History of England, Part II From the Accession of Henry VIII to the Revolution of 1689

Tout, T. F. --Powell, F. York


CHAPTER IV. Mary and the Romanist Reaction (1553-1558).


1. Though only thirty-seven, the new queen was prematurely aged by weak health, and soured by her miserable [1]  girlhood. She was of low stature, thin, and delicate, with grave and sedate looks, and plain features, though her piercing eye commanded respect, and her deep-toned masculine voice could speak eloquently and strongly. She had good abilities, and had been well educated, knowing three languages, and delighting in music. Her kindness and charity made her beloved by her servants and intimates. Though the fierce Tudor will and temper flamed up from time to time, she had learnt by adversity to keep them under strict control. Friendless as she had been, she had ever remained true to her mother's memory, and was proud of her Spanish descent and kinship to the Emperor, no less than of her unblemished orthodoxy and


ardent devotion to the ancient faith. She was known to be utterly opposed to the policy of her brother's ministers, and in welcoming her as queen, Englishmen hoped to get rid of the self-seekers and innovators, who had brought the realm so low.

2. The first acts of Mary gave general satisfaction. The prisons were opened, and old Norfolk, Gardiner, Bonner, and the other victims of Protestant policy were [2]  restored to their dignities. A new Council was set up which contained few of Edward's advisers, and Gardiner was made Chancellor. A very few victims atoned for the attempt to uphold Jane Dudley. Though Lady Jane and her husband were condemned to death, there was no thought of carrying out the sentence. Her father, Suffolk, was released, through Mary's affection for her mother; and only Northumberland, with two of his subordinate agents, was put to death. On the scaffold, Northumberland avowed himself a Catholic, and set down all the misfortunes of England to the breach with Rome. The Protestant bishops were deprived, imprisoned, or driven beyond sea, and foreign Protestants were ordered out of the realm. Parliament soon met, declared Mary Henry's lawful daughter, repealed .'s Acts concerning religion, and brought back the Six Articles, the Mass, and the unmarried clergy, leaving the Church as it had been at the death of . For more than a year, no further religious changes were effected. Mary even assumed her father's title of Supreme Head of the Church. Most Englishmen were well content with the queen's restoration of .'s middle way, but Mary was by no means satisfied with it. The daughter of Catharine of Aragon as little loved the system of her father, built up, as it was, on her mother's shame, as she loved the innovations of her brother. Her ardent wish was to have things as they had been before her mother's marriage was questioned. Politically she was anxious to restore the imperial alliance. Ecclesiastically, she was eager to have back the Pope and the monks. Both her desires met with strong opposition, but ultimately her fierce persistency almost realised her objects.

3. Parliament strongly urged the queen to marry an English nobleman, but there was no one [3]  who seemed suitable, and ., who had always befriended his cousin in her days of trouble, offered her as a husband his son, Philip,


Prince of , who was eleven years her junior, and a widower. To many of the Council, including Gardiner, the proposal seemed a dangerous one. The pair were personally ill matched, and as .'s health was already broken, Philip was likely soon to inherit most of his dominions. Though he had a son by his former marriage, English patriotism, remembering that lucky marriages had built up the dominions of ., revolted at the possibility, if the little Don Carlos were to die, of England being absorbed in the Spanish Empire. Even an alliance with was no longer looked upon with much favour, despite the ancient ties that bound the two countries. Moreover Philip was already famous for his uncompromising zeal for Catholicism, and a union with him could hardly be effected on terms that left .'s legislation standing. All these reasons only made Mary the more anxious to complete a match, which would at one stroke realise all her ambitions. She answered Parliament that it had no right to limit her choice of a husband, and at once began negotiations for her marriage with Philip. In January the marriage treaty was drawn up. Husband and wife were to assume each other's titles, but careful provision was made that England should be separate and independent from , that none but Englishmen should hold office in England, and that England should not be dragged into the war, which Charles had been waging against since .

4. Three popular revolts followed the announcement of the treaty and showed how much the marriage was hated. [5]  Suffolk, forgetful of what he owed to Mary's mercy, strove to raise the Midlands, while Sir Peter Carew stirred up his native Devonshire, and Sir Thomas Wyatt, a gallant young Kentish gentleman, son of Wyatt the poet, started an insurrection in Kent and Sussex. Suffolk was easily defeated and taken prisoner; Carew fled to France without accomplishing anything, and Wyatt's rebellion alone proved formidable. Fifteen thousand turbulent Kentishmen followed him on his march to London, and occupied Southwark. There was a panic in the City, but the queen went down to the Guildhall and filled the Londoners with courage by her timely and courageous eloquence. Meanwhile Wyatt, abandoning Southwark, crossed the Thames at Kingston and hurried to London from the west. As soon as he got among the


