In the Content of the Period 1485-1587

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In the content of the period 1485-1587, to what extent did the Northern Rebellion of 1569 represent a significant threat to the security of the Tudor State? Rebellions caused a serious threat to monarchs; and as a result of the War of The Roses and Henry VII’s usurpation in 1485, the Tudor Dynasty had effectively been founded on Rebellion so it may be possible to assume that the Tudor Dynasty could be removed by rebellion.

The Tudor period can be seen as a time of unrest as each Tudor monarch had at least one rebellion during their reign. The majority of the Tudor rebellions were a significant threat as they attacked the authority of the Crown; suggesting a period of instability throughout the 100 years as each rebellion was a constant reminder of the fragile position of the monarchs during this time. For Henry VIII this can be illustrated by the Lincolnshire rising and the Pilgrimage of Grace in 1536-7 as the commons were driven to rebel.

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The same can be said for the Western Rebellion during the reign of Edward VI at a time when the Crown was vulnerable due to the King’s young age and lack of experience. Further still, Elizabeth encountered a situation which threatened her position as monarch during the Northern Rebellion of 1569, when people were reluctant to accept her as the rightful ruler and she faced further threats due to the situation abroad and in her attempts for religious change; thus making her position vulnerable.

In addition, Elizabeth I faced hostility from others who were against her views such as in the Babington Plot which was a last attempt to create a rebellion against Elizabeth in support of Mary Queens of Scots. Moreover, within these rebellions there were factors that caused a great deal of danger to the overall security of the Tudor state. The nature of the rebellion, whether it be political, economic or religious played a large role in the protection of the Tudor state.

Rebellions such as the Cornish rebellion in 1497 had begun due to economic reasons, in particular taxes, rather than in opposition to the monarch and rebellions such as the Yorkshire rebellion in 1489 arose due to political reasons. This suggests that some rebellions were more focused on local grievances and government policies rather than directly representing a threat to the security of the Tudor state. This can certainly be said for Wyatt’s’ rebellion which rose for a fear of England becoming re-catholicised.

It could also be argued that compared to the rest of Europe, the rebellions during the Tudor period posed little threat as the state remained intact, unlike Charles V whose power had diminished greatly in the German states of the Holy Roman Empire due to the influence of the Reformation. As well as this Philip II had lost his control of parts of the Holy Roman Empire, the Netherlands, which were considered one of the most important areas of his lands and both France and Spain had suffered threatening rebellions, which, in comparison with England’s rebellions could be seen as more dangerous.

It can also be suggested that the security of the State remained high as the state remained rather stable during the Tudor period. “In general the English people conformed to the requirements of public order, encouraged by reminders from pulpit, proclamation and customs to obey. ”showing that England was generally stable and although there were many rebellions, the majority were easily suppressed as in the case of the Pilgrimage of Grace where Suffolk’s army dispersed the rebels and Elizabeth’s use of the Royal Army to quell uprisings.

So it could be said that the Northern Rebellion of 1569 may not have been the most significant threat to the security of the Tudor state, as greater threats were posed during this time from elsewhere. Political motivations of rebellions during the Tudor period, have posed a significant threat to the security of the Tudor stateas it would have been harder to suppress a rebellion which was focused on attacking the king or Queen’s policies as more often than not, the monarchs had no intention of changing.

This can be illustrated during the rebellions of the Lincolnshire rising and the Pilgrimage of Grace as the rebels were against Henry VIII’s policy of the dissolution of the monasteries and felt the ‘’bishop of Rome intended his destruction by hook or by crook’’, illustrating that they felt the king focused on money gain on his part and not towards their best interests. This to an extent is true as the Treason Act and Henry’s Royal Supremacy were all seen as clear examples of Cromwell’s policies.

Moreover, Henry VIII had said ‘’like traitors and rebels have attempted, and not like true subjects, as ye name yourselves’’ which illustrates that Henry VIII felt they were a threat as they were questioning his judgement as king. As well as this, the Yorkshire rebellion had political connotations as there was resentment in Yorkshire of a Lancastrian monarch when a Yorkist has been overthrown.

Moreover, the revolt involving Perkin Warbeck, had the support of James IV and Charles VIII as well as the Holy Roman Emperor Maximilan, threatening Henry VII’s position as ruler as there was a possible danger than he may have been overthrown. However, the support from these influential figures wasn’t strong and Warbeck had little support south of the border. In addition, the Wyatt’s rebellion was also a political threat, questioning the security of the Tudor State. This was due to the proposed marriage of Mary Queen of Scots to Philip of Spain.

Nevertheless, this revolt didn’t have the support of the people as they feared that the marriage would result in Spain gaining influence over England and so nobles began planning to remove Mary and instate Elizabeth in her place. Moreover, the marriage would have posed threats of faction rivalry in the courts as the husband’s family would eventually become more influential. It is clear that xenophobia, as well as political motivations, stirred the rebels during the Wyatt’s rebellion..

