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Bloody Mary

4.02 of 5 stars 4.02  ·  rating details  ·  2,461 ratings  ·  49 reviews
Here is the tragic, stormy life of Mary Tudor, daughter of Henry VIII and Katherine of Aragon. Her story is a chronicle of courage and faith, betrayal and treachery-set amidst the splendor, pageantry, squalor, and intrigue of sixteenth-century Europe.
The history of Mary Tudor is an improbable blend of triumph, humiliation, heartbreak, and devotion-and Ms. Erickson recount...more
Paperback, 560 pages
Published September 15th 1998 by St. Martins Press-3pl (first published 1978)
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Andrea De Pace
The book is very interesting because objectively demonstrates how the adjective "Bloody" misrepresented the truth about Mary's government, showing instead her uncommon knowledge and political skills for a 16th-Century woman.
Well-written and full of details, the book does not give any room to gossiping or myths that were mostly inherited from a sexist society which struggled to accept the first Queen of England, not just a mere queen consort or regent.
The scope is wider than the title would sugg...more
This may not represent current research, but is still a highly well-written and easily readable biography of Mary Tudor, ill-fated Catholic queen of England.

A very tragic story of a child growing up in the shadow of Henry VIII. She overcomes great odds in her accession to the throne of England, but all her hopes are terribly disappointed and she dies within five years.

Mary is far more complex than the ironically chosen title, "Bloody Mary," would seem to suggest. Over 300 Protestants burned as...more
Mary started as a delicate little girl who overcame many hurdles and became Ruler of England. Carolly Erickson brilliantly illustrates Mary’s life in Bloody Mary.

The life of Mary, daughter to King Henry and Katherine of Argon, was filled with backstabbing, power hungry people and danger around every corner. Throughout her “charmed” childhood Mary was taught to be a “slave” to men. Her tutor, Vives, taught her that all women are inferior to men and that women are “inherently the devils instrument...more
Jan 04, 2008 Anna rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Tudor buffs
This book is about the life and times of Mary Tudor, first crowned queen of England. Whenever I read of Tudor times, Mary seemed to be in the background and briefly mentioned, being overshadowed by her father and brother before her and the Golden Age reign of her sister Elizabeth. I was curious to find out more about her than besides her false pregnancies and the burning of Protestant "heretics". This book really helped me more to understand the very troubled and sad life of this queen. Against...more
Well, I've never really read much non-fiction before, but I picked this up and it was amazing! I loved the way the author used every element of Mary's surroundings to explain how and why she was the way she was. Not only did Erickson take Mary's education into account, but also the divorce of her parents (and more importantly the way each of her parents acted during it), the religious climate of England over the years, and the changing economic situation.

I thought it was a wonderful book, altho...more
Most of my Tudor reading in the past has focused on Henry VIII or Elizabeth I, and skipped over the sad and bloody reign of Queen Mary. Not anymore! This sympathetic portrait of a woman who survived the vilification of her mother and her religion, an on-again off-again place in the succession, and an unpopular marriage to the younger and uninterested Philip of Spain, is definitely worth reading if you are interested in the Tudor dynasty. Well researched and extremely readable.
Lisa Shields
A superb biography of Mary Tudor. The book forgoes lambasting her for the religious turmoil that besieged her reign and delves into the more human qualities which define her character. I came away feeling that perhaps she has been much maligned by other depictions of her life. This grandchild of colossal rulers, descended from Isabella & Ferdinand, as well as Henry the VII who firmly reclaimed the throne of England from the Yorkists on the field of battle, comported herself in a manner befit...more
A fascinating and well-documented biography on a complicated and frequently dismissed royal. Plus the author (one of my favorite popular medievalists) has such a dry witty way of writing it makes it fun to read. I appreciate her ironic humor and insightful perspective on what life was like for people (both individually and collectively) during that period and in that place.
This book took me over 3 months to read as I could only take so much at a time. It was well researched and easy to read but I guess I missed converstation and so I would read a bit and then reach for a mystery. It was upsetting to see how women were treated during this time and era and to see how they were able to rise above it.
Gail Amendt
Most of the books written about the Tudors deal with the long reigns of Henry VIII and Elizabeth I. Much less is written about the comparatively short reigns of the monarchs between these two, Edward VI and Mary I. This book gives Mary the attention she deserves. It is a very detailed, perhaps at times too detailed, and scholarly look at her troubled life. The author has done her research and written only about that which is well documented, not giving time to popular myth and speculation. It do...more
An even-handed, well-researched biography of a woman who was a product of her time and upbringing, and, in her own way, as morally upright and true to her values as her more-lauded sister.
Rachael Taylor
This is probably the best researched biography I've ever read. It does take a long time to get through but I'm enjoying it. The details about the clothing and the festivals are very good.
Lauren Brackenbury
Carolly Erickson's Bloody Mary is a history that reads like an action adventure. This book was thoroughly engaging and immensely interesting.

