Mary I, queen of England

( 1516 - 15 58 )
   champion of Roman Catholicism in England
   Daughter of Henry VIII and ruler of England for five tumultuous years (1553-58), Mary I was born on February 18, 1516. She was the only surviving offspring of Henry's brief marriage to Catherine of Aragon. While Henry awaited the birth of a son, Mary was generally recognized as the heir to the throne. However, once Henry moved to divorce Catherine, Mary also fell from his favor, although she enjoyed a brief respite after Catherine's death in 1536, when she signed a statement renouncing her Catholic allegiances.
   In Henry's final will, she was named as second in succession to her half brother Edward VI (r. 1547-53). Following her father's death, she lived quietly away from London, though she defied the new Protestant governing council and continued to celebrate the Roman Catholic Mass in her home. The issue did not prevent her occasional formal visits to Edward.
   Following Edward's death on July 6, 1553, Mary rallied her supporters and was acknowledged the new queen on July 19. Among her first actions, she executed Northumberland, Lord President of the Council, for his plot to enthrone Lady Jane Grey.
   Step by step, Mary began reversing the religious changes of her father and her brother. She restored several Catholic bishops to their posts and removed the most outspoken Protestant ones. A few, including Nicolas Ridley, Miles Coverdale, Hugh Latimer, John Hooper, and Thomas Cran-mer, were arrested.
   Following her coronation, Reginald Pole was named papal legate to deal with the problems of the country's formal excommunication. Parliament quickly reinstituted the Mass and repealed a spectrum of Protestant laws.
   Mary decided to marry Philip of Spain, and she moved against those who had gone into open rebellion. The leaders of the revolt were executed and with them Lady Jane Grey. Whether Mary's half sister, Elizabeth I, was implicated has never been made clear, but mercy was shown to her as well as to many others. On November 30, 1554, in a ceremony during which Mary, Philip, and all the members of Parliament knelt before him, Pole absolved England of its past anti-Roman actions. Over the next weeks, Parliament formally repealed the remaining anti-Roman laws, and Roman Catholicism once again became the dominant practice throughout the country.
   Beginning in 1555, Mary turned on the Protestant leadership. In the remainder of her reign some 277 persons were burned at the stake for heresy, prominent among them Cranmer, Latimer, Hooper, and Ridley (Coverdale having escaped to the Continent). Mary might have succeeded in permanently returning England to the Catholic fold, were it not for her chronic dropsy (edema). She died on November 17, 1558. She was succeeded by her half sister, Elizabeth, who quickly asserted her own supremacy over the church and created what became Anglicanism.
   The Marian exiles, those Protestants who had fled Mary's wrath, returned to England following her death, and helped vilify her memory. She was later remembered throughout the English-speaking world as "Bloody Mary." The Protestant case against her was documented in the famous Foxe's Book of Martyrs (1563).
   See also United Kingdom.
   Further reading:
   ■ C. S. Knighton, Calendar of State Papers, Domestic Series Mary I, 1553-1558 (London: Public Record Office, 1998)
   ■ Theodore Maynard, Bloody Mary (Milwaukee, Wis.: Bruce Publishing, 1955)
   ■ H. F. Prescott, Mary Tudor (New York: Macmillan, 1953).

Encyclopedia of Protestantism. . 2005.

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