HP027: Bloody Mary

HP027: Bloody Mary

Hear about the Queen, the Drink and the folklore.


Further Reading

In searching for information relating to Bloody Mary I found: The cocktail, Mary I of England, and the folklore ghost.

Lets briefly cover each of these subjects…

The Cocktail

It contains vodka, tomato juice and usually some other additions like Worcestershire sauce, Tabasco sauce, consommé, horseradish, celery and the list goes on, but I will stop there. You get the idea. There is no known connection of the cocktail to the other subjects of its namesake.

Bartender, Fernand Petiot of Harry’s New York Bar in Paris claims to have invented the drink some time during the 1920s. Says Petiot, “One of the boys suggested we call the drink “Bloody Mary” because it reminded him of the Bucket of Blood Club in Chicago, and a girl there named Mary.”

Variants of the drink:

  • If the drink is served without the vodka, it is called a Virgin Mary or a Bloody Shame.
  • When tequila is used instead of vodka, it is known as a “Bloody Maria”.
  • When sake is used instead of vodka, it is known as a “Bloody Geisha”.
  • When beer, usually Mexican beer, is used instead of vodka, it is known as a “Michelada”.
  • When beef bouillon is used instead of tomato juice, it is known as a “Bullshot”.

Mary I of England

Also known as Mary Tudor was born February 18, 1516 and died November 17, 1558. She was Queen of England from July 6, 1553 until her death, but in practice she retired from her queenly duties on July 19, 1553. She is often confused with her cousin Mary, Queen of Scots.

Mary, the fourth and next to last monarch of the Tudor dynasty is most remembered for her attempt to return England from Protestantism to Roman Catholicism. She earned her name by executing about 300 religious dissenters.

Mary was born to Henry VIII and his first wife Catherine of Aragon. She was the fifth child. Henry and Catherine were lucky that Mary made it through childbirth and childhood as her five siblings either died before birth or very early in the lives. Mary was born at the Palace of Placentia in Greenwich. She was a very bright girl, but was plagued by poor eyesight, sinuses and headaches. Some speculate that her sickness may have been a congenital syphilis transferred to her from her mother.

Henry gave Mary her own court at Ludlow Castle and many other allowances that would have normally been given to a Prince. Henry was disappointed that his wife was unable to produce a healthy son for him.

Henry decided to get an annulment from Catherine so he might try to have a child with another woman. In 1533, Henry secretly married Anne Boleyn. Shortly thereafter, the Archbishop of Canterbury formally declared the marriage with Catherine null and void. Henry broke from the Catholic Church and acknowledged himself as the “Supreme Head” of the Church of England.

Meanwhile, Mary lost her status as a Princess because of the annulment and was reduced to a Lady. The illegitimate Mary lost her place in succession and was replace with Princess Elizabeth, daughter of Queen Anne. The Lady Mary was expelled from the Royal Court; her servants were dismissed from her service, and she was forced to serve as a lady-in-waiting under the Queen Anne’s aunt, the Lady Shelton, to her own infant half-sister Elizabeth, then living in Hatfield. She was not permitted to see her mother Catherine, or attend her funeral in 1536. Her treatment and the hatred Queen Anne had for her was perceived as unjust; all Europe, furthermore, regarded her as the only true heir and daughter of Henry VIII, although she was illegitimate under English law.

Queen Anne was beheaded in 1536 and her daughter Princess Elizabeth was also demoted to Lady and removed from her place in succession. Henry then married Jane Seymour, who died shortly after giving birth to Prince Edward, Duke of Cornwall. In order to regain favor with the Henry, Mary denounced the Catholic church and acknowledged her father as the head of the church of England. In turn, Henry allowed Lady Mary to reside in royal palaces and granted her a household. Henry’s sixth and last wife, Catherine Parr, was able to bring the family closer together, again improving the Lady Mary’s position.

In 1544 an act of Parliament returned Lady Mary and Elizabeth to the line of succession. However, they were still illegitimate. In 1547 Henry died and Edward took over as England’s first Protestant Monarch. Lady Mary asked to worship privately and was denied, she appealed to Emperor Charles V. Charles threatened war with England if Mary could not practice her faith. Lady Mary was soon able to continue her private worship.

King Edward died in 1553. In his will he had stipulated that Lady Mary and Lady Elizabeth should be excluded from the line of succession. This contradicted the 1544 Act that Parliament had passed. Lady Jane Grey was proclaimed Queen on July 6, 1553. This was a very unpopular decision and the masses had to be quieted by force. One small boy was heard hailing “Queen Mary” for this outburst both his ears were cut off. The masses would not have to wait for long for their rightful Queen, on July 19 Jane’s accession was deemed illegal and Mary was crowned Queen.

Mary’s first act as Queen was to release Thomas Howard, 3rd Duke of Norfolk and Stephen Gardiner from imprisonment in the Tower of London (more on who they were on the website).

Mary initially set Jane Grey free as well as her father, Henry Grey 1st Duke of Suffolk. The Duke of Northumberland was not so lucky he was immediately executed for high treason.

Now Queen Mary turned her attention to getting a husband. The Spanish prince Philip was suggested to Mary. Her rejection of this idea started insurrections across the country. The Duke of Suffolk once again proclaimed his daughter Jane Grey as Queen. A rebellion led by Sir Thomas Wyatt was crushed when it reached the gates of London. The Duke and his daughter were both convicted of high treason and executed. If the rebellion had been successful Lady Elizabeth would have been Queen. For this reason she was imprisoned in the Tower of London, then after 2 months she was put under house arrest in Woodstock Palace.

Mary & Philip were wed on July 25 1554. As per the terms of the marriage treaty Philip was written in on all official documents as King of England. However, Philips powers were very limited. Mary fell in love with Philip but he did not reciprocate. After only 14 months he left for Spain under a false excuse. Mary thought she had become pregnant but soon found out it was not true.

With no husband around and no child coming Mary busied herself with her religion again. Edward had established Protestantism and Mary wished to return to Roman Catholicism. She started by promoting her good friend Reginald Pole to Archbishop after executing his predecessor. Many more were to die in the Marian Persecutions. The persecution against Protestants and dissenters lasted almost 4 years. This is when Mary earned the title of Bloody Mary.

Sometime between March and July of 1557 Philip persuaded Mary to join in the Italian Wars. Mary was very disappointed at the loss of Calais a city in Northern France.

Mary died on November 17, 1558 of influenza, uterine cancer or ovarian cancer at St. James’s Palace. Mary is buried in Westminster Abbey beside Elizabeth. The Latin inscription on their tomb translates to “Partners both in Throne and grave, here rest we two sisters, Elizabeth and Mary, in the hope of one resurrection”.

In folklore, Bloody Mary is the name of a children’s game, which a ghost or witch of the same name is said to appear in a mirror when summoned. A common way participants attempt to make her appear is to stand before a mirror in the dark and repeat her name three times. Some include chanting a hundred times, spinning around, or rubbing one’s eyes. In some versions of the legend, the summoner must say “Bloody Mary, I killed your son!” In these variants, Bloody Mary is often believed to be the spirit of a mother who murdered her children, or a woman who was murdered shortly before or after her wedding.

Bloody Mary Worth is typically described as a child-murderess who lived in the locality where the legend has taken root about a century ago. There is often a specific local graveyard or tombstone that becomes attached to the legend.

On the other hand, various people have surmised that the lore about taunting Bloody Mary about her baby may relate her tenuously to folklore about Queen Mary I. The queen’s life was marked by a number of miscarriages or false pregnancies.