Tudor Government: Henry VIII

An overview of how government was run and problems such as rebellions.

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Background/Historiography

  • In 1953 Elton published 'Tudor Revolution in Government', which said that the 1530s saw a crucial change in how England was governed, and that this was due to
    • cromwell and his plans to improve government efficiency,
    • as well as introducing the principle of 'national government.'
  • Cromwell wanted to transform Tudor domains into a unitary commonwealth
  • However, Cromwell's role as an innovator has been challenged by revisionist historians.
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Control of Subjects

  • Control of the provinces was a mixture of the institutional and informal.Henry exploited and developed existing institutions: therefore little change(evolution not revolution theory)
  • Cromwell aimed to establish the King's total control over his people as part of his 'plan' for a unitary state.
  • JPS
  • Were the most important means of controlling the localities and were called upon to enforce new statutes.Gentry
  • 1542: attempt to get JPs to hold extra plenary sessions, to ensue their duties were carried out.
  • Gentry, nobility and churchmen were all keen to become JPs
  • JP enforced king's wishes and provided the king with an army when he went to war.
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Cromwell's Unitary State

  • The main evidence for Cromwell wanting a unitary state is the 'act for resuming certain liberties to the crown.'
    • this took away priviledges of those who didn't follow the king
  • It was necessary to increase efficiency as there was fear of rebellion because of changes to religion.
  • Calais needed to be well governed as it was the first line of defense.
    • In 1535 Cromwell sent a royal commission to investigate problems.
    • In 1536 the calais act entrusted calais to an executive council. It was allowed 2 MPs in the commons.
  • In wales:
    • Rowland lee appointed President of Welsh council. lee believed in hunting and hanging criminals.He boasted of hangin 5000 men in 6 years,
    • 1536 JPs established in wales. shires cold elect 2 MPs. 'Act for laws and justice to be ministered in wales in like form as it is in this realm.'
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Cromwell's Unitary State Continued

    • 1543, welsh marshes merged into shires; each entrusted to a sherrif and JPs
    • Wales maintained a seperate justice system until 1830
    • Council of wales contributed to enforcement of English law & ensured england remained peaceful into C17th
    • 'Act of Union' allowed welsh andowners to paticipate in politics.
  • In the North:
    • Henry percy's debt was used to force him to bequeath his estates to the crown in his will. Only then was he made lieutenant of the North.
    • Tunstall was made president of the Council of the North in 1537. CoN supreme authority
    • CoN was v. active in chastising JPs and sherrifs who failed to perform thier duties. It ensured religious policies were implemented. justice was fair and fast
    • therefore, overlal well governed in the north
  • In Ireland:
    • Cromwell's choice of governer to replace Kildare was unlikely to be a success
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Cromwell's Unitary State Continued

    • Sir Skeffington was a relative nonentity who had failed to govern Ireland in the past
    • S was given command of 150 men and copies of the pamphlet; 'ordinances for the gov of Ireland'
  • Factors leading to rebellion:
    • Kildare's imprisonment
    • religion
  • as a reult of the rebellion Cromwell was forced to recognise the need for stronger changes.
  • New policy was devised:
    • Dublin administration to extend it's government
    • statutes of kilkenny revived
    • Colony's frontier to be fortified but peace to be negotiated
  • In practise there was little change: Grey was a soldier not a caretaker and he tried only to win glory for himself. This forced Irish lords to form a league and in 1540 Grey was dismissed.
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Irish Constitutional Revolution

  • June 1541: Ireland's constitutional status changed from a feudal lordship to a sovereign kingdom.
  • traditional historiography claims that H8 was responsible for this change and that it was purely cosmetic.
  • However, Bradshaw wrote that H had the title fo King of Ireland forced upon him as part of a strategy to unite Irish colonies and England.
  • This 'revolution' was the brainchild of sir Thomas Cusack, a humanist.
    • He wanted to see ireland reformed and create harmony
    • he was supported by Sir anthony St leger, lord deputy in ireland(1540)
  • Constitutional revolution began in Anglo-Irish parliament 1541
    • This declared that Ireland was a kingdom, of which H8 was king
    • made all Irish subjects of henry, with same rights as english
    • Henry now honour bound to dispense justice and good government.
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Irish Constitutional Revolution Continued

  • This was the first parliament with Irish noblemen in the House of Lords
  • This signified that in the future, irish parliament would be representative of all.
  • Cusack and St leger devised 'surrender and regrant';
    • Irish Lords surrendered their lands to the king, in return for patents by which the king regranted lands and titles valid under english law.
    • Each irish lord had to surrender his gaelic title, agree to assist and obey the king, speak english and eject the Pope's authority.
  • The pair were making a lot of progress
  • However, in july 1543, H8 embarked on a futile war with france and Scotland, so the constitutional revolution was suspended and never recovered.
  • St leger was replaced by bellingham who abandoned the experiment.
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Problems: Rebellions

