The Revolt of the Northern Earls, 15 69
· In the Proclamation of the Earls issued in 15 69, the nobles complained that Elizabeth’s ministers had ‘set up, and maintained, a new found religion and heresy, contrary to God’s world’, referring to the Religious Settlement of 15 59. On 17 November 1569, the Earl of Sussex wrote to William Cecil that the Earls were ‘seeking to reform religion’. Furthermore, an examination of the Earl of Northumberland in 15 72 cited the ‘first object’ of the rebellion as being ‘the reformation of religion’.
· During the rebellion, mass had been restored in an number of churches (including at Durham Cathedral)
· According to the Proclamation of the Earls issued in 15 69, they felt aggrieved that ‘new set up nobles’ were being used in Government, rather than the ‘ancient nobility of this realm’. This view of ‘political resentment’ is supported by historian Fletcher, who points in particular to this being the motivation for the Earl of Northumberland, who had ‘suffered severely from Elizabeth’s reassertion of the policies of her father, aimed at weakening the hold of the great magnate families on the marches’ – thus, she had deprived him of his Wardship of the Middle March (putting her cousin, Lord Hunsdon, in charge), allowed him no part in the custody of Mary Stuart and refused to give him compensation over the rights to a copper mine discovered on his estates in 15 68 – so that he had declined in wealth and status. Haigh supports this interpretation, stating that it was ‘presented in traditional terms as the revenge of the old nobility against upstart evil councillors’.
· An examination of the Earl of Northumberland in 15 72 referred to the ‘preservation of the person of the Queen of Scots, as next heir failing issue of Her Majesty’, indicating that it was the succession that motivated the rebels
- In November 15 69, the Earl of Northumberland joined the Earl of Westmorland and his forces at the latter’s castle at Brancepath; acting on behalf of the Queen and as President of the Council of the North, the Earl of Sussex sent out commissioners to raise 1500 foot soldiers. Many men were torn between local loyalty to the Earls and national loyalty to the Queen; few dared to join Sussex.
- On 14 November, the Earls marched on Durham Cathedral, tore down any Protestant images and celebrated Mass; they then marched south and enlisted support from Richmondshire and the Earl of Westmorland’s tenants at Kirby Moorside. Sussex wrote to the Privy Council and told them of the difficulties he was having raising an army.
- On 22 November, the Earls reached Bramham Moor. Their army was made up of 3800 foot soldiers and 1600 horsemen. All the territory east of the Pennines was under this control.
- By 24 November, the rebels…