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Presentation on theme: "REBELLIONS RELIGION & RELIGIOUS CHANGE IN ENGLAND C.1470-1558."— Presentation transcript:


2 DAVID PARKER, UNIVERSITY OF LEEDS 'For many years I taught a final-year undergraduate course on the uprisings of the peasants and artisans that swept across large parts of 17th-century France. Buildings were attacked, their contents pillaged, crops destroyed and occasionally a perceived oppressor was killed.…..’

3 DAVID PARKER, UNIVERSITY OF LEEDS ‘…….Had my students explained it all by simply invoking feral criminality they would have failed.'

4 WHY ARE HISTORIANS INTERESTED IN REBELLION? Social historians Ordinary people in the historical record Grievances – a guide to what they ‘thought’? Marxist historians: Class conflict? Reductive? Is ‘class’ a valid concept for the C16th? Is conflict perennial ? John Guy: 1549 closest things to ‘class war’ in Tudor England. Gentry attacked But a particular type of gentry. Those who had: Bought up monastic lands Failed in their obligations to the poor. Moral, rather than class conflict?.




8 THE STATE Rebellion as a part of popular politics One means by which the lower orders engaged in a dialogue with their rulers. Politics not happen ‘to’ the people, but they an active part of it. ‘Rise of the State’/ ‘State Building’ Passive Active Beyond Elton Tudor Revolution in Government Infrastructures of the State ‘State’ = Thomas Cromwell’s filing cabinet. What do we mean by ‘power’, and where is it located? Centre > outward Or de-centralised – localities a part of the state ? Dialogue between centre and periphery MPs as concerned with local issues as they were national ones Laws and policies altered/modified whilst being implemented: Problematises the State as a ‘central’ body. Dialogue between centre and periphery, not necessarily conflict. Ethan Shagan – Kett’s rebellion Why did Somerset negotiate? A sign of failure? Or part of the realities of politics? Negotiation? C20th totalitarian regimes & ‘collaboration’. Imprecise term. Violence not for own sake, but as a means of politics.

9 MAJOR REBELLIONS The Pilgrimage of Grace – 1536 The Western Rising – 1549 Kett’s Rebellion – 1549 Wyatt’s Rebellion – 1554 The Northern Rising – 1569 NB – English only, things look very different if we include Ireland……..

10 FOOD FOR THOUGHT No rebellions after 1569: so what? Methodological problems? Causation: ‘religion’, social and economic hardship, rising population, they were Cornish, ‘class’ tensions, enclosure, taxation, inflation, ‘failing’ local nobility, rumour, court conspiracies, ‘bad’ gentry, xenophobia…………………Nick Clegg (he gets blamed for everything else….) Are we explaining anything at all?

11 THE WESTERN RISING Chronology April 1547 – murder of William Body: Unpopular agent since m1530s 1548 – hostility to evangelism 1549 (June) – Prayer Book trigger rebellion 1549 (June) – Sir Peter Carew (evangelical) return: United opposition Began siege of Exeter June-28 th July – hesitant government response: Kett’s rebellion Poor communications Somerset’s desire to appease What does this tell us? The end of a long process: Not an immediate/irrational explosion of anger Understood law/tactics: Play to EVI’s minority/ HVIII’s will Form of political engagement/ exchange : Felt compelled to answer articles (Cranmer/ Philip Nichols)

12 THE WESTERN RISING Religion: Suspicious of Crown moves re: religion: Seizure of goods/ iconoclasm Rebel articles cited: New Prayer Book Service in English Communion in Both kinds Common bread rather than wafers Act of 6 Articles (Mass) Deep moral sense of injustice. Other: Slow state response (Scottish war/ Kett’s rebellion) Ineffective gentry/nobles (power- vacuum) Sheep tax – novelty; high volume of sheep in the West Country

13 INHERENTLY CONSERVATIVE: Rebel AGAINST change – enclosure (common land rights); novel taxation (customary rights of the Crown); religious change (‘newfangled’). specific Destructive/violent in a very specific manner. In a religious sense, rebellions actively AGAINST destruction.


15 ROBERT ASKE, 1536 ‘This pilgrimage we have undertaken it for the preservation of Christ’s church of this realm of England, the king our sovereign lord, the nobility and commons the same, and to the intent to make petition to the king’s highness for the reformation of that which is amiss within this realm and for the punishment of heretics and subverters of the laws.’

16 A WAY OF LIFE Wealth of community Sacred space Monasteries as communal keystones Compassion and grief Social and economic impact

17 ‘Morebath’s curious system of parochial custodianship had regularly involved virtually every farmer and cottager in a very direct expression of support and involvement in the community of the parish….the yearly sheep account, so lovingly itemized and elaborated by their priest, was the parish’s single most extended ritual of belonging, an annual register of who was and who was not pulling their weight…..Religious reform here touched and tampered not only with the parish’s economy, but with its sense of self.’ EAMON DUFFY, THE VOICES OF MOREBATH



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