I considered making this week the “Week without a well-behaved woman” as a nod to something that happened on Wednesday, I didn’t really notice, but I can’t very well miss an entry during “Women’s Grievance History Month” now can I? Not when history provides so many terrific examples of women behaving badly. This week, we go to British history for our latest example of a badly behaved woman, so badly behaved that she is remembered by a title she got for killing a whole bunch of people: Mary I, Queen of England, better known as “Bloody Mary.”
Mary was the daughter of the infamous Henry VIII and his first wife, Catherine of Aragon. Catherine was strongly Roman Catholic, and this was during the time that the Catholic church was far more of an empire than a religion. Of course Henry famously decided that he wanted to get divorced (because unlike some of his later wives Catherine was too high-ranking in society to simply take her out and have her head cut off), and his remarkable display of selfishness and thinking with the incorrect part of his body ironically led to what can be described as the original Brexit. Henry separated England from the Catholic Church, divorced Catherine, and married Anne Boleyn. Of course this outraged Catholics everywhere (while it energized the Protestants and indirectly helped push Europe further towards developing Western Civilization as we know it), but of all the people it infuriated it can be said that young princess Mary was the one who held the longest grudge. Deeply attached to her mother and resentful of efforts to make Henry’s Protestant-born daughter Elizabeth (whom I have profiled before in this series as a well-behaved woman) the heir apparent, Mary of course placed the blame on…Protestants in general.
When her sickly brother Edward VI died only a few years after succeeding Henry, Mary was still the next in line for the throne, and boy did she ever take it. Mary promptly set about undoing everything Protestant her father and brother had done and was determined to return England to the fold. She married soon-to-be-King Philip of Spain, a rival of England’s on the high seas and in the still-developing race to colonize the New World, and also a staunch Catholic himself. You may remember him as the guy whose hindparts Elizabeth’s navy would later decisively kick in 1588. And of course, she set about merrily burning Protestants at the stake, even some who recanted Protestantism as she and the church demanded–that’s right folks, even if you buckled to her demands, nevertheless she persisted in making you a human torch. Kind of like modern feminists and leftists in general, it doesn’t matter if you give in and let them have their way, you’re still an evil rotten person for ever opposing them in the first place. It’s no stretch of the imagination to presume she was goaded into some of these acts by her husband, Philip, who at one point told her that her barrenness was God’s punishment for allowing heretics in her realm, but it’s also quite plain that her whole state of mind and the reason for bringing Philip in in the first place was her attachment to her jilted mother and her raw hatred for the people she saw as responsible for her mother’s displacement.
Mary murdered nearly 300 “heretics” and drove many others into exile during her reign of terror. In a way I suppose it is arguable that Mary was one of the more recent inspirations for our own First Amendment freedom of religion clause, but not because she was a shining example of tolerance by any stretch. She was so determined to lead England straight back into the Dark Ages and she imported a dedicated feudalist from the continent to do it. Good flippin’ job there. Fortunately she didn’t last long enough to do irreparable harm (though 300 murders is harm enough) and she was succeeded by her Protestant and very well behaved sister Elizabeth.
So next week we’re back to a well behaved woman. See you then.