The Frequency and Nature of Disturbances

Revision cards for the second section of the Tudor Rebellions topic



The North: North = Yorkist stronghold at beginning. Lovel attempted to raise forces there in 1486. 1489 tax rebellion had some Yorkist links, but was also the result of the region's particularism in not paying tacxes, except to defend the Scottish border. PoG (1536-37) and N.Earls (1569) were in part a response to resentment at growing power in London and the region's exclusion in decision making. Northern nobles felt their status had been undermined.

South West: Not concerned about dynastic issues, resented the increased role of central government, particularly with taxation. Cultural and linguistic differences, especially Cornwall, encouraged resistance to taxation and religious innovation.

East Anglia: Tradition of unrest, outbreaks in 1381 during Peasants' Revolt, enclosure riots in 1525 and attacks on gentry in 1540, before major uprising in 1549. Rebels established camps in places where local government was administered, such as Bury St Edmunds.

Ireland: Distance from London and difficulty of sending troops encouraged unrest. Grew as period progressed, due to increased control from England - challenging traditional clan power, Tyrone, O'Neill and Fitzgerald. EI's attempts to introduce Protestantism and plantations caused problems.

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Location cont.

Major towns and cities: Rebels often attempted to seize the capital or the regional or religious centre. Cornish (1497) and Wyatt (1554) marched to London, whilst Essex (1601) attempted his rising in London. Pilgrims (1536) seized York, the northern regional capital, whilst Lincoln, the seat of the local bishop was taken earlier in 1536. The Northern Earls entered the religious centre of Durham to restore mass in 1569. In 1549, Kett's rebels seized Norwich, the regional capital for East Anglia, and the Western rebels besieged Exeter, the regional capital of the South West, although they failed to take it.

Tradition: Some rebels focused on sites of earlier unrest. Cornish went to Blackheath in 1497, site of the 1381 Peasants' Revolt. Western Rebellion (1549) started at Bodmin, as had the Cornish Rebellion of 1497. Oxfordshire (1596) gathered at Enslow Hill, site of a gathering in 1549.

The Importance of the Nobility: Areas more likely to experience unrest if the relationship between the nobility and the inhabitants was poor. Seen in 1549 in the West Country where Lord Russell had replaced the Courtenays and in East Anglia where the Howards had fallen from power. Where control was stronh, unrest was limited, for example in Sussex where the Earl of Arundel ruled.

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Size, Frequency and Duration

Size: Cornwall (1497): 15,000; PoG (1536-37): 40,000; Kett (1549): 15,000; Wyatt (1554): 5,000; Essex (1601): 300. Decline after Kett, result of the failure of rebellions or because social groups which often led rebellions were incorporated into the state. Later rebellions were usually led by nobles who were either impoverished or excluded. These rebellions were also more often about high politics - did not rouse popular support. Numbers in Irish, usually small but Tyrone = 6,000.

Frequency: Most frequent = Under HVII - insecure and usurper, alternative claimants and lots of foreign support, Henry needed money to defeat threats and raised taxes caused further unrest. Mid-Tudor period (1536-54) - crown was weak due to religious turmoil and rule by a minor and a female, coincided with rising prices and social problems. Under Elizabeth frequency declined - Tudors became more secure and removed rival claimants (Poles - leading Yorkist family with claim), Elizabethan Religious Settlement (1559) was moderate and helped remove religious tensions, role of JPs and Lords Lieutenant were developed under MI and EI; helped at local level.

Duration: Rebellions further from London lasted longer - time taken to raise and send a force: Irish often lasted years; Rebellions in North and South West lasted longer - Cornish over a month, PoG and Western over two months. Government underestimation of severity resulted in taking longer to suppress, e.g. Kett. Near or in London lasted a short time and they threatened the seat of government. Government raised troops quickly - Wyatt - 18 days, Essex - 12 hours.

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Leadership and Support: Nobility

Leadership helped to determine chances of success and the threat it posed. Rebellions led by claimants or nobles were a threat to the monarchy.

Royal claimants: Simnel's claim to be Earl of Warwick (1486-87) and Warbeck's to be Duke of York (1491-99) made HVII's position vulnerable - they had a stronger claim. However, MI's legitimacy meant that Northumberland was unlikely to succeed in 1553.

