The Impact of Disturbances on Tudor Governments

Revision cards for the 3rd topic in the Tudor Rebellions course.


Government Strategy: Initial Responses

Consulatation: HVII consulted with household servants and called a Great Council when Simnel invaded in 1486. HVIII left Wolsey and Cromwell to deal with rebellions. MI and EI relied on their secretaries and councillors to devise a strategy. Exception = Duke of Somerset who was criticised for failing to consult Privy Council in 1549. Monarchs sometimes received conflicting advice. In 1554, some councillors suggested using imperial troops whilst other suggested leaving London. Mary's decision to stay and her speech to London crowds rallied support and defeated Wyatt.

Gathering information: Often a slow process as communication with peripheral regions was difficult. Monarchs used spies, secret agents and informers. HVII had spies in European courts who informed him of Warbeck's movements. EI used Francis Walsingham particularly with regard to MQS, he employed over 50 agents, their success contributed to decline of unrest from 1570. However, sometimes the system failed: HVIII ordered Earl of Derby to arrest leaders of PoG but was unaware the Earl was some distance from the pilgrims. Duke of Somerset was unaware of JPs failing to carry out his order to persuade Western rebels to disperse and rebellion grew.

Government instructions: First people expected to deal with rebellion = JPs and sheriffs. Failing that, the local nobility. AG - Protestors threatened to march on London, Dukes of Norfolk and Suffolk took command and ended unrest. Western - JPs weren't powerful enough, sent Sir Peter Carew but his attitude inflamed the situation and turned a local protest into a serious rebellion.

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Government Tactics

Buying time: Often threatened rebels with punishments unless they dispersed, seldom worked. Wolsey threatened AG rebels, Cromwell = just as abrupt with PoG. Despite this, both times the number of rebels made the government negotiate to buy time while it tried to get more troops.

Propaganda: HVII - Servants wore coat of arms and royal badges, lavish displays and entertainment impressed foreign visitors. HVIII - Coins showed off majesty, illustrations accompanied official documents, stately homes were monuments to magnificence, e.g. Nonsuch. EVI - Portrayed in paintings in the image of his father. MI - Image on Great Seals reflected a regal bearing. EI - Visited royal castles, met gentry and nobility, encouraged pageantry that idealised her as a symbol of eternal stability, paitings focused on her wisdom, beauty and justice.

Pardons: Pardons if rebels returned home. Ringleaders usually exempt. HVIII - Duke of Norfolk offered pilgrims a pardon, a parliament to resolve problems and end to dissolution. EVI - Somerset initially threatened Western with loss of land, then offered two pardons if the rebels submitted, if not, they faced martial law.

Pre-emptive measures: Simnel - rebels excommunicated, Earl of Warwick paraded, estates of Elizabeth Woodville seized and put in a nunnery. Wyatt - Courtenay interrogated, leaders identified, letters sent denouncing plot, Exeter garrisoned, all leaders but Wyatt backed down.

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Government Tactics: The Use of Force

Often used against dynastic challenge. Often last resort, especially in Ireland.

Raising troops: Slow process, explains frequent use of delaying tactics; took 6 weeks for HVII to raise troops to face Simnel. Government = reluctant to raise troops because of cost and danger of them becoming rebels without pay. Government relied on nobility and gentry to raise forces, they required a licence to raise more retainers so their forces did not challenge the monarch.

Troop shortages: Cornish had larger force than Sir Giles Daubeney. Rebels could reach Blackheath. PoG, Aske had 40,000 and Duke of Norfolk had 8000. 1549 - War with Scotland + possible French invasion, at the same time lots of southern and eastern England was in revolt and Somerset was short of money, had to deal with smaller risings nearer London first - that was why it took so long to deal with Kett and Western. Wyatt - Duke of Norfolk (leader of MI's forces) was old and uninspiring, many troops deserted. N.Earls - Earl of Sussex (President of the Council of the North) could only raise 1000 for EI, on the other hand the Earls had 5000. With the exception of PoG, the government was eventually able to raise a larger force. This took time and explains why the government appeared slowto respond militarily to the outbreak of unrest.

