

Charles Waterton wrote of Queen Mary I:
In good Queen Mary's days, there was a short tide of flood in our favour; and Thomas Waterton of Walton Hall was High Sheriff of York. This was the last public commission held by our family. The succeeding reigns brought every species of reproach and indignity upon us. We were declared totally incapable of serving our country; we were held up to the scorn of a deluded multitude, as damnable idolators; and we were unceremoniously ousted out of our tenements: our only crime being a conscientious adherence to the creed of our ancestors, professed by England for nine long centuries before the Reformation. So determined were the new religionists that we should grope our way to heaven along the crooked and gloomy path which they had laid out for us, that they made us pay twenty pounds a month, by way of penalty, for refusing to hear a married parson read prayers in the Church of Sandal Magna; which venerable edifice had been stripped of its altar, its crucifix, its chalice, its tabernacle, and all its holy ornaments, not for the love of God, but for the private use and benefit of those who had laid their sacrilegious hands upon them. My ancestors acted wisely. I myself would rather run the risk of going to hell with St Edward the Confessor, Venerable Bede, and St Thomas of Canterbury, than make a dash at heaven in company with Harry VIII, Queen Bess, and Dutch William.(1)

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Mary Stuart, Queen of ScotsQueen Mary (Bloody Mary) - Mary I (1553 - 1558). Her single-minded aim was to restore the Roman Catholic Church in England. She reintroduced the heresy laws, resulting in almost 300 deaths at the stake, hence her nickname of Bloody Mary. The last English possession in France (Calais) was lost during her reign in 1558.
"Camden, the Protestant historian, says that Queen Mary was a Princess never sufficiently to be commended of all men for pious and religious demeanour, her commiseration towards the poor, etc." (1)

Mary was born at Greenwich Palace on 18 February 1516. She was the daughter of Henry VIII and Catherine of Aragon. Throughout her life Mary remained a fanatical Roman Catholic, like her mother, and so made many enemies amongst the Protestant noblemen and clergy.

Her mother was divorced from Henry VIII in 1533. In 1547, when her father died, the throne passed to her half-brother, Edward, although Mary was the eldest child of Henry VIII. On his accession, Edward VI was only 9 years old and the business of governing the realm was actually conducted by a Council of Executors. The Council was headed by young Edward's uncle, the Earl of Hertford, who was named Protector of the Realm. Shortly after taking office Hertford had himself named Duke of Somerset, and it is by that name that he is best known.

Edward VI introduced many Protestant reforms into England during his short reign of six years, and on his deathbed in 1553 named Lady Jane Grey, to be his successor, instead of Mary, to prevent a Roman Catholic from returning to the throne.

When Lady Jane was brought before the Council and informed that she was to succeed Edward VI on the Throne of England, she fainted and had to be carried from the Chamber. The Letter of Accession was written in the Tower of London on 10th July 1553 by William Parr, Marquis of Northampton.

Mary, however, rallied public support and she marched into London nine days later. Lady Jane Grey, the Queen for a few short days, was arrested and sent to the Tower of London. She was executed on Tower Green in 1554 following a rebellion against Bloody Mary (see side panel). She was not the last to die during Mary's reign.

Mary then set about reinstalling Catholicism as the one true faith within England. She married King Philip of Spain in 1554 in an attempt to seal a Catholic alliance, and so secure her throne. There were many in England opposed to any Spanish or Catholic influence in the country. Sir Thomas Wyatt led a campaign to depose her, but she defeated the rebels and began a reign of terror, arresting many Protestant clergymen. Hundreds of Protestants were then burnt at the stake as heretics.

A protestant burnt as a heretic during the reign of of Mary I A Protestant is burnt at the stake in the reign of Bloody Mary. However, when the Catholics were ousted from power by the Protestants, the warmth of feeling was reciprocated. Much misery, in the name of religion, was inflicted on, and by, both sides.

Mary's marriage was neither happy nor fruitfull. Philip seldom visited the queen in England and the marriage failed to produce a son, the infrequent visits not helping much. After 1556 Philip never returned to England from Spain. In 1557 Mary declared war on France, but lost the battle and lost Calais, the last remaining English possession from the medieval period (the Plantagenets had managed to lose most of the rest). By 1558 Mary was alone, unhappy and ill. She died at St. James's Palace in London on 17 November 1558, aged 42.

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Good Queen Bess (Elizabeth Tudor - Queen Elizabeth I)

Queen Elizabeth IMary Tudor's half-sister, Elizabeth,a Protestant, succeeded her and became one of England's greatest monarchs. Elizabeth was the daughter of Henry VIII and the ill-fated Anne Boleyn.

1558 - 1603 Elizabeth I was born in 1533 to Henry VIII and Anne Boleyn. Although she entertained many marriage proposals and flirted all the while, she never married or had children.

She was the last of the Tudors, and died at seventy years of age after a very successful forty-four year reign. Elizabeth had inherited a realm riven by dissension between Catholics and Protestants. The Treasury had been squandered by her sister Mary I and her advisors. Mary's loss of Calais left England with no possessions on the European mainland for the first time since the arrival of William the Conqueror in 1066. All of the large tracts of land in France had been lost and were never to be recovered.

Some in England (mainly Catholics) doubted Elizabeth's claim to the throne. There was danger from Scotland, through its association with France, and Spain, the strongest European power at the time, posed a threat to the security of the realm. Elizabeth proved most calm and calculating in her political acumen, employing capable and distinguished men to carrying out her commands.

