The Tudor Society

28 August – Mary defies Edward VI

On this day in Tudor history, 28th August 1551, the thirty-five-year-old Mary, future Mary I, received a visit from a delegation of men sent by her half-brother, thirteen-year-old King Edward VI.

Mary was being defiant and disobedient. She was ignoring her half-brother's orders and was breaking the laws of the land. What was she doing? She was continuing to celebrate the Catholic Mass in her household.

In today's talk, I explain exactly what happened on this day in 1551, drawing on the report that the delegation gave to the king and his council. It gives us a wonderful insight into the pre-accession Mary I and her character.

Also on this day in history:

  • 1550 – Death of Thomas Magnus, administrator, Archdeacon of the East Riding of Yorkshire, member of the King's Council and diplomat, at Sessay in the North Riding of Yorkshire. He was also buried there.
  • 1553 – Death of Sir John Harington, administrator, in Bishopsgate, London. He was buried in Exton. Harington served Henry VIII as Esquire of the Body, Treasurer of War (1542 and 1543), Vice-Treasurer of the army for the 1544 French campaign and Treasurer of the expedition to France (1546).
  • 1583 – Burial of William Latymer, Chaplain to Queen Anne Boleyn, Dean of Peterborough, chaplain to Elizabeth I and author of the “Cronickille of Anne Bulleyne”, a biography of Anne Boleyn. He was buried in Peterborough Cathedral.
  • 1588 – An ill Robert Dudley, Earl of Leicester, wrote his final letter to his queen and childhood friend, Elizabeth I. It was a letter she kept beside her bed for the rest of her life. Leicester wrote the letter from the home of Lady Norreys at Rycote, where he was staying on his way to Buxton, to take the waters there.
  • 1588 – Execution of William Dean, Roman Catholic priest and martyr, by hanging at Mile End Green, Middlesex. He was found guilty of high treason for being a Catholic priest.
  • 1588 – Execution of Franciscan friar and martyr, Thomas Felton, near Brentford, Middlesex. He was hanged, drawn and quartered for his beliefs, and for proclaiming that he could not accept a woman as supreme head of the Church.
  • 1609 – Death of Sir Francis Vere (de Vere), soldier. He served in the English army in the Low Countries, and also in the 1596 Cadiz expedition. He was buried in Westminster Abbey.

There are 6 comments Go To Comment

  1. M

    Now, I’m not as familiar with Mary’s reign (Elizabeth ‘s, too) as I am their father, but it seems to me, I could be wrong, that much like Elizabeth persecuted the Catholics after her excommunication, Mary really started burning the Protestants, not right away, but after rebellions? Is that right? That there was a clear cut reason for them to start. I feel for Mary, more so because of her life during her father’s reign. And not condoning her religious policies with the burnings. But I definitely think there’s a parallel there, with the two sisters. I find both of them, pre-ascendancy, to be very interesting, and inspiring. Michelle t

    1. C - Post Author

      My own opinion is that Mary’s burnings were more to do with stamping out heresy, which she saw as a risk to the souls of her people, whereas Elizabeth’s executions were more to do with the threat to her life and crown. Elizabeth’s were sparked off by the pope excommunicating her and releasing Catholics from their allegiance to her, and really giving them carte blanche to depose her.
      If you want to read more about this, I’d recommend Linda Porter’s book on Mary, and also those by Anna Whitelock and David Loades, and then Anne Somerset’s book on Elizabeth is very good, and Jessie Childs’ “God’s Traitors” is wonderful on the Catholics in Elizabeth’s reign.

      1. M

        Oh, ok. Thanks, Claire. Yes, the Linda Porter book is on my list, I’m building a nice little Tudor collection here.

  2. L

    Hi Claire, thanks for highlighting this event, as I certainly agree that it demonstrates the main motivations in her life that were the drivers for her actions, primarily her strong faith of course, which is very respectable in itself..

    1. C - Post Author

      The pre-accession Mary really fascinated me, and I think there’s much to be admired in her character.

  3. R

    I really love this defiance of the King her brother because she couldn’t go against her conscience, she saw Edward as a child and no one of good conscience can obey the laws of man and only the laws of God, so as she felt the Mass was true, Mary could not disobey the Lord over a boy King.
    I love how wise and well she spoke. She remembered the time that she had been forced by bullies in May and June 1536 to submit to her father and she now stood firm. Good for her.

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28 August – Mary defies Edward VI