Tudor Rebellions

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How serious were the Tudor Rebellions?

There were five significant rebellions during the Tudor period:

  • The Pilgrimage of Grace, 1536 (Henry VIII's reign)
  • Western Rebellion, 1549(Edward's reign)
  • Kett's Rebellion, 1549 (Edward's reign)
  • Wyatt's Rebellion, 1554 (Mary's reign)
  • The rebellion of the Northern Earls (Elizabeth's reign)
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Pilgrimage of Grace, 1536

Serious:

  • There were 30,000 rebels
  • The rebels took over Pontefract castle and York.
  • The rebellion was spontaneous, prompted by the clergy in Louth.
  • Robert Aske provided strong leadership and gave the rebellion a religious coating, amassing more support.
  • The nobility got involved: they resented the position of Cromwell in Court, and so were looking to improve their own influences.

Not serious:

  • Despite their strong position, the rebels accepted the pardon when presented.
  • The rebels were poorly armed, suggesting the rebellion was more of a demonstration. 
  • There was no battle or violence, which would have increased the pressure placed on Henry VIII substantially.
  • The rebellion was spontaneous: there was no real planning. 
  • Lord of Suffolk and Norfolk, the Councillors of the North, remained loyal.
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Western Rebellion, 1549

Serious:

  • William Body, a government agent sent to Cornwall to supervise the destruction of Catholic images was murdered.
  • The rebels threatened Exeter and Bodmin.
  • There were over 4000 rebel casualties at Sampford Courtenay. 
  • Three separate government forces had to be sent to suppress the rebellion.
  • Lord Russell, who was originally sent to suppress the rebellion, was hampered by a lack of troops due to attempts to maintain adequate forces on the Scottish border, and to watch for any French aggression.

Not serious:

  • The nobility or gentry did not become involved.
  • The rebels failed to capture Exeter.
  • There was a lack of real leadership.
  • The rising was uncoordinated: the rebels failed to cooperate with the other rebellions occurring. Perhaps if they had done this, the pressure placed on Edward would have been of more significance?
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Kett's Rebellion, 1549

Serious:

  • The rebels captured Norwich: Northampton's troops were ineffective.
  • There were 16,000 rebels.
  • 3,000 of these rebels were killed at Dussindale.
  • This rebellion ultimately led to the replacement of Lord Protector Somerset, although it can be said that Northumberland may have manipulated the situation.
  • Armed forces had to be brought back from Scotland to defeat the rebels.

Not serious:

  • Kett appealed to Somerset for help against the local gentry.
  • Kett moved the rebels from their fortified position at Mousehold Heath to Dussindale.
  • At Dussindale, they fought on the open fields, immediately lowering their chances of success.
  • The rebellion was uncoordinated: it failed to cooperate with other rebellions occurring. Perhaps the pressure placed on Edward would have increased significantly had the rebel forces combined?
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Wyatt's Rebellion, 1554

Serious:

  • Threatened London.
  • Potentially four coordinated risings.
  • The rebels captured Gravesend and Cooling Castle.
  • Mary made a rousing speech.
  • The troops of the Duke of Norfolk, who were sent to suppress the rebels, ended up joining their side.

Not serious:

  • The French did not blockade the Channel.
  • The Spanish did not aid Mary.
  • Support for Mary generally remained strong.
  • The four coordinated risings did not occur.
  • The rebels were delayed in their advance on the capital, giving London time to prepare its defences. This ultimately cost Wyatt troops: by the time they reached London, a mere 300 remained.
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The rebellion of the Northern Earls, 1569

Serious:

  • The rebels captured Barnard Castle and Durham Cathedral.
  • It was the only rebellion which involved calvary.
  • It involved the Duke of Norfolk, a prominent member of the Nobility, who planned to marry Mary, Queen of Scots and place her on the throne, replacing Elizabeth.
  • It involved Mary, Queen of Scots and the issue of the succession.
  • There was possible Spanish involvement (De Spes).

