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Mary Tudor and Elizabeth I as Maniacal Prosecutors of Protestant Christianity
The Reign of Mary Tudor
Mary Tudor or Mary I was the Queen of England and Ireland from 1553 July until her death (Loades 23). Mary Tudor is known for her attempt to create an aggressive reversal of the English transformation. The transformation had started during the reign of King Henry VIII who was Mary’s father. The bold attempt to reverse the transformation was characterized by the execution and persecution of the Protestant Christians in a bid to restore the Roman Catholicism in Ireland and England. The Protestant opponents to the queen denunciated her as ‘Bloody Mary’ because of the execution (Coffey 96).
The reign of Mary Tudor saw leading Protestants such as John Bradford, John Hooper, and John Rogers being imprisoned (Loades 78). The first parliament that was assembled after taking over the monarchy validated Mary’s parents’ marriage and abolished the religious laws that had been established by King Edward. Restoration of the church doctrine that was characterized by the Six Articles of 1539 which promoted celibacy among the clerics leading to the deprival of benefices for the married priests.
Throughout her adult life, Mary Tudor had objected the break-up with Rome and Protestantism that was initiated by her father. Parliament was persuaded to repeal the religious laws established by King Henry that resulted in the return of the Church of England to Roman jurisdiction. Mary Tudor revived the Heresy Acts which resulted in the persecution and execution of many Protestants in what was known as the Marian Persecutions (Coffey 103). During this period, most Protestants chose exile instead of rejoining the Catholic faith. Some of the Protestants who refused to rejoin the Catholic faith such as Bishop Latimer and Ridley were burned at stake. (Loades 89)
Mary’s reign was characterized by a consistently wet climate that resulted in famine due to the persistent rain and flooding. The Antwerp Cloth Trade declined since England did not benefit from the lucrative trade from Spain despite Mary’s marriage to Philip who was a member of the Spanish Royalty.
The Reign of Elizabeth I
Elizabeth I is traditionally considered to be one of the greatest monarchs of England. Elizabeth I was the Queen of England from November 1558 after the death of Mary Tudor. After Mary Tudor’s death, Elizabeth set out to govern the kingdom through good counsel and depended on a group of advisers such as William Cecil the first Baron Burghley (Elizabeth and Stephen 35). Elizabeth’s first action after being sworn into the throne was to establish the English Protestant Church where she was made the Supreme Governor. The religious settlement initiated by Elizabeth I led to the evolution of the Church of England. During the reign of Mary Tudor, Elizabeth I had been imprisoned for almost a year because Mary Tudor suspected Elizabeth I was supporting the Protestant rebels (Elizabeth and Stephen 67).
Being a Protestant, Elizabeth kept some of the Catholic symbols such as the crucifix and defied the Protestant belief on the role of sermons (Clancy 102). During her rule, Elizabeth favored pragmatism when dealing with issues affecting religion. Catholic crusade was perceived to be a threat against heretical England hence Elizabeth utilized a Protestant solution that was not offensive to the Catholics but addressed the needs of the Protestants in England and Ireland. Despite Elizabeth’s support for Protestantism, she did not tolerate the radical Puritans who were advocating for far-reaching reforms in the Kingdom’s religious policies. The demands for sweeping changes by the Puritans led to the legislation of a church that would be based on the Protestant settlement previously initiated by Edward VI. The protestant agreement stated that the church would be headed by the monarch and would have several Catholic elements such as vestments.
Elizabeth I defensively handled foreign policy except for the English invasion and occupation of Le Havre in 1562. Elizabeth I only pursued aggressive policies due to the activities of the fleet. After the defeat in 1588 at the Spanish Armada, Elizabeth’s reign was filled with challenges such as conflict with Spain, the heavy tax burden, the cost of war, and poor harvests. During this period, Elizabeth intensified the repression of Catholics and authorized the interrogation and monitoring of Catholic households. Elizabeth relied upon propaganda and internal spies while trying to maintain the illusion of prosperity and peace. Due to the propaganda, Elizabeth viewed all Roman Catholics as potential traitors which resulted in the series of measures against the religion from 1570 (Clancy 129). Catholic judges were excluded from power and sheltering of the priests became risky and increasingly dangerous. During her reign, there was an increase in literacy and significant achievements in the field of art. (Elizabeth and Stephen 127)
Comparing Mary Tudor’s and Elizabeth’s I Persecution of Political or Religious Opponents
Mary Tudor supported the Roman Catholic Church while Elizabeth I was a Protestant. During Mary Tudor’s reign, Protestants were persecuted and executed while most of them choosing to flee to other Protestant states in Europe. Elizabeth was educated and believed in Protestantism, and after her accession to power, she reversed the religious changes and policies that had been enacted by Mary Tudor. During her early years on the reign, Elizabeth utilized a cautious approach to the issues affecting religion since she did not want to provoke any resistance and negative response. The formula or strategy used by Elizabeth sought to ensure that the Catholics remained loyal to the Queen while being discrete in their religious practices.
Elizabeth’s authority was tested in 1569 by a revolution led by the Earls who were Catholic. The Earls involved were Charles, Earl of Westmoreland and Thomas, Earl of Northumberland. In 1570, the Papal Bull was issued, and it described Elizabeth as heretic and wicked which resulted to Elizabeth’s view of the Catholics as a threat. One of the chief advisers to the queen emphasized on the execution of Catholics who would not pledge their allegiance to the queen. The arrival of the Jesuits to England worsened the situation as they sought to spread the Catholic religion throughout the Kingdom. (Clancy 144)
Mary Tudor is depicted as a persecutor of Protestants hence the Nickname ‘Bloody Mary.’ The reign of Mary Tudor was characterized by the execution and burning of Protestants and the cruel treatment towards the Protestant beliefs. Although Elizabeth executed and persecuted Catholics later during her years as a queen, she often used a cautious approach to the matters of religion. Elizabeth I had no problem with the Catholics exercising their religious rights and practices provided they swore their allegiance to her. It was later after the Papal Bull and revolution by the Catholic Earls that Elizabeth’s attitude and treatment towards Catholics changed. Given the facts of Elizabeth’s persecution of Catholics during England’s reformation, history has been fair to Mary Tudor who was ruthless and never gave Protestants the opportunity to swear their allegiance to her.
- Coffey, John. Persecution and Toleration in Protestant England 1558-1689. Place of publication not identified: Taylor & Francis, 2016. Print.
- Clancy, Thomas H. Papist Pamphleteers: The Allen-Persons Party and the Political Thought of the Counter-Reformation in England, 1572-1615. , 2014. Print.
- Elizabeth, and Steven W. May. Queen Elizabeth I: Selected Works. New York: Washington Square Press, 2015. Print
- Loades, D M. Mary Tudor. Stroud: Amberley, 2016. Print.
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