When Mary succeeded her brother, the deprived bishops were restored, some reforming bishops were imprisoned, and Cranmer, who was implicated in the plot on behalf of Lady Jane Grey, was attainted of treason. As regards doctrine, religious practices and papal supremacy, Mary was set on bringing back her realm to the position existing before her father's quarrel with Rome. Her first parliament repealed the ecclesiastical legislation of Edward's reign, and convocation formally accepted transubstantiation. Seven bishops were deprived in 1554, four of them as married, and about a fifth of the beneficed clergy, though some received other benefices after putting away their wives. Apparently Mary at first believed that her authority would be accepted in religious matters; but she met with opposition, partly provocative, for Wyat's rebellion consequent on her intended marriage to Philip of Spain was closely connected with religion, and more largely passive in the noble resolution of those who chose martyrdom rather than denial of their faith.

To the nation at large, though not averse from the old doctrines and practices of the church, a return to the Roman obedience was distasteful. Nevertheless, Cardinal Pole was received as legate, and the title of Supreme Head of the Church having been dropped, a parliament carefully packed, and the fears of the rich appeased by the assurance that they would not have to surrender the monastic lands, he absolved the nation in parliament and reunited it to the Church of Rome on November 30, 1554, the clergy being absolved in convocation. Parliament repealed all acts against the Roman see since the twentieth year of Henry VIII. The heresy laws were revived, and a horrible persecution of those who refused to disown the doctrines of the prayer-book began in 1555, and lasted during the remainder of the reign. Nearly 300 persons were burned to death as heretics in these four years, among them being five bishops: Hooper of Gloucester, Ferrar of St Davids, Ridley of London, and Latimer (until 1539) of Worcester in 1555, and Archbishop Cranmer in 1556. The chief responsibility for these horrors rests with the queen; the bishops who examined the accused were less zealous than she desired. The most prominent among them in persecution was Bonner of London. The exiles for religion were received at Frankfurt, Strassburg and Zurich. At Frankfurt a party among them objected to the ceremonies retained in the prayer-book, and, encouraged by Calvin and by Knox, who came to them from Geneva, quarrelled with those who desired to keep the book unchanged.

Mary died in 1556. Her reign arrested the rapid spoliation of the church and possibly prevented the adoption of doctrines which would have destroyed its apostolic character; the persecution by which it was disgraced strengthened the hold of the reformed religion on the people and made another acceptance of Roman supremacy for ever impossible.

This text forms part of the History of the Church of England originally part of the entry ENGLAND, CHURCH OF from the 1911 Encyclopedia Britannica, the content of which lies within the public domain.

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