By Levi Clancy for Student Reader on
Mary I (b 1516 - d 1558) (reigned 1553 - 1558) was popular with the people of England upon assuming the throne. It was this popularity that helped to quickly overturn the attempt to put Lady Jane Grey onto the throne of England. However this popularity quickly turned sour because of her religious changes and her marriage.
Mary completely reversed the religious changes of Edward. She had been brought up as a strict Roman Catholic and was horrified by her half-brother's changes. The Catholic Mass was restored and Holy Communion was banned. All priests had to be Catholic; the basic furniture in the Protestant churches was replaced with colorful furniture and paintings of the Catholic Church. Services were held in Latin and Cranmer's English prayer book was banned. The pope was made head of the church again.
The majority of the people of England accepted these changes -- the Tudor royal family was still respected throughout the country. However, some did not. Some refused to change and nearly 300 people were burned at the stake for heresy. One was Archbishop Cranmer who had written the banned English prayer book. The treatment of these heretics, and many were ordinary people, did much to make Mary unpopular -- hence her nickname Bloody Mary.
At this time, English people feared the power of Spain. To bring England and Spain closer, Mary accepted a marriage proposal from the Spanish king Philip II. Philip II was also a very strong Catholic. Mary's advisors and friends warned her to not marry Philip, but she nonetheless married him in 1554. The people of England greatly feared that Philip would control England, thus worsening Mary's popularity issue.
The marriage was a disaster with Philip spending much of his time in Spain and the two rarely seeing each other. They had no children. Mary died in 1558 as an unhappy person: the marriage she had rested so much hope upon had failed; and the people of England resented her. Her half-sister Elizabeth assumed the throne upon Mary's death.
Winchester City Mill Museum