To properly understand Mary’s motivations, it is necessary to begin with her childhood. Mary is the child of Katherine of Aragon who was divorced by Henry VIII. This is the action that led Henry to separate from the Catholic Church because the Church would not grant him a divorce. This led to turmoil for Mary at a young age as she heard about all of Henry VIII’s affairs. Where before she would have been given the title of Princess of Wales and a suitable husband would have been found, all of this was put to a halt. She was eventually declared illegitimate. These childhood problems would later present themselves in her queenship and affect her reign as she ardently opposed the religious edicts laid down by Henry VIII.
Even Mary’s accession to the throne was full of conflict. After the death of Edward VI, she had to depose Lady Jane Grey who was put on the throne by her half-brother and his advisors. She did this successfully and took the throne is 1553. However, turmoil soon stirred as her marriage to Philip II of Spain proved wildly unpopular and an uprising ensued. However, it was necessary for her to marry because she desperately needed an heir. Mary proceeded to press on with reforms of the church and fought to reinstate Catholicism even though this was widely unpopular.
The last nail in the coffin for Mary I’s reign was her persecution of Protestants. She reinstated the laws against heresy and burned hundreds of Protestants at the stake. This is what earned her the nickname “Bloody Mary”.
Mary Tudor’s short five year reign (1553-1558) was a time of public discontent and religious upheaval. Mary struggled to keep her kingdom under control as she reverted back to the ways of the Catholic Church.