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Mary I: England's Catholic Queen (Yale English Monarchs Series) (The Yale English Monarchs Series) Paperback – 26 Mar 2013

4.4 out of 5 stars 8 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Paperback: 336 pages
  • Publisher: Yale University Press (26 Mar. 2013)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0300194161
  • ISBN-13: 978-0300194166
  • Product Dimensions: 14.9 x 3.1 x 22.7 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (8 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 727,187 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description

Review

"Edwards has comprehensively defeated a persistent and painful historical myth and replaced it with something more complicated, more human and much more accurate. This is the best biography of Mary we have yet seen."--Lucy Wooding, "Times Higher Education"--Lucy Wooding"Times Higher Education" (10/06/2011)

"[T]he most comprehensive and convincing account to date." J.H./i>--J.H. Elliott "The New York Review of Books ""

Edwards has comprehensively defeated a persistent and painful historical myth and replaced it with something more complicated, more human and much more accurate. This is the best biography of Mary we have yet seen. Lucy Wooding, "Times Higher Education"--Lucy Wooding"Times Higher Education" (10/06/2011)"

About the Author

John Edwards is Modern Languages Faculty Research Fellow in Spanish, University of Oxford. He lives in Oxford, UK.


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4.4 out of 5 stars
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Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Wow! What a book!

John Edwards has easily eclipsed the most recent books written by Porter, Whitehead and Loades by far. Being from the Yale English Monarchs series it is intensely detailed, scholarly AND incredibly readable at the same time.

What makes it stand apart is the said detail and the central theme, that Mary was not just an English queen. Edwards quite rightly sees Mary as also a Spanish princess, placing her within the Hapsburg-French rivalry that dominated European politics for most of the 16th century. Her husband Philip takes centre stage alongside Mary and is not dismissed as recent books have tended to, which take for granted his lack of official power and ignore the huge influence he had on English affairs. The return of Roman Catholicism, the purpose of Mary's reign, is also richly described and is also refreshingly seen as such. It is obvious that Edwards believes Mary and Cardinal Reginald Pole saved Roman Catholicism in England.

Edwards is very even handed to Mary. He sees Mary's marriage to a foreigner as a necessity because of the current European situation and the need for an heir to secure Roman Catholicism in England. Mary is described as a Catholic humanist and not the bigot of 'Bloody Mary' fame but Edwards doesn't shy away from seeing Mary as solely responsible for over three-hundred religious burnings but does successfully place it in context. Other Roman Catholic countries were doing very much the same thing he argues. Furthermore he sees the loss of Calais as a disaster due to English laxity and incompetence but does question Calais' worth anyway.

Noteworthy also is that while Edwards is sympathetic to Mary's familial tragedies, it is not worn on his sleeve. The facts are given.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
While 'Bloody Mary' has had her fair share of revisionism in recent years, this book felt new. Mary was portrayed as a ruler in Europe as much as purely of England. Her later years were treated with sympathy, but her burnings and persecutions were not glossed over. You do get a sense some of her achievements were re-appropriated for Elizabeth, but the book doesn't feel like an apology for Mary either. It simply comes across as a balanced review of her life and times, which was exactly what I was looking for.
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Format: Hardcover
I thoroughly recommend this biography of Mary Tudor for anyone interested in sixteenth century England. Its focus is very much on the personalities of Mary, Philip II and Cardinal Pole and also on international diplomacy, rather than on purely insular politics and religious controversy. Within its target area it is very fully researched and the argument is presented in a highly readable, lucid style. The issues it addresses are still very current: attitudes towards women in power, towards national sovereignty or international human rights and political frameworks, towards religous belief within society. The villain of the book is Pope Paul IV, whose almost psychotic mood swings and arrogance leave Mary and Pole in a position not far different from that of her father. Edwards uses subtle irony to puncture some national cliches about Mary and her sister, which I think is cleverly done. It is both original and skilful in tackling its subject for readers who have some knowledge of the period but it is also very accessible and enjoyable for those fresh to Tudor history. My only quibble was a little too much attention was devoted to ceremonial details, particularly with Mary's marriage, and again in the diplomatic correspondence prior to the fall of Calais. This is purely a matter of personal taste. I would unhesitatingly recommend it to the general reader and the student of history.
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Format: Hardcover
This was the fifth biography of Mary that I have read in the last two years and the best by a very long way; nor is this opinion driven by the fact that this book is unquestionably the most sympathetic to Mary, the most Catholic, albeit written by a high Anglican, and the most successful at making some dent, however minor, in almost 500 years of bad press. The work is a highly valuable and fascinating look into Mary's life whatever position you come at it from.

In Eamon Duffy's "Fires of Faith" he tells us that the evidence against Mary should not be examined in the context of current day laws or morals. He's right of course but I was disappointed that his work singularly failed, despite its otherwise good qualities, to really explain some of Mary's actions, and the burnings in particular, in the context of 16th century laws, mores and, especially, religious thinking.

Edwards, in this book, gets further down this path than any other and, for this alone, the book should be compulsory reading even if only, for those Elizabeth sycophants, for some balance.

My only criticism is that the first three quarters of Mary's life are covered in less than one-fifth of the book's pages and, as an inevitable consequence, the minutiae into which the latter stages of the book delves, when dealing with her reign in particular, became somewhat tedious and distinctly heavy going. Perhaps this is inevitable, given her early life, largely out of the limelight, but there were some events up to 1547, and during Edward's reign as well, that might have had equally detailed, or at least more, coverage.

On the whole I consider this book to be one of the most learned and valuable in my extensive Tudor collection and I would recommend it highly.
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