The Church of Mary Tudor/Reforming Catholicism in the England of Mary Tudor: The Achievement of Friar Bartolome Carranza/The Theology and Spirituality of Mary Tudor's Church

By Bowman, Glen | Anglican and Episcopal History, September 2007 | Go to article overview

The Church of Mary Tudor/Reforming Catholicism in the England of Mary Tudor: The Achievement of Friar Bartolome Carranza/The Theology and Spirituality of Mary Tudor's Church


Bowman, Glen, Anglican and Episcopal History


The Church of Mary Tudor. Edited by Eamon Duffy and David Loades. Catholic Christendom, 1300-1700. (Aldershot, Hampshire, England: Ashgate, 2006, Pp. xxxi, 348. $99.95.)

Reforming Catholicism in the England of Mary Tudor: The Achievement of Friar Bartolomé Carranza. Edited by John Edwards and Ronald Truman. Catholic Christendom, 1300-1700. (Aldershot, Hampshire, England: Ashgate, 2005, Pp. xxxx, 256. $94.95.)

The Theology and Spirituality of Mary Tudor's Church. By William Wizeman, SJ. Catholic Christendom, 1300-1700. (Aldershot, Hampshire, England: Ashgate, 2006, Pp. viii, 291. $99.95.)

For those who study England, the most important general text on sixteenth-century religious history over the last forty years has been Arthur G. Dickens' The English Reformation. In this, Mary Tudor's reign is deemed a "failure, whether judged by her own objectives or by the interest of the nation." What doomed her were an inappropriate marriage, an unwarranted zeal for persecution, an uninspired clergy, and an ardent yet politically overwhelmed and underwhelming advisor, papal legate Reginald Pole. Dickens acknowledged in his 1989 edition that some of his "younger contemporaries" disagreed with his negative assessment. Some of them continue to challenge his position, as evidenced by three new books on Mary: The Church of Mary Tudor, Reforming Catholicism in the England of Mary Tudor, and The Theology and Spirituality of Mary Tudor's Church.

The Church of Mary Tudor, a collection of essays from among the best from the field of English Catholic history, is comprehensive, so much so that it reads almost like a monograph. Some contributors focus on the process by which Mary and her regime attempted to extirpate Protestantism, noting that they were more effective than previous historians have suggested. In Norwich Protestantism was easily erased, and without blood. In the universities Cardinal Pole had accomplished much in little time, a remarkable feat considering the attractiveness of Protestantism to freethinking youth. In addition, Mary picked able, active, and aggressive men for episcopal offices, the most significant of whom was Pole, the subject of some essays here. Thomas Mayer praises him for establishing a solid legal and administrative framework, and Eamon Duffy analyzes a sermon he gave in 1557, concluding that Pole was committed to preaching, yet keenly aware of die difficulty in removing Protestantism from London. Additional essays emphasize the culture of Marian Catfiolicism. A particularly strong piece on the Mass comes from Lucy Wooding, who notes that under Mary this sacrament was a "much more intricate and multi-faceted construct" than it had been before her father Henry VIII broke from Rome (257) . The humanist intellectual Thomas Watson, the subject of another essay, was no Thomist, and was not cleanly cut from the mold of late medieval Catholicism. Patrick Collinson's best work has been on Elizabeth, but his essay on the Marian persecution is superb. Simply put, the traditional view that Kent was one of the most Protestant regions in England, and mat the many martyrs who perished under Mary were assuredly Protestant, is going to have to be seriously reconsidered.

The only weakness here is more along the lines of organization than content, as a few essays seem out of place (for instance, Spanish influence seems more closely related to process or culture than to Pole) . An additional essay or two on popular responses to Mary's reforms would not have hurt.

In order to help secure Protestantism, Edward VI brought some of the most eminent continental reformers to England. In order to remove this Protestant influence, Mary followed suit and brought some of the Continent's great Roman Catholic intellectuals. Reforming Catholicism in the England of Mary Tudor: The Achievement of Friar Bartolome Carranza examines the contributions of perhaps the key continental Catholic who advised Mary, Pole, and others who wanted to reestablish the faith.

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