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The Tudors – Edward VI and Mary I, 1547-58

4. Mary's Counter-Reformation

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About this Lecture


In this module, we think about the nature of Mary's Counter-Reformation, focusing in particular on: (i) the uncertainty surrounding the question of whether Mary would renounce the Act of Supremacy and restore papal supremacy; (ii) the problem of what to do with (formerly) monastic lands, which had been sold by the crown and were now in private ownership; (iii) the support for the restoration from Habsburg Spain, but their preference for delaying the restoration of England to Rome until after the marriage of Mary to Philip II; (iv) the characterisation (if not caricature) of Mary's reign in Foxe's Book of Martyrs (1563), and the extent to which modern historians such as Eamon Duffy, Judith Richards, Thomas Freeman and Bill Wiseman would disagree with this characterisation; (v) the enthusiasm with which the Catholic mass was restored; (vi) the enthusiasm with which Catholic texts were printed and disseminated; (vii) Mary's endowment of universities, especially the University of Oxford, the re-introduction of texts from the Continent, and the restoration of Oxford as "a real Catholic powerhouse" during this period; (viii) Pole's legatine synod (1555-56), which brings about reform that would later be introduced at the Council of Trent, e.g. the foundation of a network of Catholic seminaries to train priests; and (ix) the persecution of Protestants during this period.


In this course, Professor Sue Doran (University of Oxford) explores the reigns of Edward VI (1547-53) and Mary I (1553-58), a period which some historians have labelled the Mid-Tudor Crisis. We begin by thinking about the religious policies of Edward VI, focusing in particular on the nature of the changes and the key influencers on Edwardian policy in this period. After that, we think about faction in the reign of Edward, looking especially at the figure of Edward Seymour. In the third module, we consider the Succession Crisis of 1553 and the problems faced by Mary as a woman, before moving on in the fourth module to look more closely at her religious reforms, which were far more innovative, popular and progressive than Mary is often given credit for. In the fifth module, we think about how the religious changes of both Edward and Mary were felt in the parishes of England, before turning in the final module to think about the similarities and differences between the two major rebellions in the mid-Tudor period: Kett's Rebellion in 1549, and Wyatt's Rebellion in 1553.


Susan Doran is Professor of Early Modern British History at the University of Oxford. She has a substantial publishing record which reflects a particular interest in the religious and political history of the Tudors, especially Elizabeth I. She is also a Senior Research Fellow at Jesus College and Director of Studies in History at Regent’s Park College.

Cite this Lecture

APA style

Doran, S. (2018, August 15). The Tudors – Edward VI and Mary I, 1547-58 - Mary's Counter-Reformation [Video]. MASSOLIT.

MLA style

Doran, S. "The Tudors – Edward VI and Mary I, 1547-58 – Mary's Counter-Reformation." MASSOLIT, uploaded by MASSOLIT, 15 Aug 2018,

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