- The term Marian exiles refers to about 800 Protestants who fled England during the reign of Mary I (1553-58). Mary's attempt to reimpose Roman Catholicism on the Church of England and the country included the arrest and execution of Protestant leaders. The majority of the exiles, mostly lay believers, settled in Germany at first, but they eventually gravitated to Holland and Switzerland (several hundred in Geneva alone). There they absorbed the ideas of John Calvin, whose Institutes of the Christian Religion had become the important statement of Reformed Church theology in both countries.Among the more important of the exiles was John Knox. After leaving Scotland, Knox settled in Frankfurt, Germany, as the chaplain to a group of British expatriates. When the community was taken over by Anglicans, he moved on to Geneva. While there, he wrote the "Brief Exhortation to England," an exposition in support of Calvin's perspective. With Elizabeth I firmly on the throne in 1559, he returned to Scotland to lead a Geneva-style Reformation. The Church of Scotland was transformed into a Presbyterian church.Peter Martyr Vermigli (1500-62) was another of the exiles. An italian previously exiled from his homeland and sought by the inquisition, vermigli had come to England at the request of Thomas Cranmer to teach at Oxford. After fleeing once again, Vermigli moved first to Strasbourg and then to Zurich. in 1561, he accompanied Theodore de Beza to the Colloquy of Poissey, one of several peaceful attempts to reconcile Protestant-Catholic differences in France.England could not ignore the returning exiles. Elizabeth, however, placed national unity as her most important goal. Her VIA MEDIA was an attempt to reconcile Reformed and Catholic practices so as to appeal to the broadest segments of the public. Her new Book of Common Prayer was an edited version of an earlier Protestant edition, but it dropped references that might seem to favor either Catholics or Protestants.The great majority of Elizabeth's subjects accepted the via media, which allowed much scope for interpretation, but many of the Marian exiles would accept nothing less than the pure Calvinist ideal. These people founded the British Presbyterian Church and became the bedrock of Puritanism, a broad movement that called for further purification of the Church of England. Their movement would enjoy its greatest success in the next century.Further reading:■ K. R. Bartlett, "The Role of the Marian Exiles," in P. W. Hassler, ed., The House of Commons, 1558-1603 (London: Her Majesty's Stationery Office, 1981)■ Dan G. Danner, Pilgrimage to Puritanism: History and Theology of the Marian Exiles (London: Peter Lang, 1999)■ C. H. Garrett, The Marian Exiles, 1553-1558 (Cambridge: Cambridge university Press, 1938).
Encyclopedia of Protestantism. Gordon Melton. 2005.
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