In Richard Pate she found a candidate for the Diocese of Worcester who had remained true to the old Church. Pate had been on the continent the whole time of her father’s schism and her brother’s reign in the service of Mary’s cousin, the Emperor Charles V. When Mary came to the throne, he returned to England and she made him bishop of Worcester. Likewise, Thomas Goldwell had been in Rome throughout the reigns of Henry and Edward and Mary named him to St. Asaph in Wales. The other sees were not so easy. James Brooks was named to Gloucester to replace Hooper. Brooks at been at Oxford during the reigns of Henry and Edward and supposedly had conformed but was now ready to return to Catholic practice. Robert Parfew, whom Mary had named to replace Harley at Hereford had not only conformed but even served on Cranmer’s commission to compose the 1549 Prayer Book. Henry Morgan of St. David’s in Wales, was another who had conformed to the reformed rites under Edward but whom Mary named as a bishop. Mary restored Tunstall to his see of Durham and named Nicholas Heath, whom her brother had deprived of Worcester, to replace Holgate at York.
Mary’s most important ally in bringing the Church of England back to Catholic practice was Stephen Gardiner whom her father had named bishop of Winchester and who had been deposed by Edward VI for resisting the Protestant policies of his reign. Mary restored Gardiner to his see—the wealthiest in the realm—and made him Lord Chancellor. He repaid the favor by officiating at her coronation on October 1, 1553 in Westminster Abbey.
For Canterbury—the primatial see—Mary had a plan but chose to proceed slowly. It would not be until November 1555—almost a year and a half after her accession—that Cranmer would be deposed and a new Archbishop named. Mary had a score to settle with Cranmer for declaring her parents’ marriage annulled and this leaving him in suspension of duties without being canonically deprived was very much like a cat playing with a mouse. Cranmer was imprisoned during this time at Oxford along with Bishops Ridley and Latimer. He was forced to watch them burned at the stake for their heresies. We will look at his fate in a future posting.
Mary had her bishops lined up and they proved to be a better lot than might have been supposed. When Mary died and Elizabeth succeeded to throne, only one bishop who had served under Mary (and who had, in fact, served continuously under Henry and Edward before her), Anthony Kitchin of Llandaff in Wales, would renounce the Catholic faith to remain in office. The remainder of her bishops—most of whom had gone into schism under Henry and even embraced the Protestant reforms in the reign of King Edward—stood firm in Catholic faith even though it meant the loss of their sees and for some imprisonment. But there was much more to do than just get reliable bishops.
Mary needed priests as well. Unlike the Bishops of King Edward’s time, many of the English priests were not enthusiastic about the Protestant liturgies contained in the Book of Common Prayer—and particularly the 1552 edition which was far more Protestant than the original compromise book of 1549. Edward had been on the throne only six years and five months. Most English priests had been ordained before he came to the throne. Granted some had married under his dispensation but for those who were willing to give up their wives—and many were—Mary was only to happy to have them resume their parishes. How many actually left their wives and how many maintained a discreet relationship with them would be an interesting study. Clerical concubinage, or more accurately, clerical common-law marriage had been common enough in and before the reign of King Henry. It was not difficult to go back to the old ways.
Yet even with priests and bishops in place for the restored rites, the Queen had much to do to turn England back to the Catholic side. Mary first required Parliament to repeal the religious legislation passed under her brother that authorized the Protestant liturgy. Those same rites Parliament had insisted on a few years earlier were now proscribed. But that does not mean that the Mass could be restored at once. Altars had been demolished and replaced by plain wooden tables, missals and other service books used as fishwrap, vestments destroyed, and church plate (sacred vessels and such altar furnishings as candelabra and crucifixes) melted down. It took time—and money—to reequip the churches for the Catholic liturgy.
In November 1554—more than a year and four months after Mary’s accession Cardinal Reginald Pole arrived in England as Papal Legate with the authority to readmit the Church of England into the Catholic Communion. Meanwhile, Catholic liturgy and doctrine had been reintroduced. Pole’s arrival had been delayed by Mary and by the emperor Charles V because they feared that the Papal Legate might oppose their plan to marry the emperor’s son, Philip, to Mary. There was some tension at this time between the Papacy and the Empire and in fact, Paul IV would recall Pole to Rome because of his displeasure with Mary’s alliance to her husband’s politics, but the Cardinal remained in England—some sources say at Mary’s orders; others due to his failing health. We will do a posting on Pole in the near future as well as his is a very complex story and key to Mary’s program.
Henry VIII had confiscated an immense about of Church lands—both from the monasteries and from individual dioceses—during his reign. This land had been parceled out as rewards for those who supported Henry’s new policies. Henry had stacked the House of Lords by creating many new peers and he used Church lands to provide income for his allies among the Lords. He also sold property—and much of the Church treasure he had confiscated as well—to provide the income he needed for both is personal luxury but also his political goals such as creating the English Navy. Many of the newly ennobled families were afraid that they would loose their property to have it restored to the Church with a Catholic Queen. Mary was anxious to restore the monasteries as far as she could, but in the end was unable to do much. Monks were brought back to Westminster, nuns to Syon, friars to Smithfield and Greenwich, and the Carthusians to Sheen but vocations were not many and benefactors even more scarce. Some former monks of Glastonbury petitioned for the restoration of their abbey but I don’t believe monastic life was restored there. Mary and the Papacy had to settle for the fact that most of this property that had once belonged to the Church was now lost to it. If Mary wanted to achieve her larger goals of restoring England to the Church—and indeed to reach her various political goals as well—she could not afford to alienate the important families in the realm that now occupied the lands that had once belonged to the monks. She would have to rebuild the religious life from the ground up but unfortunately history was not to allow her the time needed to achieve this goal.