Mary Tudor: Princess, Bastard, Queen
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Mary Tudor: Princess, Bastard, Queen

3.88 of 5 stars 3.88  ·  rating details  ·  1,108 ratings  ·  88 reviews
She was the first woman to inherit the throne of England, a key player in one of Britain’s stormiest eras, and a leader whose unwavering faith and swift retribution earned her the nickname “Bloody Mary.” Now, in this impassioned and absorbing debut, historian Anna Whitelock offers a modern perspective on Mary Tudor and sets the record straight once and for all on one of hi...more
Hardcover, 432 pages
Published September 7th 2010 by Random House (first published January 1st 2009)
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Lina
Mary Tudor I, is one of the most interesting historical figures to me. And no, I'm not a Catholic, Spanish nor do I think that she was justified in killing the almost 300 hundred protestants that occurred during her reign. I simply think that on a psychological level, she is not only a complex person, but sad. I also think that it is important that historians are now reassessing Mary's reign as Queen. While there is no denying there was bad, John Foxe's anti-Catholic propaganda has completely ta...more
Michele
Ultimately I have to disagree with all the blurbs on the back of this non-fiction work on Mary Tudor. Historians such as David Starkey and Antonia Fraser rave about this debut of Whitelock, but I fail to see what all of the hoopla is about. It is a recitation of the known facts and that is all. I don't see where Whitelock uncovered any new material here. In fact, I feel she relies far too heavily on biased sources, such as the Spanish Ambassador of the time who would, of course, be far more symp...more
Sophie
This was dissapointing. I was hoping for a fresh insight into Mary I, to erode my previous bias against the Bloody Queen. The book was clearly in Mary's favour, almost idolising her at times, whilst demonising those who stood against her. Something guarenteed to turn me against her even more. I left this book with a worse impression that when I started. Perhaps she is just really that unlikable?
Still looking for a book on Mary not tinged with heavy bias so I can give her a fair chance.
Louise
Mary Tudor receives considerably less press than her more glamorous younger half-sister. Elizabeth's long reign, fascinating relationships and excellent self-promotion (i.e. Mary's death anniversary is celebrated as "Elizabeth's Accession Day") have been grist historians, novelists and movie directors. In contrast, Mary is often considered interim figure known primarily for her nick-name, deserved or not, "Bloody Mary".

Author Anna Whitelock presents a very sympathetic portrait of Mary. While she...more
Rick F.
Well written, interesting and thankfully, the author does a nice job of differentiating between all the same names! Charles, Henry, Mary,ect- wow -seems like 90% of the folks during the 16th Century had about 5 different names to choose from!

Very much enjoyed this book- gave me more info on the Tutors- a subject I am quite interested in- and continue to read about- Unlike the more famous Alison Weir- The author tells a story...she does not spend countless pages on minute details like Weir who c...more
Pete daPixie
Bloody Mary! If history has ever painted any English monarch, then it certainly daubed a large brush, dipped in bright red gloss, all over Mary Tudor. Well, quite right too, wasn't she the daughter of Henry VIII who reversed daddy's break with Rome? Chopped the head off that pretty 19 year old Queen Jane? Set fire to heretics up and down the land like there was no tomorrow? Married the catholic Phillip of Spain for god's sake, and was nothing but nasty to the fair protestant princess Lizzy. If a...more
Colleen
My interest in Tudor history began early- I was booted off a tour of the Tower of London at age 13 for the running commentary I was sharing with my mother! Elizabeth has always been my focus, so I was very excited to see this book on Mary because she is so often treated as only a springboard to Gloriana. Unfortunately, this book just missed the mark for me.

