Mary Tudor’s Pregnancy: Real or Imagined?
Since I have already been executed once, I’m in no danger spilling the tea on Mary the First.
Now, we all know that she was the first Queen of England that didn’t get there by marriage. She also had a quite colorful nickname: Bloody Mary.
She got this moniker after she had hundreds and hundreds of Protestants burned at the stake. There is a lot of ‘drama’ to cover over Mary’s lifetime, but we are going to talk about one of the most significant but not widely known predicaments she got herself into.
A year after Mary became the queen, she was expected to be married and with child. So, she married Philip II of Spain and quickly became pregnant.
Unfortunately, this is where things once again went south for Mary.
The Infamous Phantom Pregnancy of 1555.
Now, we know that Mary really wanted to be a mother. She had a special way with children; they loved her and she loved them. At this point, she was already 37 years old. Well past her prime.
When Mary became pregnant isn’t known, as she wasn’t sure herself, however, she did feel the baby move towards the end of her pregnancy.
Both the English and Spanish courts were thrilled. Preparations were made, the birthing chamber was prepared, letters announcing the birth were written, a cradle was made, and her ladies in waiting busily sewed and embroidered all the clothes and bedding an infant prince would require.
On April 30th, there were celebrations in the streets; bells were rung and bonfires were lit following the news that Mary had birthed a healthy son. This, however, was not the case.
Word of the infant royal’s birth had spread throughout Europe, and letters, gifts and gold were being delivered to the queen’s quarters.
By July, there was no sight of the alleged prince, but Mary still thought she was pregnant. She was always a hysterical child.
Rumors were flying all over England and Spain. Mary was never pregnant; it was feigned to garner support. Mary was pregnant, but the baby was stillborn. Mary’s plan was to have an infant boy brought to her in a warming pan to present as the new prince. It was also speculated that she gave birth to a mole.
Eventually, all hope for a healthy baby boy died out. Mary became a laughing stock. She was left humiliated, hurt, and immensely sad. The marital turmoil this faux pregnancy caused between Mary and Phillip was on the lips of everyone at court.
Perhaps the phantom pregnancy was the result of the queen’s overwhelming desire to have a child, but, whatever the case may have been, it only provided great political consequences for her reign.
Personally, as one of her mother’s ladies in waiting, I can assure you that it’s highly unlikely that Mary was ever pregnant.
Jane, The Lady Rochford