Her Kingdom’s Wife: Mary I and the Gendering of Regal Power

  • Charles Beem
Part of the Queenship and Power book series (QAP)


In her accession proclamation, issued July 19, 1553, Mary I announced to her subjects the arrival of the first woman to possess and inhabit the office and estate of king of England. Prior to Mary’s accession, English kings, as “lions of England,” occupied a male gendered office. Mary, in effect, accepted this state of affairs as she fashioned herself into a lioness. Four hundred years after the Empress Matilda’s failed attempt to consolidate her hold upon kingly sovereignty, Mary I accomplished the gendering of kingly power in the guise of a queen, representing herself to her subjects as monarch within conventional perceptions of sixteenth-century womanhood.


Political Society Privy Council Henry VIII Male Heir Marriage Negotiation 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.


  1. 2.
    See John Foxe, The Actes and Monuments of John Foxe, VI, ed. George Town send (New York: AMS Press, 1965), p. 414.Google Scholar
  2. 3.
    See Ernst Kantorwicz, The King’s Two Bodies: A Study in Medieval Theology (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1957), and Marie Axton, The Queen’s Two Bodies: Drama and the Elizabethan Succession (London: Royal Historical Society, 1977).Google Scholar
  3. 6.
    Barbara J. Harris, English Aristocratic Women 1450–1550 (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2002), pp. 1–26.Google Scholar
  4. 7.
    See James Anthony Froude, History of England, V (London: Longmans, Green, and Co., 1893). Froude erected the first modern model of Mary’s mediocrity as monarch. While G.R. Elton did much to challenge and modify the findings of the first generation of modern Tudor-era scholars, he adopted the conventional interpretation of Mary I’s reign, see his Reform and Reformation (London: Edward Arnold, 1977), p. 376, while John Guy, in his Tudor England (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1988), summed up a century of historical interpretation, declaring that “despite the efforts of modern historiography to boost her reputation, Mary I will never appear creative,” p. 226. For a concise analysis of the evolution of Marian historiography, see David Loades, “The Reign of Mary Tudor: Historiography and Research” Albion 21 (1989), pp. 547–558.Google Scholar
  5. 9.
    Mary I has been the subject of a number of popular biographies of the twentieth century; H.F.H. Prescott, Mary Tudor (London: Eyre and Spottiswoode, 1952), Jasper Ridley, The Life and Times of Mary Tudor (London: Weidenfeld and Nicolson, 1973), Milton Waldman The Lady Mary: A Biography of Mary Tudor (New York: Scribner, 1972), and Carolly Erickson, Bloody Mary (New York: St. Martin’s Press, 1978).Google Scholar
  6. 13.
    William Stubbs, The Constitutional History of England, II (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1897), p. 126, F.M. Powicke, King Henry III and the Lord Edward: The Community of the Realm in the Thirteenth Century, 2 vols. (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1947) II, pp. 732–733, 788. For a recent analysis of the fourteenth-century succession, see Michael Bennett, “Edward III’s Entail of the Succession,” English Historical Review 113, 452 (June 1998), pp. 580–609.Google Scholar
  7. 16.
    See Mortimer Levine, Tudor Dynastic Problems, 1460–1571 (London: George Allen and Unwin, 1973), p. 129.Google Scholar
  8. 25.
    Edward Hall, Hall’s Chronicle, ed. Henry Ellis (London: 1809), pp. 754–756.Google Scholar
  9. 28.
    The fact that Mary took a husband after becoming queen formed the theoretical base of the Dudley conspiracy of 1555, as the conspirators claimed that Mary had vacated her right to the throne by not consulting the surviving Edwardian councilors for their approval on her marriage, thus violating the terms of Henry VIII’s will! See Mortimer Levine, The Early Elizabethan Succession Question (Stanford: Stanford University Press, 1966), p. 153.Google Scholar