Adored and publicly admired by her father as a young child, Mary's peaceful home life was destroyed when her father, always flirtatious, suddenly decided to pursue his love affair with Anne Boleyn beyond the bedroom, and with cold indifference and evident scorn cast aside his former wife, daughter, and religion. Mary was stripped of the title "Princess" and...more
C.S. Burrough
Jun 24, 2014 C.S. Burrough rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Tudor history buffs
A terrific biography of a much maligned and grossly misunderstood historical figure, a scapegoat for generations of vicious religious and political propagandists.

Though she burned and persecuted 'heretics', so did most European monarchs of her era, Catholic and Protestant.

After a splendid start in life, Henry VIII's half-Spanish, half-English heir to the English throne was treated cruelly and heartlessly throughout her youth because of her genes, her gender and her parent's reformation-triggerin...more
A clear and concise fictional novel. It goes into Mary's personality in depth, you forget it is actually fiction, based on facts from her correspondences and from people around her.
She was a pious woman,who had strong religious convictions, which she needed ,to stand up to her father, during the years of her bastardy. She was also well educated for a woman of that time. Her father insisted she learn Latin and Greek. She was the first female to ascend to the throne of England. She was not deficit...more
Before reading this book, I read Erickson's "Great Harry". Mary is very much a part of that story and "Great Harry" provided background to Mary's life in the context of her being her father's daughter.

In "Bloody Mary" the story is of the person Mary came to be and the forces that formed her. Her faith is the mainstay of her existence. It defined her person and directed her life as a woman and as a queen. Sadly, the moniker Bloody Mary is derived from her belief that Roman Catholicism must be res...more
Feb 11, 2008 Wealhtheow rated it 3 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: liz
Shelves: british-history
Despite the sensationalist title, this is a reasoned, well pieced together biography of Henry VIII's eldest child. Most of the book is set during Henry's reign, and Erickson provides far too much detail therein. I don't really need to know the mechanics of battles fought by Mary's father, particularly when Mary's own reign takes up only ~100 pages. Erickson focuses on odd details (she documents pretty much every uprising ever, no matter how small) while ignoring others (Mary's presence in the fa...more
Ho tanta invidia per le anime belle che sono seriamente convinte che Maria sia stata l'unica sovrana 'sanguinaria' della Storia, ma pure solo dell'Inghilterra o della sua famiglia, tanto per restringere il cerchio. Ho invidia di quell'ingenuità d'animo, di quello sguardo vergine sul mondo, della capacità di farsi conquistare dallo slogan e di accettare le verità impacchettate e servite col fiocco. La vita di Maria Tudor, figlia di Enrico VIII e di quella gran donna che fu la sua prima moglie, è...more
Daniel Kukwa
Incredibly detailed, and incredibly dense. At times, it's far too dense for its own good; it certainly loves to examine the fine details of ritual and recreation...usually to the detriment of the narrative pace. Luckily, the writing style is extremely fluid and easy-to-read, and it conveys very powerfully the Shakespearean tragedy of a Queen who certain deserves the title "the most unhappy woman in Christendom".
Enjoyable and informative. The author is clear and does her best to explain things so that archaic conventions are understandable. The politics are explained well and it is a great balance of what current opinion was but at the same time humanizing. The book shows the good, the bad and the ugly without being all of one or the other. The only reason I didn't give it 5 stars is due to the many formatting errors which slowed my reading.
Lois Clark-Johnston
Very interesting look into the life of Queen Mary I-she was an odd balance between a very charitable personality and heart-she made an issue of giving to the poor and even went in disguise among her peasants to be sure they were being treated fairly-and her ruthless burning of the protestants. In the end her mental instability was her true downfall. She is creature of pity and also fear for her brutal acts.
I am not a Christian and therefore do not believe in heaven or hell-but I often wonder if...more
I liked this book because I liked learning about Queen Mary, however the writting was a bit dull and some of it a snoozer. It was intresting to learn about Mary and where the term "Bloody Mary" comes from. This term bloody mary has lasted for centuries.