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The Fate of the Rebels: During

Military confrontation: Government wanted to avoid confrontation so it didn't kill its own subjects. Over 1000 Cornish were killed at Blackheath (1497). Battles at Clyst Heath and Sampford Courtenay (1549) reportedly killed 4000 of the Western rebels. Lord Dacre, a supporter of the Northern Earls, had continued to resist until 500 rebels were killed or capture at Carlisle in 1570. Not only were large numbers killed, many rebels were taken prisoner: Duke of Norfolk took more than 800 rebel prisoners at the end of PoG. Earl of Warwick entered Norwich after Kett refused a pardon and hanged rebel prisoners.

Irish: Few full-scale battles, more likely to be skirmishes. Shane O'Neill - killed in a brawl with rival clans, ended his rebellion in 1567. James Fitzgerald was killed during Geraldine (1579-83). Also military defeats for the Irish rebels: Shane O'Neill's force was defeated in Ulster in 1567. Cork, which had been under siege from the rebels during Munster (1569-73), was relieved in 1569. Spanish troops were defeated at Smerwick in 1580 whilst offering support to Geraldine. Spanish troops were defeated at Kinsale in 1601 when supporting Tyrone. But the Irish rebels were able to inflict defeat on the English at Yellow Ford in 1598.

Avoidance of confrontation: After landing in Cornwall in 1496, Warbeck fled. Aske ordered the Pilgrims to avoid battle with the Earl of Derby's forces and keep the truce. Wyatt surrendered rather than risk battle. The Earl of Essex avoided a battle in London.

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The Fate of the Rebels: After

Trials and retribution: HVII & MI = quite lenient, because their positions were not secure and they did not want to lose further support. HVIII & EI, the strongest of the rulers, were quite severe.

HVII - Financial punishments - weaken nobility, increase royal power and wealth. HVII had bond of £3,000 on Lord Scrope. Leaders of tax rebellions = executed. Initially lenient towards Simnel and Warbeck, S put to work in royal kitchens, W imprisoned, both were executed in the end.

HVIII - After PoG, accused in Carlisle and York tried, no jury, verdict without appeal was given. Monks who repossessed monasteries were hanged. Lancaster - Abbot of Whalley, 4 monks, 4 canons and 19 others were executed.

EVI - Somerset's leniency to the lower orders lost him the support of many nobles and gentry. Somerset's successor, Northumberland, needed to regain support so took harsh action. After Western, over 100 rebels were hanged in Devon and Somerset and martial law was imposed in Cornwall. After Kett, the ringleaders were executed and Kett was tortured, tried and executed.

MI - Initially very few of Northumberland's rebels were executed and only after Wyatt were LJG and her husband executed. Mary pardoned 600 of Wyatt's rebels, executing only 71.

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The Fate of the Rebels: After cont.

EI - Treated all rebels harshly. After N.Earls - Northumberland = executed and over 450 other rebels = hanged. After Oxfordshire - 4 ringleaders = executed and others suspected of involvement = gaoled. Essex was executed after his rising in 1601, but others were punished financially.

Irish - Martial law. 70 supporters of Silken Thomas (1535-37) = hanged. 800 rebels = executed during Munster (1569-73). The Smerwick garrison was massacred and other rebels hanged (1580-82). In 1583 the head of Desmond was sent to London for display after the unrest.

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The Impact of Rebellion on Government

The impact on the Crown: All dynastic = defeated. HVII acted cautiously towards rebels - weak claim to throne. Elizabeth was able to take ruthless action.