Not serious:

  • The Duke of Norfolk was imprisoned by Elizabeth, forcing the two Earls to rebel early.
  • The tenants were reluctant rebels: they were forced to join by the two Earls.
  • Their aims were unrealistic, as Mary, Queen of Scots was under house arrest.
  • The rebels marched so far south before retreating upon hearing that a royal army had been sent. They meandered with no real purpose.
  • The Spanish did not get involved (De Spes).
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GENERIC REASONS

Serious:

  • The rebels went against central government and government policy.
  • There were numerous rebel casualties
  • The majority of rebels refused the pardon offered (except Pilgrimage of Grace).

Not serious:

  • Most did not threaten London.
  • The rebellions were regionalised.
  • The rebels lacked foreign support.
  • The nobility and gentry did not become involved.
  • There were few men trained in arms.
  • The rebels threatened government policy: they did not want to remove the monarch.
  • Poor leadership

Overall, the discussed factors ensured that the seriousness of these rebellions was limited, although contemporarily they may have been seen as so at the time. 

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Poor leadership

The five following cards will discuss whether the failure of the Tudor rebellions was due to poor leadership. 

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Pilgrimage of Grace, 1536

  • Robert Aske gave the rebellion a religious coating but failed to convince others to follow suit.
  • Instead of acting upon the rebels position of strength, Aske negotiated.
  • Aske's willingness to negotiate ultimately gave the government the opportunity to play for time, causing some of the rebels to also become disillusioned. 
  • Aske also failed to prevent the third rising from occurring, which ultimately lead to the revoking of the pardon they had agreed.

HOWEVER...

Aske did manage to remove control of the North away from country administrators. 

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Western Rebellion, 1549

  • The Western Rebellion lacked any true form of leadership.
  • Humphrey Arundell was a reluctant leader: he was forced to lead the rebellion by local priests.
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Kett's Rebellion, 1549

Poor leadership played a significant part in the failure of this rebellion.

  • Kett dallied over Norwich: he did not stay there when the rebels captured it.
  • Kett moved the rebels from their fortified position at Mousehold Heath to Dussindale.
  • At Dussindale, they fought on the open fields, immediately lowering their chances of success.
  • Kett appealed to Somerset for help against the local gentry.
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Wyatt's Rebellion, 1554

  • Wyatt failed to attract widespread support as he was rebelling against the Queen: he was seen as being unpatriotic.
  • Wyatt rebelled before the other rebellions began, and so the four coordinated risings did not occur, decreasing their influence.
  • Wyatt made the costly decision of capturing Cooling Castle during their march on the capital: this gave London time to prepare its defences and caused some of his followers to become disillusioned. By the time they reached London, a mere 300 rebels remained.
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The rebellion of the Northern Earls, 1569

  • The two Earls failed to gain widespread support as they were seen to be supporting a foreign Queen and because they only used their tenants to rebel.
  • They failed to correspond with the excommunication, which would have helped rally support.
  • Their aims were unrealistic: Mary, Queen of Scots was under house arrest.
  • They marched towards London with no real purpose: they made it so far south before retreating, upon hearing that a royal army had been sent. 
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Causes of the rebellions

In the next ten cards, the political, religious, social, economic and cultural causes of the rebellions will be discussed, as any of these could easily be the thrust of the question:

E.G. To what extent were the Tudor rebellions political in nature?

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Pilgrimage of Grace, 1536

This was mainly a politically motivated revolt.

Political:

  • The rebels felt the North was under attack from Cromwell's policies, such as the Treason Act and the Royal Supremacy.
  • Members of the Nobility resented Cromwell's position in Court.
  • Supporters of Catherine of Aragon believed that a rebellion through the 'many-headed monster' would be the only way to increase her influences, as Court was dominated by supporters of Cromwell.
  • The loss of papal power was also a cause of this rebellion.

Religious:

  • Aske stated that the main cause of this rebellion was the dissolution of the monasteries.
  • The rebels wanted to see an end put to the draining of the churches wealth and rejection of the Royal Supremacy.
  • The rebels were against the destruction of holy days.
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Pilgrimage of Grace, 1536

Economic:

  • The rebels were against the Statute of Uses (tax on inheritance).
  • There had been poor harvests in 1535 and 1536.
  • Agrarian issues, such as rack-renting, tenancies and enclosures. 

