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Asses the Significance of Religion in Causing Rebellion in England Between 1530 to 1660

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Asses the significance of Religion in causing Rebellion in England between 1530 to 1660

In the period between 1530 and 1660 Religion played a part in causing rebellion as well as other factors such as political, economic and class conflict issues.Religion begins with being a very significant factor in causing rebellion but becomes less important as time goes. In the pilgrimage of grace of 1536 first and foremost the rebels demanded that “the heresies of … anabaptist to be destroyed.”[1] This is when england was in the process of breaking from rome under Henry VIII and the shock of the country having its religion changed suddenly causes an immense amount of discontent It was popular opinion among the commoners that it was Henry's evil advisors the heretics Wolsey and Crammer that were behind the change and needed to be stopped.The westerner rebellion of 1549 that also had significant religious origin. The areas on Devon and Cornwall where very traditional and therefore strongly against reformation to a protestant england. They rose up in arms against the reintroduction of a new protestant prayer book that was in english as well as soughting to have Henry VII’s six articles that had been abolished by Edward VI since his crowning in 1547. On the other side of the country in the same year Kett’s rebellion had major religious causes behind it as they weren't as traditional as Cornwall and Devon had accepted the new protestant faith. They were only calling for a “more active and involved clergy” [2] to do take part in the community and offer services such as educating the poor.In 1553 after the death of Edward VI religion played a part in causing the succession Crisis. The death of the protestant King saw an opportunity for England to return to Catholicism. When the choice was given to the population of who to support out of a Catholic Mary or the protestant Lady Jane Grey. The “people's devotion to the catholic faith” [3]meant that Mary had “catholic gentry of east Anglia and the thames valley” [4]supporting her claim to the throne which she succeeded in claiming, which in turn lead to Englands national religion changing back to Catholicism. Not all of the factions in England however were willing to go back to being a Catholic nation meaning that Religion became a contributing cause of Wyatt's rebellion in 1554. Thomas Wyatt as a protestant who had “ found favour in the protestant regime”[5]used the possibility of England returning to Catholicism if Queen Mary married Prince Philip of Spain as a method of causing rebellion. In the case of this rebellion Religion wasn’t really an actual cause but one that wyatt had cooked up to gain support which he wouldn’t not of gained he had stated his personal reasons for not wanting the marriage to take place. As stated by Historians R.Turvey and N.Heard “The matter of the marriage seemed to be but a Spanish cloak to cover their pretended purpose” Religion continues to become less of significant factor in causing rebellion with the events of the northern rebellion of 1569 during the reign of Queen Elizabeth. The northern Earls persuaded their supporters that their main cause was “seeking to reform religion”[6] by stating that “ the ancient faith still lay like the lee’s at the bottom of mens hearts and if the vessel was ever so stirred came to the stop”.[7] Religion continued to be an insignificant factor through the events of the Essex Rebellion in 1599 which had no religious causes. Englands reacceptance of protestantism naturally led to the perscution of Catholics in England in 1604 James I the king that followed Elizabeth was pressured into stepping up “penal laws against Catholics” [8]This caused a group of Catholics to attempt to assassinate him and his protestant government by blowing up the houses of Parliament. Religion returns to significance in causing of the Great Rebellion or Civil War in 1642 during in the reign of Charles ! who was the son of James I. Although he was protestant Charles believed that puritans were too extreme and he favoured the High anglican form of worship in 1633 he appointed Willaim Laude as Archbishop of Canterbury who in turn “ made many changes to the Church. Most of these changes involved beatifying the Church and bringing back robes for priests, statues and stained-glass windows”. [9]All of these changes brought back the memory of Catholicism one of which the puritans did not agree with.Charles and Laude also decided to introduce “English Prayer Book (which stated how services should be run) into Scotland.”[10] This caused nationwide rioting in Scotland because they believed the new prayer book sounded to similar to a Catholic one. The puritans were starting to believe that Charles was secretly a Catholic. This view was not helped by Charles marriage to the Catholic Henrietta Maria who as part of the marriage treat got Charles to agreed to Lift the recusancy fines against Catholics that caused the Gunpowder plot. It is clear that Religion declines as significant factor through 1530 to 1660 in causing rebellion and only start to become important again in 1640s as there is the threat of religion change in England again.

