The First Queen of England: The Myth of "Bloody Mary"
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The First Queen of England: The Myth of "Bloody Mary"

3.99 of 5 stars 3.99  ·  rating details  ·  1,592 ratings  ·  53 reviews
In this groundbreaking new biography of “Bloody Mary,” Linda Porter brings to life a queen best remembered for burning hundreds of Protestant heretics at the stake, but whose passion, will, and sophistication have for centuries been overlooked.

Daughter of Henry VIII and Katherine of Aragon, wife of Philip of Spain, and sister of Edward VI, Mary Tudor was a cultured Renaiss...more
Hardcover, 452 pages
Published July 8th 2008 by St. Martin's Press (first published September 27th 2007)
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Orsolya
Truly the case of a victim (of sorts) being made out to be the blood-thirsty "bad guy", Mary Tudor unfortunately has a bad reputation. Although this viewpoint has been more than avidly blamed on Elizabethan propaganda, the image remains. Linda Porter dives past the traditional stereotypes and bad blood (pun intended); to present Mary's reasoning behind her actions and her remaining scars from childhood of much pain.

In terms of biographies, this is a rather inclusive portrait of Mary Tudor and w...more
Pat
This biography was fascinating and left me wondering why she would be nicknamed "Bloody Mary" when the rest of her family (the Bloody Tudors!)was truly worse as far as I'm concerned. With the legacy/examples left by her father, her step-mother and others (as well as her passive-aggressive sister, Elizabeth) she was a strong, passionate, yet misunderstood and lonely woman who only lived her life as she had to, to survive and become the first ever Queen of England. I would think all of royalty of...more
Amber
May 17, 2012 Amber rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: Anyone looking for an in-depth biography on Mary I.
Recommended to Amber by: N/A
My preference has always been for Anne Boleyn and her daughter Elizabeth, but I have always admired Katherine of Aragon’s conviction and stubbornness. After reading this biography, I have an even greater admiration for Mary and the emotional suffering she went through as well as the bouts of illness she experienced throughout her life. Her torment over her half-sister Elizabeth is heartbreaking and I kept wanting the two sisters to be truly able to bond away from all of their burdens even though...more
Carolina
There have been perennial books popping up every now and then about Henry VIII and his six wives and his larger than life daughter, Elizabeth I. Although there have been several other biographies done in the past of Mary I that give a new perspective to this much maligned figure, I think no one has done what Porter has done -and this is work harder to dispel the rumors and the reputation she has gained over time as "Bloody" Mary.
Granted her treatment could have used more details as H.F.M. Presco...more
Jennifer
"The First Queen of England: The Myth of "Bloody Mary" was a sympathetic, but not entirely vindicating, take on England's most vilified Queen.

The author did an excellent job supporting her opinions with historical fact. Mary has often been portrayed as a religious fanatic, determined to return England to the Catholic Church, without regard to how many Protestants she had to burn a the stake. While Mary certainly did burn many, the reasons are so much more complex than mere religion.

The authors b...more
Heather Domin
(I'm re-reading this in April 2014 - since I couldn't include it the first time, this time I'll copy/paste my review from the Historical Novel Society Review November 2009 issue.)

This fascinating biography of Mary Tudor cuts through centuries of assumption, legend, and demonization to reveal a more even-handed portrait of the first true English queen regnant. Every aspect of Mary’s life is thoroughly reexamined: from her supposed religious fanaticism to her seemingly loveless marriage and the de...more
'Aussie Rick'




This book offers the reader a balanced and insightful portrait of Mary Tudor or better know to most as 'Bloody Mary'. Mary was the daughter of Henry VIII and Katherine of Aragon and later wife of Philip of Spain and has been portrayed as the main instigator for the burning of hundreds of Protestant heretics at the stake during her reign.

