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Penal Laws

The widowed mother of Mary, Queen of Scots, Mary of Guise, had become regent in 1554, and generally she is well spoken of, although living at a tense and turbulent time. However, she became ill quite suddenly, in 1560, and died and the Protestant Party saw their opportunity to take control. A treaty was already in the making to arrange for English and French troops to remove themselves from Edinburgh. Their presence there gave some support to the opposing religious parties. The treaty allowed for a parliament to be held with the understanding its conclusions would have to be approved by the young queen still in France, but this was ignored. The Lords of the Congregation, nobles and others who had gone over to the New Religion, pushed through the first anti-Catholic Penal Laws in what became known as the Reformation Parliament. The Mass was forbidden to be celebrated; priests were not permitted to be in the country at all; centuries-old pilgrimages to places like Whithorn, Iona and St. Andrews were banned; the Old Religion was not to be taught to anybody by anybody, not even by parents to their children.

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