Nobility: Leadership by nobility was particularly important in Ireland where nobles = head of clans. Noble leadership also gave legitimacy and authority. Cornish got Lord Audley to lead tax protest and PoG besieged Pontefract Castle to persuade Lord Darcy to join. Sometimes nobles claimed they had been threatened to lead but given likely punishments this claim was not surprising. Nobles had finances, access to weapons and could gather their tenants to increase numbers.

Cornish (1497) - Lord Audley; PoG (1536-37) - Lords Hussey, Darcy, Lumley and Latimer; Wyatt (1554) - Duke of Suffolk; Northern Earls (1569) - Earls of Northumberland and Westmorland.

Essex attracted most noble support (Earls of Essex, Southampton, Sussex, Rutland and Lords Cromwell, Mounteagle, Sandes)

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Leadership and Support: Gentry

Gentry or yeomen often provided leadership. Had organisational experience through holding local offices and were influential in local society. Gentry leadership gave the rising some legitimacy. Gentry leadership became more common in the middle period as nobles were unwilling to risk their positions: Yorkshire (1489) - Sir John Egremont, illegitimate of Percy family; PoG (1536-37) - SIr Robert Aske, lawyer, attorney to Earl of Northumberland; Western (1549) - Sir Humphrey Arundell, John Winslade and John Bury, substantial landowners in Cornwall and Devon; Wyatt (1554) - Sir Thomas Wyatt, Sir James Croft and Sir Peter Carew, Wyatt was a former sheriff, Croft held a variety of government positions and Carew had been High Sheriff of Devon.

Clergy: Rarely led a revolt, seen as a sin, when Catholicism was under threat they did sometimes assume leadership roles. PoG - abbots of local monasteries were involved. Western - some Cornish vicars marched to Exeter and the vicar of St Thomas Exeter, Robert Welch, may have lead the rising. A priest, Richard Symonds, first noticed Simnel's resemblance to Richard of York.

Commoners: Few led rebellions. Little local influence and unable to raise large-scale support - Oxfordshire. AG was led by commoners and was successful as they had sympathy. Much of the unrest in 1549 was led by commoners, particularly Kett. Commoners - most likely to be in protests against government policies, notably taxation and religion (Cornish or PoG). Their involvement ensured large numbers.

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Leadership and Support: Gentry cont.

Cross-class support: Some rebellions attracted support from across the whole social spectrum. Seen in Cornish, led by a noble but attracted mass support. PoG had support from all classes. Some rebellions, Kett, did not attract noble or gentry support because they were about low politics.

Foreign support: Evident in early dynastic rebellions, with Margaret of Burgundy funding 2,000 Irish mercenaries for the Simnel Rebellion. Later rebels hoped to gain foreign support but it never materialised: PoG - Hoped for support from Charles V (Holy Roman Emperor), Wyatt - Hoped for support from France, Northern Earls - Hoped for papal and Spanish support.

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Dynastic: Yorkists had objective of removing HVII. Removal of the monarch was also evident in 1553. Wyatt - claimed he wanted to stop Mary's marriage to Philip, Northern Earls - wanted to force EI to name MQS as heir, Essex - wanted to remove the Cecil faction.

Change in policy: Taxation: Often followed innovative practices, e.g. introduction of war taxes. Rebels wanted the government to stop the collection of the taxes (1489, 1497, 1525).

Religious policies: Usually followed legislation with significant impact on daily lives. PoG followed dissolution of small monasteries, rebels wanted reversed, and also demanded the restoration of traditional practices and papal rule. Western followed the dissolution of the chantries and the introduction of a Protestant Prayer Book. Rebels saw this as an attack on traditional religion and wanted changes reversed. Rebels in 1569 wanted an end to religious changes introduced by EI.

Social and economic policies: Kett wanted government to enforce anti-enclosure legislation and protect common land. Western wanted government to abandon Sheep and Cloth Tax. 1596 wanted government to take action against high food prices.

Ireland: Wanted an end to recent political, religious and economic policies at the beginning. By the end, they wanted to remove the English administration and preserve Catholicism.