It can be suggested that to an extent, the Northern Rebellion was caused by political issues. The proclamation of the Earls in 1569 stated that the Earls felt the newly appointed nobles, were not of the ‘ruling elite’ and were threatening their status and so wrote that they were abusing the Queen’s trust ‘’whereas diverse newe set up nobles… not onlie go about to overthrow and put downe the ancient robiltie of this realme, but also have misused the Queens Majesties ownepersonne’’.

It is also apparent that the Northern rebellion was a significant threat to the security of the Tudor state as they were deciding who should succeed after Elizabeth and were discussing the re-introduction of Catholicism after Elizabeth’s death ‘’Our first objective in assembling was the reformation of religion and preservation of the person of the Queen of Scots, as next heir, failing issue of her Majesty’’. Still, this source could pose some inaccuracy as they say that Mary will be queen next, which suggests they were not trying to overthrow Elizabeth.

Yet the conditions to which they were asked about their motives are questionable as it is likely they were asked under torture so they may have lied to protect themselves. Further still, the proclamation by Thomas, Earl of Northumberland and Charles Earl of Westmoreland claimed they were the ‘’queen’s true and faithful subjects’’ which confirms that their reasons for rebellion was more about securing their position from the middle classes and re-addressing the Feudal system to try and recover their power at court, rather than going against Elizabeth’s position.

Throughout the 100 year period, it is clear that economic issues placed a large factor in rebellions. There were various rebellions which sprang due to resentment of the economy of the country, threatening the security of the Tudor state. Rising taxes and enclosures were common issues sparking rebellion across the Tudor Dynasty. Resentment of rising taxes can be demonstrated in the Yorkshire Rebellion as Henry VII wanted to help maintain Brittany’s independence in France, yet the money needed, ? 00,000, had to be raised via taxation. And on top of this tax, Henry had exempted other northerners from taxation as he wanted them to use their money to defend against the Scots which further angered the Yorkshire rebels. Uprisings against taxation can also be shown through the Cornish rebellion of 1497, as the tax demand to finance the campaign against James IV and Warbeck angered the Cornish who refused to pay the tax as they felt that itshould be the northern areas of England who would pay the tax..

The same can be said for the Western Rebellion during the Reign of Edward VI, as poverty had triggered the rebellion against a tax request on sheep, and so the rebels produced a number of articles showing their concern for rising food and tax prices. Although it can be said that the extent of the threat from the Western rebellion was not as great as others as in their articles they spoke ‘’we pray, we ask’’ suggesting the rebels were more interested in having solutions for their problems rather than causing a commotion for Edward in terms of fully changing his government.

However, in comparison, Kett’s rebellion could have posed more of a risk to the Tudor state as the rebels complained strongly about the increase of rents and these complaints came at a time of rapid inflation which had worsened the situation for the ordinary people and the first article of their demands was to stop any further enclosure. However, both these rebellions didn’t pose that great a threat to the security of the Tudor state as there was no attempt at co-operation between the two rebellions although they both resented the increased taxes.

In addition to this, the rebels believed that by pulling down the hedges and enclosures, they saw themselves as merely restoring the old structure of the land. They viewed the enclosures and not the rebels as the culprits and they were supported by government proclamations. These proclamations blamed the enclosures for the bad economy in the country and an enclosure enquiry under john Hales only encouraged and legitimised the rebels cause for rebellion.

The need to rebel against the monarch and religion was considerably significant during the Tudor period. Many rebellions across the 100 years had stated their rebellion was against religious issues and had posed a certain amount of danger towards the King or Queen. The Northern rebellion of 1569 definitely had religious elements which posed a threat to the monarchy as if the rebels had succeeded in removing Elizabeth and reinstated Mary, Mary would have surely re-Catholicised England if she became Queen.

Northumberland had even confessed to rising on religious grounds which can be further illustrated as Richard Norton led rebels into Durham under the ‘’5 Wounds of Christ’’; similar to the rebels during the Pilgrimage of Grace. Therefore, it is fair to say that the Northern rebellion posed a danger to the security of the Tudor state as the Northern Earls were against Elizabeth as they regarded her as a usurper and so she wasn’t the legitimate queen which led to her being branded a heretic by the Pope.

Furthermore, the Duke of Norfolk and the King of France, Henry II, agreed with this view meaning Elizabeth had little support in England or elsewhere. The rebels wanted Mary Stuart on the throne, especially as she was legitimate under the Canon Law, and this attempt to overthrow Elizabeth was met by an even greater risk from the Papal Bull ‘’Regnaus in Excelsis’’ which was a denial of Elizabeth’s authority and was in effect a death warrant as the Bull called upon the Catholics to reject her authority and even to kill her and in doing so they would be doing ‘’gods work’’ and would automatically be blessed.

Furthermore, when trying to defeat the rebels, Sir Ralph Sadler had wrote to Sir William Cecil in 1569 saying Sussex was having trouble raising troops ‘’the force of her subjects of this country should not increase, and be able to match with the rebels; but it is easy to find the cause’’ and then went on to say that ‘’there are not ten gentlemen in all this country that favour her proceedings in the cause of religion’’ suggesting there was very little support in the North of England for Protestantism which could indicate that even though the army was on Elizabeth’s side the troops loyalty was to the Catholic religion.

