Book Review: Mary Tudor by David Loades

I ordered this book through Amazon UK and Amberley Books November of 2011. I'm happy to state I was finally able to catch up in my TBR stack and read this book.
Mary Tudor, only surviving child of the union between Catherine of Aragon and Henry VIII. After her birth and several years into their marriage, life for them fell apart. Henry wanted a son. It did not matter that he was legally married and that Catherine was queen. It did not matter that Rome said their union was under God. Henry wanted a (legally born) son. He began an affair with Anne Boleyn. He became head of the Church of England, breaking free from the Catholic Church in Rome. He divorced Catherine under a semi-valid reason. He married Anne Boleyn a woman he had to obtain. Their only living child was Elizabeth. Henry and Anne's union fell apart shortly after they were married. The heated passion they'd had, turned to quarreling and discord. Henry married again, and again, for a total of six times.
Mary had been a beloved daughter and heir. Henry pushed Mary aside in favor of the hoped for son.

Mary was born 18 February 1516. Her mother Catherine of Aragon was the youngest daughter of Ferdinand II of Aragon and Isabella of Castile. Catherine was from the lineage of one of the oldest and best established ruling families in Europe. The union between Catherine of Aragon and Henry VIII was a political union of two strong royal families. When their marriage ended, and Mary was ignored as heir, I believe it was psychologically damaging to her. She was an intelligent and talented person; yet I believe it made her caustic of other people that did not agree with or believe as she did.

In David Loades book Mary Tudor he begins with the background of her parents. We are told of her upbringing in the palace and later in her own household: her education, interests, musical talents, and servants who cared for her. One of the things I found of interest was she did not grow up with the ability to play with or be educated with children of her own age. She was considered to be a small adult. I believe this too gave her a chill (insensitivity) towards other people she did not care for. Mary married a man much younger than herself, Philip of Spain. In brief we are told of her murderous rampage against Protestants. Until the end of Mary's life Elizabeth I was not able to breathe a sigh of relief.  

Mary Tudor has been an interest to me for a long time.
What I learned in this book were: the decisions her father made about her birthright, his political advantageous marriage to her mother, taken away from her mother at an early age, an unhealthy life, an unpleasant marriage, inability to have children, defiant and pious Catholic, gambler, knew Latin, intelligent, loved hawking, an obsessive hatred of Anne Boleyn and her daughter, loved flamboyant jewelry and clothing, and an infamous reign of terror and murder to those who were Protestant. In a few of those aspects I have empathy for her. At no point do I agree with her reign of terror to those who were Protestant. I understand about what actions she took as queen, and how the decisions of her father affected the rest of her life; but even after reading this book I still don't know about Mary Tudor as a person and as a woman. Her life still seems to me to be black ink on white paper. The author has written a very good book. He has studied and researched Mary Tudor. He knows Tudor history. My only negative point is I wanted Mary Tudor to be presented as more dimensional. After stating that, I have thought that Mary may not have been a person who can be presented well. She does not strike me as being a person of amiableness.

Published by Amberley Books 2011
416 pages
Non-fiction/Tudor History/British History/British Monarchy/Henry VIII/Catherine of Aragon/Elizabeth I/Anne Boleyn


  1. Have you read Carolyn Meyer's Young Royals series? She has one on Mary Tudor, Elizabeth, Anne Boleyn, Catherine of Aragon, and now Mary Queen of Scots. Though I haven't read the Wild Queen yet. These children's books are very good!!!

    Patience, Princess Catherine
    Mary, Bloody Mary
    Doomed Queen Anne
    Beware Princess Elizabeth
    The Wild Queen


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