How far was the Pilgrimage of Grace in 1536 a threat to Henry VIII?
The Pilgrimage of Grace in 1536 was the largest rebellion of the Tudor Period. Rebels rose across the North of England, rebelling against change to their traditional way of life and worship. By 10th October, Robert Aske, a Yorkshire lawyer had become chief captain of an army of thirty thousand. The rebels made their headquarters in York before moving down to Pontefract on 21st October where Lord Darcy handed over Pontefract Castle; the most important fortress in the North. This fast spreading rebellion could therefore have been a threat to Henry VIII.
The Pilgrimage of Grace was a popular rising in Lincolnshire and the North, supported by over thirty thousand rebels and was potentially very dangerous in comparison to the King’s army of just eight thousand men. The King’s army was therefore no match militarily for the vast rebel armies who were veteran soldiers of the northern armies who saw more military service than elsewhere because of the border disputes with the Scottish. Davies described the Pilgrimage of Grace as ‘the largest rebellion in English history’.
It was a general uprising of all classes of people which spread very fast. In source B, historian, Fellows states that ‘The nobles and gentry disliked the King’s use of lowly-born councillors and the Statute of Uses. The peasants were dissatisfied with rising entry fines and new taxes.’ The gentry disagreed with Cromwell’s policies particularly the Statute of Uses of 1535 as it was effectively a feudal tax on aristocratic landed inheritances. Opposition to the King’s demands for taxes was a consistent theme in the rebels’ articles such as the Pontefract Articles, written by Aske in December 1536. There was a particular hostility to Cromwell’s initiative of taxing in time of peace from the commons which was introduced in the 1534 Subsidy Act. The vast size of the rebel army and the fact that it was a general uprising of the fact that it...