Explain why Mary persecuted the protestants

  • Created by: Kitty
  • Created on: 14-04-13 18:26

Explain why Mary persecuted the protestants

Mary reigned from 1553 to 1558, and during her reign, she killed a number of protestants who resisted her Catholic rule. There were a number of reasons as to why Mary persecuted the protestants including political and personal reasons. However Mary's fundamental reason was religion.

RELIGION - Fundamental reason

  • Strong Catholic, raised by Catholic mother Catherine of Aragon - however as she grew up, England and Wales were undergoing a protestant reformation.
  • Mary came to throne 1553 - desperate to re-establish the Catholic faith in England and Wales - desperate to undo all the religious changes of Henry VIII and Edward VI (restore Papal Supremacy)
  • Majority conformed to Catholicism, however many remained Protestant - up to 800 protestants fled to countries such as Germany to escape Mary's rule.
  • 238 protestants in total were executed by Mary - she believed that by burning them she was freeing their souls, saving them, so they could go to heaven.
  • Mary struggled to re-establish the Catholic faith - unable to restore monastries, chantries etc. and unable to restore land and plate (had been used as patronage to pass 1534 Act of Supremacy) due to rested interests. 
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Explain why Mary persecuted the protestants


  • Strong Catholic - raised by Spanish mother - shunned by father until end of his life when he returned to the Catholic faith. Thus Mary saw that both her parents were strong believers in the Catholic faith.
  • Trusted Spanish relatives more than Tudor relatives - especially after Northumberland tried to put Lady Jane Grey on the throne instead of her - proved that protestants were not to be trusted even when they were family.
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Explain why Mary persecuted the protestants


  • Turned to Phillip II of Spain for support - married him - big political move, Mary seen as weak ruler as she was a female monarch - thus strengthend position as Queen.
  • Phillip had a large influence over Mary, he too saw it as his mission to restore Papal Supremacy in England and Wales.
  • Phillip known to treat protestants badly in the Spanish Netherlands. Mary believed, through the influence of Phillip that by burning them she was freeing their souls etc.
  • By burning the protestants for the crime of heresy, Mary hoped it would frighten the remaining protestants into submission.

However, despite all of Mary's efforts, an underground protestant movement increased dramatically in number due to fear of Spanish dominance after the marriage of Mary and Phillip II . It also grew in number due to sympathy for the failure of Wyatt's rebellion amd due to the protestant success in public disputes between leading Catholics and the leading protestant minds of Canmer, Ridley and Latimer.

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Explain why Mary persecuted the protestants


  • Mary wanted to restore the Catholic faith to England and Wales (Fundamental motive)
  •  She was also heavily influenced by stong Catholics such as Phillip II of Spain.
  • As with all the Tudor Monarchs when faced with resistance and opposition, she reacted with repression.
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