By 1554, Mary I had endured decades of uncertainty, heartbreak and challenges to her faith. Having fought for her crown, she was ready to defy her council and popular opinion, to marry the man of her choosing. At thirty-eight, she was old for childbirth by contemporary standards, when many of her peers were already grandparents. Yet Mary clung to her dream of a happy family, a son to inherit her title, and her single-handed restoration of England to the Catholicism of her mother. She chose her ideal man, her Hapsburg cousin, Philip, son of her former fiancé, Emperor Charles V. Philip was eleven years her senior, cultured and headstrong with an absolute commitment to duty. Even before setting eyes on his handsome portrait, Mary believed herself to be in love, but many of her subjects felt differently, fearful of the implications for English sovereignty. When the pair finally met in July, days before the wedding, what did each make of the other? How was the relationship between them established in these early days? What challenges to the traditional gender dynamic did their union pose?
Amy Licence is a journalist, author, historian and teacher, currently living in Canterbury. Her particular interest lies in the fifteenth and early sixteenth centuries, in gender relations, queenship and identity, rites of passage, sex, pilgrimage, female orthodoxy and rebellion, superstition, magic, fertility and childbirth. She appeared in BBC2’s ‘The Real White Queen and her Rivals’ documentary (2013) and Yesterday Channel’s ‘The Private Lives of the Tudors’ (2016). Her first book, In Bed with the Tudors was nominated for the 2015 People’s Book Prize.