Reformation England - Mary I Tudor: Bloody Mary - Educational Travel Lesson Plan

Educational Travel Lesson Plans

Reformation England - Mary I Tudor: Bloody Mary

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Description

Through an in-depth analysis of various primary and secondary sources, students in this lesson will identify, understand and be able to explain the story of Queen Mary I (Tudor), what religious changes she sought to bring to England after she came to power, why she was called “Bloody Mary” by her enemies, and how her involvement with various Catholic foreign powers on the continent had long-term effects for England after her death.

Subjects

World History

European History

Grade Level

11-12

Duration

90 minutes

Tour Links

  • Westminster Abbey
  • Protestant Martyrs Monument, Devon
  • Martyrs Memorial, Stratford Broadway
  • Other Memorials around England

Essential Questions

  • Who was Mary I (Tudor)?
  • What was Mary’s relationship to the Tudor family and to her father and half-siblings Edward and Elizabeth in particular? 
  • Why did Edward VI designate Jane as his rightful heir? How did Mary come to the throne 9 days later?
  • How did Mary try to reform the English Church during her reign?  Was she successful?  
  • What foreign familial ties did Mary have?  Did these ties hurt England after her death?

Key Terms

  • Catholic Reformation
  • Mary I
  • Succession
  • Tudor

Letter from Catherine of Aragon to her daughter, a young 18 year old Mary Tudor, April 1534

Daughter, I heard such tidings today that I do perceive if it be true, the time is come that Almighty God will prove you; and I am very glad of it, for I trust He doth handle you with a good love. I beseech you agree of His pleasure with a merry heart; and be sure that, without fail, He will not suffer you to perish if you beware to offend Him. I pray you, good daughter, to offer yourself to Him. If any pangs come to you, shrive yourself; first make you clean; take heed of His commandments, and keep them as near as He will give you grace to do, for then you are sure armed. And if this lady [Anne Shelton] do come to you as it is spoken, if she do bring you a letter from the King, I am sure in the self same letter you shall be commanded what you shall do. Answer with few words, obeying the King, your father, in everything, save only that you will not offend God and lose your own soul; and go no further with learning and disputation in the matter. And wheresoever, and in whatsoever company you shall come, observe the King's commandments. Speak you few words and meddle nothing. I will send you two books in Latin; the one shall be De Vita Christi with a declaration of the Gospels, and the other the Epistles of St Jerome that he did write to Paul and Eustochium, and in them I trust you shall see good things. And sometimes for your recreation use your virginals or lute if you have any.

But one thing I especially desire you, for the love that you do owe unto God and unto me, to keep your heart with a chaste mind, and your body from all ill and wanton company, not thinking or desiring any husband for Christ's passion; neither determine yourself to any manner of living till this troublesome time be past. For I dare make sure that you shall see a very good end, and better than you can desire. I would God, good daughter, that you did know with how good a heart I do write this letter unto you. I never did one with a better, for I perceive very well that God loveth you. I beseech Him of His goodness to continue it; and if it fortune that you shall have nobody with you of your acquaintance, I think it best you keep your keys yourself, for howsoever it is, so shall be done as shall please them. 

And now you shall begin, and by likelihood I shall follow. I set not a rush by it; for when they have done the uttermost they can, than I am sure of the amendment. I pray you, recommend me unto my good lady of Salisbury, and pray her to have a good heart, for we never come to the kingdom of Heaven but by troubles. 

Daughter, whatsoever you come, take no pain to send unto me, for if I may, I will send to you. 

Your loving mother, 
Katharine the Queen.

First Statute of Appeal (Passed by Parliament), 1553

And be it further enacted by the authority aforesaid, that all such divine service and administration of Sacraments as were most commonly used in the realm of England in the last year of the reign of our late Sovereign Lord King Henry VIII shall be, from and after the twentieth day of December in the present year of our Lord God 1553, used and frequented throughout the whole realm of England and all other the Queen’s majesty dominions; and that no other kind nor order of divine service nor administration of the sacraments be, after the said twentieth day of December, used or ministered in any other manner, form or degree, within the said realm of England, or other the Queen’s dominions, that was most commonly used, ministered and frequented in the said last year of the reign of the said late King Henry VIII.

Revival of the Heresy Acts (Passed by Parliament), 1554

For the eschewing and avoiding of errors and heresies, which of late have risen, grown, and much increased within this realm, for that the ordinaries have wanted authority to proceed against those that were infected therewith: be it therefore ordained and enacted by authority of this present Parliament, that the statute made in the fifth year of the reign of King Richard II, concerning the arresting and apprehension of erroneous and heretical preachers, and one other statute made in the second year of the reign of King Henry IV, concerning the repressing of heresies and punishment of heretics, and also one other statute made in the second year of the reign of King Henry V, concerning the suppression of heresy and Lollardy, and every article, branch, and sentence contained in the same three several Acts, and every of them, shall from the twentieth day of January next coming be revived, and be in full force, strength, and effect to all intents, constructions, and purposes forever.

Inscription at the base of the Funeral Monument

for Mary I and Elizabeth I, Westminster Abbey

Consorts in realm and tomb, here we sleep, Elizabeth and Mary, sisters, in hope of Resurrection.

