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Main cause of the Pilgrimage of Grace was a widespread dislike of religious changes Essay

Do you agree with the view that the main cause of the Pilgrimage of Grace was a widespread dislike of religious changes? There were three main rebellions in Henry VIII’s reign as king; The Lincolnshire Rising, The Pilgrimage of Grace and Cumberland Rebellion. These rebellions were all connected because each one triggered off the next one. The three main factors that set off the rebellions were the economic state of the country, the political state and the religious activities at the time.

There are evidences that support the view that the main cause of the Pilgrimage of Grace was a widespread dislike of religious changes. Source 6 states that “… Pilgrimage of Grace was a reaction against the religious changes”. Everything about the rising was to do with religion, the banners that the rebels carried had the five wounds of Christ on it, and all the rebels had to take the pilgrims oath. Where they swore not to carry out violence and that the pilgrimage was all to do with God and not overthrowing the king.

This is supported by the evidence in source 7 where it says “except for the love you bear to Almighty God”. The author for source 7 is Robert Aske, who led the Pilgrimage of Grace to defend the religious houses that were being closed and property seized by the king. This goes to show that religion seemed to be the main cause of the uprisings against the king; the evidence shows that the Pilgrimage of Grace was named due to religion. Source 6 also mentions “brought to the boil by the dissolution of the smaller monasteries”.

The timing of the rebellions started when the smaller monasteries were closed down and while commissioners were in progress of shutting other ones. Many monks and clergymen were now starring at homelessness and unemployment and many felt that standing up to the kings new policy was all they could do-they had nothing left to lose. They didn’t have the skills in the fast paced world and no financial means to survive and were on poor pensions. However, the monks could easily gain the support of the local people as the monks had looked after them, and the fact that the monks would of most probably have come from the surrounding areas.

Even though the monks could gain the support of the locals, many of them would join the rebellion as they would lose their place of worship and pray. Source 7 also mentioned “maintenance of the Holy Church” this suggests that people started to see that Henry VIII was moving away from the traditional Catholic methods and starting to take up protestant views. Robert Aske named this uprising using a religious name. This meant that many more people would join, as all the people in England didn’t agree with Henry VIII’s new religious policy.

The audience for source 6 are for the general public most importantly history students however this source was written 400 years after the event and could be argued if the memory of the author is distorted or have the author done an extensive research. On the other hand, there are evidences in the sources to suggest that religion was not the main cause for the Pilgrimage of Grace. Source 8 mentions “involving many social elements” it can be inferred from source 8 that the rebellions wasn’t only focused on religious activities but also socio-economic factors.

England at the time of the Lincolnshire Uprisings was in turmoil, especially in the north of the country. The successful resistance to the amicable grant had stopped the government, but the English people were now weary and didn’t hold complete support for the English government. The north had been in a poor economic situation for a long time, the economy wasn’t the biggest reason for the fights and rebellions, but it would have played a part. This is supported by evidence in source 6 where it states “those responsible to be punished” suggests religion wasn’t the only thing the rebels were fighting for.

Source 8 also mentions “high taxes, enclosure, the statue of uses….. ” the harvest of 1535 had been terrible and 1536 had seen little improvement in the produce. Which then in turn lead to hunger and poverty. What also didn’t help was the introduction of an extra tax. This ‘new’ tax soon aroused suspicion as this use of premium income was only used at a time of conflict for the country. The government also introduced new policies which involved tax being paid to landowners and these caused landowners to cheat and charge extra amounts.

This could have really frustrated the common people and might have pushed them or the force behind the Pilgrimage of Grace. Also the introduction of enclosures really affected large populated areas like York due to the shortage of land and this would have caused the people of the north to call for a rebellion. Moreover it can also be argued that there were political reasons for the outbreaks. This is caused due to Henry’s attempt to end his marriage with Catherine of Aragon. This was intensified because of Henry’s idea to centralised power, which meant excluding the north.

Thomas Cromwell, who was no important noble family, carried out the centralising of the power to the south, was just a commoner turned king’s main advisor. Many people, especially in the north felt that Cromwell had no right to be advising the king. This is supported through evidence in source 7 where is says “…. bad counsel from his advisers”. In conclusion, it can be argued that most of the reasons for the outbreaks are religious based, but the risings started due to taxes, bad harvest, the introduction of protestant methods in church and the dissolution of the monasteries and the dislike for Cromwell and his new policies.

These all surely added up to the triggering of the revolts. However, the amount of people that took part in the rebellion depended on the issue that they weren’t happy about. So for example if some people didn’t like the closing of the monasteries, they would have felt angry and frustrated enough to have to join the ‘Pilgrimage’. The fact the it was named the Pilgrimage of Grace seems to hint that Aske and others that started it only felt it was meant to be purely religious affair and that the other groups that joined in used as a front for their anger.


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