Kett's Rebellion

  • Created by: aneta002
  • Created on: 13-11-18 14:38

Facts - Political Causes of Kett's Rebellion

- The problematic governance within Norwich. The rebels were trying to demand a higher standard of local governance due to their beliefs that the local governance was corrupt and did not care for the interests of the community

- An example of the greed of the elite is the fact that 6% of the population in Norwich owned 60% of the lands and goods, clearly illustrating how power was highly restricted and the commoners were completley out of reach with this wealth.

- Some of these roles include the role of the escheator and the feodary (article 12) - 'we pray that no feodary within your shores shall be a counselor to any man in his office'. These officials were accused of benefitting themselves at the expense of central government. The rebels were so angered by the open corruption within the system that they demanded that each officer who had upset them should pay 4p a day for the duration of the rebellion (article 29).

- The discontent towards these two roles could be due to the fact that Kett's rebels complained that they were taking bribes from landlords to manipulate their findings so that their reports would protect the landlords but disrupt the Crown's income. This claim illustrates the sheer greed of the oficials who wanted to continue to serve the interests of the rich

- The fact that the rebellion began in Norfolk, which is where the poor local governance was illustrates that politics is a key cause of the rebellion. Kett's article 57 says that his purpose was to ensure that the 'good laws, statues, proclamations' made for the people were not disregarded by the local governance. Overall, there was a breakdown of trust between the governing class and the commoners

1 of 14

Political Causes - Evaluation

- This collective evidence is highly convincing in establishing that the rebels desire for better local government certainly motivated Kett's rebellion. The rebels were simply exasperated with the pre-existing system of local governance and wanted a system that was fair and served the interests of the whole community, instead of just the elite. Years of mistreatment is understandable in explaining why poor local government was highly significant in causing Kett's Rebellion.

2 of 14

Facts - Economic Causes of Kett's Rebellion

- The timing of the rebellion directly coincides with socio-economic discontent. This is because the rebellion began exactly when crowds began to destroy a section of JFs enclosure after he started to demolish the local abbey. During this time period, enclosures were becoming increasingly common in East England - much to the anger of the commoners

- The main reason that the commoners were angry at political figures such as Kett and Flowerdew is because they believed that they were obstructing a government comission that was investigating an illegal enclosure in the areas. John Flowerdew was a lawyer who was in dispute with the local people of Norflok, even though the townspeople purchased it - caused by money.

- Enclosures were constant sources of tension between landlords and tenants / commoners. This is a credible view as the matter of enclosure appears as the second demand within the articles - highlighting its sheer importance.

- Another cause of dicontent within the rebels was the tax that was implemented between March and November in 1549. This tax was to restrict the size of the flocks and to dicourage landlords from turning to sheep farming. this would be extremely obstructive to any common farmers who would depend on the meat and wool from the sheep to create a livelihood and to use as resources for themselves.

- This tax would have been even more DETRIMENTAL in 1549 as there was a growing population. The population had risen from 2.3 million in 1525 to 3 million in 1551. This meant that it was even harder to provide an adequate and sufficient source of food supply as there was a greater demand - which could lead to the price increasing

- Landlords could even take advantage of this for their own greed and profit. The tax on sheep farming and enclosures are two immediate problems that caused Kett's rebellion and are the most aignificant as they posed two large threats towards the commoners - especially the farmers.

3 of 14

Economic Causes - Evaluation

- Economic factors are undoubtedly the most significant reason for Kett's Rebellion. The economic related dispute of the local abbey between John Flowerdew and the commoners is the reason that the rebellion occured in the first place. If John Flowerdew did not threaten to demolish the local abbey which the commoners had put their money into in the first place, then the rebellion would not have occured as the commoners would have had no reason to destroy his enclosure and for the conflict to spiral.

- Enclosures and the sheep tax in 1549 also represented huge economic problems that had caused discontent for the commoners for years. Paired with the demolition of the local abbey, these three factors all collectively caused economic discontent for the commoners which they were exasperated with and ultimately decided to rebel.

- The religious and political causes that also contributed to the rebellion were more long term and underlying factors that did not trigger the rebellion in 1549. If they were the prime reasons for the rebellion, then they would have occured nearer to the time - but they did not.

-The most prevalent cause within the rebels's petition are economic related and 8 requests are related to this.

4 of 14

Facts - Religious Causes of Kett's Rebellion

- Unlike the rebels in the West Country who wanted to preserve Catholicism, Kett's rebels were actually sympathetic towards The Duke of Somerset's move towards Protestantism. This is shown through the fact the rebels used the new Book of Common Prayer within their services at camp

- Additionally, a lot of the demands were based on the clergy - who the rebels believed to be undeducated. 7 articles within the demands focused on religion (demand number 4,8, 15, 20). The rebels requested that: priests should preach and teach more, priests should live with aristocrats rather than their flocks and that parishioners should have the right to remove a parishioner if they were not adequate enough - '' we pray that priests or vicars that not be able to preach and set forth the word of God to his parishioners there to choose another or else patron or lord of the town'', this illustrates the proposed power of the locals which the rebels wanted