Despite the wealth of information and historical references, this book never made Mary a person to me. The manuscript seemed disjointed, and...more
Katie
This is a fantastic book and a really compelling read in a way that history books really ought to be. I came away not only knowing more factual information about this much maligned figure but understanding her motivations in a way that made much more sense than the rather incomplete treatment of her in most books on the Tudors. Considering the current hype and romanticization of Anne Boleyn, knowing the true story of Mary (and her mother) is very interesting and a good balance to inject a little...more
Rachel Swords
After the many books on Henry VIII, Anne Boleyn, and Elizabeth I, here is a fascinating read about Henry's eldest daughter, Mary. History lovers, Tudor aficionados, and fans of the tv show "The Tudors" will enjoy this biography, as it's written in a style that is easy to read. Each chapter is short, but there's quite a thorough amount of information within the sections. On a side note, "Tudors" fans might be interested to know that numerous key lines from the show were lifted straight from histo...more
Julie
This book succeeds in vindicating Mary Tudor’s reputation as “Bloody Mary,” and the author’s portrayal of her is much more sympathetic than any other I’ve read. It explores four phases in her life: the daughter of a king, the sister of a king, the queen, and the wife of a king. In order to understand the woman she becomes, the first third of the book is devoted to her young life during her father’s reign. It examines Henry VIII’s tumultuous latter years and his six wives, but it makes an assumpt...more
Amber (The Musings of ALMYBNENR)
This is the second biography on Mary Tudor that I have read (shocking, I know) and I really enjoyed it. It is chock full of information on her life and Anna Whitelock thoroughly covers her ordeals. Many people skim over Mary and go on straight to Elizabeth, the Virgin Queen, the queen of the Golden Age. But like Whitelock, I believe Mary paved the way for Elizabeth with her short, yet precedent-setting reign. Mary was a strong woman and a great leader throughout her life. She was a great leader...more
Orsolya
I know what you may be thinking: that you love Elizabeth I and that Mary is just, well, her depressed older-half sister who as a staunch Catholic had 300 heretics burned. What you must realize is that Mary was a trailblazer as the first Queen of England, she paved the way for Elizabeth. There would be no Elizabeth without Mary. Mary was a fighter and fought for her throne: literally. Her coup was the most succesful revolt against central government in 16th-century England.

If you are interested i...more
Andrea Hickman Walker
History has vilified her as Bloody Mary. Why? Because she burnt over 300 heretics in her reign. She tried to stem the tide of Protestantism in England, to return the country to the Catholicism that reigned at her birth and until her father's lust (for both power and women) got the better of him. Unable to produce an heir, the crown returned to a Protestant (Queen Elizabeth I) and Mary was consequently vilified on religious grounds.

I had always thought that Elizabeth was the first queen of Englan...more
Crystal
I have read a lot of fiction about this time period and I was interested to see what this biography of Mary Tudor has to say. It is amazing how a few men's propaganda efforts can ruin the reputation of a Queen for hundreds of years. I kept waiting for Mary to get 'Bloody' but she never did. There were a quite a few people executed at the beginning of her reign because they were traitors and were trying to replace Mary with her half-sister Elizabeth. Because she was a staunch Catholic and England...more
Alison
I came across Mary Tudor after attempting to listen to The Other Boleyn Girl on cd. When I started reading reviews that complained about the lack of truthfulness in Gregory's writing and that her research skills proved to be "creative", I decided to switch to a more true-to-history book. I do love a well researched historical fiction...Philippa Gregory should read Mrs. Diana Gabaldon's work for reference.

Whitelock proves to be a skilled biographer and researcher. She well documents her hard work by using quotes and embedded...more
Julianne
Altogether marvelous reading. I have long been interested in Tudor history but really knew next to nothing about Mary Tudor, England's Queen Mary I. History has labeled her "Bloody Mary," but there was so much more to her than the burning of Protestants at the stake during her reign. This was a woman who, though quite privileged, swam upstream most of her life and had to fight for everything. She was deeply cherished by her remarkable mother, Catherine of Aragon, but largely dismissed and mistru...more
Heather Domin
4.5 stars. This book deserves 5 stars for its scholarship, meticulousness, accessibility, and presentation, all of which are outstanding. I particularly appreciated the section on Mary and Phillip's marriage contract, and the detail used in showing how much of a trailblazer Mary was in her own right and with her own power, which has always been overshadowed by the glow of Gloriana. Having said that, though, I felt the book went both a little too far and also not far enough in redeeming Mary's fa...more
Kevin Reekie
May 03, 2011 Kevin Reekie rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Kevin by: reekiekorky@aol.com
I thought this was a very interesting account of Queen Mary. It seems that she was somewhat overshadowed by little Sis and this book attempted to address the balance.
It portrays Mary as a deeply religious, intelligent person, keen to serve her people. This changed later in her reign under considerable pressure from Prince Philip and Spain. Don't forget women had rarely ruled with this authotity before and it must have been very difficult.
It is clear that Mary would have never fully recovered fro...more
Susan
I liked it and found it very well written and researched. The author went to great lengths to portray Mary Tudor as more than just the "Bloody Mary" of the brief Catholic regime before Queen Elizabeth, her half-sister, took the throne. It also painted a more complete picture of the terrible situation Mary found herself in once King Henry was determined to divorce Queen Catherine.

