Power Sharing: The Co-monarchy of Philip and Mary

  • Alexander Samson
Part of the Queenship and Power book series (QAP)


Writing on Philip and Mary’s power-sharing arrangements has been overshadowed by the negative reputations enjoyed by both monarchs: the Habsburg prince’s image rooted in the Black Legend and that of the first English queen regnant unfavorably compared to her successor’s and embodied in her epithets of bloody and tragic.1 Women’s exercise of royal authority and involvement in a number of different forms of governance were predictable and co-monarchy less uncommon than might first appear. Early modern European governance needs to be understood not only through documentary remains but also in terms of material culture. The historiographical tendency to view the marriage of Philip and Mary negatively needs to be offset by consideration of factors such as the display of courtly magnificence, an area where their marriage enjoyed considerable success. Their entries, entertainments, luxurious clothing, priceless jewels, gifts as well as conjoined arms and style were disseminated globally, from a church dedicated to the pair in Argentina in 1555, to the 1557 stained glass window of them in Gouda commemorating San Quentin. Their joint arms are also found above the Via Maggiore in Milan, symbol of an offensive alliance holding back the French tide in Italy.2 Indirect forms of influence and favor can help us understand in a more nuanced way how royal government translated into political action.


Marriage Contract Stain Glass Window Royal Authority Imprimerie Royale Offensive Alliance 
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© Anna Whitelock and Alice Hunt 2010

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  • Alexander Samson

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