 

Sixteenth-century England was a time of religious and political turmoil.  King Henry VIII, in a desperate but ultimately doomed search for a perfect wife and a legitimate male heir, ended up marrying six different women over the course of four decades.  Henry produced three legitimate children (and countless illegitimate ones).  The English Church in the early years of the century had been a bastion of Catholicism and a bulwark against what Henry once deemed the “heresies of Luther” (a statement for which Pope Leo X declared the English king to be “Defender of the Faith”).  By the 1530s, however, Henry had split from Rome and created the English Church.

Henry died in 1547 at age 55 after suffering for years from what scientists now believe was complications from Type II diabetes (not understood at the time).  His youngest legitimate child, Edward VI, son of Jane Seymour (Henry’s third wife) ruled for only six years until he died in 1553 at age 15.  Under his reign, the English Church shifted towards radical Lutheranism by instituting such reforms as an English service for Mass, the abolition of clerical celibacy, and the introduction of the Common Book of Prayer.  One wonders what might have happened to England and the realm if Edward had ever reached the age of maturity.  After a failed 9-day attempt to place Edward’s cousin Lady Jane Grey on the throne, Mary, Edward’s half-sister and Henry VIII’s oldest daughter, entered London accompanied by her half-sister Elizabeth on 03 August to the delight of cheering crowds.

Raised a devout Catholic and to believe that her mother Catherine of Aragon was Henry VIII’s only legitimate wife, Mary had waited over two decades for the chance to move England back to its rightful position as a servant of the papacy.  Once the coronation was complete, she quickly moved to do just that, persuading Parliament to enact a series of laws that repealed most of the reforms brought about during her brother and father’s reigns.  She reinstituted the Latin Mass and reestablished the link with Rome, albeit with important concessions to the power of English nobles and Parliament.

Mary also went after Protestants who refused to reconvert to Roman Catholicism.  According to 16th century sources published after the Queen’s death, over 300 Protestants were burned at the stake during Mary’s five-year reign (1553-1558), including both men and women, as well as commoners and nobles.  Hundreds of English nobles fled the country to avoid persecution.  This led many Protestants to refer to their queen as “Bloody Mary”, a nickname that has stuck throughout the centuries.

Shortly after she assumed the throne, 37-year-old Mary married her extended cousin, Philip of Spain, in the hope of producing a Catholic heir to the English throne.  Although the union initially caused a series of revolts to break out across the realm, these were quickly and brutally suppressed.  The couple would jointly rule England until Mary’s death.  According to multiple sources, Mary ended up pregnant on numerous occasions, but each ended in miscarriage.  The couple never had any children that survived.

Mary’s health faded over the course of her reign (probably from the multiple miscarriages), and by spring 1558 the 42-year-old queen was slipping badly.  A flu epidemic swept through the city of London that fall.  Mary died at St. James Palace on 17 November.  She was buried in full royal ceremony at Westminster Abbey.  Her husband, who by that time had become Philip II of Spain, spent many years trying to court the new queen, Elizabeth, but to no avail.  When the English government signed a treaty in 1585 supporting rebels in Spanish-held Netherlands, however, relations soured for good.  Spain would spend the next three years planning, building and organizing a huge invasion armada.  In 1588, the Spanish Armada sailed for England, but it was defeated in the English Channel after a devastating storm.  From that point on, England’s position as a Protestant nation was secure.

Through an in-depth analysis of various primary and secondary sources, students in this lesson will identify, understand and be able to explain the story of Queen Mary I (Tudor), what religious changes she sought to bring to England after she came to power, why she was called “Bloody Mary” by her enemies, and how her involvement with various Catholic foreign powers on the continent had long-term effects for England after her death.

 

educational tour image
  1. Students will identify, analyze, understand and be able to explain the story of Queen Mary I (Tudor) and how she became Queen of England in 1553.
  2. Students will identify, analyze, understand and be able to explain what religious changes Mary I sought to bring to England after she came to power.
  3. Students will identify, analyze, understand and be able to explain how and why Mary I was called “Bloody Mary” by her enemies.
  4. Students will identify, analyze, understand and be able to explain how the queen’s involvement with various Catholic foreign powers on the European continent had long-term effects for England after her death.

To view resource web pages, download the lesson plan PDF above.

I.  Anticipatory Set

  • Writing / Question: What was the line of succession designated by Henry VIII?  (5 min)
  • Handouts – Copies of the primary sources and readings from the websites listed. (5 min)

II. Body of Lesson

  • Lecture / PPT – Mary I Tudor (20 min)
  • Video – Lady Jane Grey (10 min)
  • Independent Activity – Students read the primary sources and articles on Mary I Tudor, taking notes as appropriate. (20 min)
  • Suggestion: Have the students read some of the articles as preparation for class discussion.
  • Suggestion: Break students into groups and assign different articles to each group.
  • Group Activity – Socratic Discussion: Mary I Tudor (20 min)

III. Closure

  • Assessment – Essay / DBQ:  Explain in detail the story of Queen Mary I (Tudor), what religious changes she sought to bring to England after she came to power, why she was called “Bloody Mary” by her enemies, and how her involvement with various Catholic foreign powers on the continent had long-term effects for England after her death.

 

Extension

On tour: Westminster Abbey – Tomb of Mary and Elizabeth

While on tour, students will visit Westminster Abbey, where they can see for themselves the royal tomb for both Tudor sisters. When Mary died, her sister Elizabeth had the former queen interred at Westminster Abbey. Unfortunately, Mary’s original tomb has been lost. When Elizabeth died in 1603, her cousin James I had the virgin queen buried in the same tomb as her sister. A later inscription was added linking the two reformation sisters in the hope of resurrection.

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