I've really enjoyed the series of interviews on the Tudor monarchs with some intelligent questioning by Dave Musgrove, well done BBC History Magazine.
I've got to comment on Anna Whitelock's revisionist piece on Mary though. I realise that the popular history market is a bit crowded and it's necessary to create some elbow room if you're going to sell books but her totally biased and utterly partial re-evaluation of one of the worst monarchs ever visited upon this country took some believing. Is it really a mark of achievement that she was the first female monarch? She was a woman, so what! It's not about ones gender, it's about what one does surely? There were great achievements by and during the reigns of Elizabeth, Anne and Victoria and those monarch's are evaluated on those achievements, not that they were women in a world overwhelmingly dominated by men. Sorry, but to give Mary kudos simply for being female does a disservice even to the feminist analytical perspective from which Dr Whitelock clearly comes.
On the religious aspect, and no, you can't isolate the religious from the political in 16th century political history, Mary was a disaster and not just for the 284 protestants of various hues burned alive during her reign. Mary's aim, as a militant Catholic with a grudge, was to return England to the "True Faith' which she vigorously attempted through the appointment of Catholics to key secular and religious positions and by aligning the country with the Emperor Charles V and Philip II of Spain. Her foreign policy was a disaster, Calais was lost, we missed the opportunity to build a strong counter block to Spain by aligning with France and supporting the United Provinces in their struggle for freedom from Spanish dominion.
Most of all she is remembered, and rightly, as a brutal and cruel religious zealot who wanted to impose her beliefs on the country, through the slow torturing to death of hundreds if necessary. In the end her version of the Inquisition was counter productive, even the Spanish thought she went too far, and the backlash was widespread and long lasting and as a consequence Catholics became second class citizens for over two centuries. It is utterly wrong to say the burnings were justified because it worked in suppressing religious opposition. It may have driven people underground the but the failure in sparking a popular counter reformation is a testament to the self defeating tactics of terror she so ruthlessly employed.
Dr Whitelock believed a major failure of Mary's reign was that she died too soon. I beg to disagree, it would have been far better for English people of all faiths had she died sooner, much sooner.