- The cause of religion is also linked with the fact that every single demand began with 'we pray that' which insinuates that the commoners were concerned about religion and the commonwealth

- Additionally, If Flowerdew was not to have started to destroy the abbey in Wymondham , which is a key place to practice religion, then the rebels would not have had to rebel in the first place

- Lastly, the factor of religion is highly prevalent within Kett's demands, illustrating that it was indeed a concern

5 of 14

Religious Causes - Evaluation

- The factor of religion is not highly convincing in causing Kettt's rebellion. This is because problems such as uneducated clergymen and those that did not serve the community adequately are not large threats to the rebels and are these problems are likely to have existed for years before the rebellion actually occured. It is questionable that 17,000 people would rebel just because of the problems within the clergy - which was a long term issue.

- It is also questionable that religion was the main factor in causing Kett's rebellion because; not many priests joined the rebellion like they did with the Pilgrimage of Grace, 'we pray' may have just been a way to avoid treason by not using harsh language and lastly The Earl of Warwick going to Church after the rebellion to pray to God for thanks for ending the religion is merely symbolic and does not suggest that religion is a key factor.

- In comparison to corrupt local officials who were supposed to be completing their jobs without the elements of corruption and greed with the community's best interests at heart and the socio-economic discontent that has been extremely prevalent - the role of religion in causing Kett's rebellion is clearly inferior.

6 of 14

How serious was Kett's Rebellion - FOR

- The Duke of Norfolk was not present in the area during the rebellions, he had been imprisoned since 1546. His absence from the region in which he was the most important landowner created a power vacuum. The local gentry lacked leadership from a resident nobleman and the rebellion was able to gather momentum much more quickly. Without The DON there was a distinct lack of royal authority

- Kett siding with the rebels may be symbolic of his fear of the sheer seriousness of the rebellion. He quickly agreed that he had illegally enclosed the common land and ordered his hedges to be torn down. These actions made Kett the leader of the rebellion and within six weeks he was able to gain an army of 17,000 rebels at Mousehold. Thhe speed in which this amount of people gathered illustrates the sheer discontent of the rebels

- Norwich was the largest city in England after London and an important administrative centre. Threatening such a vital city was a good way to guarantee the government's attention.

- The fact that The Marquis of Northampton was willing to offer a pardon illustrates how strained the government was and how Kett's rebellion was threatening social order. Only 20 rebels out of 17,000 accepted this. Instead of surrendering the rebels launched another attack on Norwich and the MON was forced to withdraw from the city and many of the remaining gentry fled. Norwich was in the hands of the rebels and remained so for the next three weeks

7 of 14

Facts 2 - Political Causes of Kett's Rebellion

- Essentially, the rebels wanted to show that they could administer law and order effectively. Members of the gentry were captured and put on trial before Kett under the Oak of Reformation. These actions highlight the sheer level of discontent held by the rebels and the level that they were willing to go to as they took the law into their own hands to punish the local officials

- An additional piece of evidence that proves that better local governance was needed is number 57 on Kett's demands which stated that the intention was to ensure that the 'good laws, statutes and proclamations' made for the commoners to be upheld. According to the historian Fletcher, there was a breakdown in trust between the landed elites and the commoners, which then escalated into the rebellion.

8 of 14

How serious was Kett's Rebellion - For Part 2

- The MONs army with Italian mercernaries provoked the rebels even further as it looked as if the English government were against their own people. The Italian army were eventually defeated 

- The rebels captured Lord Sheffield in Norwich on 31st July and he was brutally beaten to death. Although the rebels were keen to maintain a form of social hierachy, their contempt for the landed elites were clear. The fact that this government figure was killed was a serious concern for the government 

- After the EOW arrived on 23rd August 1549, Kett's rebels attacked Warwick's troops at night who would be bulnerable and exhausted. The rebels captured guns which they then used against Warwick's army

- The rebels repeatedly denied the negotiations that the government offered. Their defiance highights the sheer seriousness of the challenge. The EOW tried to negotiate and he asked the rebelsto round themselves up but they refused and fired warning shots

- Overall, Kett's rebellion was extremely serious as it had the capability to threaten the pre-exisiting crumbling social order in England. Firstly, 23/23 counties in England has already been rebellion. Secondly, France declared war on England during Kett's rebellion in early August which put the government under further strain.

9 of 14

How serious was Kett's Rebellion - AGAINST

- Warwick only lost 40 men, illustrating that this is not a serious military effect, it is only political

- It only took the government 3 weeks to send help after the MON fled from Warwick's army to Norwich. There were already pre-existing problems such as the French invasion and the Western rebellion which were other serious strains put on the government 

- The Rebellion supported the religious changes at the time. Threat was limited as there was no intention to march to London or overthrow Edward VI

- Kett had no foreign support from other countries, it was only home grown support ultimately 

- Kett's rebel army were not trained fighters and did not have the weapons or skills to defend themselves against a much more experienced royal army. Kett's army lost 4,000 men which is over 3K more than what the EOW lost. 

Factors regarding the seriousness of Kett's rebellion : Government response, national and foreign support, duration, death count, nobility + gentry involved and battles / pardons 

10 of 14

Kett's Leadership - GOOD

-Kett was tactful and seemed to be an idealist with a strong sense of social justice. Kett sided with the rebels against the landowners and admitted that he had enclosed the common lands illegally and volunteered to destroy his fences himself. Kett promised to stay with the rebels until they had reached their aims. His position within the community meant that the rebels were prepare to listen to him and accept his leadership.

- Kett was clearly a charismatic leader as he was able to persuade the rebels to follow him and was soon the leader of an army that was 17,000 strong. Kett would not have been able to achieve this without considerable skills of persuasion and organisation. Even when government armies arrived, Kett's rebels stayed loyal to him, trusting that his leadership would be enough to protect them

- Kett's leadership was also important due to the way in which he organised and ran the rebellion. Kett insisted on good order within the rebel camp and that the rebels should take the moral high ground by behaving peacefully, which was mainly obeyed

- Kett refused to be classed as a rebel. When the government offered a pardon to the rebels, Kett refused because he argued that he was not a rebel in the first place and thus he did not need a pardon

- ''many shouts testified the joy they felt at having gained such great acquisition to the cause''

11 of 14

Kett's Leadership - BAD

-Kett's involvement at Dussindale was an error and a tactiful disaster. TIB he listened to false prophecies that he would be successful there. He gave the orders to his army to march to Dussindale. Kett lost 3,000 followers whilst The Earl of Warwick only lost 30 men. Ketted his army on poor judgment and not fact and suffered from poor geographical judgement

- On the hill at Mousehold, the rebels had been well-protected from attack, especially by the cavalry. Dussindale was flat and did not have this protection. It was easy for Warwick to use his trained cavalry against the untrained rebels. Sotherton claims that Kett tried to flee and was captured. The Battle of Dussindale put an end to Kett;s rebelion

- Kett did not have any military prowess and lacked the tactical awareness to deal with a well-trained army under the leadership of an experienced military campaigner, the Earl of Warwick. The rebels were able to defeat the MON as he underestimated them and delayed dealing with them so the rebels had a strong defensive position overlooking the city and had the upper hand over the government army. However, this was not the case with the EOW.

- The EOW cut off the rebels supply lines and forced Kett to make a difficult choice. Without supplies, the rebel camp could not survive and had to fight. At this point Kett panicked and then started to listen to prophecies that told him he would be victorious at Dussindale.

12 of 14

Facts Part Two - Economic Causes of Kett's Rebelli

- One of the traditional rights enjoyed by Kett and his social equals was the right to graze animals on common land. However, in the Tudor period local land owners (the nobility and rising merchant classes) began to enclose common land and use it to graze their own sheep, in the process removing that formerly accessible land from farming by villagers and small farmers. This enclosure allowed landowners to create great wealth by selling wool. English wool was the life-blood of the economy in many areas of the country throughout the late medieval and Tudor periods. By enclosing common land and using it to raise sheep, landowners became rich, but at the same time, peasants and yeoman farmers like Kett, who used common land for subsistence farming and raising animals, now found it hard to survive, let alone thrive.

- The attacks on Flowerdew's enclosed lands at the beginning of the rebellion reveal the resentment felt by the commoners in East Anglia. Flowerdew also represented the sort of member of the gentry that the rebels did not like. As a lawyer, Flowerdew was able to use his legal skills to gain power locally - which upset the local community at Wymondham. He was also the escheator for Norfolk and was responsible for overseeing the Crown's rights over its lands. This post gave Flowerdew the opportunity to make extra money through bribes and intimidation.

13 of 14

Government Leadership - GOOD

- Following the failure of the EOWs initial meeting with the rebels in which he offered pardons, he took action. He ordered that the grates of Norwich should be opened. When the rebels inside refused, he ordered his army to open fire on the main gate. Warwick's army was so strong that they were able to break through the city defences. The Earl and his men were able to overrun the city, capturing and executing some rebels on the spot

- Despite fierce attacks from the rebels, which left much of the city on fire, Warwick and his troops were able to resist this. The Earl even ordered that his men should take an oath which bound them to remain in the city until they had defeated the rebels or died in the attempt.

- Warwick's leadership was helped by the arrival of additional Swiss mercenaries and by the gradual reduction of the rebels' supply lines, which made them increasingly desperate and which made Kett make the rash decision to leave Mousehold Heath for Dussindale.

- Warwick then took advantage of the fact that the rebels now had to make new defences at Dussindale. He decided to attack the folowing day. Following a final offer of pardon to the rebels - which was refused. Norfolk's men charged and this caused the front line of the rebels including Kett to scatter and try to flee

- Warwick won the Battle at Dussindale by a huge amount and he had managed to turn a potentially difficult and dangerous situation to his advantage and he had succeeeded in suppressing the rebellion where Northampton had failed.

14 of 14


No comments have yet been made

Similar History resources:

See all History resources »See all British monarchy - Tudors and Stuarts resources »