On this day in history : 17th November 1558 – Mary Tudor, England’s first ruling Queen, dies – leaving the Crown to Elizabeth I, her half-sister….

Mary Tudor, 1554 – Antonis Mor – Public domain

Mary’s death was unexpected; she had started to feel unwell in May 1588, after another false pregnancy…. At the time of her death there was an influenza epidemic and it is often thought that she died from this…. But it is more likely the cause of her death was a form of ovarian cancer…. She died at St. James’ Palace – having received her last rites just before midnight on the 16th of November; she passed away at some time between 5am and 6am the following morning…. She was 42-years-old….

Mary was the daughter of King Henry VIII and Catherine of Aragon – she was declared illegitimate after Henry married Anne Boleyn and the birth of their daughter, Elizabeth…. Even though her father had reformed the English Church, Mary – baptised a Catholic at 3-days-old – retained her faith…. When on ascending the the throne in 1553, she immediately set about reversing the English Reformation and returning England to Catholicism- reviving old heresy laws in order to do so…. During her short reign Queen Mary I was responsible for the death of some 300 Protestant men, women and children – many burned at the stake – earning her the title ‘Bloody Mary’….

The burning of of Latimer and Ridley, two of the Oxford Martyrs – From the Book of Martyrs by John Foxe, 1563 – Public domain

She was not a popular Queen – there would have undoubtedly been much jubilation when her half-sister Elizabeth took over the throne…. Something Mary had vehemently tried to prevent by unsuccessfully producing an heir of her own….

Mary is buried in Westminster Abbey – ironically under Elizabeth I – in a shared grave….

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