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‘the Main Reason Why Edward and Mary’s Religious Settlements Had Limited Success Was Because Their Reigns Were so Short.’ How Far Do You Agree with This Statement?

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‘The main reason why Edward and Mary’s religious settlements had limited success was because their reigns were so short.’ How far do you agree with this statement?
Jake Nicholls

To an extent I do agree with this statement as Edward a devout protestant took England to the most protestant it has ever experienced this is also the same for Mary who restored the country to papal supremacy. However, due to the rebellion and opposition each of these monarchs received it hindered the complete success of their religious settlements.
Edward VI, reigned for a total of six years, however what limited Edward even further is the fact he didn’t even reach the age of majority (which had been reduced to the age of sixteen) by the time of his death in 1553, which significantly reduced his level of religious influence. Perhaps if he reached the age of majority he would have brought in more extreme protestant reforms than those of his regents, this might be explained by his upbringing as his step mother Catherine Parr was a protestant therefore provided him with reformist tutors. This shows that due to his short reign it limited the success of Edward’s religious settlement. Furthermore, Edward’s issue of not providing an heir can be blamed upon his short reign, as he was only fifteen when he died. If he had produced an heir it would have meant that his Religious settlement would have been inherited and it would have been likely his heir would have been brought up a devout protestant, therefore, this would prevented Mary taking the throne and reversed the country back to papal control. This again is another example of how Edward’s short reign limited the success of his religious settlement.
Furthermore, another example of how his religious settlement was limited was through the constant threat of rebellion and political manoeuvring. The Duke of Somerset, especially, feared rebellion this is shown through his caution concerning the speed and extent of which Protestantism was being introduced and therefore is an example of how politics instead of time limited the success of Edward’s religious settlement.
Similarly, to Edward’s reign Mary’s religious settlement was limited due to her short reign. Mary’s decision to restore Catholicism was in most ways a massive success as England had been restored to Papal supremacy by the time of her death in 1558, and she had faced little opposition in passing her religious Acts. This perhaps shows that again her short reign perhaps not limited the success of her religious legislation but the lack of true support for restoration of Catholicism was maybe what limited the success. If Mary lived long enough or was younger when she inherited the throne and produced an heir, it would mean Elizabeth would have not gained throne, therefore, she would have not reversed the Acts and unable to inforce her religious settlements as she would have not been Queen. This shows the limited success in Mary’s religious settlements as despite the shortness of her reign it is perhaps possible that the enthusiasm for Catholicism wouldn’t have increased if Mary rules for a longer period of time, as England has already had a ‘taste of reform’ therefore perhaps many of the people would be unwilling to revert back to Catholicism. This is supported by the fact of the Marian Exiles who left England due to their belief in Protestantism and refused to revert back to Catholicism.
On the other hand, Mary’s failure to restore the monasteries shows a different reason for the settlements limited success. The complete restoration of monasticism was not achieved during Mary’s reign. It could be argued that this was due to the fact that the majority of monastic lands had been sold to the nobility and the gentry and Mary would need their support in Parliament in order for her to rule and to restore Catholicism. As this support would need to be ongoing, it would be unimaginable of the nobility and gentry giving up their lands and therefore income for the souls of the poor. This shows the limited success of Mary’s religious settlement as the monasteries would need to fully restored and even if her reign was longer she would still need the political support to continue reigning.
Overall, I agree with the statement that the religious settlements of Edward and Mary had limited success because their reign were so short. Edwards age throughout his reign significantly hindered his political influence has a regency council was ruling for him, therefore, affecting his control over his religious influences. Both Edward and Mary’s early death resulted in the failure of both of the monarchs to produces an heir and therefore not to carry on the legacy of their religious settlements, meaning that it was inevitable for their religious settlements to have limited success as the next heir for each monarch has a different religious belief.…...

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