This book shows that she was a better Queen than most historians grant and under her leadership she attempt to place England at the forefront of the European na...more
Val
Linda Porter gives a much more sympathetic portrait of Mary I than her reputation. She does it by giving many more details of her reign than some accounts have done and a much more rounded woman and Queen is the result.
She includes all the information she can find, but even so, if she left out all the speculation along the lines of 'Mary must have felt...', '...thought...' or '...wondered..', it would be a much slimmer volume.
I enjoyed her reassessment of a much misunderstood ruler. The book is...more
Tasha Cooper
I found this book to be a bit of a slog to get through - maybe I was just trying to read it at the wrong time of the day. For the most part I was able to read about 10 pages at a time. That being said, I am extremely happy that I did read this book. I have never before read a book that had Mary as anything other than a secondary character. From early on in the book I knew that I owed Queen Mary and her memory a huge apology as I like so many others, fell victim to the propaganda regarding Mary....more
Rachel Benton
This by far has been one of the best books that I have read on Mary I. I have always been fascinated with her, I don't think she deserves the labels that have been placed on her. Yes, she did kill people for their religious beliefs, but this is not anything new given the time period. Monarchs before and after Mary have done the same thing, but it seems that only Mary is singled out and given the title as being *bloody*. Porter did a good job of dispelling a lot of myths in regards to Mary. Like...more
Jodi
Have taken a couple of weeks to read this book as had magazines from my friend in Denmark covering the 40th anniversary celebrations of the Queen’s reign (Yes, in Danish so the reading takes a while) and I decided to re-re-re-re-rex10-read Pride and Prejudice.

So, on to The First Queen of England. The Prologue was written in the style of a novel which is not how I like my non-fiction to be. Telling me what a historical figure thought, how she turned in her horse’s saddle, what the sky looked like...more
Anthony
If you are a fan of English history, especially the Tudor Era, then this is a must read. The author uses newly discovered and previously unused sources, such as actual manuscripts and letters from the main historical figures to present a biography of Mary Tudor that is well written and fascinating to read. The author claims, and very convincingly, that the bad reputation that Queen Mary has, and her nickname, "Bloody Mary" is very much unfounded. The author cites all the positives done during Ma...more
Midgetbee
An interesting read, if at times a somewhat infuriating one. The author attempts to see Mary Tudor as something other than the sad, frumpy little woman easily eclipsed by her sister and forgotten by her husband that is so often portrayed by books about this period, but at times her opinions and desire to rehabilitate Mary bring things almost to the point of farce. If anything, it shows the folly of thinking that just because someone is nice in their private life, they must be excused the nastier...more
Samantha
With The First Queen of England: The Myth of "Bloody Mary" Linda Porter offers a fresh look into the life of Mary the First. She was the queen best-known for her persecution and subsequent burnings of Protestants, but as Porter reveals, there was so much more to Mary Tudor. The daughter of Henry the Eighth and Katherine of Aragon, Mary was a privileged princess and heir to the English throne during her childhood. When Henry the Eighth set his sights on divorcing Katherine and marrying Anne Boley...more
Nicole (Reading Books With Coffee)
I liked this book, and I really liked reading about Mary. It was a nice change from reading about Henry VIII's wives and about Elizabeth I.

I really liked that it didn't focus too much on her childhood, her dislike of Anne Boleyn and her relationship with her sister. It is a very good overview of Mary's life and what was going on during her lifetime. There were plenty of details about Mary without getting bogged down in them.

The one thing I noticed is that Porter sees Mary in a very positive li...more
MAP
Ultimately, a very good book about Mary Tudor. It only really dragged in one place, and the who's who was explained very well.

