Mary Tudor, first regnant Queen of England, is infamous for her burning of Protestant heretics and for loss of Calais. The accession of Elizabeth I after her death led to decades of ant-Catholic sentiment, which made it seem like her goal for a counter-reformation was unsuccessful. However, re-examination of her rule points more to a short-term success but a long-term failure.
The first part of Mary’s religious policy, and the most important, was the return to Catholicism as the official state religion. Bills passed in 1553 suggest that the country was ready to convert back to Catholicism. The ‘divers acts touching divine service and the marriage of priests’ was a very significant bill as it brought back the sacraments, imagery, and holy days repealing the acts of Edward VI. This act passed with little opposition with only eighty out 350 opposing, suggesting that it was widely supported and therefore a successful start to her policy. The initial bills that were not enforced or earned opposition looked like opposition to religious policy, but it was a secular reason for opposition as it meant giving back lands given during the dissolution of monasteries, two of the opposers; Clement Throckmorton and Thomas Holcroft, both received lands during the dissolution of church land during Henry VIII’s reign, highlighting their reasons for opposition. The parliament of 1554 advanced the restoration of Catholicism with the formal renunciation of the title Supreme Head of the Church of England, which put England under the control of the pope again. Renard wrote that both the French and other heretics were disappointed that there was no violent dissent, suggesting that the people were happy to resort back to pre-reformation Catholic England. The initial stages of Mary’s counter-reformation were a success .