Today in 1558 Mary I died, aged 42 years old. She had made a will at Easter believing herself to be pregnant, but her husband Philip I left in July, and there are no records of preparations for the birth, so it was likely another phantom pregnancy. In August she got a fever, and seemed to recover, but then by the end of September was unwell again. She confirmed her father’s plan for succession, and though she didn’t name Elizabeth by name, she said the throne would go to the next lawful heir.
As she lay dying, she spoke of visions of angels, and said that when she died they would find Calais written on her heart - a nod towards having lost the final piece of land England had owned in France. She passed away so peacefully that it wasn’t noticed at first. On her death, her sister Elizabeth would become Elizabeth I.
That’s your Tudor Minute for today. Remember you can dive deeper into life in 16th century England through the Renaissance English History Podcast at englandcast.com.
Album of the week: Queen Mary's Big Belly from the Gallicantus Choir
Melita Thomas at the 2017 Tudor Summit talking about Mary's relationship with her father: