Key Issue 1: Mid Tudor Crises 1547-1558

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Threat of a female ruler

A female ruler was considered to be a threat to the stability of the monarchy for the following reasons

  • A woman would be unable to control faction
  • A woman would be unable to lead an army into battle
  • A woman was expected to marry (the question was who and even as a queen, she should be subservient to her husband.

- If she married an Englishman it would increase the power of his family (dominate court)

 - If she married a foreigner the country would be dominated by them (position in courts taken over, along with being dragged into their wars)

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Mary's marriage + crisis?

Two factions formed around the question of who Mary should Marry, dividing the Privy Council on who they should be

Edward Courtenay, Earl of Devon

  • Supported by Gardiner 
  • Courtenay was a distant cousin and so had royal blood (marriage would further the stength of the Tudor dynasty) 
  • However his marriage could allow his family to dominate court

Phillip of Spain

  • Supported by Paget
  • Phillip would bring England closer to the Hasburgs who Catherine of Aragon (Mary's mother) was related
  • Beneficial as phillip was powerful and therefore able to protect Mary
  • Concern that her would bring England into the Hasburg wars 

The approval of Mary's marriage to Phillip occured in january 1554 motivated by the terms of her marriage treaty which limited Philip's power if her were to become king.

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Wyatt's rebellion - failure?

-The fear of England becoming re-Catholicised combined with the proposed marriage between Mary and Philip of Spain, led to the Wyatt Rebellion of 1554.

-Rebellion led by nobles – principally Sir Thomas Wyatt from Kent, Sir Peter Carew from Devon, Sir James Croft from Herefordshire and the Duke of Suffolk from Leicestershire. 

Reasons for failure

  • By disclosing the sceme to Gardiner and bad planning, Wyatt was forced to raise his force too early (in the middle of winter)
  • Mary refused to flee the ciry, showing her strength as a monarch
  • Mary appointed Lord William Howard as captain general + Lor Mayor for the defence of the city 
  • Bound to fail by the time the forces arrived at the gates of the city
  • Rebels were halted at London Bridge + Tower, stopped at ludgate where they were surrounded


  • Mary responded to the rebellion by executing less than 100 of the commoners involved along with Wyatt
  • Craft was later released from imprisonment after being interrogated + imprisonment of Elizabeth and Courtenay 
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Wyatt's rebellion - reasons

Fear of foreign influence

  • Rumours that the court would be dominated by spaniards 
  • Fears the spanish would recieve the best jobs and gain access to partonage
  •  laimed the spanish rule would result in an end to liberty


  • Court would be dominated by the spanish
  • results in a loss of position and posts for english men
  • along with loss of patronage


  • Mary and Phillip were both Catholic and so would try to change the English religion even more 
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Wyatt's rebellion - Causes

Sir Thomas Wyatt

  • Rebels in 1554 
  • Memeber of the Kentish gentry
  • Supported Mary's accession (respected the legitimacy of the Tudors)
  • Against her marriage to Phillip (xenophobia)
  • Was a strong protestant and therefore would be opposed to Mary marrying another strong Catholic
  • Fear/ hatred for foreigners 
  • Built up the appeal for a rebellion on the idea of patriotic sentiment, won him more support than an appeal to religion (hidden religious motives?)

Wyatt's appeal

  • By not appealing towards religion, Wyatt prevented a divide in his support + gained support from both sides (Everyone can be afraid of foreigners rather than just religion)
  • Wyatt exaggerated what might happen (spainish gaining the best jobs and position, also claimed there were no guarantees to the marriage treaty)

John Proctor 

  • Claimed it was religiously motivated 
  • e.g Leaders of the attack were protestant, the area of most support was known for being religiously radical
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Faction and instability

Key advisors in Mary's court 

  • William Paget 1506-1563 , Lord privy seal 1556-1558
  • Stephen Gardiner 1483-1555 (catholic), Bishop of Winchester, Lord Chancellor 1553-1555

Mary's Privy Council

  • Some view the council as dominated by instability
  • Many divisions 
  • Size meant it was ineffective (too big)
  • Committees in 1554 excluded the casual councillors (better advice)
  • 1555 establishment of an inner council
  • factional clashes over religion, marriage and heresy lawas (revival)
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England in 1547 pt.2

Monarchy in England

  • Henry ruled independently (known as a ruthless leader, only had one male heir)
  • Regancy council to help Edward govern


  • Monarch was the head of the church (royal supremacy, the Pope no longer has the power)
  • Majority of the poeple are catholic

