Pilgrimage of Grace
|Pilgrimage of Grace|
A banner bearing the Holy Wounds of Jesus Christ, which was carried at the Pilgrimage of Grace
|Location||York, Yorkshire, England|
|Date||October 1536–February 1537|
|Attack type||Uprising and subsequent suppression|
|Perpetrators||Thomas Cromwell, Vicegerent in Spirituals to Henry VIII
Henry VIII of England
Thomas Darcy, Baron Darcy
Sir Francis Bigod
The Pilgrimage of Grace was a popular rising in York, England during 1536, in protest against Henry VIII's break with the Roman Catholic Church and the Dissolution of the Monasteries, as well as other specific political, social and economic grievances. It was done in action against policies initiated by Thomas Cromwell. Technically the term Pilgrimage of Grace refers specifically and inclusively to the uprising around York, though sometimes it is used in relation to the risings in general which took place around northern England; first from Lincolnshire, twelve days before the actual Pilgrimage of Grace.
Lincolnshire Rising 
The Lincolnshire Rising was a brief dissent of Roman Catholics against the establishment of the Church of England by Henry VIII and the dissolution of the monasteries set in motion by Thomas Cromwell's suggested plan of asserting the nation's religious autonomy and the king's supremacy over religious matters.
It began at St. James Church, Louth, after evensong on 1 October 1536, shortly after the closure of Louth Abbey. The stated aim of the uprising was only against the attempt to suppress the religious houses, these being Catholic, and was not against Henry VIII himself. It quickly gained support in Horncastle, Market Rasen, Caistor and other nearby towns. Angry with the actions of commissioners, the protesters/rioters demanded the end of the collection of a subsidy, the end of the Ten Articles, an end to the dissolution, an end to taxes in peacetime, a purge of heretics in government, and the repeal of the Statute of Uses. With support from local gentry, a force of demonstrators, estimated at up to 40,000, marched on Lincoln and, by 14 October, occupied Lincoln Cathedral. They demanded the freedom to continue worshipping as Catholics, and protection for the treasures of Lincolnshire churches. It was led by a monk and a shoemaker, and involved 22,000 people.
The moratorium effectively ended on 4 October 1536, when King Henry sent word for the occupiers to disperse or face the forces of Charles Brandon, 1st Duke of Suffolk, which had already been mobilised. By 14 October, few remained in Lincoln. Following the rising, the vicar of Louth and Captain Cobbler, two of the main leaders, were captured and hanged at Tyburn. Most of the other local ringleaders met the same fate over the next twelve days, with a lawyer from Willingham being hanged, drawn and quartered for his involvement. Soon, however, the Lincolnshire Rising helped inspire the more widespread Pilgrimage of Grace.
Pilgrimage of Grace, the early Tudor crisis 
The movement broke out on 13 October 1536, immediately following the failure of the Lincolnshire Rising, and only at this point was the term 'Pilgrimage of Grace' used. The causes of the expostulations have long been debated by historians, but several key themes can be identified:
- Economic grievances. The northern gentry had concerns over the new Statute of Uses. The harvest of 1535 had also led to high food prices, which may have contributed to discontent.
- Political grievances. Many people in northern England had disliked the way in which Henry VIII had 'cast off' Catherine of Aragon. Although her successor, Anne Boleyn, had been unpopular, both as Catherine's replacement, a rumoured Protestant and a Southerner, her execution in 1536 on trumped-up charges of adultery and treason had done much to undermine the monarchy's prestige and the king's personal reputation. There was also anger at the rise of Thomas Cromwell, who was 'base born', and thus strongly objected to by the aristocracy.
- Religious grievances. The local church was, for many in the north, the centre of community life. Many ordinary peasants were worried that their church plate would be confiscated. There were also popular rumours at the time which hinted that baptism might be taxed. The recently-released Ten Articles and the new order of prayer issued by the government in 1535 had also made official doctrine more reformed. This went against the conservative beliefs of most northerners.
Robert Aske was chosen to lead the insurgents; he was a London barrister, a resident of the Inns of Court, and the youngest son of Sir Robert Aske of Aughton near Selby. His was an old Yorkshire family from Richmondshire (Aske Hall). In 1536 Aske led a band of nine thousand followers, who entered and occupied York. There he arranged for the expelled monks and nuns to return to their houses; the king's newly-installed tenants were driven out and Catholic observance resumed. The success of the rising was so great that the royal leaders, Thomas Howard, 3rd Duke of Norfolk and George Talbot, 4th Earl of Shrewsbury, opened negotiations with the insurgents at Scawsby Leys near Doncaster, where Aske had assembled between thirty and forty thousand people.
