A report sent by the Venetian Ambassador Giovanni Michele of his meeting with Mary I, Queen of England, in 1557, the year before her death.
She is of short stature, well made, thin and delicate, and moderately pretty; her eyes are so lively that she inspires reverence and respect, and even fear, wherever she turns them; nevertheless she is very short-sighted.
Her voice is deep, almost like that of a man.
She understands five languages – English, Latin, French, Spanish, and Italian, in which last, however, she does not venture to converse. She is also much skilled in ladies’ work, such as producing all sorts of embroidery with the needle.
She has knowledge of music chiefly on the lute which she plays exceedingly well.
As to the qualities of her mind, it may be said of her that she is rash, disdainful, and parsimonious rather than liberal. She is endowed with great humility and patience, but withal high-spirited, courageous, and resolute, having during the whole course of her adversity not been guilty of the least approach to meanness of deportment.
She is, moreover, devout and staunch in the defence of her religion.
Some personal infirmities under which she labours are the causes to her of both public and private affliction; to remedy these, recourse is had to frequent bloodletting, and this is the real cause of her paleness and the general weakness of her frame. These have also given rise to the unfounded rumour that the queen is in a state of pregnancy.
The cabal she has been exposed to, the evil disposition of the people toward her, the present poverty and the debt of the crown, and her passion for King Philip, from whom she is doomed to live separate, are so many other causes of the grief with which she is overwhelmed.
She is, moreover, a prey to the hatred she bears my Lady Elizabeth, and which has its source in the recollection of the wrongs she experienced on account of her mother, and in the fact that all eyes and hearts are turned towards my Lady Elizabeth as successor to the throne.