  10. 32.
    See Retha Warnicke, Women of the English Renaissance and Reformation (Westport, Conn.: Greenwood Press, 1983), pp. 54–55.Google Scholar
  11. 40.
    For a study of Edward VI’s attempt to alter the succession, see W.K. Jordan, Edward VI: The Threshold of Power (Cambridge, Mass.: Belknap Press, 1970), pp. 515–517.Google Scholar
  12. 44.
    See Alison Weir, The Children of Henry VIII (New York: Ballantine, 1996), pp. 167–168.Google Scholar
  13. 45.
    See Robert Tittler, Susan L. Battley, “The Local Community and the Crown in 1553: The Accession of Mary Tudor Revisited,” Bulletin of the Institute of Historical Research 57, 136 (1984), pp. 131–149. In this article, Tittler and Battley challenged the conventional dictum that the entire realm supported Mary’s candidacy based upon statutory and dynastic principles.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. 47.
    For a contemporary account from a Catholic, East Anglian point of view, see Robert Wingfield, “Vitae Mariae Angliae,” Camden Miscellany, 4th series, vol. 29 (London: Royal Historical society, 1984), pp. 181–301.Google Scholar
  15. 48.
    Recent historiographical assessments suggest a more powerful conservative religiosity present in Edwardian/Marian England than identified in the Whig tradition. See Jennifer Loach, “Conservatism and Consent in Parliament,” The Mid-Tudor Polity, ed. Robert Tittler and Jennifer Loach (London: Macmillan, 1980), pp. 12–19.Google Scholar
  16. 50.
    Charles Wrioethesley, Windsor Herald, wrote a concise summary of Mary’s accession. See A Chronicle of England During the Reigns of the Tudors, ed. William Douglas Hamilton (London: Camden Society, 1877), pp. 87–89.Google Scholar
  17. 58.
    Henry Machyn, The Diary of Henry Machyn, ed. John Gough Nichols (London: Camden Society, 1848), p. 35. Chronicler Charles Wrioethesley also observed upon Mary’s accession, “the people were so joyful, both man, woman, and childe,” p. 89.Google Scholar
  18. 65.
    Helen Hackett, Virgin Mother, Maiden Queen (New York: St. Marin’s Press, 1995), pp. 34–37.Google Scholar
  19. 67.
    Antonio de Guaras, The Accession of Queen Mary, ed. Richard Garnett (London: Lawrence and Bullen, 1892), p. 121.Google Scholar
  20. 71.
    Following Elizabeth I’s reign, and her own identification as her kingdom’s wife, James I reversed the gender identity of his kingdom, as he identified himself as England’s husband. See A.N. McLaren, “The Quest for King: Gender, Marriage, and Succession in Elizabethan England,” Journal of British Studies, 41 (July 2002), pp. 259–290.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. 90.
    John Fox, Fox’s Book of Martyrs, 3 vols. (London: George Virtue, 1851), II, p. 1001.Google Scholar
  22. 94.
    [Miles Hogherde], Certayne Questions Demanded and Asked By the Noble Realme of Englande of her True Natural Chyldren and Subjectes of the same, (London, 1555), p. 1–8.Google Scholar
  23. 117.
    For a recent study of the controversies surrounding the reign of Juana of Castile, see Bethany Aram, “Juana ‘The Mad’s’ Signature: The Problem of Invoking Royal Authority, 1505–1507,” Sixteenth Century Journal, 29 (Summer 1998), pp. 331–358.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. 118.
    See Daniel R. Doyle, “The Sinews of Hapsburg Governance in the Sixteenth Century: Mary of Hungary and Political Patronage,” Sixteenth Century Journal 31, 2 (2000), pp. 349–360.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. 148.
    John Elder, The Copie of a Letter Sent into Scotlande of the Arrival and landing of the most illustre Prince Philippe, Prince of Spain, to the moste excellente Princes Marye Quene of Englande (London: 1554), p. 6.Google Scholar
  26. 149.
    Ibid., p. 17.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Charles Beem 2008

Authors and Affiliations

  • Charles Beem

There are no affiliations available

Personalised recommendations