Even without the debate about the burnings, was this reign just an interlude in the history of a nation destined to be Protestant? Was the restoration of Catholicism in England doomed from the start—and not just because Mary and Cardinal Pole just didn’t have enough time? That is the harder question to answer....Share
The crucial issue for the success or failure of her reign was whether she had a Catholic heir to succeed her. Since she did not, Elizabeth succeeded to the throne and dismissed all of Pole’s bishops save one. As Elizabeth ignored her last will and testament, historians ignored Mary’s circumstances, forgot her efforts and achievements and she gained a nickname she might not deserve. But she and Cardinal Pole left a legacy beyond the fires of Smithfield: an underground counter-reformation Catholicism in England, supporting the faithful and ready for revival again—even if it had to wait almost 300 years.