Social/cultural:

  • The monasteries had provided many people with food, clothing and shelter. Therefore, their closure had a negative impact on many and generally changed the way of life up North.

QUOTE:

'Interaction and fusion of several grievances' - C.S.L. Davies 

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Kett's Rebellion, 1549

The main causes of this rebellion were economical.

Political:

  • The rebels were against local government.
  • They disliked the local gentry to the point where they appealed to Somerset for help against them.

Religious:

  • The majority of rebels were Protestants, which is shown by their use of the Book of Common Prayer at Mousehold Heath.
  • They were concerned about the poor quality of priests and their failure to fulfil their duties.

Economic:

  • The textile in industry collapsed.
  • They opposed the use of enclosures.
  • They complained about increasing rents, particularly rack-renting. 
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Kett's Rebellion, 1549

Social:

  • Peasants felt resentful of the power of the local gentry.

Social:

  • Hatred of individuals
  • E.G. John Flowerdew, a lawyer who bought up the majority of church land in the area. he outraged the rebels with his rapacity.

QUOTE:

' The closest England came to a class war' - John Guy

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Western Rebellion, 1549

This was undoubtedly a religiously motivated revolt.

Political:

  • Gathered at Bodmin to protest against the Act of Uniformity.
  • Cornwall wished to be treated as a separate country.

Religious:

  • The rebels were against the destruction of traditional Catholic images and symbols, as shown by the murder of William Body, a government agent who was sent to Cornwall to monitor their destruction. 
  • They opposed the introduction of the Act of Uniformity and the Book of Common Prayer, as they firmly established Protestantism in all churches. 
  • They wanted to see the return of the six articles and mass.
  • In 1548, Glasney College, one of the most important chantry churches in Cornwall, was demolished. 
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Western Rebellion, 1549

Economic:

  • They wanted to see an end put to the taxes on cloth and sheep.
  • They were against the use of enclosures, which had caused individuals to lose their right to common land.
  • Rents had been increased excessively. 

Social:

  • The rebels were against the clergy, as demonstrated by the chanting of 'kill the gentlemen' at Bodmin.

Cultural:

  • The majority of Cornish people spoke Cornish - Gaelic. Therefore, they desired to have a Book of Common Prayer in their first language. yet their request was rejected. 
  • All services were to be conducted in English, not Latin. 
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Wyatt's Rebellion, 1554

The main causes of this rebellion were political.

Political:

  • They wanted to attempt to remove Mary from the throne and replace her with Elizabeth.
  • They opposed Mary's marriage to Phillip II of Spain.
  • They were concerned that the Spanish would come to dominate English politics.
  • They feared England would be dragged into the Habsburg Wars.
  • Kent was in political wilderness.
  • Heretics were treated as political prisoners.

Religious:

  • Many of the rebels were Protestant.

Economic:

  • There was a slump in the Kent cloth trade, causing unemployment levels to rise.
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Wyatt's Rebellion, 1554

Social:

  • Wealthy landowners.

Cultural:

  • Hatred of the Spanish was easily aroused (xenophobia).
  • Against a woman ruler.

QUOTE:

'Local gentry were too wound up in their own affairs' - Bindoff

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The rebellion of the Northern Earls, 1569

This was mainly a political revolt.

Political:

  • The power base of the North had been taken away.
  • The established Northern families saw their power eroded under Elizabeth.
  • The Earl of Northumberland saw his position decline under the rule of Elizabeth.
  • The Duke of Norfolk planned to marry Mary, Queen of Scots and replace Elizabeth with her on the throne.

Religious:

  • Mary, Queen of Scots would re-Catholicise England.
  • They were against the appointment of the Bishop of Durham.
  • Catholic support remained strong in the North.

Economic:

  • The Earl of Northumberland's claim for compensation to the rights of a copper mine were ignored.
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The rebellion of the Northern Earls, 1569

Social:

  • The tenantry rose against the local gentry.

Other:

  • The Earl of Westmorland's wife pressurised the two earls into rebelling. 
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