Religion wasn’t the only factor that had significance in causing rebellion between 1530 and 1660, Politics had its part to play in causing unrest and became more significant in causing the rebellions as time went on. In the Pilgrimage of Grace there was limited poltical factors. the rebels were backed by “Lord Darcy,Lord Hussey and men from a wider social circle” after “the power shifted between different groups of nobles at court” 11]following the divorce of Catherine of Aragon by Henry VIII in 1533. The lords that were now of their prominent political positions backed the rebels in hope of claiming back their power. This hope wasn't openly shared by the rebels who believed that the Lords supported then for Religious motives The westerner rebellion following in 1549 lacked any political causes as the demands of the rebels was written by members of the clergy that wished to keep the focus on the religious issues of the new prayer books. In the same year Ketts rebellion was partly caused by the political actions of the Lord Somerset who showed “sympathy with the plight of the poor” which left the “rebels confident of the Protectors support”[12]. This actions by Somerset gave the rebels extra incentive to start up the rebellion. This wasn’t the main cause of the rebellion, However the perceived backing of a rebellion by a Protector of Somerset gave the rebels all the confidence they required.The succession crisis had some contributing factor was the general population choosing to fight for Mary over picking Lady Jane grey to be queen and therefore were “showing respect for traditional Succession”. Wyatts rebellion following in 1554 had major political causes. Thomas Wyatt and others who also found favour in Edwards protestant regime incited the rebellion against Marys marriage to Philip of Spain because he feared that the” growing Spanish influence would endanger their own Careers”. [13]They believed if Mary and Philip married that Phillip Courtiers would take over the important positions, leaving them without excluded without power or position.Political factors in this period are becoming more prominent as time goes on as well as being more significant when ever there is a power shift in court. The Northern Rebellion in 1569. The northern earls rebelled because they resented “ the extension of Tudor Authority in the North”.[14] They believed that she intended to “overthrow and put down the ancient nobilitie”[15] of the realme after she performed some actions against the Earls such as decline Northumberland's “Wardenship of Middle March”.[16] This heavily contributed to the event occurrence as Earls were used to having essentially total control.The Essex rebellion of 1601 also had political causes behind it. Essex believed that the “cecilian upstarts”(Opponent faction of people from non noble descent) were behind Elizabeth taking away his monopoly on sweet wines. He then decided to attempt to use “ his linage and rank to rehabilitate the nobility as political leaders” [17]by attempting to Hold Elizabeth Hostage to regain his power. Finally in the Great revolution poltical causes are at the forefront of the event Since his crowning in 1625 Charles and Parliament were in constant conflict over money and power. Charles strongly believed in the divine right of kings and so therefore when he required money for military campaigns against France and Spain that they should give it to him without him handing them any power. Parliament disagreed with the way Charles ruled and therefore After several repetitions of Charles calling Parliament three times between 1625 and 1629 and quickly dissolving it without any progress being made. In 1641 the Kings advisor Thomas wentworth was arrested and questioned by John Pym. Charles responded by dispatching some troops to attempt to free this. This attempt failed and Parliament forced Charles to sign Wentworth Death warrant without trail. Parliament then proceed to bring in acts to abolish prerogatives such as Ship money and the Start chamber[12]. These events combind with other factors eventually led to Charles fleeing London to York to raise his standard and call in his Bannermen in 1642 after failing to arrest members of Parliament with armed troops. Between the years of 1530 and 1660 Politics significance grows from being an contributing factor to an rebellion occurring into being the main factor behind the Civil War.

Economic factors also contributed to rebellions between 1530 and 1660. In the Pilgrimage of Grace of 1536 the monasteries across the country acted as the . The “monasteries played an important secular” role in the communities of the north “they provided food….tenancies for farmers and acted as safe houses for good”.[18] The people of the northern communities also feared that “livestock were going to be subject to taxation”[19]. This was at the same time the north was suffering Agricultural problems which exacerbated the issue.As pointed out by historain Geoferry Elton points out:” the Religious purposes of the pilgrimage had shallow roots except amongst thefew that dominated it”. The westerner rebellion also had some economic grievances behind it. In both Devon and Cornwall there were “complaints about taxes on sheep and cloth generated rumours of further taxes on animals”. As well as extra taxation there were complaints of “high food prices”. This the same as the pilgrimage of grace was not the biggest factor in causing unrest however rebellion occurred more when there was economic issues.In ketts rebellion there was the contributing factor of the increase of rents during a period “ of rapid inflation which worsened the economic situation for ordinary people.[14] Economic issues then become less significant up until the Essex rebellion in 1601 as under Queen Elizabeth England entered a state of economic stability and so there wasn’t any unrest caused by it as a result. The Lord of Essex decided to rebel against the crown in attempt to re-gain his monopoly on sweet wine which had been stripped by Elizabeth. He believed by getting this monopoly back he could pay off his debts “satisfying a great number number of hungry and annoying creditors”.[20] As stated by Guy Tudor Essex’s was motivated by a“dire financial situation”.
There were also significant economic contributions the Civil War. After the reign the James I in which he lived lavishly and drain most of the royal treasury. As a result when Charles was crowned they only granted him his customs and duties for the year and also refused to fund his Wars against france and spain. Charles dismissed parliament and attempted to gain money through forced loans eg. money raised without the consent of parliament. led to the 1628 commons petition of right which stated that the king could not levy taxes without the assent of Parliament. In 1629 Charles started his “personal rule” for 11 years ruling England without calling on Parliament while relying on the money he could gain through royal prerogatives and imposed knighthood fees. Economic factors contributed towards the unrest in England between 1530 and 1660 although with the exception of the Essex rebellion they were not the main cause behind the event keeping the significances of economics level throughout.

