The daughter of time - the afterlife of Mary Tudor, 1558-1625

Colbert, Carolyn M. (2009) The daughter of time - the afterlife of Mary Tudor, 1558-1625. Doctoral (PhD) thesis, Memorial University of Newfoundland.

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Abstract

This project is the first sustained study of the posthumous reputation of Mary I in the early modern period. It examines how the late queen regnant of England, who ruled from 1553 to 1558, was remembered during the reigns of her two successors, Elizabeth I (1558-1603) and James I (1603-25). Because of her notorious reputation as the Catholic queen connected to the burning of the Protestant martyrs, men and women whom she considered heretics, she is often called "Bloody Mary." This epithet, however, obscures the complexity of her posthumous representations. While her religious zeal is usually her most recognizable characteristic, she is also associated with foreign Catholic powers, specifically those of Spain, the homeland of her husband, and of Rome. Even constructions of her as persecutor are complex. Sometimes she is presented as both cruel and vindictive, but not uniformly. Involved in the martyrdoms by her position as queen, she is frequently distanced from complete and primary guilt for them by the institutional responsibility of the Catholic Church and by the sheer number of people who are blamed. Her unsatisfactory marriage and her inability to produce an heir are also preoccupations of her posthumous representations, and these topics facilitate the fashioning of her as a failed and unhappy woman and as the object of divine retribution. -- Mary's generally negative posthumous reputation has tended to overshadow more positive figurations of her, which are explored in Chapter 1. Correlating with favourable images of the living queen, these Catholic ones present a virtuous Mary Tudor, committed to the faith in which she lived and died. Chapter 2 discusses the text which many commentators credit with the blackening of Mary's reputation, the Acts and Monuments of John Foxe, in which she is presented, at various times, as disloyal, stubborn, unhappy, disappointed, and misguided. His construction of Mary is inevitably shaped by his concern to show the sufferings of the godly martyrs and to prove that the true and invisible Church is Protestant. The queen, consequently, is implicated in a Protestant-Catholic dialectic, and so the descriptions of her deathbed and domestic life are contrasted with those of the martyrs. Mary's putative pregnancy is, for Foxe, a symbol of a corrupt Catholic regime. In terms of the Protestant persecutions, she facilitates the conditions under which they occur, and she is actively involved in the death of Thomas Cranmer and the torment of her sister, Elizabeth. In many ways, her representation corresponds with aspects of Foxe's characterization of an earlier English monarch, Richard HI. The final chapter explores six Jacobean history plays based on Foxe's Acts and Monuments. These reflect and propagate the construction of Mary in the martyrology. In these plays, Mary remains a powerful symbol of the danger of international Catholicism and becomes a means to interrogate religious and political issues in the past and in the present.

Item Type: Thesis (Doctoral (PhD))
URI: http://research.library.mun.ca/id/eprint/8977
Item ID: 8977
Additional Information: Includes bibliographical references (leaves 355-378)
Department(s): Humanities and Social Sciences, Faculty of > English Language and Literature
Date: 2009
Date Type: Submission
Geographic Location: England
Library of Congress Subject Heading: Mary I, Queen of England, 1516-1558--Religion; Foxe, John, 1516-1587--Actes and monuments; English drama--Early modern and Elizabethan, 1500-1600--History and criticism; Queens--England--Biography

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