Mary I


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England's Catholic Queen

John Edwards

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Read John Edwards' essay on re-interpreting one of history's most famous monarchs on the Yale Press Log.  

A new appraisal of the first Tudor queen, her European connections, her ambitions and intentions, and the religious violence that stained her short reign

The lifestory of Mary I—daughter of Henry VIII and his Spanish wife, Catherine of Aragon—is often distilled to a few dramatic episodes: her victory over the attempted coup by Lady Jane Grey, the imprisonment of her half-sister Elizabeth, the bloody burning of Protestants, her short marriage to Philip of Spain. This original and deeply researched biography paints a far more detailed portrait of Mary and offers a fresh understanding of her religious faith and policies as well as her historical significance in England and beyond.

John Edwards, a leading scholar of English and Spanish history, is the first to make full use of Continental archives in this context, especially Spanish ones, to demonstrate how Mary's culture, Catholic faith, and politics were thoroughly Spanish. Edwards begins with Mary's origins, follows her as she battles her increasingly erratic father, and focuses particular attention on her notorious religious policies, some of which went horribly wrong from her point of view. The book concludes with a consideration of Mary's five-year reign and the frustrations that plagued her final years. Childless, ill, deserted by her husband, Mary died in the full knowledge that her Protestant half-sister Elizabeth would undo her religious work and, without acknowledging her sister, would reap the benefits of Mary's achievements in government.

John Edwards is Modern Languages Faculty Research Fellow in Spanish, University of Oxford. He lives in Oxford, UK.

"[T]he most comprehensive and convincing account to date."—J.H. Elliott, The New York Review of Books

“Edwards has comprehensively defeated a persistent and painful historical myth and replaced it with something more complicated, more human and much more accurate. This is the best biography of Mary we have yet seen.”—Lucy Wooding, Times Higher Education

'This is the best scholarly biography of Queen Mary I, and the most sophisticated political account of her reign, that we have to date. Unlike virtually all other accounts of Mary, which focus on her as an English queen and imagine her reign to be comprehensible in insular English terms, Edwards sees the full picture: Mary was an English queen, a Spanish princess, wife of the King of Naples, and loyal subject of the See of Rome. By interweaving these and other conflicting loyalties, and studying Mary I as both a prime mover and an unwitting victim of geopolitics in the great age of Hapsburg aspirations to lordship over all the world, John Edwards has made this reign compressible in new ways.' - Ethan Shagan

“Erudite . . .a remarkable synthesis of Mary’s turbulent life . . . exceptional.”—Brian Odom, Library Journal

“Edwards’s strength is that he is as much a scholar of Spanish as of English history, and so he — uniquely among her recent biographers — can see Mary’s life as she herself saw it: on a European stage. Throughout the book, we see her life, and English politics, through Spanish, Italian, and other European eyes. Merely as a research achievement, this is monumentally impressive…It is the kind of history that can give us a fresh perspective, not only on a long-dead queen, but on ourselves.”—Alec Ryrie, Church Times

“John Edwards, an esteemed Oxford scholar of English and Spanish History, has courageously attempted to find the real Mary Tudor in this excellent book.”—Simon Caldwell, Catholic Herald

“…an authoritative study of ‘England’s Catholic Queen’…a refreshingly, original approach.”—Northern History

ISBN: 9780300194166
Publication Date: May 28, 2013
408 pages, 5 3/4 x 8 7/8
16 pp. b/w illus.
The English Monarchs Series
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Edward VI

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