Saturday, February 7, 2015

Mary I and Religion

From author Conor Byrne:
Contrary to the popular legend of Queen Mary as a bloodthirsty and tyrannical monarch who forced the unpopular Catholic religion upon her unwilling subjects, she initially demonstrated, in the words of Ann Weikel, 'flexibility and political sensitivity'. The Catholic religion was not immediately reintroduced until several months into the queen's reign. Mary may have been unsure of her subjects' attitudes and clearly desired to proceed carefully and hesitantly in so delicate and controversial a matter. On 18 August 1553, the queen issued a proclamation promising that she would not coerce any of her subjects into practising Catholicism until parliament was called, an announcement which mirrored Queen Elizabeth I's promise not to 'open windows into men's souls'. Mary faced a dilemma, however. The situation in England, both religious and political, was not the same as it had been in her youth, over twenty years earlier, when Roman Catholicism was still the state's religion as it had been for hundreds of years. The dissolution of the monasteries in the reign of her father, Henry VIII, had profited the upper and middle orders, who understandably were reluctant to renounce the wealth they had acquired from dissolved abbeys and religious houses. The queen was cautioned by Bishop Gardiner that enforcing the restoration of church lands would fatally undermine the Catholic cause, and wisely she chose not to follow that path. In October, the reforms of Edward's reign were repealed during the first session of Mary's parliament. The queen legislated that her parents' marriage had been good and lawful, and rejected the Supremacy of the Church. On 30 November 1554, England was absolved by Cardinal Pole, and two months later, the Royal Supremacy was formally repealed. Leading Protestant churchmen, including Archbishop Thomas Cranmer, John Bradford, John Rogers, John Hooper and Hugh Latimer were imprisoned. Mary disliked Cranmer, in particular, for she held him responsible for the annulment of her parents' marriage. (Read more.)

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