houses, he was overpowered and captured. The queen dealt with this second rising more sternly than with the first. Not only were Suffolk and Wyatt and other actual rebels executed, but Lady Jane and Lord Guildford were also put to death under the old sentence. Gardiner urged that the Lady , whose claims the rebels had been thought to favour, should incur the same fate. She was imprisoned in the Tower, but Mary could not bring herself to lay hands upon her sister, and Wyatt with his dying breath declared that she had had no knowledge of the conspiracy. A little later Parliament gave a grudging approval of the marriage treaty, though it was not until July that the sluggish Philip came to England and was married to Mary by Bishop Gardiner in Winchester Cathedral. Philip prudently kept aloof from English politics, following the shrewd advice of Renard, his father's ambassador. He persuaded his wife to set free her sister , who was now again received into the queen's favour. With great wisdom henceforth kept on fair terms with her sister, zealously attending Mass, and scrupulously keeping herself free from suspicion of disloyalty.

5. Mary had now accomplished half her purpose, and immediately set about carrying out the reconciliation with Rome. She had to contend against the [6]  active hostility of some and the indifference of most of her councillors. Gardiner, her chief adviser, had won his reputation by defending the Royal Supremacy, but the experience of Edward's reign led him to think that .'s middle way was impossible, and that there was no choice save between the Pope and the extreme Protestants. As he had always fought against the latter, he had now no scruple in going back to his allegiance to the former. Love of money, not religious principle,long delayed the papal restoration. The lay nobles, who had been enriched with the spoils of the Church, were hard to win over, especially as it was known that the queen was as anxious to restore Church property to its ancient owners as she was to bring back the Pope. Even the Emperor and the Pope were reluctant to hurry the English into an unwilling restoration of the Papacy; and few shared Mary's impatience at the long delay except her cousin, Cardinal Pole, who had for nearly twenty years represented uncompromising hostility to the Anglican Reformation at the Roman court, and had since her accession been vainly


trying to effect an entrance into the country as papal legate. At last it was seen that the Pope could be restored only if the monasteries were frankly abandoned to their lay owners. The Pope promised not to insist upon the restitution of Church lands, and all difficulties were removed. In November Parliament met at . The sheriffs had been exhorted to return members of " a wise, grave, and Catholic sort," and the result showed that the art of managing elections was already well understood. Parliament repealed .'s legislation against Rome, revived the ancient laws against heresy, and declared unlawful the title of Supreme Head of the Church, which Mary had borne for nearly two years. One of its first acts was to reverse the Act of Attainder, which in Henry's time had been passed against Cardinal Pole. The legate now arrived in London, and was rowed up to in a barge of state, at whose prow glittered a great silver cross, the emblem of his office. Mary welcomed him with the utmost warmth. "The day I ascended the throne," she declared, "I did not feel such joy." A few days later, Pole solemnly absolved England from the guilt of schism and pronounced its restoration to Catholic unity. After eighteen months of hard struggle, Mary had undone the work of her father, almost as completely as she had upset that of her brother. Public opinion, if not enthusiastic, did not oppose the change. There had been revolts against the Spanish marriage. There were none against the reconciliation with the Papacy.

6. Now that the ancient Church had been fully restored, there still remained the question of how to deal with those [8]  who obstinately refused to accept the Marian reaction. These were comparatively few in number. The rule of Somerset and Northumberland had in no wise made the English nation Protestant; but there were many zealous reforming clergy, and in the southern and eastern parts of the country they had a considerable following. It was against all the traditions of the time that these should be allowed to worship after their own way. Everybody agreed that to tolerate error was both a sin and a mistake, and it was looked upon as something like rebellion for a subject to presumptuously reject the religion of the state. . had burnt Protestants and hung Papists. . had burnt Anabaptists and shut up Romanists in prison. Calvin was equally intolerant, and . was busily


engaged in stamping out heresy in the Netherlands. It was inevitable then that those who refused to accept Mary's changes should be persecuted, and it is unfair to regard Mary and her ministers as specially blameworthy for doing, a little more energetically than usual, what all parties agreed that it was right to do. Early in 555 Pole set up a commission to try heretics, and on 2nd February John Rogers, a prebendary of St Paul's, who had taken a prominent part in translating the Bible into English, was the first martyr. Others rapidly followed. [9]  Bishop Hooper of Gloucester and Worcester, had opposed the rash attempt to set aside Mary, but had, early in the new reign, been thrown into prison, and had been used "worse and more vilely than the veriest slave." He was now deprived of his bishopric, and condemned as a heretic. To make a more public example, he was sent down to Gloucester, and burnt on 9th February, in the very town where he had upheld extreme Protestantism. A less prominent bishop suffered in March in Bishop Ferrar of St David's, who, for similar reasons, was burnt at Carmarthen, the chief town of his diocese. Before the end of the year nearly one hundred Protestants had been horribly slaughtered.