First, she needed to settle the religious unrest, unlike her siblings, Edward VI and Mary I, she was not a fanatic. She reinstated the reforms of her father, Henry VIII. She was, however, compelled to take a stronger Protestant stance on two accounts: the machinations of Mary Queen of Scots and persecution of continental Protestants by Spain and France.

The situation with her cousin, Mary Queen of Scots was most troublesome. Mary, in Elizabeth's custody beginning in 1568 (mainly for her own protection from radical Protestants and disgruntled Scots, for she was not universally popular), gained the loyalty of Catholic factions and instituted several failed assassination attempts and plots to overthrow her. She was constantly plotting against Elizabeth.

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Eventually, after irrefutable evidence of Mary's involvement in such plots was produced, Elizabeth reluctantly had Mary Queen of Scots executed in 1587. Mary's downfall was the Babington Plot.

In 1586 Sir Anthony Babington, an English Catholic, led a plot to overthrow Elizabeth with Spanish help and to put Mary on the throne in her place. He did not realise that all messages to Mary, although hidden in barrels, were intercepted by Elizabeth’s spies. Babington and his fellow conspirators were arrested and executed. Mary was transferred to the castle at Fotheringhay. On 15 October 1586 an English court found Mary guilty of treason against England. She was condemned to death. Elizabeth hesitated to kill another queen, her own cousin, but she wanted an end to the catholic plots against her. On 1st February 1587 Elizabeth finally signed the death warrant. One week later, on 8th February 1587, Mary was led into the great hall of Fotheringhay Castle to be executed.

The persecution of continental Protestants forced Elizabeth into war. An army was sent to aid French Huguenots (Calvinists who had settled in France) after a 1572 massacre of over three thousand Huguenots. She aided Protestant factions in Europe and in Scotland following the emergence of radical Catholic groups. She helped the Low Countries in their bid to gain independence from Spain.

Things came to head after Elizabeth rejected a marriage proposal from Philip II of Spain; the angered Spanish King, incensed by English piracy (by the "privateers") and adventurers in the New World of the Americas, sent a large fleet, the Spanish Armada, to attack England. However, the English won the naval battle and emerged as the world's strongest naval power.

Few English monarchs wielded such political power, while retaining the loyalty and affection of virtually the whole of the English people. Elizabeth reigned during one of the more productive and constructive periods in English history. Literature blossomed through the works of Edmund Spenser, Christopher Marlowe and William Shakespeare . Sir Francis Drake and Sir Walter Raleigh . Her compromise on religion laid many fears to rest. Fashion and education came to the fore because of Elizabeth's penchant for knowledge, courtly behaviour and extravagant dress. She became affectionately known as Good Queen Bess, one of England's greatest monarchs.

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1. Autobiography of Charles Waterton, Esq.
Essays on Natural History, Chiefly Ornithology
by Charles Waterton, Esq., Walton Hall, Dec. 2, 1837

The House of Tudor


Lady Jane Grey
Lady Jane Grey

Lady Jane Grey (c.1537[3] – 12 February 1554), known as Lady Jane Dudley after her marriage, was Queen of England and Ireland for just nine days, 10 July until 19 July 1553.

The great-granddaughter of Henry VII through his younger daughter Mary Tudor, Jane was a first cousin once removed of Edward VI, King of England and Ireland from 1547. In May 1553, she was married to Lord Guildford Dudley, a younger son of Edward's chief minister, John Dudley, Duke of Northumberland. She was 16 years of age when she entered this doomed marriage.

When Edward VI (aged just 15 years) lay dying in June 1553, he wrote his will, nominating Jane and her male heirs as successor to the Crown partly because his half-sister Mary was Roman Catholic while Jane was Protestant and would support the religion whose foundation Edward claimed to have laid.

The will named his half-sisters Mary and Elizabeth illegitimate and removed them from succession. This step subverted their claims under the Third Succession Act.

After Edward's death, Jane was proclaimed queen on 10 July 1553 and awaited coronation in the Tower of London. However, support for Mary grew very quickly and most of Jane's supporters abandoned her. The Privy Council decided to change sides and proclaimed Mary as queen on 19 July 1553, deposing Lady Jane.

Her primary supporter, the Duke of Northumberland, was accused of treason and executed less than a month later.

Jane was held as a prisoner at the Tower and was convicted of high treason in November 1553, which carried a sentence of death. However, her life was initially spared by Mary. This reprieve was short-lived when her father Henry Grey, 1st Duke of Suffolk, became part of Wyatt's rebellion of January and February 1554 against Queen Mary's plans to marry Philip of Spain.

Jane was viewed as a threat to the crown; both Jane and her husband were executed on 12 February 1554.
Lady Jane Grey had an excellent education and a reputation as one of the most learned young women of her day.

Click image to enlarge.

The Execution of Lady Jane Grey. Paul Delaroche (c.1840)


Mary Stuart, Queen of Scots

Mary Stuart, Queen of Scots (1542 – 1567)
Her father died before she was a week old. She had to leave her mother and go into exile at the tender age of six years. At just seventeen years old she married happily and lived in France, but was widowed two years later. Her next marriage was a personal tragedy, and ended in her conspiring to have her husband murdered. Her third marriage, to her husband’s killer, discredited the queen in the eyes of her subjects and they deposed her, and replaced her as monarch by her baby son, James (James VI of Scotland, later James I of England), whom she never saw again. James was a Protestant.

When Mary fled to her cousin Elizabeth I for help she was instead placed under arrest, in part for her own protection. Mary Stuart remained a prisoner for the rest of her life until finally, after nineteen long years in her cousin’s custody, plotting and scheming all the while, she was executed.

Mary, Queen of Scots deathmask The death mask of Mary, Queen of Scots.

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