Fascinating look at an often dismissed and overlooked monarch. She was the first Queen of England and helped establish...more
Éowyn
This was a clear narrative account of Mary Tudor's life and times, but I've given it only two stars as it was really lacking in analysis; we know what happened, but I don't feel that the author really explored how things impacted on Mary herself enough.
Heidi Pepin
It was not as good as other Tudor period books I've read. To boggd down with endless detail. I wanted to read a book that told more about her. It was mostly history leading up to her becoming Queen and just a litle about her. I wanted more about just her.
Cece
Although I still find Erickson's Tudor biographies the most readable, this book was very well-done. This is a fair-handed biography of a much-maligned historic figure.
Bart Breen
Anna Whitelock brings an important element to history in this book which is both important and highly readable by the average person coming to this work. Historical figures, just like political figures today, are often defined by a few short sound-bites that summarize all of their impact. Mary Tudor, more than any other title is known as "Bloody Mary" and it is this moniker that has defined her. Add to this, one of the most influential books about this era, Foxes Book of Martyrs, and the upheava...more
Megan Bodwell
This was a very good book. The writing style was easy to read; not at all dry and boring like most biographies. I always find reading biographies concerning English nobility difficult because names and titles are always different from each other and it is often that both are not used in every instance. Whitelock sought to lift the "Bloody Mary" image of the first Queen Regnant of England, which I thought she accomplished marvelously. I found it interesting that Whitelock also did not attempt to...more
Pat
When it comes to the Tudors, Henry VIII, Anne Boleyn and Elizabeth I tend to suck the air out of the room. I was interested in reading this well received biography on Mary. Sadly this was no more than a expanded Wikipedia entry. It was a well researched list of facts and events in chronological order. I have never read another biography of Queen Mary, but did not learn anything new in this book. The author talks about her desire to change the impression of Mary, but gives such a sterile biograph...more
Rebecca
Just like Marie Antoinette never said "let them eat cake", Mary, daughter of Henry VIII never really was "Bloody Mary". It's amazing how one sentence from a paper can follow you for 400 plus years.

Mary was born the beloved daughter of Catherine of Aragon and Henry VIII. She was a princess. In eight short years she was named a bastard and separated from her mother. There begins her journey. She was either villified or loved. She was seen as political toy. Her fortunes rose or fell accorrding to w...more
Dawn
I have a love-hate relationship with books about history. While I have always been fascinated by specific periods of history, my reading on the subject is spotty. Mostly because I'll find something that works for me, then as I attempt to delve deeper I run into the Wall-O-Text materials meant for serious researchers and students armed with highlighters.*

Generally that leads to me wandering off in search of something else to do. Books should not be work in my opinion. Books should be enjoyable.

An...more
Shawn Davis
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Marina
Mary grew more and more reclusive, sitting in one place for hours at a time, wrestling with depression and anxiety, neither leaving her chamber nor giving audience to anyone. To those who saw her she looked pale and ill, weeping and praying that her labor pains begin. Her prayer book survives, the pages worn and stained around a page bearing a prayer for the safe delivery of a woman with child.

A King's Wife chapter is heartbreaking. I think another reason why Mary married Philip II was to get cl...more
Frrobins
I've read a lot of biographies about the Tudors, and I have to say that this is by far the worst I have ever read.

Whitelock leaves SO much out. She barely touches on how Mary (understandably) refused to acknowledge Elizabeth as princess, and then did not mention at all about how when Anne Boleyn was condemned and Elizabeth bastardized, Mary reached out to her sister in support. She barely touches on Elizabeth's existence until Mary is crowned Queen, despite the fact that they were close.

Whiteloc...more
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Anna Whitelock gained her PhD in History from Corpus Christi College, Cambridge in 2004 with a thesis on the court of Mary I. Her articles and book reviews on various aspects of Tudor history have appeared in publications including the Guardian, the Times Literary Supplement and BBC History. She has taught at Cambridge University and is now a lecturer in Early Modern History at Royal Holloway, Uni...more
More about Anna Whitelock...
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