The reason for the speech on this day in 1554, is Wyatt's Rebellion - which you may have heard of. It was an uprising named after one of its leaders, Thomas Wyatt. (No, not Sir Thomas Wyatt, the poet - that was his father!). Historians like David Loades have concluded that the primary motives for the uprising were political and religious. It seems to have been directly opposing Queen Mary's decision to marry the Spaniard, Prince Philip. Of course, this wasn't the first time there had been opposition for the marriage. In 1553, Mary's council had pleaded with her to take an English husband - someone who would be popular with the English people. However, Mary was staunch in her beliefs and her decision to marry a man from her mother's country - the son of Mary's cousin, Charles V. This did NOT bode well for the English, and they knew it. Not only was Spain a country not easily trusted during the 16th century, but they were very Catholic, as Mary was. Her decision to marry a Catholic prince ensured hardships for the Protestants in England, and the English people were afraid. Even the rebels themselves explained that they were rebelling in order "to prevent us from over-running by strangers."
"I am your Queen, to whom, when I was wedded to the realm and laws of the same (the spousal ring whereof I have on my finger, which never hitherto was, not hereafter shall be, left off), you promised your allegiance and obedience to me.... And I say to you, on the word of a Prince, I cannot tell how naturally the mother loveth the child, for I was never the mother of any; but certainly, if a Prince and Governor may as naturally and earnestly love her subjects as the mother doth love the child, then assure yourselves that I, being your lady and mistress, do as earnestly and tenderly love and favour you. And I, thus loving you, cannot but think that ye as heartily and faithfully love me; and then I doubt not but we shall give these rebels a short and speedy overthrow."
A beautiful speech, and it reminds me so much of some of the speeches her sister Elizabeth would give when she was Queen. Her words about the great love she had for her subjects, I think, are genuine - despite popular opinion about her. I think she was nervous at this point - afraid of what the rebels could do, but stubborn and sure of her decision to carry on with the Spanish wedding. Unfortunately for Elizabeth, Mary's fears and suspicions caused her to imprison her sister in the Tower of London, out of fear that the Protestant rebels were relying on Elizabeth for support. Although the desire to overthrow Mary in favor of Elizabeth was never expressly stated, it was implied. Surely, an intelligent woman like Mary was aware of that, and she had to take precautions to protect her place on the throne.
Although the rebellion continued, it was squashed fast by Mary's men, and the leaders of the rebellion were hanged, drawn, and quartered - along with MANY others. Elizabeth was able to avoid execution and further imprisonment when she made it clear that she had known nothing of the rebellion in the first place.
All in all, I think it is an important day and one of the only times we get to hear/read Mary's own words. It was such a crucial time in her reign, and the road ahead of her was anything but easy, but this was at least one challenge in which she proved victorious.