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Mary Tudor (Routledge Historical Biographies) [Paperback]

Judith M. Richards
5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
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Book Description

26 Jun 2008 Routledge Historical Biographies

Mary Tudor is often written off as a hopeless, twisted queen who tried desperately to pull England back to the Catholic Church that was so dear to her mother, and sent many to burn at the stake in the process. In this radical re-evaluation of the first 'real' English queen regnant, Judith M. Richards challenges her reputation as 'Bloody Mary' of popular historical infamy, contending that she was closer to the more innovative, humanist side of the Catholic Church.

Richards argues persuasively that Mary, neither boring nor basically bloody, was a much more hard-working, 'hands on', and decisive queen than is commonly recognized. Had she not died in her early forties and failed to establish a Catholic succession, the course of history could have been very different, England might have remained Catholic and Mary herself may even have been treated more kindly by history.

This illustrated and accessible biography is essential reading for all those with an interest in one of England's most misrepresented monarchs.

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Mary Tudor (Routledge Historical Biographies) + Fires of Faith: Catholic England under Mary Tudor
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Product details

  • Paperback: 296 pages
  • Publisher: Routledge; New Ed edition (26 Jun 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0415327210
  • ISBN-13: 978-0415327213
  • Product Dimensions: 19.6 x 12.7 x 2 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 380,537 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
  • See Complete Table of Contents

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‘Richards gently but firmly pulls apart the traditional prejudices to reveal a far more dynamic, intelligent and successful political operator than anyone had imagined. …This biography is very readable and will prove extremely useful.’History Review

‘It does an able job of defending Mary against the charge of being a humourless, hysterical and catastrophic ruler … Dr Richards is especially good in producing a well-rounded portrait of the Queen’s own nature and of her overall life … Another of the book’s strengths is its sensitivity to the difference between the nature of things and perceptions of them … it is a good example of the art of biography, making a genuine contribution to our understanding of the woman and the Queen, and always an easy and entertaining read.’BBC History Magazine

‘Richards confronts all of the most difficult problems associated with Mary’s life and rule, including her health, the legal and political ambiguities inherent in the marriage she made with Philip of Spain, her phantom pregnancies, and her troubles with the papacy. . . Elegant and astute, Mary Tudor is a triumph.’ – Susan Wabuda, Fordham University, Journal of British Studies, volume 49, number 2


About the Author

Judith M. Richards was previously senior lecturer in History at La Trobe University, and is now a research associate. She has published a number of studies of topics in early modern history, and has more recently focussed on English and British monarchy from 1553- 1642.

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2 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Mary Tudor by Judith M Richards 19 Jun 2011
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
I have just read (for the second time) Mary Tudor's biography by Judith Richards, I was surprised to see that there are no reviews about this book yet. I, like most who are interested in history, know this tragic queen as bloody Mary and lustreless compared to her half-sister Elizabeth. Richard's biography, however, shows Mary as intelligent, tolerant (in spite of what she went through for most of her life), her ability to reign as queen in her own right - her husband knew where he stood as far as England was concerned. Mary, thanks to Richards, is no shrinking violet and Judith Richards has paid a superb tribute to this much-maligned Tudor queen.
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Amazon.com: 4.0 out of 5 stars  1 review
9 of 11 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Mary Reconsidered if not Rehabilated 2 Sep 2009
By Stephanie A. Mann - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
At the beginning of this biography, Judith Richards describes the incredulity of friends and colleagues when told she was writing a new biography of Mary I, first Queen Regnant of England. She deals with the sources of that incredulity, that Mary was a bloody tyrant or that Mary was a boring monarch. Richards gives more attention to the latter than the former.
She covers Mary's birth and happy childhood, emphasizing the humanist education she received with the encouragement of both her mother and her father, Catherine of Aragon and Henry VIII. Then she recounts the suffering Mary endured as Henry dissolved his marriage to Catherine, sent her into exile, and married Anne Boleyn. Mary endured separation from her mother and bullying from her father's agents to force her to accept her own status as a royal bastard and deny any allegiance to the pope.
Richards creates sympathy for Mary in these situations, exploring not the emotions Mary "might" have felt in the style of so many biographers, but the documented evidence of her struggles to remain true to her mother and to her faith, especially when her half-brother Edward tried to force her to give up the Mass.
The nobles and the people of England rallied behind Mary when Edward died and Mary foiled Northumberland's plot to change the succession. Mary at first refused to have Lady Jane Gray executed--extraordinary clemency for a monarch, to let your usurper live (under arrest in the Tower, of course).
Richards dedicates six of the 12 chapters to Mary's five year reign, exploring how Mary handled working with councillors who had previously bullied her about the Mass or supported Northumberland; the pomp and majesty of her coronation patterned after the crowning and anointing of all the male monarchs who had gone before her, and analyzing the issues of her marriage and rule as sole monarch.
Richards does not dwell on the burnings at Smithfield and Oxford. She points out that we do not have a contemporary volume like Foxe's "Acts and Monuments" to describe the deaths of almost 200 Catholic priests and laity under Elizabeth I, and also hints that the campaign of burnings was having the desired effect.
She concludes this even-handed biography with the war with France, Mary's death, and a reassessment of her personality. B&W illustrations; good documentation. A model biography.
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