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Mary Tudor: England's First Queen [Hardcover]

Anna Whitelock
4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (35 customer reviews)

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Book Description

4 May 2009
Mary Tudor was the first woman to be crowned Queen of England. Her accession, in the summer of 1553, took place against the odds and it was, in many ways, emblematic of her life. Anna Whitelock's assured, impassioned and absorbing debut tells the remarkable story of a woman who was a princess one minute, feted by the courts of Europe, and a disinherited bastard the next. It tells of her Spanish heritage, the unbreakable bond between Mary and her mother, Katherine of Aragon; of her childhood, adolescence, rivalry with her sister Elizabeth, and finally her womanhood. It explores the formative experiences that made Mary the determined and single-minded queen she became. She had fought to survive, fought to preserve her integrity and her right to hear the Catholic mass, and finally she fought for the throne. As Queen of England, Mary retained her tenacity. She married Philip of Spain against much opposition and struggled passionately to restore Catholicism, the religion to which she had remained true all her life. Yet whilst she was brave as a queen, as a woman she was dependent and prone to anxiety. In an age when marriages were made for political and diplomatic advantage, Mary married a man she truly loved but whom did not share her passion. It is this tension between Mary's dominance as queen and her tragedy as a woman that is crucial to understanding her reign. Her private traumas of phantom pregnancies, debilitating illnesses and unrequited love were played out in the public glare of the fickle Tudor court. The Mary that emerges is not the weak-willed failure of traditional narratives, but a complex figure of immense courage, determination and humanity.

Product details

  • Hardcover: 384 pages
  • Publisher: Bloomsbury Publishing PLC; 1st Edition edition (4 May 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0747590184
  • ISBN-13: 978-0747590187
  • Product Dimensions: 23.6 x 16 x 3.6 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (35 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 603,339 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description


`An impressive and powerful debut' -- David Starkey

About the Author

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, University of London.

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
20 of 22 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Nice introduction..., 12 Aug 2009
If you have had limited exposure to the Tudor era, this is a nice introduction to the life and reign of Mary I. It provides an accessible overview without being difficult to follow.

Those with a good grounding in Tudor era history, however, will probably find nothing new in this book. I also found that the short chapters - so thoroughly praised by other reviewers - limit the amount of information that can be imparted about the subject at hand. Thus, one has the feeling that one is merely browsing Mary's life without going into it in much depth.

In short, this is a good book for one who is just discovering Mary Tudor. Those in search of a more in depth examination should look elsewhere.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Mary - The Forgotten 1st Queen 31 Jan 2012
Although she was England's first Queen and the eldest daughter of Hanry VIII she is very much forgotten. This book is beautifully researched and written. It shows Mary in her true light. Proving that she is indeeed the daughter of Henry VIII. The treatment of her by her father is most evident in the way she later treated her subjects. It is a shame that she is forgotten so badly despite what she did. Why should she seem to be cast into the shadow of her little half sister Elizabeth? This book tries to answer a lot of questions and makes you see Mary in a completely humanising light.
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15 of 18 people found the following review helpful
Mary Tudor has long suffered from the dual historical burden of Protestant propaganda and the long shadow cast by her half-sister, Elizabeth. The first has defined her as a failed queen who executed her subjects in a futile attempt to reimpose her Catholic faith, while the second has long distracted later generations from undertaking any sort of searching historical reevaluation. This is what makes Anna Whitelock's biography of the queen so refreshing. In it, she offers a dramatic reassessment of Mary, one that presents her not as "Bloody Mary" but as a successful monarch who persevered against numerous challenges.

Triumphing against adversity was not new to Mary as a queen, as she had been dealing with it from an early age. As the first surviving child of Henry VIII, she was a major political figure from the moment of her birth, and she became a prominent figure in the marriage politics of the royalty practically as soon as she could walk. Yet Henry's determination to have a son soon turned Mary into a virtual prisoner, cutting her off from her mother, Katherine of Aragon, and many of her potential supporters. It was only under the threat of death that she accepted her father's elevation to the head of a Church of England and her own status as a bastard. Though this helped rehabilitate her in her father's eyes and helped to confirm her right to the throne later, it did not return her to the status of heir apparent, as her half-brother Edward became next in line from the moment of his birth.