Among the chief of the victims were Latimer, Ridley, and Cranmer. Latimer was now an old and "sore bruised man," and he had carefully kept free from the [10]  snares of Northumberland, living now in the country, but still rising at two in the morning to study, and preaching twice every Sunday. He was summoned to London, but every chance was given him to escape, as many others had escaped, to the Continent. The old hero scorned to flee, and cheerfully went up to London for his doom. Ridley and Cranmer were in a worse plight, being both deeply implicated in the Northumberland conspiracy. But it was thought better to wait and try them as heretics, than to hurry them to a swifter doom as traitors. In , Latimer, Ridley, and Cranmer were all sent to Oxford, to dispute with Catholic divines on the doctrine of the Mass. Latimer declared that he was "no better able to discuss theology than to be Captain of Calais, but that he had read over the New Testament many times without finding the Mass in it, nor yet the marrow-bones and sinews thereof." After a stormy discussion, they were all adjudged heretics; but long delays now followed, and it was not till


that a commission of bishops went to Oxford to deal finally with them. After more disputations, Ridley and Latimer were sentenced on 1st October, and on 16th October were taken out to die on the north side of the town, "in the ditch over against Balliol College." Both refused to recant, and were fastened to the stake by an iron chain, while Ridley's brother was mercifully allowed to hang bags of gunpowder round their necks to shorten their sufferings. As the faggots were lighting, old Latimer cried, " Be of good comfort, Master Ridley; we shall this day light such a candle, by God's grace, in England as I trust shall never be put out." He died with little pain, but Ridley suffered terrible torments.

Cranmer still remained. There were legal difficulties in dealing with him, as he had been consecrated before the [12]  schism began, and had duly received his pallium from the Pope. He was therefore summoned to answer for heresy at Rome, but the Pope appointed a commissioner to try him in England. This involved long delays. It was months after he had witnessed from his prison Ridley and Latimer going to their doom, before his turn came for judgment. However, he was condemned at Rome, and, after his deprivation, the Pope appointed Pole Archbishop of Canterbury by papal provision. On 12th February Cranmer was solemnly degraded from his orders, and after his priestly garb had been torn from him, he was clad in a poor yeoman's gown, and handed over to the secular arm. He was now plied with arguments and entreaties to recant. He was nearly seventy, and "sore broken in studies." He had never been a man of strong character, and his views had shifted so often, that he might well have been still perplexed with doubts. Moreover he had firmly believed in the Royal Supremacy, and now the Supreme Head of the Church had chosen to acknowledge the jurisdiction of the Pope. At last he was persuaded to recant. His cruel enemies made him drink the cup of humiliation to the dregs. He was forced to sign no less than seven forms of abjuration, in one of which he abjectly compared himself to the penitent thief on the cross. But his weakness could not save his life, for there was no mercy for the man who had divorced Catharine of Aragon and bastardised her daughter. Despite his recantations, on 21st March he was doomed to die. Before the execution a sermon was preached over


him in the University Church, and at the end he was called upon to read his abjurations. But he had won back his courage in the presence of death. After a few indifferent remarks, he addressed himself to the purpose. "I come," he said, "to the great thing which so much troubleth my conscience. I renounce and refuse all such bills and papers as I have written or signed with my hand since my degradation, wherein I have written many things untrue. And as my hand offended, my hand therefore shall first be punished, and shall be first burnt." Amidst general astonishment he was hurried from the church to the stake. When the wood was kindled, he plunged his right hand into the flame, exclaiming, "This hand hath offended." His courageous end did much to redeem the weakness of his life.

Gardiner died in , but Pole and Bonner kept up the persecution. Before Mary's death there had been two hundred and eighty-six victims in less than four years. The martyrs were either clergymen or poor and humble folk, and practically all came from a small corner of the country. In the North, in , and in the South-west there were no Protestants to burn. Four dioceses contributed nearly all the sufferers. From Bonner's diocese of London (, , Herts) came nearly half. Next in the order of victims was Pole's diocese of Canterbury, including most of Kent. Norwich (Norfolk and part of ), and Chichester (Sussex) were the only other dioceses where victims were numerous, though in fourteen other sees there were a small number of deaths, ranging from seven to one. The limitation of the persecution to so short a time and so small an area, made it the more severe; and callous as was the Englishman of the sixteenth century, sympathy with the martyrs did more to set up a Protestant party in England, than all the preaching of Ridley or the laws of Somerset and Northumberland. As usual persecution overshot the mark.