Class conflict also contributed to rebellion in the period between 1530 and 1660 in Ketts rebellion of 1549 the rebels were “against all future enclosures and destroying all current ones that weren't being used for the growth of saffron.” [21]They wanted to stop all of the Gentry and Yeoman from “profiteering at the expense of their social inferiors”.[22] They also wanted the gentry from “acting as bailiffs for one another”[23]. The civil war also contained some class conflict causes with the clash of the traditional ruling aristocracy trying to remain most powerful in England and the rising members of the gentry were that made up the majority of Parliament.During the period between 1530 and 1660 class wasn’t a significant cause in rebellions with the exception of kett's rebellion where the gentry and the peasantry came to directly class with each other.

Between 1530 and 1660 the actions of the individuals rules has significant effort on the causation of rebellion. During in the reign of Elizabeth she acted to bring about increased centralization of the country to reduce unrest in the future. Although by her actions against the northern earls “aimed at weakening the hold of the great magnate families.” [24]brought about the Northern rebellion of 1569, once the rebellion had been crushed the increased control saw that the north could never had so much power that they could stand against the crown again.
In contrast during in Charles I rule his actions caused unnecessary unrest during in his reign with was part of the cause of the English civil war. His strong belief in the “divine right of kings” led him to think he could implement any changes he wished such as the introduction of the new protestant prayer book in 1637 with his followers accepting them without question. He grossly miscalculated in the case of the prayer book. In churches all across scotland there was riots and protests which led to the creation of the scottish covenant in 1638. In short whether there was a period of stable rule between 1530 and 1660 the amount of unrrest decreased.

In conclusion was the most significant cause in rebellions between 1530 and 1660,particularly in periods of religious transition between Catholicism and protestantism as we have seen with the Pilgrimage of Grace and Succession Crisis. However as time goes on religion becomes less significant as England stabilizes into becoming protestant permanently although protestant persecutions of Catholics did cause the Gunpowder plot of 1604 in wasn’t a nationwide rebellion.Politics as a cause starts out being insignificant in 1530s with the only contribution to rebellion a faction of disgruntled lords that fell out of power backing a peasant revolt. However as time goes on politics builds up towards being one of the most significant factors in the causes of Essex rebellion and the civil war towards the latter of the period. Economic causes to the unrest between 1530 and 1660 remains constant throughout the period. With rebellions often coinciding with times of a economy but not being the main behind any rebellions. Class conflict has some fluctuations of being significant during events such as Kett’s rebellion over the exploitation of the peasantry and in the civil war where the rising members of the gentry that were also part of parliament came into class with the traditional ruling aristocracy.The actions of individual rulers were never the key causes behind any rebellions in this period however how much strength and stability a ruler gave to england during in their reign rapidly reduced the possibility of any rebellion happening.

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[2]D.Rogerson,S.Ellsmore,D.Hudson 2001
[3]J.Loach - Edward VI
[4]J.Loach - Edward VI
[5] R.Turvey and N.Heard Change and Protest 1536 -88
[6] Proclamation of the Earls 1569
[7] Source 17.15 Sir Ralph Sadler of the commissioner of the causes of the rebellion
[8]Murphey et Al 2002
[11]D.Rogerson,S.Ellsmore and D.Hudson
[12] Rogerson, Ellsmore and Hudson 2001
[13]R.Turvey and N.Heard Change and Protest 1536 - 88 Mid Tudor Crisis (2000)
[14]Examinations of the Earl of Northumberland 1572
[15]Proclamation of the Earls 1569
[16]A.Fletcher, Tudor Rebellions 1968
[17]Guy Tudor England 1988
[18]D.Rogerson,S.Ellsmore and D.Hudson
[19]D.Rogerson,S.Ellsmore and D.Hudson
[20]Letter from Essex to Queen Elizabeth 22 september 1600
[21]Chris Morgan­ The rebellions of 1549 in Tudor England
[22] Chris Morgan­ The rebellions of 1549 in Tudor England
[23] Chris Morgan­ The rebellions of 1549 in Tudor England

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