Bloody Mary’s Quest to Make England Catholic Again
The pope refused to annul Henry VIII’s marriage to Mary’s mother, Catherine of Aragon. So Henry removed England from the Catholic fold, and created his own Church of England, with himself as its head. His new church promptly granted him an annulment. The Protestant Reformation swept England, which became Protestant. Mary stayed Catholic, and determined to Make England Catholic Again if she ever became queen. By the time she did in 1553 after many twists and turns, Mary had come to seriously loathe Protestantism. Her relatively brief reign – a mere five years – was long enough to cement her reputation as a brutal and bloody ruler.
Early in her reign, Mary promised not to forcibly convert Protestants, but reneged soon enough, and imprisoned prominent Protestant churchmen. She negotiated a deal to restore papal jurisdiction over England, and reinstated heresy laws that allowed the burning of heretics at the stake. Fearful of what was to come, over 800 rich Protestants promptly fled the realm. Those who stuck around and publicly proclaimed their Protestantism were charged with heresy, and Mary began to burn them at the stake in 1554. Despite widespread revulsion, Mary persisted. By the time she died, around 300 had perished at the stake, and she became infamous forever after as “Bloody Mary”.