On January 15, 1554 the marriage treaty between Mary I and Phillip of Spain was ratified. Mary was thrilled, Philip was resigned, and half the population of England was livid.
In fairness, public reaction to Mary’s betrothal on the part of the Protestant English was unjustified by anything Mary had done. She had not yet committed any acts that would form the foundation for her undeserved moniker “Bloody” Mary. She had removed Archbishop Thomas Cranmer and other Protestant prelates from their offices, but had not had them burned to death for their refusal to convert back to the True Church. She had not executed Jane Grey. She was, in these early days of her reign, trying to be a relatively moderate queen.
Moreover, Mary had tried to quell uneasiness regarding her forthcoming nuptials. She announced publicly that whomever she married must know that “her realm was her fist husband, and none other should induce her to violate the oath which she had pledged at her coronation.” The engagement treaty her ministers had crafted had bent over backwards in protecting England from ever becoming a fief of Spain. They granted neither Philip or his courtiers any governmental power in England, and Philip would never be “king” of England in name only and even then only while Mary was alive. Philip had to promise to obey English law while in residence and not fiddle about with any legal affairs. Any issue Mary produced would never leave England, and would be given the Spanish territories of Burgundy and the Low Countries. If Philip’s oldest son died, Mary’s son would rule Spain as well as England.
Nonetheless, when news of Mary’s official betrothal to the Catholic Spanish monarch Philip became public knowledge, the final product of digestion hit the oscillating blades of an air redistribution system.
By February of 1554 there were Protestant rebellions aiming to overthrow Mary so she could not bring in a Catholic king and perhaps the Spanish Inquisition. Wyatt’s rebellion, named for it’s main leader Thomas Wyatt (the son of the famous poet by the same name), actually penetrated into London and made it as far as Ludgate before Mary’s supporters were able to stop it. Wyatt was captured and tortured in an attempt to implicate Mary’s sister Elizabeth, but he never named Elizabeth as a co-conspirator.
In the aftermath of the rebellions Mary showed herself to be every inch the daughter of Henry VIII. She would not tolerate insubordination and NO ONE would tell HER whom she could marry. She (as would have any ruler of the time period) had those who had dared to rise up against her put to death, mostly via being hanged, drawn, and quartered. Those who were of the most noble birth were spared a such a gruesome death and merely beheaded. She also burned to death several Protestant religious leaders whom she considered to be inspiring her subjects heresy and insubordination.
One of the earliest rebels to be executed was Henry Grey, 3rd Duke of Suffolk and the father of Queen Jane Grey. Although his imprisonment and death were more merciful than that experienced by Thomas Wyatt and many others, Henry Grey had the unique agony of seeing his beloved eldest child judicially murdered before him. Jane had not participated in the rebellion in any way, but because Mary saw the teenager as a rallying point for further insurrection – and the queen could not be assured Philip would come to England to be wed if Jane was still alive – she had Jane beheaded on February 12, 1554.
Mary was not the first nor the last monarch to murder those who endangered their crown by their very existence. Mary’s own parents were unable to wed until Henry VII executed Edward Plantagenet, the 17th Earl of Warwick, even though Warwick was a mentally disabled in some way. Elizabeth I would one day kill her cousin Mary Queen of Scots in order to prevent Mary’s becoming the focal point of a Catholic uprising. English thrones were anchored in blood, and Mary’s was no exception.
Philip did come to England wed Mary in the summer of 1554, but the queen suffered from two false pregnancies and died childless in November of 1558. Philip wanted to marry his late wife’s successor, Elizabeth I, but that cagey ginger was never unwise enough to wed and risk discontent among her subjects.
She was right to be wary of stirring up unhappiness among the ultra-devout in her kingdom; it would be only 100 years later that an English king, Charles I, was deposed and beheaded by religious fanatics under the command of Puritan general (and all around horrible genocidal twatwaffle) Oliver Cromwell, whose tactics would make the hellspawn of the Spanish Inquisition look like kindly amateurs.
Uneasy rests the crown … and while we can see with 20/20 hindsight that Queen Mary’s marriage was more trouble than it was worth, at the time it was her best hope of an heir and a Catholic England. She was pursuing what she felt was the best course for the kingdom, and she saw anyone in the way of that course as an obstacle to removed. She was very much a Tudor monarch that way.