Reign of the Marionettes opens with a prologue in which Queen Mary I looks out from a mourning coach, at Smithfield, London; watching Protestants being burned at the stake. Mary reigned for five years, between 1553 and 1558. The first Queen to rule in her own right over England and Ireland, she is remembered most for executing up to three hundred Protestants. After her death, this earned her the title ‘Bloody Mary’.
Mary Tudor’s life seems filled with tragedy. The only surviving child of King Henry VIII and Katherine of Aragon, she was caught in the middle of their traumatic divorce. Prior to this, Mary had the love of both her parents and the status of Princess. An ardent Catholic, Mary refused to acknowledge her father’s new religion, or his new wife, Anne Boleyn. Distanced from her father and banned from seeing her mother, she was officially declared a bastard when Anne gave birth to her daughter, Elizabeth, and her title changed to Lady Mary.
Athough she was brought back to Court after Anne Boleyn’s execution, Mary’s mother had already died and her father married another four times before his death. Mary was 37 when she finally became queen. One of the most tragic aspects of her life must be her marriage to Philip of Spain and subsequent phantom pregnancies.
Were Mary’s phantom pregnancies psychological or physical? Did she have a hormonal disorder caused by a tumour of the pituitary gland? Could her distended abdomen have been caused by cancer? She died a few years later, at the age of 42, possibly from cancer. Could her pregnancy have been a hydatidiform mole, either partial or complete? There was apparently rumour at the time of her birthing a mole. Or, did Mary have a phantom pregnancy brought on by a psychological yearning to have a baby and produce an heir?