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Mary Tudor: Princess, Bastard, Queen

3.97  ·  Rating details ·  2,961 ratings  ·  165 reviews
This is a page-turning, revisionist history of the villainised and misunderstood Mary Tudor, the first queen of England.
Kindle Edition, 432 pages
Published September 7th 2010 by Random House LLC (first published September 1st 2009)
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Average rating 3.97  · 
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 ·  2,961 ratings  ·  165 reviews

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Oct 26, 2012 rated it really liked it
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
Rick F.
Mar 27, 2012 rated it it was amazing
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
Oct 22, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: biography, tudor
Mary Tudor highly deserves a more appropriate title than history gives her and this bio really shows who she really was.Not the "Bloody Mary" of legend but a trailblazer for queenship in England,a courageous,intelligent and very capable queen who accomplished most everything she set out to do.She won her rightful throne,married her prince and returned the country to Roman Catholicism.This was a basic introduction to Mary I and I don't think I could have read a much better one.It didn't happen to ...more
Jun 14, 2010 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
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.
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
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
Pete daPixie
Mar 08, 2010 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: history-tudor
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 ...more
Jan 25, 2011 rated it liked it
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
Apr 12, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
An amazing biography
Nov 07, 2010 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Jan 16, 2011 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction
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.
Helen Robare
Jan 27, 2019 rated it really liked it
This book was pretty good. The one thing that is disappointing or frustrating when reading about history is that you CANNOT change it. While reading this book, I found myself constantly wondering what would have happened if_____? Though I know the history of Mary I pretty well having been reading about the Tudor era since I was 12 years old (I'm 62 now). This book went from Mary's birth up to her death and did not linger overlong on any one particular time. Nor did it linger too long on ...more
Susan Abernethy
Jan 09, 2018 rated it really liked it
Link to my review of this book:
Bart Breen
Mar 10, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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 ...more
Sep 23, 2010 rated it really liked it
Shelves: non-fiction, tudor, own, vine
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 ...more
Moon Rose
The judgment of history is purely based on the facade of those who are in power, not only written by the winners, but is actually done through the perspectives of those who manage to stabilize their control , and if the person to be deemed is to be seen against their dictum, history unfolds with an elaborate and convincing array of distortions designed to fit the legacy of those who are in power.

Distortions, which in a way cater to see the worst instead of celebrating the best in somebody.
Feb 02, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: Tudor fans
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
Lisa Konet
Jan 31, 2018 rated it really liked it
Because of how she was raised by Catherine of Aragon and their shared faith, all non-believers were persecuted and killed... "Bloody Mary" indeed. A fascinating and insightful read!
Oct 10, 2010 rated it it was amazing
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 ...more
Rachel Swords
Oct 17, 2011 rated it really liked it
Shelves: tudors
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 ...more
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
Jun 06, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I came across Mary Tudor by Anna Whitelock after attempting to listen to The Other Boleyn Girl by Philippa Gregory 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
Heather Domin
Sep 14, 2010 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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 ...more
Kevin Reekie
May 03, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Kevin by:
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
Richard Thomas
Dec 07, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: english-history
This is a good biography of one the hate figures of English history. Poor Bloody Mary will be remembered for her persecution and martyring of Protestants in her attempt to reverse her father's reformation and schism with Rome. Add in her marriage to Philip II of Spain and you have little to comment her in the general history taught.

She was however a Tudor, intelligent and charming when she wished it. She was not short of courage as witness her actions to secure the throne from poor Queen Jane in
Feb 18, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Heidi Pepin
Oct 16, 2010 rated it liked it
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.
I really like Whitlock's portrayal of Mary. Seeing her in a new light compared to the "bloody Mary" title, looking at how she became the queen she was and the pressure she was under.
Nov 23, 2010 rated it really liked it
Shelves: biography
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.
Read ARC for Historical Novel Society; review to come. Liked it well enough to buy the published version!
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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, ...more