"in the purefying fires of Mary's reign"
Plaque commemorating the martyrs burned to at Maidstone, Kent in 1557
Creative Commons Attribution Share AlikePlaque commemorating the martyrs burned to at Maidstone, Kent in 1557 - Credit: Mjroots

Mary I, upon her succession to the throne in 1553, declared that she would not force the people to follow her own religion of Catholicism.  But within a year leading reformers and church men, including Hugh Latimer and Thomas Cranmer, were imprisoned. Mary restored the supremacy of the Roman Catholic Church, repealing the actions of her father Henry VIII and her brother Edward VI.  She also revived into law the old Heresy Acts in January 1555,  previously abolished under her two predecessors. Under these Acts, a person could be executed for not conforming to the official religion, which was, during Mary's reign, Catholic. During her reign, nearly 300 people, the majority of them men, were burned alive for their religion, earning Mary the epithet 'Bloody'.  The victims were considered martyrs by Protestants and the deep resentment against both Catholics and Spaniards, as many blamed the influence of Philip II, was to last for centuries.