SIB­LINGS AT WAR

Princess Mary rails against her brother’s Protes­tant agenda, c1551

BBC History Magazine - - Tudor Letters -

Un­like Henry VIII, whose break with Rome and flir­ta­tions with Protes­tantism had been po­lit­i­cally mo­ti­vated, his son Ed­ward held strong evan­gel­i­cal be­liefs and ad­vo­cated a full-scale Protes­tant Re­for­ma­tion in Eng­land.

The evan­gel­i­cal es­tab­lish­ment around Ed­ward VI, led by his Un­cle Ed­ward Sey­mour, now Lord Pro­tec­tor Som­er­set, and Arch­bishop Thomas Cran­mer, ini­ti­ated a se­ries of re­li­gious re­forms aimed at fram­ing the evan­gel­i­cal agenda in law. In do­ing so they en­raged Ed­ward’s de­voutly Catholic sis­ter, Mary, who re­fused to ac­cept the le­gal­ity of the re­formist re­li­gious leg­is­la­tion, and pro­voked her into writ­ing this let­ter to the lords of the Privy Coun­cil.

Show­ing the same spirit and steely re­solve as her late mother, Cather­ine of Aragon, Mary re­mon­strated with them for break­ing the oaths they had sworn to her late fa­ther, Henry VIII, and for ig­nor­ing his wishes. “It grieveth me I say,” she wrote, “for the love I bear to them, to see both how they break his will, and what usurped power they take upon them.”

Mary per­sisted in hav­ing Latin mass cel­e­brated in her house­hold but, in do­ing so, she mis­judged her brother, who by 1551 would no longer tol­er­ate her dis­obe­di­ence. On 28 Jan­uary, the 13-year- old king in­formed his sis­ter: “It is a scan­dalous thing that so high a per­son­age should deny our sovereignty.”

Two months later, they had an emo­tional con­fronta­tion at West­min­ster, but nei­ther Mary’s tears nor her dec­la­ra­tion that she was pre­pared to die for her faith per­suaded Ed­ward to re­lent. For the next two years, the king main­tained the ban on the mass in Mary’s pri­vate chapels.

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