Top positive review
7 people found this helpful
Mary Tudor through sympathetic eyes
on 18 August 2012
I decided to buy and read this book after reading a biography of Katherine of Aragon (Mary Tudor's mother) and was not disappointed. This biography of England's first Queen in her own right takes you through all stages of Mary's life, from her birth at Greenwich to her death at St James Palace. Linda Porter's attention to detail gives you a good understanding of who the real Mary Tudor was. Linda Porter gives you details not only on Mary's relationships with the people who were close to her such as her maids, her parents and the people responsible for her everyday upbringing as a child but also her expenses, the organization of her household, what Mary was good at and what she liked to do such as gambling. This book also goes into detail about how Mary's marriage came about and how the negotiations were conducted which gives you a glimpse into how the English viewed foreigners at that time. I also enjoyed reading the chapter 'King Philip' about Mary's husband, Philip II of Spain who I knew very little about before reading this book.
In the majority of the book Linda Porter manages to place Mary's actions and opinions in the context of the time in which she lived. You get a good view of not only what was expected of Mary but what Mary had been brought up to expect from others. As a child she was brought up as a Princess and an important Royal member of the Tudor dynasty and she had expected to be treated in a certain way. When her father King Henry VIII took away her royal title and made her a bastard child Mary defied her father who expected her to obey him and accept her lot. You can understand how difficult it must have been for Mary who had known nothing but a royal life to now accept that she was only Lady Mary, illegitimate bastard. This is something that Mary could never accept. Just like she could never accept the protestant religion which was being forced upon her by her brother Edward VI and his advisors even though she had been a committed Catholic all her life. This was a woman who dared to defy not one but two Kings and managed to secure the English throne despite efforts to deprive her of her birth right.
She was brave, bold, stead fast, courageous and a strong woman who had suffered greatly not only for what she believed in but for being a woman and not the boy her father craved. If it had not been for the burning of the large number of Protestants in such a small space of time Mary may well have been viewed in a much different light.
The reason I am only giving this 4 stars instead of 5 is because of how the subject of Elizabeth is treated, the tone and wordage used clearly in my eyes shows that the author was trying to show Elizabeth in a bad light. The author seems genuinely surprised that Elizabeth resented being kept prisoner in the Tower of London and it almost feels that she is attacking Elizabeth for not being grateful which seems strange to me considering she was kept under house arrest for the majority of her sister, Mary I's reign. What exactly is Elizabeth to feel grateful to Mary for? Not having had her head cut off? Which according to the same book she had Philip II to thank for as he advised Mary not to treat Elizabeth too harshly.
Overall I would recommend this book to anyone who is interested in finding out more about Mary I, this is one of the better books out there about Mary Tudor. Very detailed and very factual, alot of work and research has clearly gone into this book and it is obvious that Linda Porter has a passion for her subject.