In the early hours of 18th February 1516, at Greenwich Palace, “was borne a fayre prynces and christened with great solempnitie, and named Mary.” This little girl was the future Queen Mary I.
Mary was baptised on 20th February 1516 in the Church of the Observant Friars at Greenwich. The little princess was carried to the font by the Countess of Surrey and her godparents were Catherine Courtenay, Countess of Devon and daughter of Edward IV; Margaret Pole, Countess of Salisbury and daughter of George, Duke of Clarence; the Duchess of Norfolk, and Cardinal Thomas Wolsey.
She was the only surviving child of King Henry VIII and Catherine of Aragon and the first queen to rule England in her own right. Mary was crowned on October 1553 and reigned until her death in 1558 at St. James Palace in London
The Family of Henry VII with St George and the Dragon
At left, Henry VII, with
Prince Arthur behind him, then Prince Henry (later Henry VIII), and
Prince Edmund, who did not survive early childhood. To the right is
Elizabeth of York, with Princess Margaret, then Princess Elizabeth who
didn’t survive childhood, Princess Mary, and Princess Katherine, who
died shortly after her birth.
“After the examination of religious texts and much debate, Henry decided that their marriage was invalid, had never been legitimate and therefore had never existed. She was stripped of the titles of queen and wife, her daughter declared a bastard, and was condemned as having been living in sin with Henry as the Dowager Princess of Wales, his brother’s wife. And yet the Pope, along with a significant number of European universities, doctors and leading thinkers of the day, declared that the marriage was completely valid and endorsed her as Henry’s true wife. Under oath, in the confessional, in private letters, in court and upon her deathbed, Catherine never wavered from her conviction that she was the true wedded wife of the King. (…) Yet Catherine was not one to choose the easy road. Wearing a hair shirt under her cloting and rising at dawn to hear Mass, she saw her steadfastness as a crusade to save her husband’s soul. For Henry had not just rejected her, he had turned his back on the Pope and the very tenets of the Catholic faith that had shaped their mutual devotions. Convinced Henry was heading for damnation, Catherine elected to suffer in his stead, praying that God would forgive him. Watching her supporters go to the stake, or the block, she lived her final years in the expectation of following them and was prepared to embrace the opportunity of becoming a martyr”.
- Amy Licence, Catherine of Aragon: An Intimate Life of Henry VIII’s True Wife