The Pilgrimage of Grace (1536)

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  • The Pilgrimage of Grace (1536)
    • Causes
      • Underlying factors of social and economic unrest.
        • Harvests had been poor in recent years.
      • Local nobles felt marginalised. Henry's Government seemed distant.
      • Rumours that the Gov. was going to confiscate all the wealth of the church, including valuables in the parish churches.
        • The presence of three sets of commissioners in Lincolnshire sparked off the original uprising.
      • There was resentment against low-born bureaucrats such as Cromwell, who it was felt were misleading the king.
      • Concerns about the religious reforms.
        • Many of the rebels were loyal Catholics who believed the spread of new ideas to be heresy
    • Key Events
      • By October 10, Robert Aske had become leader of the 'Pilgrims' (as they called themselves). The numbers swelled to 30, 000
      • All men were made to take an oath to defend the church and be loyal to the king.
      • They marched under the banner of the Five Wounds of Christ from York to Pontefract Castle, an important strategic fortress that guarded the road to London. Lord Darcy, who held the castle handed it over to the rebels.
    • Pontefract Articles
      • Robert Aske, a Yorkshire lawyer, was instrumental in drawing up the Pontefract Articles in December 1536 - the closest the rebels got to the manifesto. It focused largely on wishing to return to the situation before the reformation:
        • The divorce from Catherine was condemned: Mary should be legitimised.
        • The King's 'evil' councillors should be dismissed.
        • There should be a parliament in the north.
        • The Dissolution of the Monasteries should be reversed.
        • The breach with Rome should be reversed.
    • Henry's response
      • INITIALLY, Henry appeared to be willing to negotiate.
        • The royal forces lead by the Duke of Norfolk numbered just 8,000, which was considerably less than the 30,000 under Aske's command.
      • Norfolk met with Aske and an agreement was made:
        • The rebels would be granted a general pardon.
        • A parliament  would be held at York to discuss the grievances.
    • Why was the rebellion a serious threat?
    • Why did the rebellion fail?
      • The rebellion would have been more serious had the Pope intervened.
        • He had instructed Cardinal Pole (member of the leading Yorkist family), to organise an invasion, but, before Cole could act the rebellion was over.
          • Henry took advantage and executed other senior members of the Pole family, including the elderly matriarch, the Countess of Salisbury.
      • Henry was served by the loyalty of the rebels.
        • Their real intention was to save him from evil advisors, and he believed he would listen to their petitions.
          • Henry had no compunction in lying and giving false hopes to put the rebellion down. Therefore his policies were to play for time for promising anything, hoping the rebels would disperse when they thought they'd achieved their objectives - and then exact revenge.
            • An army  under Norfolk was sent North. When the rebels went home, they arrested them at their leisure.


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