Around the central character of Mary is woven a narrative in which she reflects upon influences in her life – her father Henry VIII, her mother Katherine of Aragon, her Catholic faith – as well as the perceived causes of her troubles – her half-brother Edward VI, half-sister Elizabeth I, the growth of the heretical Protestant faith, and her desperate desire for a child. Above all, her wish to be a good and just monarch clashed with her deep conviction that she needed to restore England to to the Church of Rome.
In Tudor England the threat of Death was constant, whether by causes natural or political, and Mary’s whole life was spent under this shadow. Although a princess and daughter of royal parents she was forced to a humiliating declaration of her bastardy, saving her own head, but betraying her conscience by acknowledging Henry VIII’s religious Settlement creating the Church of England. When she finally fought her way to the throne, she not only inherited a bankrupt nation and bitterly divided ruling class, but had to negotiate a new reality as the first Queen Regnant of England.