29. Mary I, A.D. 1553—1588
The Duke of Northumberland kept king Edward's death a secret till he had proclaimed Jane queen of England. The poor girl knew that a great wrong was being done in her name. She wept bitterly, and begged that she might not be forced to accept the crown; but she could do nothing to prevent it, when her father and husband, and his father, all were bent on making her obey them; and so she had to sit as a queen in the royal apartments in the Tower of London.
But as soon as the news reached Mary, she set off riding towards London; and, as everyone knew her to be the right queen, and no one would be tricked by Dudley, the whole of the people joined her, and even Northumberland was obliged to throw up his hat and cry "God save Queen Mary." Jane and her husband were safely kept, but Mary meant no harm by them if their friends would have been quiet. However, the people became discontented when Mary began to have the Latin service used again, and put Archbishop Cranmer in prison for having favored Jane. She showed in every way that she thought all her brother's advisers had done very wrong. She wanted to be under the Pope again, and she engaged herself to marry the King of Spain, her cousin, Philip II. This was very foolish of her, for she was a middle-aged woman, pale, and low-spirited; and he was much younger, and of a silent, gloomy temper, so that everyone was afraid of him. All her best friends advised her not, and the English hated the notion so much, that the little children played at the queen's wedding in their games, and always ended by pretending to hang the King of Spain. Northumberland thought this discontent gave another chance for his plan, and tried to raise the people in favor of Jane; but so few joined him that Mary very soon put them down, and beheaded Northumberland. She thought, too, that the quiet of the country would never be secure while Jane lived, and so she consented to her being put to death. Jane behaved with beautiful firmness and patience. Her husband was led out first and beheaded, and then she followed. She was most good and innocent in herself, and it was for the faults of others that she suffered. Mary's sister Elizabeth, was suspected, and sent to the Tower. She came in a boat on the Thames to the Traitor's Gate; but, when she found where she was, she sat down on the stone steps and said, "This is a place for traitors, and I am none." After a time she was allowed to live in the country, but closely watched.
Philip of Spain came and was married to Mary. She was very fond of him, but he was not very kind to her, and he had too much to do in his other kingdoms to spend much time with her, so that she was always pining after him. Her great wish in choosing him was to be helped in bringing the country back to the old obedience to the Pope; and she succeeded in having the English Church reconciled, and received again to communion with Rome. The new service she would under no consideration have established in her house. This displeased many of her subjects exceedingly. They thought they should be forbidden to read the Bible—they could not endure the Latin service—and those who had been taught by the foreigners fancied that all proper reverence and beauty in church was a sort of idolatry. Some fled away into Holland and Germany, and others, who staid, and taught loudly against the doctrines that were to be brought back again, were seized and thrown into prison.
Those bishops who had been foremost in the changes of course were the first to be tried for their teaching. The punishment was the dreadful one of being burnt alive, chained to a stake. Bishop Hooper died in this way at Gloucester, and Bishop Ridley and Bishop Latimer were both burnt at the same time at Oxford, encouraging one another to die bravely as martyrs for the truth, as they held it. Cranmer was in prison already for supporting Jane Grey, and he was condemned to death; but he was led to expect that he would be spared the fire if he would allow that the old faith, as Rome held it, was the right one. Paper after paper was brought, such as would please the queen and his judges, and he signed them all; but after all, it turned out that none would do, and that he was to be burnt in spite of them. The he felt what a base part he had acted, and was ashamed when he thought how bravely his brethren had died on the same spot: and when he was chained to the stake and the fire lighted, he held his right hand over the flame to be burnt first, because it had signed what he did not really believe, and he cried out, "This unworthy hand!"
Altogether, about three hundred people were burnt in Queen Mary's reign for denying one or other of the doctrines that the Pope thought the right ones. It was a terrible time; and the queen, who had only longed to do right and restore her country to the Church, found herself hated and disliked by everyone. Even the Pope, who had a quarrel with her husband, did not treat her warmly; and the nobles, who had taken possession of the abbey lands, were determined never to let her restore them. Her husband did not love her, or like England. However, he persuaded her to help him in a war with the French, with which England out to have had nothing to do, and the consequence was that a brave French duke took the city of Calais, the very last possession of the English in France. Mary was so exceedingly grieved, that she said that when she died the name of Calais would be found written on her heart.
She was already ill, and there was a bad fever at the time, of which many of those she most loved and trusted had fallen sick. She died, in 1558, a melancholy and sorrowful woman, after reigning only five years.