• Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

To what extent was the burnings of Protestants the real cause of the failure of Mary's religious policy?

Extracts from this document...


To what extent was the burnings of Protestants the real cause of the failure of Mary's religious policy? After Mary had taken the throne from Lady Jane Grey in 1553, she had, in her view, the task of returning the church to the state it had been in at the start of 1534. By the end of the year of her accession, Mary had re-implemented the heresy laws and by her death in November 1558, a minimum of 287 Protestants had died in the flames at Smithfield and elsewhere across the country. At the end of Mary's reign Protestantism was far from being suppressed, and upon the accession of Elizabeth, England once again swung to Protestantism. England would never be officially Catholic again. Although it can be argued that Catholicism was not a total failure under Mary, by her standards she had certainly not achieved what she had set out to do. She had wanted to re-establish a good relationship with the Papacy, and have a complete return to Catholicism proper. She had wanted to restore all Church lands, bring back the monasteries, and most importantly Catholic doctrine. Mary's religious policy was simple from the outset; to bring the return of Roman Catholicism to the country. This was no secret, as she had given up her title as Princess for her religion. She had also openly defied her brother, Edward VI, when he decreed that it was illegal to perform, and take part in the mass. Mary was eager to re-establish a relationship with the Pope, as well as bring back the old Catholic rituals, which has stood after the Act of Six Articles in 1547. These were a revival of the Mass, ritual worship, clerical celibacy, and implicitly the reaffirmation of the traditional doctrine of the Lord's supper. These were restored in an act of parliament in autumn 1553. Claire Cross concurs when she says that "Queen Mary made no attempt to hide her overriding desire to bring back the form of ...read more.


Jasper Ridley also points out the lengths that Foxe went to amend inaccuracies pointed out to him by Catholics and neutrals alike.16 From the evidence above, it would seem that the burnings were having a large influence on the people of England, and at first glance, would appear to be the cause of the failure of Mary's religious policy. There were, however, other factors, which may have limited Mary's success, one of which may have been her marriage to Philip II of Spain. Mary had planned a marriage alliance with Spain, which had been arranged by Charles V and Mary herself. Charles himself was too old at the time to marry Mary himself, so he gave her his son, Philip. This was not a popular move in England, which seems to have culminated in Wyatt's rising in January 1554. The lack of popularity of the marriage is shown well, when on the 16th of November 1553, a parliamentary delegation asked Mary not to wed a foreigner. David Starkey describes public opinion towards the marriage; "...the reaction [to news of the marriage] was uniformly hostile. The lower orders in England hated all foreigners and foreign ways". It appears that a national opposition to Philip sprang from anti-papal xenophobia linked, via English commercial connections, to German and Flemish fears of 'Spanish tyranny.' This is backed up from a paper, which quotes William Isley to have said "...the Spanyards was commyynge into the realme wt harnes and handgonnes, and would make us Inglish men wondrous...vile...."17 Also, a special oath of allegiance had been administered amongst the royal troops, which included an oath of allegiance to Philip II. When the soldiers came into contact with Wyatt and his men crying, "we are Englishmen!" all but a handful defected to Wyatt's cause. This suggests that anti-Spanish feeling was strong enough to break a royal oath and defect, rather than fight a small band of 4000 men. ...read more.


only one man was opposed, and was "a man who enjoys no support."27 We cannot tell however, how many Protestants were uncovered and nation-wide public feeling towards Catholicism is not officially recorded. In conclusion, it seems that there are some very mixed views about the effect that the burnings had on the English people, and how they affected Mary's religious policy. The burnings, coupled with some other Catholic blunders may have led to an overall failure of a policy that probably should have been achieved fairly easily. The numbers of Catholics were evident in the1549 risings, and popular support for risings in Mary's reign was not great. However, Mary still managed not to achieve what she had set out to do. This could be put down to an overall shift in opinion due to the burnings. It could be said however, that Mary's lack of time played a great part in the ultimate lack of success. If this were the case, then it could be argued that Mary's religious policy was not a failure at all, but simply incomplete. After all, she had implemented the reinsertion of the monasteries, and performed a total return to Catholic doctrine. The problem of time is emphasised by the fact that Mary was not able to replace the bishops that had been in place under Edward until November 1556. Perhaps if Mary had had more time then she would have been able to complete her transition. Also her lack of an heir to carry on her work was a major downfall. Overall then I think that the question is still left open to interpretation, although I would have to say that I so think that Mary's burnings must have had an effect, and the evidence supports that there was an effect to some extent. I also agree however, that time played an important role, and the true religion would have been fully implemented, and would have lasted, had Mary had more time on the throne, and an heir. ...read more.

The above preview is unformatted text

This student written piece of work is one of many that can be found in our AS and A Level British History: Monarchy & Politics section.

Found what you're looking for?

  • Start learning 29% faster today
  • 150,000+ documents available
  • Just £6.99 a month

Not the one? Search for your essay title...
  • Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

See related essaysSee related essays

Related AS and A Level British History: Monarchy & Politics essays

  1. What was the most significant cause of civil strife in England from 1455-61?

    over mighty nobles that caused his downfall, more Henry's inability to control them. This only became a problem due to Henry's weaknesses as a King; he allowed one faction to dominate another and failed to restrain the surging ambitions of the nobility.

  2. Using all the sources, and your own knowledge, assess the extent to which Marys ...

    Mary's religious policies also faced many other difficulties due to events during Henry and Edward's reign. The monasteries and chantries had been dissolved and much of the land sold to gentry. These were impossible to be restored again as much of the wealth gained by the crown from the dissolutions

  1. To what extent was Mary I successful in her attempt to re-impose Catholicism in ...

    of sacrament and divine services should be as they had been in the last years of Henry VIII's reign. Many reforming bishops had been arrested before the parliamentary session began; this helped remove possible opposition from the House of Lords. Therefore, the new Uniformity Act was passed easily and quickly.

  2. To what extent was Mary, Queen of Scots the major cause of instability in ...

    Elizabeth's Protestant councillors did not want that, as it may have resulted in a civil war. The majority of English people were Catholic and Elizabeth was not sure they would follow her if Mary were named heir. Furthermore, Elizabeth did not want political focus to shift from herself to her successor.

  1. England was a Protestant country by 1553. To what extent do you agree ...

    All these new changes suggest that on a small-scale level people, Protestantism was already becoming a way of religious life and that England was becoming a Protestant country, as there was nothing they could do but accept the changes. However, it may be that not everyone did accept the changes,

  2. Does Alexander II deserve the title of 'Tsar liberator'?

    The people that the reforming Tsar had originally set out to help, the peasants, were now being excluded from the reforms which would have had most impact on their lives and the social organisation of Russia. The military reforms introduced by Alexander were marginally more successful, in terms of having

  1. The Reformation was the intellectual movement in Western Europe in the 16th century which ...

    Luther was born in Eisleben on November 10th, 1483, into peasantry with his father Hans Luther, as a copper miner. He received his education at Mansfeld, Magedeburg, and Eisenach before enrolling at the University of Erfurt in 1501, where he received a master's degree in law in 1505.

  2. Economic and social issues were the main cause of Tudor Rebellion in Tudor England. ...

    Contrastingly, Pilgrimage of Grace (1536) and Western Rebellion (1549) showed that the economic and social issues were simply a contributory cause. The Pilgrimage of Grace rebellion was caused by one of the item in the 1536 Pontefract article because of enclosures while Western was about the rack-renting and sheep tax.

  • Over 160,000 pieces
    of student written work
  • Annotated by
    experienced teachers
  • Ideas and feedback to
    improve your own work