Could the Reformation have been successfully reversed by Queen Mary I in England had she lived longer
Had Mary I lived longer could the counter-reformation in England have been permanant and succeeded in extinguishing the Protestant faith from Englands shores.
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Mary I was quite popular.
Her accession was greeted with Te Deums and celebrations not only in those areas where Catholicism continued in strength like the North or West but also far more protestant London or Grantham [[Christopher Haigh, English Reformations (Oxford, 1993) p.206]]
The restoration of Civic and Church festivities suppressed by Edward VI was popular, at the Parish level Catholicism recovered fast, for example recruitment for priests/vicars which had slumped in Edward's reign revived [[Ibid. p.214-6]]
No-one could fail to notice that festivities had stopped and alters smashed and that these had not resulted in the sky falling in or the world ending, a new skepticism had been created that was essentially impossible to remove.
The Legal stuff
Changing the law to revive Catholicism was very easy indeed. Even the Heresy laws passed both houses in less than a week with a unanimous vote in the Lords. [[Haigh, English Reformations, p.230]]
The practical application was rather harder ultimately compromises and pragmatism won out as many married priests stayed in post for want of alternatives.
The majority of parliamentary opposition, such as there was, had its base not in protestant faith but money, many MPs had gained wealth from the dissolution of monasteries and other institutions and fought to ensure their ill gotten gains were not re-appropriated for God.
Philip of Spain
Mary's marriage to Philip II of Spain should have reinforced Catholicism in England. In reality it did the opposite, reinforcing the already existent opinion that it was a foreign religion, he was arrogant in England and brought some of the authoritarian stance he was used to in Spain to England, linking Catholicism with tyranny, an association that lingered for two centuries. [[H.G. Koenigsberger et al. Europe in the Sixteenth Century, (Harlow, 1968, 2nd Edn 1990) p.297]]
Despite agreeing not to pull England into the ongoing war Spain was fighting with France (the Great Italian Wars) England ultimately provided 7000 troops that fought under the Earl of Pembroke at the Battle of St Quentin (10th Aug 1557) this commitment resulted in the Fall of Calais (7th Jan 1558) this loss of her last foothold on the continent, the legacy of so much blood of the hundred years war was a bitter blow and Mary apparently said on her deathbed 'they will find Calais written on my heart' [[Sir Charles Oman, A History of the art of war in the Sixteenth Century, (London, 1937, 1999) pp. 255; 272]]
Still almost exclusively catholic, Ireland was another point of theoretical strength for Mary that she squandered. She continued harsh policies of the previous reigns by trying to plant Leix and Offaly a contemporary described Ulster "As far out of frame as ever was and Leix/Offaly as "destroyed and burned." Armagh itself was burnt down. [[Steven G Ellis, Ireland in the Age of the Tudors 1447-1603 (Harlow, 1998) p.272]]
Ultimately a Catholic England might have forged a more harmonious relationship with Ireland than in fact occurred, though the racial prejudice against the gaels would likely have still resulted in the nine years war and plantations, much of the bitterness of the religious conflict would not have occurred and the Union of 1800 may therefore have proved more lasting than it was.
The Counter Reformation
Mary did not bring in the full counter reformation machinery that was in future to convert Protestant Hungary, Bohemia and several German statelets. Cardinal Pole rejected St Ignatius Loyola's offer of Jesuit assistance.
Mary miscalculated by burning popular parsons, ultimately the Marian regime burnt 280 people, creating many martyrs and entrenching rather than exterminating resistance. Ultimately they wanted converts not martyrs, only two people avoided burning by conversion. [[Haigh, English Reformations pp.230-1]]
The reasoning for not bringing in the Jesuits and other instruments of the Counter Reformation in Europe was largely practical, for Example it would take time to train English speaking Jesuits. Mary and Pole also believed it would not be necessary, they saw heresy as a minority problem that a few burnings would solve. They anticipated more conversions and fewer burnings that actually occurred but were proven correct that real protestantism was still in the minority, if a larger one than they expected. [[Haigh, English Reformations, p.224]]
What do you think?