HOME SCHOOL BOOK REVIEW
Book: Mary Tudor: “Bloody Mary”
Author: Gretchen Maurer
Illustrator: Peter Malone
Publisher: Goosebottom Books, 2011
Related website: www.goosebottombooks.com (publisher)
Language level: 1
(1=nothing objectionable; 2=common euphemisms and/or childish slang terms; 3=some cursing or profanity; 4=a lot of cursing or profanity; 5=obscenity and/or vulgarity)
Reading level: Ages 9 and up
Rating: 5 stars (EXCELLENT)
Reviewed by Wayne S. Walker
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Maurer, Gretchen. Mary Tudor: “Bloody Mary” (published in 2011 by Goosebottom Books LLC, 7120 Portofino Lane, Foster City, CA 94494). Every wife of an English king is called a queen, but do you know who was the first Queen of England who actually ruled? It was Mary Tudor, who was born on Feb. 18, 1516, at Greenwich Castle in London, the oldest child of King Henry VIII by his first wife Catherine of Aragon who was the daughter of King Ferdinand and Queen Isabella of Spain. When Henry decided to divorce Catherine and marry Anne Boleyn, he broke with the Roman Catholic Church, thus establishing the Protestant Church of England, and sent Catherine and Mary, who were staunch Catholics, to a remote castle where Catherine later died, making Anne’s baby daughter Elizabeth the new princess and future queen.
After her mother’s death, Mary signed a document of submission to her father, and he was so pleased by her compliance that a few years later her revised the order of succession again, placing her second in line to the throne after Edward, his youngest child, and before Elizabeth. Yet, when she became Queen following the deaths of Henry and Edward, she determined to bring all the people of England back to the Catholic Church and right her father’s wrongs. To accomplish this, she had some 284 Protestants burned at the stake, including Bishop Nicholas Ridley, Father Hugh Latimer, and even Archbishop Thomas Cranmer, during a period of three and a half years. Several years after Mary’s death, John Foxe wrote a book Actes and Monuments, commonly known as Fox’s Martyrs, in which he referred to her reign as the “horrible and bloudy time of Quene Mary.” Was Mary just a typical ruler of the brutal age in which she lived, or does she deserve the title “Bloody Mary”?
This book is part of a series called “The Thinking Girl’s Treasury of Dastardly Dames,” which includes volumes about Cleopatra, Agrippina, Catherine de’ Medici, and Marie Antoinette. When I read a previous book in series about Cixi, the Dragon Empress of China, I had not studied enough about her to have strong feelings for or against her. But I have studied a great deal about Mary Tudor. Killing other people or whole groups of people simply because of their religious beliefs is not right. Bloody Mary did it to Protestants. Hitler did it to Jews. Muslim terrorists do it to all whom they consider “infidels.” We should really have no qualms about saying that it is wrong. It is bad. It is evil. Period. And that makes those who engage in it wrong. This book simply aims at presenting both sides of a person’s life, and that is all right. It is an important facet of English history and Western Civilization, and author Gretchen Maurer does a good job of presenting the facts. But no amount of historical revisionism can rehabilitate Bloody Mary so far as I am concerned.