Thursday, August 29, 2013

BritLit-Mary, Bloody Mary

Let's look at the dark and sparkly side of England....
The Tower of London
The beautiful Tower Bridge

   Have you ever played Bloody Mary as a kid?  Did you ever wonder what was so scary about her?  Mary, Bloody Mary by Carolyn Meyer is historical fiction, but it's specifically focused on factual events. It's like a spoon full of sugar helping you swallow a bitter pill. Mary's life was supposed to be one of a princess and future queen. She should have been pampered and honored. Instead, when her dad, King Henry III gave up hope that he'd have a son, he started looking elsewhere for a new wife and heir. Back then they didn't have that decree that says a child of a king and queen can rule no matter if it's a boy or girl. Poor Mary was stuck changing the "royal nappies" of her half-sister Elizabeth, daughter of Henry VIII and Ann Boleyn.  
     Mary, was sent to live out in one of their country homes and her finances cut off because she still believed her mother was Queen. Her father kept trying to force her to accept Ann and accept him as head of the church, but she stood her ground and survived on the provisions of the nearby common people. This girl had chutzpah!
What happened to her????  How did she come to be Bloody Mary?
     Her father tired of Anne and needed a new wife to give him a son, so what's a king to do?  Off with her head!!!

 Seriously, we stood at the place where Ann was beheaded. In the book, she walked to the chopping block with her head held high even though she was terrified. This was before the guillotine so she made nice with the ax-man beforehand and got him to hide a really sharp double bladed ax. Apparently, these events depended heavily on the ax-man being sober and accurate. Mean ol' Henry, made sure she wasn't even buried with royalty. Her grave is right there in the Tower of London chapel.

     Back to Bloody Mary - how did she get that name? After every possible heir died and she finally became queen, she wanted to put everything back the way it was. She reinstated the Catholic church and anyone opposing it or having to do with her father's turn to the Protestant church would be burned. There are martyr monuments in Oxford where monks were burned.

     There are also other prison's nearby like The Clink Prison which we toured. Torture was the means of forcing confessions and yikes! They even had a face helmet with spikes that poke the tongue - what a way to shut people up!  You can read The Remarkable Life and Times of Eliza Rose if you want to learn more about this weird prison society - imagine living in squalor, but ordering out for food?

     Oddly enough, the Tower of London is so secure, it houses the Crown Jewels. You can ride a people-mover and get a three second glimpse of all the crowns and treasures of the Royal Family.



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