On this day in 1554 – Queen Mary I married Prince Philip of Spain

On 25th July 1554 Queen Mary I married Philip of Spain, the son of her cousin, the Holy Roman Emperor, Charles V. Philip was the heir apparent to many countries across Europe and the New World so was an appealing match, as part of the marriage negotiations 37 year old Mary was sena portrait of her new husband to be.

The marriage proposal was unpopular in England and led to many of Mary’s advisors urging her to marry an Englishman. A rebellion also broke out led by Thomas Wyatt the younger led a small army from Kent in an attempt to place Elizabeth on the throne. The biggest fear that many of the rebels held was that whoever Mary married would instantly become King of England and assume all the powers of the monarchy. This led to Mary introducing Queen Mary’s Marriage Act.

Under the terms of the Marriage Act Philip would be called King of England and enjoy the honours that are associated with the title, also all official documents including any Acts of Parliament would be signed by both Mary and Philip and Philip was to co-rule England alongside Mary but the majority of the royal authority still fell to Mary. The Act did prohibit Philip from appointing foreigners to any English office and was unable to take Mary or any child they may have outside of England. The Act also stopped the crown automatically passing to Mary if she died before him. Philip was unhappy with the terms of the Act but nonetheless agreed in order to go ahead with the marriage.

Philip did not view the marriage as one made for romance but instead as political and strategic. Philip’s aide wrote, “it will take a great God to drink this cup the king realises that the marriage was concluded for no fleshy consideration, but in order to remedy the disorders of this kingdom and to preserve the Low Countries.”

The marriage took place at Winchester Cathedral, just two days after they had met for the first time. Philip did not speak any English and so the couple conversed using a mixture of Spanish, French and Latin.

The wedding ceremony was presided over by Bishop Gardiner with Philip arriving at 10am wearing ‘His breeches and doublet were white, the collar of the doublet exceeding rich, and over all a mantle or rich cloth of gold, a present from the Queen…this robe was ornamented with pearl and precious stones; and wearing the collar of the Garter”

Mary wore a gown in the French style of ‘rich tissue with a border and wide sleeves, embroidered upon purple satin, set with pearls of our store, lined with purple taffeta’. Mary’s gown also had a high collar, a kirtle of white satin, a train and was embroidered with silver.

Mary arrived at Winchester Cathedral at 10.30 and was preceded by the Earl of Derby who was carrying the sword of state. Mary was given away by the Marquess of Winchester and the Earls of Derby, Pembroke and Bedford, who took on the role on England’s behalf. Bishop Gardiner began the service by announcing that Charles V had given his son and his new bride the kingdom of Naples as well as a short speech regarding the Marriage Act. The service was conducted in both Latin and English in order for both countries to understand the proceedings. During the service a small band of gold was placed upon the bible along with the traditional three handfuls of gold from both the bride and groom before the ring was placed upon Mary’s hand.

As the marriage was completed heralds took to the street to declare;

Philip and Mary, by the grace of God king and queen of England, France, Naples, Jerusalem and Ireland, defenders of the faith, princes of Spain and Sicily, archdukes of Austria, dukes of Milan, Burgundy and Brabant, counts of Habsburg, Flanders and Tyrol.”

With the ceremony completed the wedding party returned to Bishop Gardiner’s palace for a feast and an evening of entertainment and dancing before the couple were taken for the consummation of their marriage.

Mary was clearly in love with her new husband and soon wrote to her cousin, Charles V of her happiness;

I will only offer to your majesty all that my small powers enable me to give, always praying God so as to inspire my subjects that they may realise the affection you bear this kingdom and the honour and advantages you have conferred upon it by this marriage and alliance, which renders me happier than I can say, as I daily discover in the king, my husband and your son, so many virtues and perfections that I constantly pray God to grant me grace to please him and behave in all things as befits one who is so deeply embounden to him…”

Mary and PhilipMary I and Philip of Spain

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