Her real name was Mary Tudor and the process by which she became the Queen of England is a fascinating one. In 1553, the passing of the King left one question open-ended: Who would rule in his place? The problem arose in the form of the lack of men to succeed in his role of the king and thus England was faced with one option - to crown a woman, instead, to be Queen.
During this time period, allowing a woman to rule - let alone have so much power - was taboo and caused quite a controversy. Women would need to be as ruthless, clever, and tactical as a man was, which caused quite a feeling of unease when it came to the nine-day decision that was eventually made. England had no steadfast rule over whether or not a female could take the throne unlike its neighbor, France, which outlined this cleary via the Salic Law. In the instance of the Tudor family, this wasn't necessarily a bad thing, since the male heir who would have taken the role as King, Edward VI, was too sick to do so. Instead, Mary Tudor was to take her father, Henry VIII's, place at the head of the castle, as she was also named the successor of her brother, should he bore no male children. Thus, the reign of Queen Mary I, AKA 'Bloody Mary,' began.
A Strict Follower Of Catholicism
Queen Mary I made no secret of her religious beliefs and she was a devout Catholic upon taking the throne in 1553. However, her brother, Edward, did not take to this kindly and vowed to do whatever was necessary to prevent Mary from taking the throne in his place. Rather, he used his power to name his cousin the successor, Lady Jane Grey, who was a protestant. The problem with this was that Lady Jane Grey was only a de facto leader at the time and her reign lasted merely nine days - the same nine days in between both hers and Mary's rule.
Mary Tudor had a few tricks up her sleeve and in return, she fled to East Anglia, where she had owned other estates, including Framlingham Castle. It was in this same castle where Mary would fight her brother for the title as heir to England's royal line, and history would prove that she did have the advantage. Mary was able to gain support from those who had good standing and thus began the fight for the throne, as she also had a location in her favor - she was not too far from London to make her stand there, as well. With so much support and a threat to London behind her, Mary would eventually write to the Privy Council, who sided with her over her brother, thus crowning her the Queen of England.
Prior to the events that followed, the day on which Mary Tudor was crowned the queen was cause for mass celebration. She was a female and had just won the political battle for royalty, thus prompting several others to follow in her wake, including Queen Elizabeth and Queen Victoria, from whom we get the Victorian Era. Her crowning was celebrated in London with open parties and within less than two weeks, Queen Mary I had the support of the entire country.
Now, those interested in the history behind England's first queen can visit Framlingham Castle, where her crowning took place. Tours must be booked in advance but will provide visitors with a wealth of history during the timeline prior to Mary Tudor's rule and in the centuries following. The castle was built during the 12th century and maintains much of its original features, including its incredible stone architecture and many features that were classic of that era. The castle was built by a powerful family - the Bigods - much of whose original architecture, including tall stone curtains, can be seen to this day.
The Reign Of 'Bloody Mary'
What many don't know about Mary Tudor was her tragic life prior to her reign. She was the only one of King Henry VIII and Catherine of Aragon to survive into adulthood, and she was baptized as a Catholic. Shortly after, she was given the title of Princess and while her father attempted to arrange a marriage for her, he was frustrated with his own wife, Catherine, for not providing a male heir to the throne. He would soon declare his own marriage illegitimate and, by extension, declare Mary an illegitimate child. When he married Anne Boleyn, he had yet another daughter - Elizabeth - who became the heir to the throne, thus taking the royal lineage away from Mary, who became Elizabeth's lady-in-waiting.
After Anne Boleyn was beheaded by Henry VIII, the King would go on to marry Jane Seymour, who birthed Edward VI. Due to Henry VIII's third wife insisting that he clear things up with both of his daughters, he forced Mary to acknowledge the illegitimacy of her family line but was permitted to be back within royal graces. This gave her the power needed to take the throne from Lady Jane Grey after her brother's death, thus beginning her reign as Queen Mary I.
In an attempt to convert England back to Catholicism, Queen Mary I would go on to persecute more than 300 protestants in the name of religion. While much of England did not take kindly to her means by which to do this, she was able to persecute heretics who did not conform. She also attempted to repeal her father's religious standings with her own, thus bringing forth the notice for a heresy law. This reign of religious terror is what earned her the nickname of 'Bloody Mary.'