I only wish we could have spent a little more time in her childhood, pre-divorce b/n Katherine and Henry. There also anecdotes I've seen in several other books but not in this one, such as Mary being so innocent that Henry came in and used a vulgar word and she didn't even flinch because she didn't know what it meant. Maybe that's apocryphal, but the author brought up sev...more
Anna-Maija Tähkävuori
Nov 05, 2013 Anna-Maija Tähkävuori rated it 3 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: historiallisena tutkimuksena
Recommended to Anna-Maija by: Goodreads
Linda Porter onnistuu melko taitavasti pehmittämään ja elävöittämään Mary I eli Mary Tudorin luonnekuvaa. Mitään hätkähdyttävää uutta ei mielestäni kuitenkaan löytynyt.
Luovuus taisi etupäässä olla tendenssiä. Renessanssiajan helmeilyyn kuuluivat itsestään selvyytenä ylimystön taide- ja musiikkiharrasteet - usein muodon vuoksi - sekä pöyhistelevä, hallitsijasuvulle mahdollinen pukuloisto.
Aiheesta lukemieni kirjojen ja teatteriesitysten jälkeen pidän Maryä yhä Porterin ansiokkaasta teoksesta huol...more
Jennifer Gelert
I love British history. My mother used to say I had a crush on Henry VIII because I did numerous reports on him. I knew the story of his daughters and how is pride and desire for a male heir affected them. I thought I knew the story of Bloody Mary as she was called in so many books I read. But in this book, the author paints a quite different picture of Mary Tudor. Why she did certain things and how her name and story was misunderstood and changed to suit different meanings. She reigned 5 years...more
Diane Heath
This was a very interesting look at Mary Tudor, daughter of Henry 8th and Katherine of Aragon. In school we learned that she was queen before Ellizabeth and persecuted Protestants. This biography contends that such a claim is a exaggeration and villification of Mary. It does seem that history has spoken more of Henry VIII, Katherine and Anne Boylen (sp) We all know Elizabeth but little is known of Edward and Mary who preceded her as King and Queen...Edward for 6 years and Mary for 5.
I would rec...more
Tree
Stylistically similar to Allison Weir; dense with detail. Lovely bits about clothing.
Angela Joyce
What I liked best about this is the important point that Mary was a woman of her time. The author stressed that we cannot judge her by modern standards. That, I think, is the key to understanding so much about this woman. I came away from this book feeling renewed compassion (I've always felt sorry for Mary) as well as a bit more respect for this queen who really didn't have any good example to follow. She may have been too honest and straightforward to be the effective queen that her sister was...more
Kate
This book is an interesting look at Mary Tudor, who was the first Queen of England to rule in her own right. The beginning of the book is quite redundant if you have read any Tudor histories before. The book at times is slow and doesn't achieve the pure objectivity expected in a historical biography as the author's opinions are evident throughout. But overall it is an interesting look at one of the Tudor monarchs who is usually overlooked and marginalized.
Nancy
This book is well researched, the writing is really good, and it does not sensationalize its subject, the events of her life, or the people in it. One of the things I enjoyed most about it is the way the author incorporates into the text primary source material - letters, state papers, contemporary biographies, and what we would now call "diaries." These are quoted from, often in fairly long passages, and they are wonderful, especially the letters.
Jean
Really enjoying the history! The book was a little slanted toward one side. The author did her best trying to present both the positive and negative of Queen Mary's life. I would recommend it to anyone interested in the Tudor period of history. The book gives a good high level overview of a lot of things that happened. It has led me to download additional reading on the Tudors and their heritage. Overall, I am glad I took the time to read it.
Mrsdarcy
Oct 13, 2009 Mrsdarcy rated it 3 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: people who like real history
Shelves: history
Excellent book, dispelling many popular myths about Mary, her policies and reign. Very interesting indeed and will probably re-read more than once. Mary is treated sympathetically and sensitively, which makes a nice change. We get a glimpse of what the real Mary may have been like and learn that she did not, after all, spend months dying but was among the victims of an outbreak of influenza.
Lady of the Lake
Well this book did much to change my views of Mary Tudor.! I don't know why I was always a fan of her sister Elizabeth (still think Elizabeth was a remarkable and "modern" thinking monarch) my views on Mary had much to do about the way historians portrayed Mary, (everything to do with it). After reading this
book of Mary I am much more understanding of her, her life and the way she ruled.
Jackie
This is a decent biography of Mary Tudor. The author attempts to redeem Bloody Mary's reputation; I am not sure she succeeds but she certainly demonstrates that Mary was no more violent than many other rulers of her day. I came away from this book with a better understanding of just how sad Mary Tudor's life was, from beginning to end.
Kara
Porter does a very good job digging up a multitude of facts about Mary I's life, rounding out the picture to present a much more complex figure than the 'evil older sister' Hollywood presents. However, she makes too many excuses for the burnings. Forget the morals - it was a political disaster, and she should be called on it.
Haley
I didn't even start this book, even though I've had it for approximately two months. Why? Because I was going to finish another book first, but I couldn't finish it. I had renewed it the maximum amount of times, so today I had to return both this book and the other book (Winter King; the Dawn of Tudor England) to the library.
Anyawilson
gruesome,murderous,and breathtaking!captivating and leave you wanting more
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Librarian Note: There is more than one author in the GoodReads database with this name. See this thread for more information.

Linda Porter was born in Exeter, Devon in 1947. Her family have long-standing connections to the West Country, but moved to the London area when she was a small child. She was educated at Walthamstow Hall School in Sevenoaks and at the University of York, from which she has...more
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