Mastodon The Writing Desk: Book Launch Guest Post: Queen of Martyrs: The Story of Mary I, By Samantha Wilcoxson

7 April 2017

Book Launch Guest Post: Queen of Martyrs: The Story of Mary I, By Samantha Wilcoxson

New on Amazon UK and Amazon US

'God save the Queen! God save our good Queen Mary!'

When these words rang out over England, Mary Tudor thought her troubles were over. She could put her painful past - the loss of her mother and mistreatment at the hands of her father - behind her. With her accession to the throne, Mary set out to restore Catholicism in England and find the love of a husband that she had long desired. But the tragedies in Mary's life were far from over. How did a gentle, pious woman become known as 'Bloody Mary'?

Why did I decide to write about the woman known as Bloody Mary? The women featured in the first two books of my Plantagenet Embers trilogy, Elizabeth of York and Margaret Pole, were known to be pious and admirable, but they also are often found in the background of history rather than at the forefront. That certainly cannot be said about this bastardized princess who became queen. Mary lived her life in the limelight, though some might argue against her admirability. In that, you will find my reason for writing her story.

People are quick to accuse Mary of bloodthirstiness, vengefulness, and bitterness. These characteristics are assumed of her due to the great tragedies that she survived and the burning of heretics that took place on her command. Based on a deeper study of her life and character, I do not believe that any of these terms accurately describe the devout, lonely woman who went from princess to bastard to queen on her turbulent ride on fortune’s wheel.

A closer look at Mary reveals a tender heart, a desire for love, and a merciful soul. This assessment will be at odds with images that do not go beyond the knowledge that almost 300 Protestants were burned at the stake during Mary’s reign. Readers who pick up Queen of Martyrs because they have felt the same absence of sympathy for her that I noticed, I believe will be pleased with what I’ve written.

For those who have a difficult time thinking of Mary as anything other than Bloody Mary, I would ask three things. One, remember that religious persecution was, for better or worse, a norm of that time. Mary’s father and sister, who are both remembered more favorably than she is, executed far more of their subjects on similar grounds. A monarch was expected to see to the salvation of their people in a way that we would not accept today. Two, understand that Mary was beloved by her people. The Bloody Mary sobriquet came much later, and there is so much more to her character than the source of it. Finally, give Mary a chance. Be willing to learn more about her and walk in her shoes. Stand with her as she pardons 400 participants of Wyatt’s Rebellion or she tearfully watches the departure of the husband whom she knows doesn’t love her.

Sympathy for and understanding of Queen Mary I can only come if we are willing to set aside our preconceived notions and enter the mindset of 16th century Europe. It was a fulfilling challenge for me to do so, and I think any readers who take up the challenge will be glad that they did.

Samantha Wilcoxson
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About the Author

Samantha Wilcoxson is an American writer and history enthusiast. She has written three novels and works as a freelance writer. Living with her husband on a small lake in Michigan with three kids, two cats, and two dogs, Samantha has plenty of writing inspiration. 'Plantagenet Princess, Tudor Queen' has been named an Editors' Choice by the Historical Novel Society.

Find out more at and find Samantha on Facebook and Twitter @carpe_librum


  1. Thank you for featuring my Mary! Always a pleasure to be at The Writing Desk. :-)

  2. I have recently got your book and am very impressed. I find people's lack of knowledge about Mary Tudor shocking. What do kids learn in school, Protestant propaganda? We had two specialists come in one on Mary and one on Elizabeth for three lessons each to give us a clearer understanding of both of their religious and political changes and how they dealt with them. That was 40 years ago and still people are ignorant. Mary achieved quite a lot in her five short years and was a very competent ruler. The 283 men and women who suffered at the stake are a tragedy but the laws governing heresy were strict and existed long before Mary came to the throne. Mary took advice before reviving them and the government gave the accused every chance to accept the true faith as she saw it. Mary spared Jane Grey and her parents and may have released her had her father not rebelled a second time. Rebellion and treason were dangerous and threats to the peace of the realm and the crown. She executed the most dangerous leaders and pardoned everyone else. People don't know how heresy was tried and that it was mostly a local affair with no dealings with the crown. Elizabeth and Henry deserve the title Bloody more than Mary and the Golden Age is another myth. Mary was very popular and had she lived or had an heir, we would have praised her as a balanced and fair monarch, not the myth which maligned her well over 100 years after she died.


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