5) How far do you agree with the view that in the reign of Edward VI there was a strong resistance to religious change?
Explain your answer, using sources 1, 2 and 3 and your own knowledge of the issues related to this controversy. (40 marks)
There is debate towards historians whether the rising of 1549 during the reign of Edward VI were due to strong resistance to religious change. Religion is an issue which features in every rebellion from 1536-1539, to a varying degree, and in the case of the Western Rebellion and Kett’s rebellion there is a reason to believe it could have acted as an indication to the government that there was discontentment with regards to new, Protestants religious change (as shown in source 1 – ‘events in 1549 suggest that there was a strong resistance to religious change in many parts of the Kingdom’).
It can be viewed that the ‘events in 1549 suggest that there was a strong resistance to religious change in many parts of the Kingdom1 (source 1), as with the Western Rebellion, otherwise known as the Prayer Book Rebellion, there was clear evidence that the key motive of the rebels was the introduction of the 1549 Book of Common Prayer. Source 3 states that Cranmer’s ‘caution was justified when a major rising in Western England in summer 1549 specifically targeted ‘religious innovation’. Such ‘religious innovation’ had been identified by the people of Sampford Courtenay as unacceptable, and forces swelled to a size of 6,000 when the rebels sought the besiege Exeter. Source 3 also states that the Western rising was ‘major’ indicating that there was strong resistance to religious change. It is evident in the Western rebels demands that one key motive is religion, as they call for a return to the Act of 6 Articles of 1539 and the partial restoration of some monastic lands. The seriousness of this opposition is also shown in source 2, which states ‘the area was bereft of strong local leadership’, which implies that the rebels were able to act out due to poor local government, and express their grievances openly, as shown also in the fact that in the summer of 1549 there was a further ‘potentially serious disorder’ (source 2) as nine other counties rose along with the Kett’s rebellion and the Western rebellion. The widespread nature of the rebellions and the fact that the risings appeared to be ‘simultaneous’ alongside the sheer volume of men involved (16,000 under Kett and 6,000 at Exeter) imply that the rebellions showed strong resistance to religious change. Source 1 implies that religion was potentially the trigger to rebellion, as it states that ‘tension’ featured due to the ruling elite, and such tensions are generally kept under control unless there are further causes to rebel. Source 2 describes the form of resentment in the Western Rebellion as ‘violently activist’, and this indicates extremely strong feelings towards that which the rebels were fighting for,…