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Strategy and Tactics

Dynastic: Needed a large army, force the monarch into battle and have an alternative ruler. Northumberland supported the claim of LJG, Wyatt supported Elizabeth, N.Earls supported MQS, Essex supported James VI. Simnel landed in Lancashire and Warbeck landed in Cornwall, both remote locations amd hoped to gain support from disaffected counties as they marched on London. Wyatt's and Essex's rebellions began near London to try and seize the capital quickly.

Change in government policies: They tried to raise as much support as possible, particularly nobles & gentry, pilgrims besieged Pontefract Castle to get Lord Darcy's support. Drew up grievances, PoG, Western and Kett drew up Articles. Threatened or intimidated local gentry, Western rebels imprisoned gentry on St Michael's Mount, Kett's rebels imprisoned gentry, e.g. Sir Roger Woodhouse, Thomas Gawdy and Richard Catlyn. Used violence, Yorkshire rebels murdered the Earl of Northumberland as he tried to collect taxes, William Hellyons was murdered by Western rebels. Besieged regional capitals, Cornish and Western rebels besieged Exeter, Kett's rebels took Norwich, Pilgrims entered York and Durham, Durham entered again by N.Earls.

Irish: Usually avoided military confrontation and used tactics similar to modern guerrilla warfare. Attacked officials in order to try and disrupt government. If defeated, they often disappeared into remote areas which the English forces did not know and would not enter.

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Well-organised: PoG - Aske organised army into hosts based on regions. Leaders of hosts met to discuss tactics and pledging an oath helped ensure good discipline. Kett - Aim was to show how local government should be run. Warrants were issued for supplies, negotiations were undertaken with the Mayor of Norwich to buy supplies and prayers were said twice daily.

Poorly-organised: N.Earls - Earls had been reluctant to rebel. Their information gathering was poor as they were unaware that MQS had been moved south. Simnel - Chances were lessened by behaviour of the mercenaries who often pillaged and stole, which dissuaded locals from joining. Essex - Lacked surprise, performance of Richard II the night before - suggests potential overthrow of the monarch.

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Differences Between English and Irish Rebellions

Duration and scale: Irish usually lasted longer - English government was reluctant to send large forces to Ireland due to cost, seen as less threatening because of distance from London, rebels avoided open warfare and were harder to defeat. Unlike English rebellions, Irish unrest increased as the period progressed. Sir Edward Poynings, Lord Deputy under HVII had 400 troops but Lord Mountjoy, Deputy from 1600, needed 13,000 to defeat Tyron.

Loyalty to the monarch: Most rebels claimed to be loyal. Irish leaders = more likely to change sides and break truces. Earl of Kildare backed Simnel then swore allegiance to HVII but failed to arrest Warbeck when he landed, Earl of Desomnd held in Tower for 5 years to win his support but only encouraged him to join Geraldine rebellion, Hugh O'Neill = brought up in Earl of Leicester's household and helped with defence of English garrisons but because he was not rewarded he led the Tyrone rebellion. Irish were more likely to end when the leaders were killed. Did not always happen as Desmond took on leadership after Fitzgerald's death in 1579.

Support: Unlike English, there were no popular rebellions in Ireland. All rebellions were led by clan chiefs, who tried to get the support of their tenants. Unrest in Ireland was localised or regional and rebellion centred on the lands of the clan, except Tyrone which was nationwide.

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Differences Between English and Irish Rebellions c

Causes: Unlike English, Irish rebellions were not caused by social and economic problems. 3 major causes: imposition of direct rule from London, growing influence of English families, religious changes.

Imposition of direct rule: HVIII ended rule of Irish nobility in Ireland and declared himself King in 1541. Clan chiefs had to surrender lands and have them re-granted according to English laws and renounce their customs, language and laws. Saw this as an attack on their traditions.

Growing influence of English families: After 1534, English officials were given administrative posts that used to be given to Irish families. This lost the Crown the support of families, e.g. Kildares. Problem was worsened by plantations, which meant land was taken from rebels and granted to English landlords at reduced prices.

