University of Edinburgh


Mary TudorThis site contains transcriptions and translations from recently discovered letters and papers relating to the Protestant exiles who fled to Europe during the reign of Queen Mary Tudor (1553-8). They are of considerable significance for English and Scottish sixteenth-century history as well as for the broader ‘British’ heritage and that shared by the entire English-speaking world.

These documents provide substantial new information on exiles such as John Knox, Richard Cox, John Jewel, John Bale, Christopher Goodman, Edmund Grindal and William Whittingham. They also throw light upon the great Continental Reformers, John Calvin and Peter Martyr Vermigli. The collective impact of the new material is of particular importance in relation to the famous ‘Troubles at Frankfurt’ over the English liturgy and identity. A fresh understanding and chronology can now be presented for the tumultuous events at Frankfurt in 1554-1555 and the aftermath for both sides in the dispute.

The Frankfurt congregation split in 1555 after the ‘victory’ of the supporters of the Book of Common Prayer. The main party of exiles leaving the city established an English-speaking exile church in Geneva. That congregation became the model for the Reformed Kirk in Scotland and the radical wing of the Elizabethan Church and produced the Geneva Bible, the Anglo-Genevan Psalm Book and the Form of Prayers or Book of Common Order [as it became known in Scotland]. These longer-term outcomes of the ‘Troubles’ helped determine the future course of the Church of England, the Church of Scotland and the ‘puritan’ and non-conformist tradition throughout the Anglophone world. 

The Marian Exile, 1553-58
The accession of Queen Mary Tudor in July 1553 brought a dramatic shift of regime within the Tudor state. Religious change followed political upheaval, as the Catholic Queen sought to reverse the Royal Supremacy and Protestant Reformation undertaken by her father Henry VIII and her brother Edward VI. From the summer of 1553 onwards, hundreds of Protestants left England to seek refuge on the continent of Europe. These religious exiles travelled to Protestant cities in the Netherlands, the Holy Roman Empire, Switzerland and Denmark. The main groups settled in Emden, Strasbourg, Frankfurt-am-Main, Zurich, Basle and later in Geneva, Wesel and Aarau. The new documents reveal Duisburg was also significant.

Troubles at Frankfurt
The new chronology of the Troubles derived from these documents is explained in detail in Tim Duguid’s article. The Timeline reflects that chronology and specific details are given in the notes of the transcripts.

Frankfurt, 1572
Frankfurt am Main, 1572
Courtesy of Historic Cities Research Project
The National Library of Israel , Shapell Family Digitization Project,
Eran Laor Cartographic Collection and The Hebrew University of Jerusalem