Henry authorised Norfolk to promise a general pardon and a Parliament to be held at York within a year, as well as a reprieve for the abbeys until the parliament had met. Trusting in the king's promises, Aske dismissed his followers.
In February 1537 a new rising took place in Cumberland and Westmorland called Bigod's Rebellion (not authorised by Aske) under Sir Francis Bigod, of Settrington in the North Riding of Yorkshire. Upon this the king arrested Aske and several of the other leaders, such as Lord Darcy, Lord Hussey who was Chief Butler of England, Sir Robert Constable, and Bigod, all of whom were convicted of treason and executed. On March 1537 Thomas Moigne, Member of Parliament for Lincoln was hanged, drawn and quartered. Lords Darcy and Hussey were both beheaded whilst Constable and Bigod were both hanged at Tyburn. Aske was also hanged in chains from the walls of York Castle as a warning to other would-be 'rebels'. In all, 216 were put to death; lords and knights, half a dozen abbots, 38 monks, and 16 parish priests, including :Sir Thomas Percy, Sir Stephen Hamerton, Sir William Lumley, Sir John Constable, Sir William Constable, Adam Sedbar, Abbot of Jervaulx, William Trafford, Abbot of Sawley, Matthew Mackarel, Abbot of Barlings and Bishop of Chalcedon, William Thirsk, Abbot of Fountains and the Prior of Bridlington were all executed and hanged at Tyburn between June and July 1537. Bowbearer of the Forest of Bowland Sir Nicholas Tempast was hanged at Tyburn Sir John Bulmer and his wife Margaret Stafford were also executed, Sir John by being hanged, drawn and quartered whilst his wife was burnt at the stake in Smithfield, London. On November 1538 Keeper of the Sewer Sir Edward Neville was beheaded for his part in the conspiracy. The loss of the leaders enabled the Duke of Norfolk to quell the rising and martial law was imposed upon the demonstrating regions, ending predication.
Successes and failures 
The Lincolnshire Rising and the Pilgrimage of Grace have traditionally been seen as complete failures. They did, however, achieve several results that suggest otherwise.
Contrary to popular myth, there were some partial successes because of the rebellions:
- The government postponed the collection of the October subsidy. This had been a major grievance amongst the Lincolnshire organisations.
- The Statute of Uses was negated by a new law, the Statute of Wills.
- Four of the seven sacraments that were omitted from the Ten Articles were restored in the Bishop's Book of 1537. This marked the end of the drift of official doctrine towards Protestantism. The Bishop's Book was followed by the Six Articles of 1539.
- An onslaught upon heresy was promised in a royal proclamation in 1538.
- England was not reconciled to the Catholic Church, except during the brief reign of Mary I.
- The dissolution of the monasteries continued unabated, with the largest monasteries being dissolved by 1540.
- Great tracts of land were seized from the Church and divided among the monarchy and its supporters.
- The moves towards official Protestantism achieved by Cromwell were not reversed except during the five-year reign of Mary I (1553–1558).
See also 
- Thomas Darcy, 1st Baron Darcy de Darcy, beheaded because of his involvement.
- John Hussey, 1st Baron Hussey of Sleaford, beheaded because of his involvement.
- John Longland, Bishop of Lincoln during the period.
- Prayer Book Rebellion
- Somerset Herald, murdered in 1542 by William Leech of Fulletby, fugitive ringleader of the Lincolnshire rising.
- Rising of the North
- Lincolnshire Uprising – A Very Religious Affair by Baron Halpenny – BBC
- Wriothesley's Chronicle
Further reading 
- John Buchan (1931). The Blanket of the Dark (Hodder and Stoughton, London).
- H. F. M. Prescott (1952). The Man on a Donkey.
- Geoffrey Moorhouse (2002). The Pilgrimage of Grace.
- M. L. Bush, "The Tudor Polity and the Pilgrimage of Grace." Historical Research 2007 80(207): 47–72. Issn: 0950-3471 Fulltext: Ebsco
- A summary of two historians' (Guy and Elton) perspectives on the Pilgrimages of Grace can be found at William Howard School
- "Pilgrimage of Grace". Catholic Encyclopedia. New York: Robert Appleton Company. 1913.
- HistoryLearningSite.co.uk – The Pilgrimage of Grace
- TudorPlace.com – The Pilgrimage of Grace (1536/7)
- Luminarium.com – Pilgrimage of Grace
- Hoyle, R.W. (2001). The Pilgrimage of Grace and the Politics of the 1530s. Oxford University Press. p. 407. ISBN 0-19-925906-2.