So, why is it “Bloody Mary”, but “Bluff King Hal”, when the executions he ordered exceeded his daughter’s by more than 56,000 at the least? Why not “Bloody Harry”? Obviously, because he was the founder of the Church of England. That did not prevent him from burning the more advanced Protestant Anne Askew, who had the privilege of being racked in the Tower of London by the Lord Chancellor in person, which suggests that the divisions between conflicting wings of the Church of England were at least as vicious then as now.
The most recent study of Mary’s reign, Eamon Duffy’s Fires of Faith: Catholic England Under Mary Tudor, authoritatively demonstrates that England at her accession remained a Catholic country at heart and was relieved to return to the practices of the old faith, which had not been abandoned out of mass apostasy but only in obedience to the personal policy of Henry VIII, enforced by terror.
This country remains marinated in anti-Catholic mythology as a consequence of centuries of relentless propaganda by establishment interest groups. The cult of “No Popery”, enshrined by statute in the Act of Settlement and currently being ventilated in opposition to the papal visit, is the one tolerated prejudice in an age of hysterical paranoia against “discrimination”. Fun venues such as the London Dungeon are hardly to be taken seriously; but it could be argued that in perpetuating anti-Catholic mythology in children’s minds it is pursuing a course that would get it into serious trouble if directed against any other minority group. The root problem is historical illiteracy and it will take the reform of weightier institutions than the London Dungeon to correct that.