7. Already, perhaps, conscious that the persecution was a failure, Mary feverishly strove to win back for her Church its old place in her subjects' hearts. She per- [13]  suaded her reluctant Parliament to restore First Fruits to the Pope, and strove in vain to rekindle the old love of the monastic life. Despite her crippled finances, she reopened several religious houses, including the royal foundation of St. Peter's, , where the shrine of St. Edward was again pieced together and brought back to


its proud place behind the high altar. Few of her subjects followed her example, and her zeal only excited suspicion and mistrust. The home government of Mary was little more efficient than that of her brother, and the House of Commons turned restive for the first time since the Tudors became sovereigns. There were several threatened risings. The most formidable was that of Thomas Stafford, a grandson of Buckingham, who seized Scarborough Castle, with French help, and declared himself Protector of England, but was taken and executed. Protestant refugees of the bolder sort got ships from and turned to piracy, plundering the English coasts. Moreover, Mary's health was giving way, and her domestic life was very unhappy. Save Pole, she had no real friend; and Philip, her husband, had left her in the autumn of , and neglected her utterly for nearly two years. In he came back to England, and again pretended affection, in the hope of persuading her to break the marriage treaty, by helping him in his wars against.

8. Between and another great struggle was fought between and the Empire, in which Henry II. [15]  joined the German Protestants in defeating .'s policy in , and combined with Pope Paul IV. to overturn his domina tion in Italy. Both parties looked for the help of England, and so early as the French had wished well to Lady Jane Grey because the Emperor supported Queen Mary. ., crippled with gout and weary at the failure of his schemes, now made up his mind to abdicate. He had lost all hope of upholding the unity of his dominions, and was forced to yield up his German possessions with the prospect of the imperial succession to his brother Ferdinand, King of Hungary and Bohemia, and the founder of the junior or Austrian branch of the house of Hapsburg. In Charles surrendered all his other dominions to Philip, who thus became King of and the Indies, King of Naples, Duke of Milan, Lord of the Seventeen Provinces of the Netherlands and of the Free County of Burgundy. Despite the loss of the Empire Philip II. was still the chief prince of Europe, and he resolved to make a great effort to end the languishing war.

In Mary was persuaded to declare war against , but the English took little part in the struggle, which Philip was able to bring to a triumphant close without them. I n the great victory of St. Quentin laid


France at his feet, while his generals fought Pope Paul IV., who, at the head of an Italian alliance, was seeking to restore the French power in Italy. England was made the scapegoat of Philip's successes. In the dead of winter Francis, Duke of Guise, the best French general, suddenly swooped on Calais, whose tottering walls and scanty garrison were quite unprepared to resist a siege. On 6th January [16] , Calais was stormed, and a few days later the fall of Guisnes completed the loss of the last lands held in by the English crown, the last survival of the glories of the Hundred Years' War. MeanwhilePaulIV. and the Italian princes were utterly beaten, and Philip became master of Italy as much as his father had ever been. The furious old Pope revenged his defeat at the hands of by turning savagely on Cardinal Pole, and depriving him of his position as papal legate, on the ground of his having once held views about justification by faith not unlike those of Luther. By a strange irony, the man who had devoted his life to the papal cause ended it under the frown of the Pope.

9. Mary keenly felt the failure of her policy at home and abroad. She had lost Calais; she had made herself hated by her subjects; she had burnt the Protestants, and yet she was on bad terms with the Pope. She was racked by a mortal malady. More than all she felt her husband's coldness and cruelty. Yet sad as was her plight, she never lost her courage. "The queen," wrote Philip's [17]  ambassador, "does all she can; her will is good, and her heart is stout, but everything else is wrong." In the autumn of she was dying of dropsy. She made her will, leaving what money she had to the monks and friars, and magnanimously devoting her last moments to securing the succession of her sister. On 17th November she died and was buried, not in her robes of state, but in the garb of a nun. " When I am dead," she said to one of her ladies, "you shall find Calais lying upon my heart." Next day Cardinal Pole followed her to the grave. Both were pious and well-meaning enthusiasts, and both died conscious that their life's work had been a failure.




[1] Character of Queen Mary.

[2] The Restoration of the System of Henry VIII.,1553-1554

[3] The Spanish MarriageTreaty, January1554.

[4] [1554--1554.]

[5] The Wyatt Rebellion, Jan-Feb, and the Spanish Marriage, 25thJuly, 1554.

[6] The Reconciliation with Rome, Nov.1554.

[7] [1554--1555.]

[8] The Marian Persecution,1555-1558.

[9] Martyrdom ofHooper, 9th Feb.1555

[10] Martyrdom of Ridley and Latimer,16th Oct1555

[11] [1555--1556.]

[12] Martyrdom of Cranmer, 21st March,1556.

[13] Mary's Misfortunes.

[14] [1557--1558.]

[15] War withFrance,1557-1559.

[16] Loss of Calais,1558.

[17] Death of Mary and Pole,17th and 18th Nov.1558

[18] [1558--1603.]