Queen Mary

Mary, Mary quite contrary, 

     How does your garden grow? 

With silver bells and cockleshells, 

     And pretty maids all in a row.

This nursery rhyme is about Mary Tudor.

The 'garden' is England.   'Silver bells and cockleshells'

 were badges worn by pilgrims to the shrine of Compostella in Spain. 

The 'pretty maids' were the nuns she brought back to England.


Clear account  

The Return to Rome - biased but straightforward

An old textbook     

Queen Mary - good site

Different historians' views - hard







The Marian Reaction

Mary tried to make England a Roman Catholic country again:

  • the Catholic bishops were let out of the Tower and the Protestant leaders imprisoned;

  • the Latin Mass and Bibles were brought back;

  • Cardinal Pole, the Pope's adviser, was brought to England from Rome to re-introduce Catholic ways;

  • in 1554 the country was officially reunited with Rome and the Pope declared Head of the Church;

  • Mary married Prince Philip of Spain, an extreme Catholic;

  • About 300 Protestants who would not accepted Catholic beliefs were burned to death.


Historians disagree about the effect that Mary had on the country.   Most historians in the past believed that she turned the people against Catholicism; but many modern historians say that most English people were delighted to go back to the Catholic religion.


During Mary's reign, England became a Roman Catholic country.



A picture, from Foxe's Book of Martyrs, of the burning of Archbishop Cranmer.   Cranmer had been frightened into renouncing his Protestant faith but - when he learned he was going to be burned anyway - he declared himself again to be a Protestant.   When he was burned, he held the hand that signed the deed in the flames until it was completely burned, saying all the time: 'Unworthy hand'. 




Did You Know?

In 1558 Mary believed that she was pregnant, although Philip had long before gone back to Spain.   In fact, the swelling was terminal cancer.

What to say:

If you are writing about religion under Mary, you must mention at least:

  • being re-united with Rome in 1554;

  • the persecution of the Protestants;

  • the effect Mary had.