Queen Mary was the eldest of King Henry VIII’s children. Her mother was Henry’s first wife, Catherine of Aragon. Mary’s life was very much like a roller coaster. She was treated like a princess and as an outcast during her youth, was both heir to the throne and disinherited. Mary had to live through moments of extreme torment yet she also rose to the heights of being crowned Queen Mary of England and Wales: the first female monarch to hold sole monarchical power in England.
Queen Mary’s childhood was in parts very happy. She was brought up according to her mothers wishes and became a devout Roman Catholic. She was virtually ignored by the rest of the Royal household following the marriage of her father to Anne Boleyn and was only granted the rights of inheritance following the birth of Edward.
Following the brief reigns of her brother, Edward, and that of the usurper, Lady Jane Grey, Mary became queen of England in 1533. She immediately faced hostility from the English people who were suspicious of her Catholicism and spiteful of the fact that she had married a Spanish Prince: Phillip. Mary had to overcome some of the religious changes that had been imposed on England and Wales over the course of both her fathers and brothers reigns. As a Catholic it was important for her to recognise the Pope as the head of the church and so she made peace with Rome and started to rebuilt the Catholic Church in England.
One way of doing this was by force: 280 people were executed for heresy (having the wrong religious belief) during Queen Mary’s reign. This included several of her fathers most trusted Ministers, Thomas Cranmer the Archbishop of Canterbury for example. Queen Mary’s reign ended in 1558. She died childless, having failed to produce an heir to the throne. This meant that England would again be governed by a protestant, Mary’s younger sister, Elizabeth.