Soon after Mary’s coronation, Simon Renard, the Emperor Charles V’s ambassador, urged Mary to consider marriage to the Emperor’s son Prince Philip of Spain. She would not at first consider it arguing that she was too old, being 37 and he only 26. Secretly she had always wished for a husband and family and the ambassador persuaded her to think about the Catholic heir she could give England. Her counsillors wanted an English candidate but Mary resisted. In Philip’s favor was that he was her second cousin and kin to her beloved mother. As she began to warm to the idea she made the council go over the demands that would be made by them in relation to Philip’s authority in England. None of Philip’s Spanish advisors should interfere in English affairs, and that English born ministers alone would confer with Philip and Mary on matters relating to England. England would not declare war on France, whom the Emperor was at war with, or to break off diplomatic relations with France. Philip was forbidden to bring Spanish troops with him . He could not appoint officials and could not send English money abroad. Also, the Emperor was very generous with his gifts of money. Mary agreed and looked forward to seeing her future husband in person.

Philip II

Philip arrived in England in July, 1554. He set out to Winchester and met the queen at 10 pm at night, trying hard to be agreeable to all of the English lords and ladies. Mary was delighted in her new husband. He was small, slender with blue eyes and a fair complexion with sandy hair and beard. They were married in Winchester Cathedral on July 25. By the end of the service Mary was in love. What Philip thought of his bride he made clear to his closest advisors. She was older than he was told, dressed badly, and had no eyebrows. (This statement is interesting in that it could apply also to her father and siblings.) At the dancing later that evening Mary proved herself to be a better dancer than her husband. Philip wanted an equal partnership out of this marriage and he did not get it. Emotionally he could never love his wife the way she loved him. He did not feel her equal as a sovereign for he could only have as much power as she was willing to give. Mary was grateful to have someone to share the heavy burden of ruling and more importantly dealing with her council. But Mary only complied with Philip’s wishes when they agreed with her own. Philip’s Spanish courtiers were outraged. It was Philip’s intention to bide his time, and continue to seem under English authority, when his real goal was to bring England under the Hapsburg orbit, another country to be used by the Emperor.

Philip & Mary enthroned

After the honeymoon Mary was back hard at work. She rose at dawn, and worked till well past midnight. They saw each other only for meals or in the evenings when she would play the lute or virginals for him. By November Mary believed herself to be pregnant. She was overjoyed and during the next months went through the preparations for the Catholic heir she had dreamed of.  In April of 1555 the couple moved to Hampton Court in order for Mary to retire to her chamber and await the birth. There was a false rumor that a prince had been born on April 30th and bonfires had begun to be lit in London for celebrations but by the next day the news was discounted. The days continued into May with still no sign of a child. Beside swelling of her belly, Mary’s chamber women stated that she had no other usual signs of pregnancy. By May 21, her belly had greatly receded and now Mary had her doubts. By August the charade was over everyone realized that there was not to be a child. In reassessing her symptoms it is believed today that Mary suffered from amenorrhea or ovarian cancer which would have prevented her from ever carrying a child. Mary returned to her usual routine unhappy and humiliated. In 1555 Emperor Charles V abdicated and divided his lands. Philip would now be King of the Netherlands. Philip departed from England on August 29th and Mary watched tearfully as he waved from the ship to her. She wrote to him every night asking for his return. By November he was demanding that Mary order the preparations for his coronation. He wanted to share the government with her as King. Mary told him a coronation was a very remote possibility. Philip was not yielding. He was enjoying his time in the Netherlands and took to going to masques and balls every night. On February 18, 1556 Mary turned 40. She was not unaware that she held little attraction for her husband and was feeling her age. She turned her energies to helping the poor. She would dress up as a simple woman and go to different cottages on her estates to hand out money or promised apprenticeships to children of large households. She asked villagers how they lived and if officers of the court dealt honestly with them. If not, she would personally berate the officers and have the matter cleared up. On Good Friday she would carry out other ceremonies performed by English sovereigns such as blessing of cramp rings (talismans for healing) and touching for the King’s Evil (scrofula). But she missed Philip. By May she demanded, and Philip realized that if he did not return by June 30 “she was not to consider him a trustworthy king.” The portrait of Philip that hung in the Council chamber irritated her and she ordered it removed. She heard rumors of his infidelities and tried to continue to keep a brave face.

Philip had been shocked by the state of the disrepair of the English fleet under Edward VI. Only three of Henry VIII’s great ships were left. The council, embarrassed, took action. By October 1555 fifteen ships were ready and two new war ships by 1556: the new Mary Rose and the Philip and Mary. France had moved against the Low Countries and Philip needed English support. Philip returned in March 1557 and he and Mary petitioned the Council for a declaration of war. It was another threat of revolt in the north of England, by Sir Thomas Stafford with support from the French, that brought the Council in the queen’s favor and on June 7, 1557 was was declared. Mary accompanied Philip to Dover saying her farewell on July 3. She would never see him again.

With the Spanish the English forces took the city of Saint-Quentin but the French were intent on attacking the ancient garrison of Calais. On January 2, 1558 Calais surrendered, and on January 21 the garrisons of Guisnes and Hammes surrendered to the Duke of Guise. It was a major blow to English pride and the Spaniards were blamed.

Philip & Mary by Hans Eworth

Death of Mary

In March of 1558 Mary made her will but did not name Elizabeth as her heir. She did consider marriage for Elizabeth by Philip’s suggestion, to the Prince of Savoy but nothing definite was ever planned. Mary now admitted that she was mistaken in her second pregnancy. She fell into depression and would not leave her room. All the hopes of her life were unfulfilled and it seemed the child of the woman who had so injured her mother was to succeed her. She suffered a fever through the summer but insisted on returning to London from the country. Philip was sent many update reports of her condition but he did not return as his father, Charles V, and his sister Mary, Regent of the Netherlands, had died and he was preparing their funerals. Mary was at St. James palace when in October she made a codicil to her will in which she stated that her husband should have no further government or rule within England. She also instructed him to be a father, brother and friend to the next sovereign. Because Mary had not specifically named Elizabeth heir, Elizabeth was making preparations in case she had to fight for the throne. On November 6 the counsilors visited Mary in her bed chamber and urged her to name Elizabeth as heir. She did give in with the hopes that Elizabeth would continue to uphold the Catholic religion.

By November 14, Mary was near the end. She was fading in and out of consciousness and awoke to find her ladies weeping. She told them not to fret because she had dreams of many little children, like angles, play before her, singing pleasing notes, giving her comfort. When she was conscious she spent much time crying and when asked if it was because her husband was away she answered that was one reason but most of all that “when I am dead, you will find Calais lying in my heart.” On November 16, the will was read aloud in Mary’s bed chamber. By dawn the next morning Mary knew her time had come and ordered mass celebrated in her room. At the end of the service her ladies thought she had fallen asleep but she had died peacefully. The betrothal ring was removed from her finger and carried to Hatfield. Mary was 42 years old. She was buried in Westminster Abbey in a grave that laid unadorned throughout Elizabeth’s reign. Elizabeth was interred in the same grave and a lavish monument built for her. On the side of the monument it states that the two sisters are buried together.

Philip of Spain by Henry Kamen, Philip II by William Thomas Walsh, Mary and Philip by Alexander Samson