The Myth of Bloody Mary

Written by Linda Porter
Review by Heather Domin

This fascinating biography of Mary Tudor cuts through centuries of assumption, legend, and demonization to reveal a more even-handed portrait of the first true English queen regnant. Every aspect of Mary’s life is thoroughly reexamined: from her supposed religious fanaticism to her seemingly loveless marriage and the derangement resulting from two phantom pregnancies. Instead of a wizened crone who burned heretics to warm her frigid body, Mary is revealed as a woman of her time, a true Tudor whose every action bore careful forethought and purpose, even if those thoughts do not mesh with modern-day morality. We watch a vivacious and intelligent child, the delight of her parents, grow into a beautiful and articulate young woman, the trend-setter of her day, who endures terrible traumas and psychological torment to become a Queen whose heartbreaks eventually lead to a sad conclusion. Mary was by no means an innocent, but neither was she the unhinged monster of legend, the “bad Tudor” shelved away in the dark to make room for Elizabeth’s light. Mary’s life, like all lives, had its share of triumphs as well as failures, and Porter’s exhaustive research makes this passionately clear. Highly recommended for any Tudor library.