Mary Stuart; The Maid of Orleans

Mary Stuart; The Maid of Orleans

Mary Stuart; The Maid of Orleans

Mary Stuart; The Maid of Orleans

Excerpt

It was from a province of obscurity and fear that Elizabeth Tudor found herself unexpectedly summoned forth in 1558, at age twenty-five, to become the Queen of England. As recently as the beginning of the decade of the 1550's her succession to the throne had been merely a remote possibility, and since that time she had passed close to the brink of death by either execution or assassination. In 1553 her half-brother, King Edward VI, had died childless after a reign of only six years. As the sole male heir of Henry VIII he had been his father's fond preference over two daughters, though he was the offspring of Henry's third marriage. Moreover, that third marriage had been solemnized under the new Protestantism, Edward was himself necessarily Protestant, and the powerful Protestant leaders of the country supported him as the mainstay of their cause. At his death without children to succeed him they were seized with consternation, because the throne had then unquestionably to revert to the elder of Henry's daughters, Mary Tudor, the intensely Catholic child of Henry's Catholic first marriage to the Spanish Princess Catherine of Aragon. In desperation, the Protestant leaders had precipitated civil war and attempted to place Henry's Protestant grandniece, Lady Jane Grey, upon the throne of England.

Amid cruelties of that civil disorder Mary Tudor ascended the throne in 1553. She suppressed the rebellion with harshness. Lady Jane Grey, after a nominal queenship of nine days, was apprehended, committed to prison, and eventually be- headed. As yet unmarried, Mary Tudor now selected for her spouse none other than King Philip II of Spain, the most . . .

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