Mary, Bloody Mary
is a historical fiction novel targeted at young adult readers that was published in 1999 by American author Carolyn Meyer. The book covers the tumultuous early life of Mary Tudor, from around the age of ten when she is crowned Princess of Wales until young adulthood. It is the first book in Meyer's popular Young Royals
Before Mary Tudor became Queen of England--and before she became labeled "Bloody Mary" for her enthusiasm for executing people--Mary was the 10-year-old daughter of Henry VIII and Catherine of Aragon. The only of the pair's children to survive past infancy, Mary was the sole blood heir to the throne of England. By this time, her father became resigned to the fact that his wife Catherine would never produce a male heir for him, a fact which vexed him greatly despite his affection for young Mary. Anticipating the need to eventually remove Catherine from his life, and knowing full well how close Mary and Catherine are, Henry forcefully relocates Mary in order to separate her from her mother and sever those bonds. Mary is sent to Ludlow Castle on the border of Wales and given her own court. She is widely referred to as the Princess of Wales, even though she is never formally endowed with that title.
While being heralded a princess at the age of ten should be a happy occasion, Mary is depressed at being separated from her beloved mother. Meanwhile, Catherine becomes further isolated from the family when Henry attempts to divorce her against the wishes of Pope Clement VII. To annul a royal marriage required permission from the Pope in those days. Eventually, Henry got his wish and Catherine was banished from court. Moreover, she was banned from contacting her daughter, which wounded Mary immensely.
In 1533, when Mary was around 17, Henry married Anne Boleyn, which according to the Archbishop of Canterbury meant that Henry's marriage to Mary's mother, Catherine, was officially voided. There would be huge political implications to this move, ultimately resulting in King Henry VIII severing ties to the Pope and declaring himself the head of the Church of England. But the main takeaway for Mary was that this new marriage to Anne resulted in her claim to the throne being voided. She lost her status as a princess and was also kicked out of the line of royal succession in favor of Henry and Anne's newborn daughter, Elizabeth. Mary's staff of servants was dismissed and in fact Mary was from that point forward technically a servant of the newborn baby Elizabeth's household.
All of this was understandably infuriating to Mary, who refused to recognize Elizabeth as the rightful heir. Even after eliminating Mary's birthright to the throne, Henry would not allow his daughter to visit her beloved mother, Catherine, even after Catherine became terminally ill. Even after Catherine dies, Mary isn't even allowed to attend her mother's funeral. Instead, she grieves in isolation. During this period of time, Mary is also frequently ill, likely the result of the stress put upon her by her father.
All this time, her father beckons Mary to swear allegiance to both himself and Anne as the rightful monarchs, but Mary is too stubborn to do this, even though she fears it may cost her her life. She fears retribution from her father but is protected by a number of monks, priests, and citizens who reject the king's sovereignty, particularly in the wake of his dissolving of ties with the Pope and the Catholic Church.
Eventually, Mary relents and swears allegiance, losing what she believes are any possible rights to become queen--but only after Anne is beheaded in 1536 after falling out of the king's favor and facing charges of possible adultery. In need of a new wife, Henry marries Jane Seymour. Mary, having struggled and suffered so much, decides it would be much easier to simply accept this new marriage and to accept Jane and Henry as well as sovereign leaders of both England and the Church. At this, Mary and Henry are technically reconciled, and Mary is allowed to rejoin the royal court.
Despite being called Mary, Bloody Mary
in a clear reference to Mary Tudor's troubled reign as queen, the book stops short of covering this period of her life, focusing primarily on her battles with her father over Anne Boleyn and his takeover as head of the Church of England. Nevertheless, the book paints a vivid portrait of sixteenth-century palace intrigue for young adult readers.