The Agrippina Files

Why Was Mary I Known Was Bloody Mary?

Queen Bloody Mary

Mary I, the eldest daughter of Henry VIII, was the first Queen regnant of England. However, Queen Mary was also commonly known as “Bloody Mary”. We recently made a post about books that explore her life, and it was well-received. This success has inspired us to delve deeper into the topic.

Our question is why was Queen Mary I known as Bloody Mary? That is what we’ll explore as part of The Agrippina Files.

How Did Queen Mary I’s Moniker “Bloody Mary” Come About?

According to, Queen Mary I, became known as Bloody Mary was a horrid nickname given to her by her critics. However, it also had to do with her persecution of hundreds of Protestant hectics who were burned at the stake, like witches in Salem.

Queen Mary was a Catholic monarch, who had succeeded two Protestant Kings, one of which had once been Catholic. She, herself, was later succeeded by a Protestant Queen, her half-sister, Elizabeth I.

The first Protestant king is Mary’s father, King Henry VIII. He introduced Protestantism to England when he wanted to ditch his wife, Katherine of Aragon and wed Anne Boleyn. But first, he had to break away from Rome.

What makes the argument for “Bloody Mary” a little confusing is that Henry VIII was well known for beheading people when they displeased him. Even Mary’s successor, Elizabeth I, had people executed. Look at what happened with Mary, Queen of Scots, who was executed by her cousin, who happened to be Elizabeth.

Why Was Mary Worse Than Those Who Came Before And After Her?

Why was Mary’s staking burning so much worse than the executions ordered by her father and sister? Well, there wasn’t anything special about the practice as anyone who committed heresy was to be put to death and then their corpses had to be burned to prevent their followers from stealing them. This was completely normal for the time.

However, Elizabeth’s methods, as per the History article, were more creative. She didn’t use the same methods to persecute Catholics every time. As far as she was concerned, just being Catholic was a crime. Also, no one could doubt treason while they could deny that they were practicing Catholicism.

John Foxe and his book, The Actes and Monuments play a big part in solidifying Mary’s bloody reputation. Also, she only reigned for five years and during that time, she had hundreds of people executed. This was a massive contrast to her father’s reign which saw only 81 people executed for heresy over his 36-year rule. All in all, it is estimated that over 72,000 people were executed during Henry VIII’s time on the throne. two of those people would be Elizabeth’s mother, Anne Boleyn and her uncle, George Boleyn.

While Mary’s reign of terror was based solely on keeping England a Catholic nation and undoing what her father had put in place, her sister would attempt to keep their father’s work in place. Without the Church of England, the English throne would not what it is today.

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About Author

C.J. Hawkings has written for the now-defunct Entertainment website, Movie Pilot and the still functioning WhatCulture and ScreenRant. She prides herself as a truth seeker and will do (almost) anything for coffee or Coke No Sugar. Oh! And food!

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