Since the publication of Christina Garrett's The Marian Exiles in 1938, historians have had to look outside the confines of England and into the structures of the various exile communities on the continent in order to comprehend fully the significance of the reign of Mary I. Garrett's argument was that the large number of Englishmen who emigrated to the continent in 1553 and 1554 represented not a headlong flight from persecution but an organized migration of English Protestants seeking a more felicitous religious climate with the tacit approval of the queen's government. These men and women functioned as a church in exile, responsible only to their own governors, and cut off from the traditional authority of the Crown. Thus, on returning to England after the accession of Elizabeth, this group constituted a coherent faction, the Puritan opposition, which was hostile to the conservative nature of the Elizabethan settlement and dedicated to the establishment of a Calvinist polity.
However, instructive as this theory may be for the emigre communities in Germany and Switzerland, it does not answer a number of important questions which arise from the political activities of the Marian exiles; nor does it adequately investigate the composition and conspiratorial policies of the two other major groups of Marian exiles, the French and the Venetian. Indeed, Garrett does not even discuss the existence of a separate company of expatriates resident in the Venetian Republic, even though in terms of political and intellectual history this community of exiles played by far the greatest role in the organized opposition to the rule of Philip and Mary.