This can be demonstrated by Sadler’s words to Cecil, ‘’if we should go to the field with this northern force only, they would fight faintly’’ proving that the troops wouldn’t be fighting the rebels for a cause they felt was just. Conversely, Rebellions such as the Western Rebellion may have posed more of a danger to the security of the Tudor state as religion was a central issue that sparked the Western Rebels.

The list of articles produced demanded the reintroduction of Catholicism which they tried to achieve by rejecting Henry VIII’s Act of Six Articles, reintroducing Latin, having prayers for the dead and having Mass every Sunday. They rejected all of Edward VI’s protestant ideas such as the new prayer book in English as they believed it encouraged heresy and on top of this they demanded the restoration of the priories.

Thus the western rebellion could have been a great threat to the Tudor state as it had a challenging religious agenda which openly rejected the government’s Protestant changes. The threat of a rebellion can also be determined by how far the rebellion spread and how the rebellion was suppressed. Looking at the spread of a rebellion and how the rebellions were suppressed can give an insight to what extent the King or Queen felt the rebellion was a threat to their safety.

So these factors are very important when determining how dangerous the uprising was for the security of the Tudor state. The Lincolnshire rising and the pilgrimage of Grace can illustrate just how far a rebellion could spread as the rebels had come from all parts of Yorkshire and some rebels marched all the way to Durham recruiting as they went. It had also been reported that over 10,000 rebels had assembled at Lincoln so by the time they arrived in Doncaster to meet with the Duke of Norfolk; they had a 30,000 strong rebellion.

M. L. Bush’s research suggests that the pilgrimage was a series of interconnected revolts as opposed to one large movement which may imply that the rebellion was harder to suppress. This was certainly true as the government had a hard time stopping the rebels as the rebels force was much greater than that of their own so when they two sides met a truce was signed. Yet this failed as the commons, gentry and nobility were rounded up and executed, the final death toll of 178 (that we know of), including Aske, Lord Darcy and Bigod.

This illustrates that the king felt this rebellion was a significant threat to deal with it in this way. However, the Lincolnshire rising was easily suppressed as the Duke of Suffolk’s army came and the gentry asked for forgiveness while the commons had collapsed into confusion and so the few rebels that remained were sent home when the government heralded arrived on the 11th of October. This illustrates that although the Lincolnshire rising has a lot of support, the short time it took place in hints it was not a large threat to the security of the Tudor state.

The Northern rebellion posed a risk to the security of the Tudor state as the Earls had managed to march down through the country with a number of over 20,000 as Essex marched out from York on December 13, 1569 with 7,000 men to their 4,600, soon followed by 12,000 under Lord Clinton. In the examination of the Earl of Northumberland in 1572, Northumberland had said that there had been support for the rebellion ‘’it would be a great discredit to leave off a godly enterprise that was looked for at our hands by the whole kingdom’’ .

However, continuing with the Earls of Northumberland’s own account of the plans of the rebellion it is clear that they had less support than hoped ‘’I wished to consult the Earl of Derby, Queen of Scots and Spanish ambassador. The first did not answer; the other two thought it better not to stir’’ which demonstrates that the hope of support from the nobles and Mary Queen of Scots wasn’t materialising which contradicts the letter wrote to Cecil. The letter then goes on to say that the leaders couldn’t agree and departed which would have made the rebellion easier to suppress as there was a lack of leadership.

Also, there is a hint that Lady Westmoreland had shamed the men into fighting ‘’when I found I could not get away, I agreed to rise with them’’ implying that the men were made to rebel rather than wanting to which had caused the conflict and the brake up of the rebels. In the end, Elizabeth was able to stop the rebellion by using her royal Army to disperse the rebels. Northumberland was eventually executed in 1572 and many of his followers had been executed in the aftermath of the rebellion.

The lands of the rebels were given to the Crown and as a result the two leading land owners in Durham were the Crown and the Church showing that the power of the nobility in the north had been greatly diminished. Overall, The Northern Rebellion did pose a threat to the security of the Tudor state as Elizabeth’s position had been greatly undermined by the Papal Bull and the Earls had threatened her position by wanting to place Mary on the throne. As well as this, the rebels had attacked protestant images going against her authority and they were gaining more and more support.

What’s more the soldiers sent to stop the rebels was also beginning to be a problem for the Queen as some felt that their loyalty was to the catholic faith and not Elizabeth meaning she didn’t even have the full support of her royal army. However, the Northern rebellion may not be considered a large threat to the state in comparison with others such as the Pilgrimage of Grace and Western Rebellion as most historians agree that, unlike other such rebellions, the Northern revolt was hopelessly disorganised and there was a lack of clarity in the rebel’s objectives so any chance of foreign support was out of the question.

In addition the authorities acted very quickly, Mary was moved to a safe place, the royal army in the Midland was raised and Sussex had remained a defender of the Crown’s interests and was therefore able to gather support against the Earls. It is also worthwhile to mention that compared to the rest of Europe, the rebellions during the Tudor period posed little threat as the state remained intact unlike Spain and France when they were faced with rebellions.

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In the Content of the Period 1485-1587. (2016, Nov 07). Retrieved from

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