The Lincolnshire Uprising(Background to the Pilgrimage of Grace(PoG))

  • Causes
    • Sept 1536: 3 sets of gov commissions in Lincolnshire:
      • Cromwell's in order to dissolve smaller monasteries.
      • King's in order to collect 1534 subsidy.
      • Bishop Longland's in order to enforce 10 articles.
    • There were lots of rumours circulation,e.g.
      • chuch jewels were to be impounded
      • taxes on horned cattle to be implemented
      • wouldn't be allowed to eat white bread without paying a tribute to the crown.
  • Events
    • 1st oct: Sermon preached at louth inflamed 100s of clergy
    • 2nd oct:
      • Bishop's registrar siezed,
      • around this time nicholas melton(a shoemaker) began to emerge as a leader.
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Problems: Rebellions continued

  • 4th oct:
    • 18 local gentry joined, which gave the rebellion an air of legitimacy
    • Dr Raynes, Longland's chancellor is murdered
    • The gentry produce their articles of grievances:
      • King to abandon subsidy
      • Leigh and Layton to be punished
      • Church's liberties to be restored
      • Cramner and Latimer to be restored
      • statutes of uses(inheritance tax) to be repealed
      • Coucillors like cramner to be punished
    • Overall about religiona nd a battle for power amongst local gentry.
  • 10000 march to lincoln, joined by Lord Hussey and 3 monasteries
  • 10th oct: royal reply threatens punishment. Duke of Suffolk arrives and they disperse.
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Problems: Rebellions continued

  • Aftermath
    • 100 death sentences, though only 57 carried out- clergy dalt with harshly
    • 1540 satute of uses abandoned
    • Willoughby made peer
    • Ed Dymoke appointed treasurer of Boulogne.

Pilgrimage of Grace (Largest revolt in English History)

  • Causes
    • 1)Economy,2) religion,3) feudal rising by Percies,4) plot by Arogonese faction
    • 1) recent taxation had been unpopular, 2 yrs of bad harvest and weather: BUT no evidence that it was a major grievance, also , compalints about enclosure(only in some areas of Yorkshire) Overal, economy not a sufficient cause od the PoG.
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Problems: Rebellions continued

  • 2)
    • Laity opposed threats to rituals,practices, wanted to keep festivals and church ornaments, the monasteres were popular(dispensed help,etc)
    • However, pilgrims only attempted to restore 16/85 houses in the north
    • could be more clerical than religious pressure to express religious grievances.
  • 3)
    • The Percies were a very popular magnate family
    • henry percy had a collection of titles but no heir
    • HP made H8 heir to his titles and his family were concerned they'd lose their lands
    • However, most nobles weren't involved in the urising
  • 4)
    • Hussey was Mary's chamberlain, lord Darcy had plotted with Chapuys(imperial ambassador)
    • they wanted to restore Mary to the succession
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Problems: Rebellions continued

    • they wanted to reverse faction fighting at court andchief opposition was cromwel
    • Didn't want a scottish sucession
    • This is easily proven in the pontefract articles
  • Events
    • initially isolated events under different nobles
    • Aske organized various musters after visiting Leicester
    • 16th oct: 10000 pilgrims took York and soon after Hull and Pontefracte
    • 1st issue of demands similar to those of lincolnshire, also spread of rumours
    • name 'pilgrimage' has clear religious conotations. their synmbol was the 5 wounds of christ
    • risings were appearing in northumberland,durham and areas of yorkshire, usually under gentry leader. Lord Latimer (of CoN) and Sir danby atacked Barnard castle
    • lord darcy surrendered pontefract, claiming he ad run out of supplies
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Problems: Rebellions continued

  • Whole poG caught gov completely unawares
  • at this stage, aske was only trying to sacre the government, he had no plans to remove H8, just wanted a greater say for the north and to reverse some of the reformation.
  • Aske spent 19-21 oct at pontefract, discussing with lords,gentry and archB of york
  • results were the 24 pontefract articles, same as those at york, but with demands for limited papal supremacy, new complaints, and mary to be restored to the succession.
  • 2nd Nov, pardon offered to all but the ringleaders
  • 3rd nov, Norfolk told to grant general pardon and promise a parliament
  • 6th nov N promised Ps that their demands would be discussed
  • december, h8 formerly read the pardon and the Ps dispersed
  • H8 won through patience and luck. he neither ratified nor repudiated any terms.
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