Western or Prayer Book Rebellion

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The Western Rebellion which started in 1547, involved the western counties of Cornwall, Devon and Dorset. The Western Rebellion is the title given ostensibly to a religious rebellion against the 1547 Act of Uniformity. However, it also coincided with social and economic problems within these counties whereby the gentry were accused of using the dislocation associated with the Reformation as an entity to grasp land from the people and to push through at a local level further enclosure. What was more important - religion or land issues - is difficult to ascertain.

The rebellion started in Cornwall. here an archdeacon called William Body was disliked for his support of Protestantism. He was also known for his greed.When Body started to push through the reforms introduced by the Privy Council, he provoked an angry response. He was attacked by an angry mob in Penryn and, for his own personal saftey, fled to London. In April 1548, Body returned to Cornwall to supervise the destruction of Catholic images in churches. At Helston, Body was set upon by a mob leb by local priest and killed. The authorities hanged 10 men for this crime.

In 1549, men from Cornwall set upon an armed cmap at Bodmin as they feared that the Act of Uniformity was going to be imposed on Cornwall. However, the leaders of the rebels also voiced their anger towards local gentry for grabbing land that the common people believed was theirs. For this reason few gentry gave their support to the rebels. The demands of the rebels not only failed to…


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