Mary was the child who survived. After a difficult labour, Catherine of Aragon had given birth to a healthy daughter in the early morning of 18 February 1516 at the Palace of Placentia. Just a few days earlier news had arrived in London about Catherine’s father’s death, which had been deliberately kept from her. Her previous pregnancies had all ended in tragedy, a stillborn daughter and three stillborn or short-lived sons.
The disappointment in her sex was masked by optimism for the future. Surely, with God’s will, boys would follow. Catherine was probably already steadfast in her belief that her daughter would be the heir as her mother and her sister had been in Castile.
Mary was baptised into the Catholic faith at the Church of the Observant Friars in Greenwich three days after she was born. According to tradition, neither of her parents were present, but many of the aristocracy were. Her godparents were Catherine of York, Countess of Devon, Thomas Wolsey and Agnes Howard, Duchess of Norfolk. Mary was carried into the church by Elizabeth Howard, Countess of Surrey. Immediately following the baptism was the confirmation which required another godparent. This was to be Margaret Pole, Countess of Salisbury, who also became Mary’s governess.
Four Knights held the canopy over a well-wrapped Mary as she was carried in, one of whom was Sir Thomas Boleyn. When the ceremony was over Mary was returned to the Queen’s chamber at Greenwich Palace.
For the first two years of her life, Mary was cared for by a wet-nurse, Katherine Pole and four rockers and a laundress. A baby simply didn’t fit into royal life, and Mary lived a separate life from her parents. Mary’s first lady governess was Elizabeth Denton until 1518 when she was replaced by Lady Margaret Bryan. For now, she was a Royal Princess, and when her mother’s last pregnancy ended in yet another tragedy, she was also the heir.