Religious changes: Religion = major cause of English unrest in 1536-69, in Ireland it was only a subsidiary cause, used to increase support. Clan chiefs only claimed they were protecting Catholicism, primary concern was to protect their interests. The arrival of Catholic missionary priests after EI's excommunication in 1570 did encourage religious resistance.

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Successful Rebellions

Most Tudor rebels were defeated, often on the battlefield with heavy casualties. 

AG - Only rebellion which achieved its main aim - prevention of the collection of tax. King also reassessed the parliamentary subsidy. Rebellion was successful for several reasons: scale of support was considerable, growing from over 4,000 at the start; cross-class support, large numbers of peasants and some of Henry's councillors; resistance in London, danger to government; HVIII could make concessions without losing power, but had to abandon invasion of France; HVIII was able to blame Wolsey for tax and could appear generous by abandoning it.

Demonstrations and concessions: Government made concessions to other rebellions, mainly for taxation and economic rebellions. Most of the concessions did not address the main objectives.

Reasons for success: Governments were more willing to abandon attempts to raise revenue than risk further unrest on tax rebellions. Where rebellions did achieve some success they were often well led, e.g. gentry, lawyers or yeomen. Rebellions which had cross-class support.

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Yorkshire - Northern counties did not usually contribute to war against France - HVII agreed not to collect tax and rebels not fined.

PoG - Religious changes, closure of smaller monasteries and rumours of attacks on parish churches - Rebels = pardoned. Henry promised parliament in North (never called). Religious changes = slowed down and the Act of Six Articles upheld traditional beliefs. Entry fines to rented land were set at the level demanded, the 1534 subsidy was stopped and the Statute of Uses was repealed.

Kett - Increased rents and loss of common land to the gentry - Subsidy and Vagrancy Acts were repealed. Enclosure Act restricted landlords' manorial rights over common land. Acts fixed grain prices and maintained arable land.

Oxfordshire - Enclosure of land in the area - Seven leading Oxfordshire landowners were prosecuted for enclosing common land. Acts were passed against decaying towns. Acts were passed to maintain arable land.

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Why Did Rebellions Fail?

Dynastic: Failed because the government had to deal effectively with them to preserve its position. Particularly true for HVII and MI who had seized the throne from crowned rulers. Successful military action was usually taken against dynastic threats such as Simnel and Mary closed the gates of London to Wyatt, avoiding direct military confrontation.

Religious: Monarchs largely unwilling to reverse religious changes - any concessions would be seen as weak and encouraged further unrest. PoG religious concessions were temporary and quickly reversed. HVIII closed larger monasteries after PoG and introduced 1538 injunctions, attacking saints, pilgrimages and holy days. EVI did not abandon Prayer Book and an even more Protestant one was introduced in 1552. MI did not abandon Catholic policies after 1554 and began persecution and burning of heretics. EI introduced penal laws against Catholic recusants.

Support and leadership: Lack of gentry and yeomen support deprived rebellions of adequate leadership. Commoners lacked organisation, as seen in 1596 - secrecy not maintained. Lack of support from gentry/nobility also removed any hint of legitimacy, reducing numbers.

Government strategy and tactics: Government offered to pardon rebels, and to consider grievances if rebels departed - encouraged dispersal, also ensured grievances were not addressed. Playing for time - rebels would run out of supplies and return home for the harvest.

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Why Did Rebellions Fail? cont.

Military force: Government military forces were superior and defeated rebels on every occasion they were deployed. Rebels lacked weapons, cavalry and supplies. Government could also call on foreign mercenaries, as in 1549 to suppress both Kett and Western rebels.

Rebel aims: Many concerned with local grievances - could not attract widespread support. Kett wanted to reform local government in EA and Cornish was concerned about taxation in the West.

Failure to take London: If rebels were to defeat government, they needed to take London. When rebels reached London, the government acted quickly, as with Cornish slaughtered at Blackheath, Wyatt who had the Ludgate closed to him and Essex who was met with force.

Failure of foreign aid: Foreign aid either failed to materialise, PoG or N.Earls, or was lacking in scale, as with pretenders under HVII, with Burgundy only suppling 2000 for Simnel.

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