“Mischievous Marys”: Rituals of Queenship in Sixteenth-century England and Scotland

Mariana Brockmann

Research output: ThesisDoctoral Thesis

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When John Knox published his First Blast of the Trumpet (1558), in which he questioned women’s right to rule, he related his critique to the examples of three contemporary Catholic queens in England and Scotland, referred to as the “Mischievous Marys”: Mary Tudor, Mary Stewart and Marie de Guise. The playfulness Knox’s soubriquet evokes in the modern reader is misleading, for according to contemporary understanding – inflicting or intending harm – the term was as scathing as Knox’s overall opinion on female sovereignty. However, although his verdict and the equation of their queenship regardless of its form – consort, dowager, mother, regent, regnant – followed his own agenda, the coinciding reigns of these three queens in close vicinity to one another warrants closer study in a comparative context. The focus of this thesis, roughly spanning the years 1538 to 1587, lies on the representation and reception of their authority through rituals during a critical period with regard to queenship and religion. The rituals surveyed encompass the three traditional royal ceremonies of coronations, weddings and funerals, but also “accession” ceremonies for the individual roles associated with queenship referred to above: i.e. royal entries, inaugurations and baptisms. The individual case studies attest to the fluidity and adaptability of both rituals and the concept of queenship expressed within them. In these rituals, the Marys combined and emphasised different forms of queenship, depending on the message they wished to convey. Although each of the queens periodically faced corresponding challenges, the ritual responses depended exceedingly on the immediate and general context. Ritual failure was a possibility, and
sometimes more than that, but the validity as well as the continued relevance and efficacy of the rituals were never questioned.
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • Royal Holloway, University of London
  • Whitelock, Anna, Supervisor
Award date1 Jun 2018
Publication statusUnpublished - 2018


  • Ritual
  • Queenship
  • England
  • Scotland
  • Sixteenth Century
  • Tudor, Mary
  • Stewart, Mary
  • Guise-Lorraine, Marie de
  • Religion

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