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Mary Tudor was the most hated queen in British history. During her five-year reign, she threw all England into chaos. Mary beheaded 'traitors,' murdered 'heretics,' and had pregnant women burnt to death in the name of her religious fanaticism. The entire nation lived in fear of her. Thousands fled into hiding, and the streets of English cities were polluted with the putrid smell of burning flesh. She created such terror that she's known as 'Bloody' Mary.
~ Introduction to a Discovery Channel documentary about Mary

Mary I (February 18th, 1516 – November 17th, 1558) was the Queen of England and Ireland from July 1553 until her death. Her opponents gave her the name "Bloody Mary".

She was the only surviving child born of the ill-fated marriage of Henry VIII and his first wife Catherine of Aragon. Her younger half-brother, Edward VI, succeeded Henry in 1547. When Edward became mortally ill in 1553, he attempted to remove Mary from the line of succession because of religious differences. On his death, their cousin Lady Jane Grey was at first proclaimed queen. Mary assembled a force in East Anglia and successfully deposed Jane, who was ultimately beheaded. In 1554, Mary married Philip of Spain, becoming queen consort of Habsburg Spain on his accession in 1556.  As the fourth crowned monarch of the Tudor dynasty, Mary is remembered for her restoration of Roman Catholicism after the short-lived Protestant reign of her half-brother. During her five-year reign, she had over 280 religious dissenters burned at the stake in the Marian Persecutions. Her re-establishment of Roman Catholicism was reversed after her death in 1558 by her younger half-sister and successor, Elizabeth I.

Mary is remembered in the 21st century for her vigorous efforts to restore the primacy of Roman Catholicism in England after the rise of Protestant influence during the short-lived reign of her half-brother, Edward. Protestant historians have long denigrated her reign, emphasizing that in just five years she burned several hundred Protestants at the stake in the Marian persecutions. In the mid-20th century, H. F. M. Prescott attempted to redress the tradition that Mary was intolerant and authoritarian, and scholarship since then has tended to view the older, simpler assessments of Mary with increasing reservations. A historiographical revisionism since the 1980s has to some degree improved her reputation among scholars. Christopher Haigh argued that her revival of religious festivities and Catholic practices was generally welcomed. Haigh concluded that the "last years of Mary's reign were not a gruesome preparation for Protestant victory, but a continuing consolidation of Catholic strength."

Catholic historians, such as John Lingard, thought Mary's policies failed not because they were wrong but because she had too short a reign to establish them and because of natural disasters beyond her control. In other countries, the Catholic Counter-Reformation was spearheaded by Jesuit missionaries; Mary's chief religious advisor, Cardinal Reginald Pole, refused to allow the Jesuits into England. Her marriage to Philip was unpopular among her subjects and her religious policies resulted in deep-seated resentment. The military loss of Calais to France was a bitter humiliation to English pride. Failed harvests increased public discontent. Philip spent most of his time abroad, while his wife remained in England, leaving her depressed at his absence and undermined by their inability to have children. After Mary's death, Philip sought to marry Elizabeth but she refused him. Although Mary's rule was ultimately ineffectual and unpopular, the policies of fiscal reform, naval expansion, and colonial exploration that were later lauded as Elizabethan accomplishments were started in Mary's reign

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