Pilgrimage of Grace

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Rebellions (15 36-15 69)


The Pilgrimage of Grace 15 36


Causes: Religious

  • ‘Pilgrimage’ has religious connotations – named purposefully to allow religion to be main cause.  Robert Aske saw the rebellion as a spiritual pilgrimage.  It was peaceful – religious.  The banner showed five wounds of Christ, and a religious oath was taken and they had a religious marching song
  • It happened directly after the Act for the Dissolution of the Smaller Monasteries and the places that rebelled first were situated around the monasteries that had been dissolved (Christopher Haigh)
  • Religious grievances were at the top of the 24 articles (Pontefract, December 15 36), there were nine religious grievances in total, which included resentment of the religious changes that were occurring and the move away from Catholic doctrine, resentment of new taxes on baptism, burial and marriage, against the closure of the monasteries as they were the place for the teaching of God’s word – it would affect their chances of attaining salvation
  • The rebels resented European movement from Catholicism from reformers such as: Bucer, Luther, Melanchthon, Wycliffe, Huss and the Pontefract Articles (December 15 36) wanted heretics such as Cromwell to be removed (suggests that it was nobles who wrote the demands)
  • Many ordinary people disliked the religious changes, so portraying it as religious would maximise the amount of followers

Causes: Social and Economic

  • There had been a similar uprising in 15 25 over the Amicable Grant on social and economic grounds
  • Poverty in the North had caused further reliance upon monasteries that were being closed down
  • Increase of anger towards government increased the likelihood of rebellion; there were additional taxes when times were hard (15 34 Subsidy Act in peacetime), with bad harvests for two years (15 35 and 15 36)
  • The monasteries as source of employment were threatened; socially, they were a provider of education, hospitality, shelter for travellers, alms for the poor
  • The beginnings of the Lincolnshire Rising (October 15 36) were economic, as there were rumours the government commissioners were seeking gold, plate and extra taxes
  • The York Articles (October 15 36) included grievances about the right to pay their debts and pass on land in their wills (Statute of Uses), and a grievance against a livestock tax after sustained poverty
  • The Pontefract Articles (December 15 36) demanded right of way/access to land (common law), the statutes of handguns and crossbows repealed, a reformation of elections of knights and burgesses, and the enclosure statutes put into action; there was also opposition to taxation, with particular hostility towards Thomas Cromwell’s initiative taxing in time of peace, in 15 34 Subsidy Act, and also opposition to the Statute of Uses – a feudal tax on aristocratic landed inheritances

Causes: Political

  • Elton argued that it was started by a decision made in court, to take the battle from the court into the nation – so it was the nobles, not the commoners, who instigated the rising (though it was manipulated


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