QUEEN MARY I
Mary I and Philip II
Mary was not prepared to stand by and let
John Dudley usurp the crown she believed was rightfully hers. The Tudor
claimant had immense support in the country, and with her supporters, Mary
made a valiant and successful bid for the throne, defeating the Duke's
forces in days. After many years of struggle, Mary was finally proclaimed
Queen of England, and it was a major political and personal triumph.
As soon as she was queen, Mary began the process of restoring the Roman Catholic faith in England. In 1555 this lead to a series of mass burnings of Protestants at the stake, a policy that has earned Mary the title of Bloody Mary. Determined to do her duty and provide for the succession, Mary married her cousin, Prince Philip of Spain (later Philip II) in 1554, and the marriage was very unpopular amongst her Protestant subjects. In opposition to the impending marriage, Thomas Wyatt and his followers launched a rebellion, but it failed, and Wyatt and key supporters were imprisoned in the Tower. It was rumoured that the purpose of the rebellion had been to crown Elizabeth, and believing this was true, Mary had her half-sister imprisoned in the Tower for suspected involvement. When no proof could be found against Elizabeth, she was released from the Tower and imprisoned in Woodstock Manor, Oxfordshire instead.
Mary longed to have a child and for many months believed that she was actually pregnant, but the pregnancy turned out to be false. As Mary's health began to decline, perhaps due to cancer, the question of the succession became of prime importance. Still resenting what had happened to her mother, Mary was adamant that Elizabeth was not going to succeed her, but was persuaded to name Elizabeth her heir by her husband. Philip was concerned that if Elizabeth did not become Queen, the crown would fall into the hands of half-French Mary, Queen of Scots. If Henry VIII's will was ignored, then by right of birth, Mary, Queen of Scots was the next heir after Elizabeth. It was thus in Philip's interest to ensure that England stayed out of French hands. Mary finally named Elizabeth her heir, and her half-sister became Queen when Mary died on 17 November 1558.