However, I support Mary and don't think that she deserviced the term bloody. Mary was just killing traitors who were trying to throw her off the throne. Every Queen and King in the past has doen that. I have great respect for the Kings and Queens...more
I found this book interesting and absorbing that I did not want to put it down. I would recommend it to anyone to find out what the foundations were of Mary Tudor's policies and what she was like as a person. The book spends a lot of time discussing Mary's life before her accession to the throne. This is necessary as an understanding of the forces, personalities and occurrences in Mary's early life are what influenced Mary's policies and actions as queen. Erickson's writing style conveys the com...more
As a lover of all Tudor non fiction, I was greatly disappointed with this book. In reading it I felt that Erickson wanted to write about about the Tudor reign but felt it too much so she just picked one subject. But for much of the book the information she gives is about other Tudor people instead of telling Mary's stories. She is not very critical of her sources, many of the facts she tells the readers have been disproved by many credible historians. I will never read another of her books.
Most of the time I listen to books on my IPod rather than read them on paper, but this was an exception. As a result, it took me an exceptionally long time to get through it,because it's a very long book.

That said, I thought that this was a TERRIFIC biography. Erickson has two types of books: straight bios and bios with which she takes liberty with facts for the sake of plot. This was the former, and still was enthralling. Lots of political background, placing Queen Mary in context.
Rod Foglio
Elizabeth I's predecessor finally gets her own book. History hasn't been kind to Mary, usally regarding her as wicked or inept, but in this book you see that she dealt with the troubles of her time as well as anybody could. Though she made mistakes, she had less blood on her hands than her contemporaries did; and it was her ability to get England out of the mess that her brother's court had made which allowed Elizabeth a more favorable start.
William J. Shep
Well documented and well written biography of England's first sovereign queen. It is also rather depressing to read since Mary's reign can not be viewed as anything but a great failure, failure to restore the Roman Catholic Church to power, failure to produce a royal heir, failure to hold the last English territory (Calais) in France.
Ginnie Grant
the pain driven madness of "bloody mary" was well captured here. It gives you the idea of her mindset and makes you sympathize just a little. I love how erickson also featured the good works of queen mary, as well as her suffering for a child and a loving husband, and te religious tyranny many biographers focus on
Lindsay Richardson
Have read many of her books now and it wasn't the writing that was off it was just the subjects story that took a long long time before it offered anything to get into. I would highly recommend a number of other books from this author, this was purely a subject interest for me and now I know not to be so interested.
After watching The Tudors I found myself intrigued by Mary and wanted to know her story beyond the sitcom. It's an easy read and satisfied my curiosity. This book copy I borrowed from a friend is very old. It also had pictures too

Great book. Very much recommend
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  • Edward VI: The Lost King of England
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  • Anne Boleyn: A New Life of England's Tragic Queen
  • Catherine of Aragon: The Spanish Queen of Henry VIII
  • The Sisters Who Would Be Queen
  • Elizabeth I
  • Jane Boleyn: The True Story of the Infamous Lady Rochford
  • Mary Queen of Scots and The Murder of Lord Darnley
  • Lady Jane Grey: A Tudor Mystery
  • Elizabeth's Women: Friends, Rivals, and Foes Who Shaped the Virgin Queen
  • Elizabeth and Mary: Cousins, Rivals, Queens
Distinguished historian Carolly Erickson is the author of The Hidden Diary of Marie Antoinette, The First Elizabeth, Great Catherine, Alexandra and many other prize-winning works of fiction and nonfiction. She lives in Hawaii.
More about Carolly Erickson...
The Last Wife of Henry VIII The Hidden Diary of Marie Antoinette Rival to the Queen The Tsarina's Daughter The Secret Life of Josephine: Napoleon's Bird of Paradise

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