CHAPTER III. CATHOLIC REACTION IN THE REIGN OF QUEEN MARY (1553-1558)
In her heart Mary detested the title supreme head of the Church, and was most anxious to bring about a reconciliation with Rome. When the news of her accession reached Rome it brought joy to the heart of Julius III. He determined at once to send a legate to England, and he selected for this office the great English Cardinal, whose devotion to his country was equalled only by his loyalty to the Church. Cardinal Pole was appointed legate with full powers, and was entrusted also with the work of effecting a reconciliation between the Emperor and Henry II. of France. Charles V. had no desire to see Pole in England installed as Queen Mary's chief adviser. He had planned a marriage between Mary and his eldest son, afterwards Philip II. of Spain, and fully conscious that Pole might oppose such an alliance as dangerous both for England and for religion, he was determined to delay the arrival of the legate until the negotiations for the marriage had been completed.
In October 1553 Mary was crowned solemnly by Bishop Gardiner at Westminster Abbey. She bound herself by oath to preserve the liberties of her kingdom, and to maintain the rights of the Holy See. Four days later she attended the Mass of the Holy Ghost at the opening of Parliament, and listened to the address in which her Lord Chancellor exhorted the members to show their repentance for and detestation of the heresy and schism of which he and they had been guilty, by returning to the unity of the Catholic Church. All the new treasons, felonies, and praemunire penalties of the previous reigns were abolished on the ground, it was declared, that Mary hoped to win the obedience of her subjects through love rather than through fear. The marriage of Henry VIII. with Catharine of Aragon was declared valid, and consequently Mary was acknowledged as the lawful successor to the throne. The Edwardine religious settlement, including the Acts of Uniformity, the Book of Common Prayer, the Ordinal, the Forty-two Articles and the permission for clergymen to marry, was swept away, and an Act was passed against disturbing religious services or exhibiting irreverence towards the Eucharist. All this legislation was in perfect conformity with the wishes of Convocation, which had met shortly after the meeting of Parliament, and which with only a few dissentients condemned the Book of Common Prayer, and re-affirmed the belief of the English clergy in the doctrine of Transubstantiation. Though the queen announced her dissatisfaction with the title of supreme head, and granted full freedom of discussion regarding it, Parliament showed itself decidedly unwilling to restore the jurisdiction of the Pope. It was not that the members had any real objection to the change from the doctrinal point of view, but, fearing that a return to Roman obedience might involve a restoration of the ecclesiastical property seized or alienated during the previous reign, they wished to secure their property before they made their submission to the Pope.
For so far Mary had acted with considerable mildness and prudence in carrying out her religious programme, against which as yet no serious opposition had been manifested. The question of her marriage, however, was destined to create dissension between herself and her subjects. The Emperor and the imperial ambassador urged her to accept the hand of Philip, on the ground that by such a marriage internal jealousies and dissensions might be avoided, and the triumph of Catholicism might be assured. Many of the members of the council and the vast majority of the English people were opposed to such a union. They feared that were a foreign ruler to become the husband of their queen he must have of necessity the chief voice in English affairs. They believed, therefore, that England would be involved in all the wars of Spain, and that were an heir to be born of such a union, England, instead of being an independent nation, might become a mere Spanish province. The enemies of Mary's religious programme thought they saw in the Spanish marriage an opportunity of overturning her government, and of re-establishing Protestantism in the country. Taking advantage of the unpopularity of this proposal they appealed to the patriotism and love of independence of the English people, and succeeded in winning to their side many who were at least neutral in regard to her religious proposals. It was planned by some to bring about a marriage between the Princess Elizabeth and Edward Courtenay, both of whom had claims to the throne, and to set them up as rivals to Queen Mary. The French ambassador, alarmed at the prospect of Mary's marriage with the hereditary enemy of France, encouraged the conspirators with promises of assistance, not, indeed, because France desired the accession of Elizabeth, but in the hope that during the confusion that would ensue it might be possible to assert the claims of Mary Queen of Scotland, the prospective wife of the Dauphin of France.