The history of the English Bible
“Bloody Mary” – Mary Queen Of England And Ireland
Mary I (18 February 1516 – 17 November 1558) was Queen of England and Ireland from July 1553 until her death. Her executions of Protestants caused her opponents to give her the sobriquet “Bloody Mary”.
She was the only child of Henry VIII and his first wife Catherine of Aragon who survived to adulthood. Her younger half-brother Edward VI (son of Henry and Jane Seymour) succeeded their father in 1547. When Edward became mortally ill in 1553, he attempted to remove Mary from the line of succession because of religious differences. On his death their first cousin once removed, Lady Jane Grey, was initially proclaimed queen. Mary assembled a force in East Anglia and successfully deposed Jane, who was ultimately beheaded. In 1554, Mary married Philip of Spain, becoming queen consort of Habsburg Spain on his accession in 1556.
As the fourth crowned monarch of the Tudor dynasty, Mary is remembered for her restoration of Roman Catholicism after the short-lived Protestant reign of her half-brother. During her five-year reign, she had over 280 religious dissenters burned at the stake in the Marian persecutions. Her re-establishment of Roman Catholicism was reversed after her death in 1558 by her younger half-sister and successor Elizabeth I, daughter of Henry and Anne Boleyn.
In the month following her accession, Mary issued a proclamation that she would not compel any of her subjects to follow her religion, but by the end of September leading reforming churchmen, such as John Bradford, John Rogers, John Hooper, Hugh Latimer and Thomas Cranmer were imprisoned. Mary’s first Parliament, which assembled in early October 1553, declared the marriage of her parents valid, and abolished Edward’s religious laws. Church doctrine was restored to the form it had taken in the 1539 Six Articles, which, for example, re-affirmed clerical celibacy. Married priests were deprived of their benefices.
Mary had always rejected the break with Rome instituted by her father and the establishment of Protestantism by Edward VI. She and her husband wanted England to reconcile with Rome. Philip persuaded Parliament to repeal the Protestant religious laws passed by Mary’s father, thus returning the English church to Roman jurisdiction. Reaching an agreement took many months, and Mary and Pope Julius III had to make a major concession: the monastery lands confiscated under Henry were not returned to the church but remained in the hands of the new landowners, who were very influential. By the end of 1554, the pope had approved the deal, and the Heresy Acts were revived.
Under the Heresy Acts, numerous Protestants were executed in the Marian persecutions. Many rich Protestants, including John Foxe, chose exile, and around 800 left the country. The first executions occurred over a period of five days in early February 1555: John Rogers on 4 February, Laurence Saunders on 8 February, and Rowland Taylor and John Hooper on 9 February. The imprisoned Archbishop of Canterbury Thomas Cranmer was forced to watch Bishops Ridley and Latimer being burned at the stake. Cranmer recanted, repudiated Protestant theology, and rejoined the Catholic faith. Under the normal process of the law, he should have been absolved as a repentant. Mary, however, refused to reprieve him. On the day of his burning, he dramatically withdrew his recantation. All told 283 were executed, most by burning. The burnings proved so unpopular, that even Alfonso de Castro, one of Philip’s own ecclesiastical staff, condemned them, and Philip’s adviser, Simon Renard, warned him that such “cruel enforcement” could “cause a revolt”. Mary persevered with the policy, which continued until her death and exacerbated anti-Catholic and anti-Spanish feeling among the English people. The victims of the persecutions became lauded as martyrs.
Reginald Pole, the son of Mary’s executed governess, and once considered a suitor, arrived as papal legate in November 1554. He was ordained a priest and appointed Archbishop of Canterbury immediately after Cranmer’s death in March 1556.