Though Mary initially enjoyed good relations with Edward and his subsequent regime, her determination to hold steadfast to her Catholic faith put her at odds with the increasingly radical tone of Edward's Protestant policies.
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14 of 18 people found the following review helpful
Mary Tudor seems to be eternally eclipsed by her half-sister Queen Elizabeth and her overpowering father Henry VIII. She seems to be rather her mother's daughter and the King's of Spain wife and above all the religious fanatic who burned Protestants at the stake and went down in history as "Bloody Mary".

Well, of course there is always an element of truth in it. But there is so much more to England's first ruling Queen. And this is already the first point of notice: she was the first female sovereign. Taking into account her father's desperate attempts to avoid a female succession and the general concepts of females at the time, it is remarkable.

Anna Whitelock presents a very well written and very readable biography of Queen Mary I. The short chapters help a lot. It is a faithful account of her life and reign. It is a great start if one wants to explore Mary's life. But it is not - like Linda Porter's excellent biography - a book which gives the reader a deep understanding of Mary and how she "ticked". One gets glimpses of it. No doubt, it is a good and very easy to read book, but it misses a whole dimension. So as a start it is perfect, but I am afraid here it ends.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Amazing. 3 May 2014
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Anna Whitelock is a tutor of mine at University, and although I'm not a huge Tudor fan, her writing certainly makes it a lot more interesting. It's clear, precise and tells you everything you want to know about quite a diverse female monarch.
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5.0 out of 5 stars One for Shools 3 Nov 2013
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
Most interesting insight in to our past History and a good read for everyone, young or old should enjoy it.
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5.0 out of 5 stars More history 21 Aug 2013
By C. Lyne
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
This is a second book I purchased as I am now beginning to like history after hating it at school. I am now 67 and am living in amongst history and so decided to purchase this book. A good price from this seller and excellent delivery
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4.0 out of 5 stars Well worth reading 2 Jun 2013
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
This book was very interesting but not always that easy to read. There was so much in it. Some of the narrative seemed lost in the detail. Perhaps I was too impatient to know what happened next. However, I do have the opportunity to dip back into it: which I will surely do.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars He said he enjoyed it. And brought another book about someone else ...
Received very quick. Brought for my dad. He said he enjoyed it. And brought another book about someone else who was mention in the book.
Published 13 days ago by Keri Berkeley
1.0 out of 5 stars the first queen of england
There are a couple of books highlighting Mary to be first queen but was this not Jane grey? Am I wrong
Published 2 months ago by zargos
5.0 out of 5 stars Good condition, quick delivery
Not read the book yet but it looks interesting and easy to read. Anna Whitelock is a good author bringing facts to life.
Published 8 months ago by Mrs A Shuttleworth
5.0 out of 5 stars helen
great service. everything was on time. I haven't read the book yet but all is well as far as I can tell
Published 12 months ago by Lady Jane
5.0 out of 5 stars thank you
this was bought my my son, so I am sorry but I can't comment on this product. thank you very much.
Published 17 months ago by happybuyer
4.0 out of 5 stars A good introduction
This is a straight forward chronological account of the life of Mary, the daughter of Henry VIII and Catherine of Aragon. Read more
Published on 6 May 2012 by markr
2.0 out of 5 stars Very basic
I found this to be a disappointing read. As an introduction to Mary I this book does the job, but anybody looking for a bit of insight into Mary's character, the politics and... Read more
Published on 18 Mar 2012 by Matthew Turner
5.0 out of 5 stars Very well writen for a non-english speaker
A delightfull biography or Mary Tudor. As Spaniard, I can see clearly that the marriage with our King Phillip II , was a disaster for Mary, for she was neglected by a younger and... Read more
Published on 7 Mar 2012 by Jean Courtois
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