Rebellion and Unrest

  • Protests againt taxing (Henry forced to abandon some taxes), religion and economy
  • Difficult to stop unrest (no standing army) ----> relied on nobles
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1553: The Devise and attempt to alter the successi

May -Duke of Northumberland's son marries Lady Jane Grey
June -The devise to exclude Mary Tudor from the succession
July 6th -Edward dies
July 10th -Lady Jane becomes queen + Mary raises an army
July 19th -LJG defeated + Mary is queen 
August -Lady Jane Grey, Guildford Dudley + John Dudley executed

Primogeniture-The idea that the line of succession should go to the oldest male heir

Early Months

  • Edward's health deteriorates (very little doubt that he will not survive the year)
  • In spring/summer a plot to remove Mary from the throne is developed (replacing her with LJG)
  • Northumberland was mainy responsible for these attempts (so he could retain power, as father in law to the new monarch)


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1. 16th Century England

Key features

  • Catholic, Catholic Church of England (Breaking away from the Pope's control)
  • Monarch is all powerful
  • Education is on the rise (but only for the rich)
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2. Tudor Monarchs

Edward VI 1547-1553

  • Reigned for 6 years from the ages 9-15
  • Firm protestant
  • Ruled through advisors (Edward Seymour Duke of Somerset, John Dudley Duke of Northumberland)
  • Said his sisters were illigitimate

Mary Tudor 1553-1558

  • Catholic 
  • 'Bloody Mary'
  • Married Phillip of Spain 
  • Makes England Catholic again (Papal supremacy)
  • Murdered around 300 protesetants 

Elizabeth I 1558-1603

  • Longer reign (more stablility)
  • Makes a protestant Church of England
  • Wanted a middle way (between Catholics and Protestants)
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England in 1547 pt.1

The Government in England

  • Personality was important for a king but Edward was a child (still yet to grow up)
  • Edward's young age led to many nobles trying to gain power/influence
  • No regular power in parliament (other than the monarch)

England's position in Europe

  • Henry VIII death 
  • England still at war with France and Scotland (alliance between France and Scotland may lead to England fighting a war on two fronts)
  • Fears of a Catholic crudafe
  • England is not a major power (captured balogne from France)


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Stability of monarchy 1547-1558

-Edward seymour (Duke of Somerset) was Edward VI's uncle

Expectations of a monarch (king)

  • Expected to rule with authority (born to rule)
  • To listen/take advice from the governing elite
  • To uphold religion
  • To give patronag (nobles...etc.)
  • Expected to have martial qualities (fight+lead)
  • Patriarchal society

Problems with Edward's age

  • Unrest (people may think he is too young)
  • Can't lead troops into battle (questioning his strength)
  • Could have advantages taken from advisors
  • No legitimate heir (too young to start a family)
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Third Succession Act 1543

  • Made sure that if Edward died wihtout and heir, the throne would pass to Mary and if Mary died without an heir it would pass to Elizabeth
  • Reversed earlier succession acts (that prevented women from taking thte throne as Elizabeth and Mary were deemed illigitimate)
  • In Henry's will DEC 1547 (to make sure the successsion was peaceful)
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Somerset's assumption

Already assumed he would take power

  • As he was uncle to Edward 
  • Built up a reputation as a successful soldier
  • Kept Henry's death quiet until he had stability + power over Edward
  • Resulted in Factional unrest in the Privy Council
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The Fall of Somerset

Many of he ruling elite resented Somerset and his government 

  • e.g unrest in the countryside
  • Personal style of governent
  • Ignoring the council and advisors

Oct 1549

  • Lords and councillors plotted to overthrow Somerset
  • Published a proclaimation 
  • As Somerset lost his hold on power he retreated to Hampton court
  • 5th Oct he summoned loyal subjects to defend him and the king 
  • 6th Oct he moved to Windsor Castle taking Edward with him, claiming that he was a prisone, Edward abandoned Somerset 
  • Removal and arrest the following week
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1553: The Devise and attempt to alter the successi

Lady Jane Grey

  • Her great grandfather is Henry VII
  • Grandmother is Henry VIII's sister
  • Therefore has royal blood (used as her claim to the throne)

Edward +Devise 

  • Edward was a strong protestant
  • In handing over the throne to Mary, he would loose all the progres made in the implementation of protestantism in England
  • Therefore he would want LJG to be the heir (Edward also was older and therefore would be more aware of the situation in England and more control)
  • Devise was not backed up by other powers (just Edward)

Suggests Northumberland was not involved as the Devise was badly planned. People, even non-catholic, respected the legitimate heir.

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