Impact on Crown servants: Cornish attacked Archbishop John Morton and Sir Reginald Bray. AG attacked Cardinal Thomas Wolsey. PoG attacked Thomas Cromwell, Thomas Cranmer and Richard Rich. N.Earls attacked William Cecil. Essex attacked Robert Cecil. No minister fell as a direct result of rebellion, Wolsey's position was weakened. Only minister who might be argued to have fallen as a result of rebellion was Somerset. His fall was linked to policies favouring the lower orders, Enclosure Commission and his failure to suppress quickly the 1549 unrest.

Impact on foreign policy: Rebellion often forced change in foreign policy as dealing with the unrest reduced the forces available to pursue foreign aims. HVII - Yorkshire occuerred as HVII prepared to go to war with France. King raised a force but rebels fled. Acted as a distraction. Warbeck affected HVII's relations with Burgundy, France and Scotland. Henry signed the Treaty of Etaples with France and the Treaty of Ayton with Scotland to prevent their further support for Pretenders and he put a trade embargo on Burgundy. Cornish impacted invasion of Scotland.

HVIII - Failure to raise AG forced Henry to abandon an invasion of France in 1525, when France was at its weakest following the capture of Francis I by the Holy Roman Emperor.

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The Impact of Rebellion on Government cont.

EVI - England had gone to war with Scotland in 1542 a decision was taken to try and conquer Scotland through a garrisoning policy after 1547. This policy had to be abandoned as troops were needed to put down unrest. The unrest encouraged France to declare war on England in 1549.

MI - Wyatt encouraged anti-Spanish feeling in England and damaged Anglo-Spanish relations. In the long term this may have been a contributory factor in encouraging Spain to aid rebels.

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The Impact of Rebellion on Society

Religious policy: Did not abandon religious policies because of unrest. Some rebellions sped up religious changes. N.Earls was followed by penal laws against Catholics recusants.

Taxes were not collected after either the Yorkshire or Cornish Rebellion. The AG was abandoned.

Social and economic policies: Changes to socio-economic policies were most noticeable after 1549 and in the 1590s. Lords Lieutenant were given control of county levies after 1549. 1551: revaluation of the coinage - stopped the fall in purchasing power of coinage, 1552: limit on the conversion of arable land to pasture - discouraged encolsure, 1552: corn dealers were license - controlled price of corn. Similar measures followed Oxfordshire.

The North: Gave Crown opportunity to increase its control over the North. After PoG - Council of the North was reformed with lesser gentry given roles, lesser gentry were appointed under HVIII as deputy wardens of the border lands, JPs were changed and those who had shown sympathy with the rebels were removed. After N.Earls - Men without local connections, Earl of Huntingdon, were brought in to run the Council, magistrates who had Catholic sympathies were replaced.

Ireland: Major Irish families, Geraldines & Kildares = replaced by English officials. Land was redistributed to English. Land taken from monasteries & bishops to pay  putting down unrest.

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The Threat of Rebellion to Tudor Government

Increased threat: Size and nature - Larger force than government increased threat, happened initially for: Cornish, AG, PoG, Kett, Western & N.Earls. More threatening with foreign and noble support: Simnel, Warbeck & PoG. Threat increased if they forced the monarch into battle, Simnel.

Aim - Succession = most serious. Simnel, Warbeck, Northumberland, Wyatt, N.Earls & Essex.

Location - Close to or in London = greater threat. London remained loyal. Mary was able to rally the city against Wyatt and Northumberland. No one rallied to Essex against EI.

Lessened threat: Government tactics - Government sometimes had no intention of keeping concessions after unrest. Many rebels believed their grievances would be resolved. Pardons encouraged some rebels to disperse, while propaganda weakened their cause.

Nature - Most were localised protests against local grievance or government policies. No intention of overthrowing the monarch but wanted concessions or a change in policy.

Government support - Maintained support of the majority of the clergy and nobility. Clergy preached against rebellion, while the lack of noble support deprived rebels of legitimacy and leadership. Irish = serious problem. Lacked a large force to crush unrest. Nobles and clergy often opposed the government. Rebels knew the land. Rebels gained Spanish support at end. Costly.

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