In March 1551, Edward had been king for four years. Somerset had been removed as Lord Protector, and John Dudley, Earl of Warwick (he wasn’t yet Duke of Northumberland) was consolidating his own power by sucking up to his very Protestant sovereign…who was pushing for heightened reforms. Since Christmas, there had been a spate of arrests of notables who refused to renounce the Mass – all the way up to Stephen Gardiner, the Bishop of Winchester, who was stripped of his offices and lodged in the Tower. Now Mary was summoned to court so that the pressure could be applied to her.
Knowing this, she set off determined to let them know that she was prepared to die for her faith. To set the stage for that threat, she wanted to remind them of her position and strong popular support and so she created a large cortege for her ride through London on her way to her Palace of Saint James. She was preceded by fifty knights and gentlemen, and followed by eighty more gentlemen and ladies, all wearing rosary beads, which had been forbidden by recent legislation. She chose a busy route, along Fleet Street, and the people thronged the streets, cheering and waving.
Two days later, she would assemble a similar group (as Machyn put it, “many noble men of lords and knights and gentlemen and ladies and gentlewomen”) for the ride to Westminster to meet with her brother and the Council. She was not messing around…
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