Today's Memory

Mary I of England’s birthday

Mary I of England’s birthday

Mary I of England’s birthday

Originally shared by Ed Pearce

Mary I of England was born on February 18, 1516 at the Palace of Placentia in Greenwich, London. She was the only child of King Henry VIII and his first wife, Catherine of Aragon, to survive infancy.

She was a precocious child. At the age of four-and-a-half, Mary entertained a visiting French delegation with a performance on the virginals (a type of harpsichord).

By the age of nine, Mary could read and write Latin.

At the age of two Mary was promised to the infant son of the King of France but the engagement was broken off when she was five.

In 1522, at the age of six, Mary contracted to marry her 22-year-old first cousin, Holy Roman Emperor Charles V. However, the engagement was broken off within a few years by Charles with Henry’s agreement.

Henry became deeply disappointed that his union with Catherine of Aragon had produced no sons, putting the marriage in jeopardy. Eventually, she was sent to live away from court, after which Mary was not permitted to see her mother.

In 1533, Henry married Anne Boleyn, and Thomas Cranmer, the Archbishop of Canterbury, formally declared the king’s union with Catherine void. Mary’s own household was dissolved; her servants were dismissed and in December 1533 she was sent to join the household of the infant Princess Elizabeth at Hatfield, Hertfordshire. The relationship between Mary and her father worsened; they did not speak to each other for three years.

Catherine died at Kimbolton Castle on January 7, 1536. She was buried in Peterborough Cathedral and Henry forbade Mary from attending her mother’s funeral.

Henry’s sixth wife, Catherine Parr, helped reconcile Henry with Mary. In 1543, an Act of Parliament put her back in the line of succession after Edward, Prince of Wales.

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