Religious Changes under Mary I (How Popular were the Changes? (But…
Religious Changes under Mary I
What were Mary's religious Aims?
Mary was a devout Catholic, she believed that Edward's early death was a miracle and a sign that God was on her side
Undo religious changes made since 1529
restore papal authority
Restore trad. Catholic beliefs including transubstantiation
Re-establish dissolved religious houses
end clerical marriage and restore status of priests
Secure a long-term future for Catholicism by marrying and having children
persecute those who didn't agree with her views
There were concerns that Mary would progress too quickly- even Charles V and Pope Julius III were concerned Mary could provoke unrest
How Popular were the Changes?
Large numbers turned out for Mary's coronation suggesting her rule was welcome and most were willing to conform to her religious views.
Mary failed to see that many stanch Catholics had remained loyal to the Tudor state under Henry and Edward and had profited form the dissolution of the monestaries
Parliament met in 1533 and refused to repeal the Act of supremacy, suggesting some anti-papal feeling.
However parliament did pass an Act of Repeal in 1533 which undid the changes made by Edward and restored the religious situation to that of 1547 under the Act of Six Articles
No serious opposition when Mary used the Royal Prerogative to suspend the Second Act of Uniformity and restore mass
However there was some opposition- Wyatt's Rebellion 1554 shows displeasure with religious situation- could be a reaction towards a Spanish marriage which would make it easier to implement catholic changes
But Wyatt's Rebellion took place before Mary carried out many religious changes and before the persecution of protestants began- it appears to be more a reaction of fear at having a foreign prince married to Mary than religious changes.
1554 many protestants began to leave England. approx. 800 left.
Royal Injunction 1554 restoring trad. Catholic practices and deprivation (sacking) of married clergy had little opposition
1554 Parliament opposed restoration of heresy laws and didn't agree until Mary promised not to restore former monastic land to the church
However as many MPs had bought monastic land therefore the fact they used the issue of heresy laws to secure their land means they weren't necessarily opposed to the heresy laws
Second Act of Repeal 1554 undid all religious changes since 1529- but Mary had to compromise with land owners preventing a full scale restoration of Catholicism as monasteries couldn't be restored
Reactions to the Persecution
1555 Bishops Ridley and Latimer burnt, followed by Cranmer in 1556. The burning of Cranmer may have seemed necessary to Mary as he had been instrumental in the divorce, however it has been seen as a large error, as his courage and refusal to denounce his protestant beliefs didn't help the Catholic cause
The death of Gardiner in 1555 removed a restraining influence on Mary- he had initially encouraged the persecution of protestants believing it would intimidate them into submission. However he soon became aware that this was not working and might be hardening opposition. His death was followed by an increase in persecutions with 274 executions in the last 3 years if Mary's reign
Large crowds watched the burnings but little evidence of any conversions as a result. The prosecutions only occurred because victims had been reported and local authorities enforced the law, without support of local authorities burnings wouldn't have happened.
Most burnings in south east- more protestants here but also closer to London and therefore gov't. Gov't sent letters to JPs in south encouraging them to act against heretics- need for letters suggests that there was little enthusiasm for burnings and local authorities enforced law because of pressure from central gov't. However JPs had to be reminded of other duties eg. vagrancy laws so general reluctance to enforce law rather than specific reluctance to enforce persecutions.
How far did England become Catholic under Mary?
Mary had a good base of Catholicism to build on because Henry VIII left many Catholic practices in tact.
Many Catholic advances made by Cardinal Pole- driving force behind London Synod which tried to end pluralism and nepotism. Also planned for long-term revival of Catholic Church although not enough time for this to have an effect
In influencing laity gov't used a 2 pronged approach- tried to control protestant literature and attempted to be proactive themselves. However they were not very successful as protestant literature was smuggled into England and many prayer books from Edward's reign still existed meaning a protestant underground could be sustained
Evidence suggests that Catholic worship returned speedily in parishes, suggesting that changes were welcomed by many. Parishers gave large amounts on money to their church to restore traditional religion. Suggests that at a parish level the changes were popular
Many Catholic churches were in poor condition- doesn't mean there was dissatisfaction with Marian church because they had been neglected under Edward as no money was donated for their upkeep.
The most significant obstacle to the long-term revival of Catholicism was Mary's inability to produce an heir, and Elizabeth did not allow Catholicism to continue. However it took Elizabeth a long time to restore Protestantism suggesting Mary's religious policy was a success
Impact of the Burnings
Nearly 300 went to the stake, with most burnings in the south east, London, Canterbury and Colchester
John Foxe's work in his
Acts and Monuments
Book of Martyrs
) has contributed greatly to our understanding of Marian burnings
Burnings began Feb 1555 until just before Mary's death
Foxe suggests that there was considerable opposition to the regime, some have suggested that those who witnessed the burnings were so impressed by the religious dedication of those being burnt that they themselves converted.
Foxe's work must be treated with caution because he was in exile during Mary's reign so didn't actually witness burnings. Also his
Book of Martyrs
was written in Elizabeth's reign therefore opposition to Mary's Catholicism may have been over exaggerated to please the protestant Elizabeth