Queen Mary's Restoration of Catholicism- a Failure

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“.....as were to be seen in the reign of this queen Mary, whether we behold the shortness of her time or the unfortunate event of all her purposes....”

The unforgettable regnant Queen Mary of England and Ireland did attempt to restore the Catholic faith during her short reign of July 6th 1553 to 17th November 1558, albeit failed at this mission. She is not remembered for her colourful reign with cacophony sounding triumphs nor peaceful approaches to English society. In fact she is established in history as ‘Bloody Mary’, a callous character, who viciously burned Protestants; their flesh scents pouring into the streets of England and lucent cries hauntingly echoing. Her legacy is remembered by many as a failure to restore Catholicism during her reign. Her failed attempt of restoring the Catholic faith can be highlighted in seven main reasons which will be accounted for in detail.

Indeed, Queen Mary’s attempted restoration of Catholicism did prove to be a failure for many reasons. Firstly, she had succeeded her half-brother Edward VI, who governed England under a Protestant regime. Edward had introduced extreme changes to the Church that dramatically transformed the religion to a purely Protestantism doctrine. This was to prove difficult to reverse to a Catholic country. Secondly, Mary as first Queen of England and Ireland (debated whether Lady Jane Grey was) had to make a powerful approach to the throne. She was burdened with the position of being the illegitimate daughter of Henry VIII’s. The fear of being ridiculed by the public stood tall and Protestants infiltrated into England from Edwards contradicting reign. Thirdly, Mary during her reign of course re-introduced England under Catholicism yet, in doing so England had much more consequences at hand. These consequences majorly filled the position of radical movements such as the traumatic ‘Marian Persecutions’ which profoundly scared the Protestant followers and climaxed opposition towards her. Fourthly, Queen Mary married Prince Philip II of Spain and Portugal which was widely criticised and publically denounced. This subsequently led to the fifth reason which proved Queen Marys attempted restoration of Catholicism to be a failure. In war, allied with Spain, England lost Calais (in France). A sixth reason of failure emerges due to the fact that Queen Mary was unable to produce an heir to take over her title. Lastly, her short lived reign was abruptly caused by her untimely death in November 1558. These points will be explored more specifically.

To expand the first point much is to be added. After Mary Tudor was born to Henry VIII and Catherine of Aragon into a Roman Catholic religion in 1516, Henry had their marriage annulled by Thomas Cranmer just over a decade of Mary’s birth. Thus, this left Mary with the handicap of being an illegitimate daughter. It was after Henry’s third wife Jane Seymour (the second being Anne Boleyn) a son, Edward VI was born in 1537. This birth of a male heir dramatically and immediately impacted Mary’s entire life. Edward was to have a major effect on Mary’ position as he dominated the throne from birth. After Henry’s death in 1547 Edward fulfilled this position at the young of age of nine. As Edward had been educated by Protestant tutors due to his father break with the Roman Catholic Church with his subsequent title Supreme Head of the Church of England and Ireland; it meant that he was an actively practising Protestant and his uncle Edward Seymour strongly encouraged reform in the Church. The first attack was that of the dissolution of the Chantries, this omitted the belief of purgatory. In 1549 he announced that priests could marry. By 1552 Edward had made a series of dramatic changes that were quickly crumbling Mary’s beliefs. Edward had introduced the Book of Common Prayer that included; the abolition of stone altars with simple wooden tables and the Mass was replaced with the consubstantiation Holy Communion....
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