Leadership in Tudor Rebellions

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  • Leadership
    • Nobles
      • Most protest in the Tudor period was in protest of a particular policy, like a tax or religious policy. In these situations, the nobility had to weigh up their duty to support the crown, with the benefits of overturning a royal policy and the angers of reprisals.
      • More often than not, it was the decision of noblemen not to join a rebellion that destroyed its chances of success. Their refusal could be catastrophic as they could muster their own armies to fight the rebellion, and send a signal to people living and working on their estates.
      • examples
        • Lord Audley - joined the Cornish rebels as they marched through Somerset and assumed leadership
        • Lord Darcy - Landowner in the North who opposed Henry VIII's divorce and church reforms. Began plotting rebellion in 1534, and joined PoG when his castle at Pontefract was seized by the rebels
        • Earl of Northumberland and Earl of Westmorland - key nobles in the north, became frustrated with the sidelining and declining of their families under Elizabeth and angered by the imposition of a more Protestant national church.
        • Earl of Essex - came to court hoping to win power and favour from Elizabeth but was blocked by her preference of the Cecils, and his own incompetence. Near to bankruptcy, he launched his rebellion in 1601 to seize London.
        • In Ireland, the leading rebels were Earls, such as Tyrone, Kildare, and Desmond, who used their position as head of a clan to mobilise large numbers of supporters.
        • As heads of rebellions, there are also Lovell in 1496, Audley in 1497, Lumley and Latimer in 1536, and Dacre in 1570.
    • Gentry
      • The most likely rebels, disconnected from the everyday life of the community and often closely linked to royal government.
      • examples
        • Sir John Egremont - member of the Percy family, took control of the Yorkshire tax rebellion in 1489
        • Thomas Flanmark - Son of Sir Richard Flanmark, Mayor of Cornwall, and one of the men who collected taxes on behalf of the crown. Little is known about why Thomas rebelled against his father, but he spoke at meetings in 1497 against the new tax to raise money for defence against a Scottish invasion.
        • Robert Aske - Lawyer son of a landowning family in Yorkshire, his skills in argument and communication made him a popular and ideal leader of the PoG
        • Sir Francis Bigod - Gentleman from Cumberland, who attempted his own rebellion as the main PoG was drawing to a close
        • Humphrey Arundell - Gentleman with lands around the town of Bodmin in Cornwall, a strong Catholic who deeply resented the new Prayer Book in 1549. Claimed he was forced to join the Western rebellion, but there is little evidence this was the case.
        • Sir Thomas Wyatt - brought up as a Roman Catholic, fought loyally for the Crown under Henry VIII and Edward, and was knighted in 1547. Seeing the Spanish Inquisition made him hostile to Spaniards, and so resented Mary's marriage to Philip of Spain
    • Commoners
      • They were the people who swelled the numbers involved and made the protests look important due to size and threat, however were rarely leaders.
      • e.g Nicholas Melton or Captain Cobbler in PoG
    • Clergy
      • often supported the status quo
      • e.g Thomas Welch in the Western Rebellion
      • Rarely led rebellions, as the Crown was appointed by God, and so to go against them would be sinful, although rebellion against a usurper could be justified.
      • In regions where the Catholic faith was deeply entrenched, such as Cornwall, Lancashire, or Yorkshire, the clergy were prepared to stand shoulder to shoulder with their community.


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