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Into the 1990s, English-speaking historians mostly continued to put Mary’s “failure” as queen, culminating in the loss of Calais to France at the beginning of 1558, down to her personal inadequacy, possibly resulting from the ill treatment that she received from her father, King Henry VIII, as well as the difficult political and economic circumstances that she had to confront.Since the 1980s, however, the queen and her reign have been looked at again from many aspects.
Back in 1940, Prescott 2003 broke with traditional British historiography by researching and stressing Mary’s Spanish background and the Spanish dimension of her reign, though this aspect was not developed further until Edwards 2011 and Edwards 2016.
In the meantime, Loades (Loades 1989, Loades 2006, and Loades 2011) has been the leading historian of this queen and her reign, producing a series of biographies, overlapping but also developing in content and approach.
Her achievement in gaining the throne and ruling as England’s first sovereign queen is increasingly recognized, and a much fuller understanding of her religious policies has been achieved.
As a result, a significant rebalancing is taking place between assessments of the reigns of Mary and Elizabeth, putting the characters and achievements of both rulers into a better perspective.
Ever since she died in London on 17 November 1558, Queen Mary I has had an afterlife in the shadow of her half-sister and successor, Elizabeth I.
She reigned for just over five years, beginning late July 1553, and her time on the throne has been seen ever after as unfortunate and unsuccessful, as well as short.This is very much a bibliography of work in progress, one of its aims being to show that many opportunities still remain for further valuable and stimulating research into Mary’s life and reign.Despite the recent upsurge in interest in Mary, the weight of coverage of the Tudor period goes overwhelmingly to the long reigns of Henry VIII and Elizabeth, rather than the short mid-century reigns of Edward and his older half-sister.Now, however, this lack has begun to be remedied in two important collections.Hunt and Whitelock 2010 explicitly compares Mary and Elizabeth as rulers, while Doran and Freeman 2011 analyzes and compares traditional and revisionist approaches to Mary and her reign.Other recent biographers (see Porter 2007, Richards 2008, and Whitelock 2009), while generally relying on traditional English sources, have contributed effectively to the reinterpretation of Mary as the true pioneer of female monarchy in the country, stressing her achievements and her role as precursor and example to Elizabeth.Mary’s role as the first sovereign queen of England, Wales, and Ireland is emphasized in Porter 2007, Richards 2008, and Whitelock 2009 (all cited under Biographies), as well as Hunt 2010, while Edwards 2011 (also cited under Biographies) stresses the example that Mary was given by her Spanish grandmother, Queen Isabella of Castile.Even the best surveys of the Tudor period, listed in this section, tend to short-change Mary, though Rex 2002 begins to reflect the historical revision of her and her time as queen that has been going on in recent years.The earlier works, Bindoff 1950 and Elton 1955, reflect and propagate an interpretation of Mary’s reign as a brief Catholic interval in a logical progression toward a Protestant England.These documents provide valuable information on internal English affairs as well as foreign relations.Loades 2002 is a useful collection of extracts from English chronicles, with modernized spelling, while the anonymous Chronicle of the Grey Friars and Chronicle of Queen Jane and of Two Years of Queen Mary cover the difficult period of Mary’s succession to the English throne.