Endocrine Abstracts (2018) 59 SE1.3 | DOI: 10.1530/endoabs.59.SE1.3

Why did the Queen die?

Ashley Grossman1,2


1University of Oxford, Oxford, UK; 2University of London, London, UK.


In 1547 Henry VIII died, and was succeeded by his young son from his marriage to Jane Seymour; the boy was only 9 years old, and became Edward VI. However, he was a sickly child, and only survived to the age of 15 years, probably dying of TB. With no living male heir, there was an attempt at continuing with a Protestant monarch, but this lasted only 9-days with the unfortunate Lady Jane Grey. The crown then fell to Mary, the child of the marriage of Henry to Catherine of Aragon, whose failure to produce an heir had led to Henry breaking off relations with the Church of Rome and forming the Church of England, with himself at its head. Henry’s divorce led to his expropriation of all church lands, which were enormous in extent, although this vast influx of wealth was, as is the nature of many later dictators, handed out to his followers as a form of patronage. However, Mary’s ascent to the throne, and her difficult relationship with her father, led to a reaffirmation of Catholicism, with the execution, often by burning, of many ‘heretics’. Mary married Phillip II, scion of the Hapsburg dynasty: Phillip was less than enamoured with Mary, and while she appeared to adore him he treated this as a political move designed to establish Spanish hegemony over England. Mary’s death at the age of 42, without an heir, led to the crowning of Elizabeth I in 1558, and was the first step in the ascendance of English power, the English Enlightenment, and European dominance. Had Mary lived, the future would have been very different: so, why did she die so young?

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