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Britain, peasant uprisings, 16th century

Jason Jewell


During the sixteenth century England's Tudor dynasty and Scotland's Stuart dynasty suffered a number of rebellions against their authority. Members of the aristocracy instigated and led the majority of these rebellions, but some of them featured enough initiative, leadership, and participation from the lower classes to be termed peasant uprisings. The most important of these were the Cornish Rebellion of 1497, the Pilgrimage of Grace of 1536–7, and two uprisings of 1549 – the Western Rebellion and Kett's Rebellion. The Cornish Rebellion, on the cusp of the sixteenth century, originated as a tax revolt against a parliamentary grant levied in 1497 to finance an invasion of Scotland. Cornishmen saw no threat to themselves from the Scots and protested the heavy tax. Michael Joseph an Gof (a blacksmith) and Thomas Flamank (a lawyer) led an estimated 15,000 Cornishmen on an orderly march across England to rid King Henry VII of his “evil advisors.” In June the rebels arrived at Blackheath, where they were confronted and defeated by a larger royal force. The rebel leaders were executed and Henry VII laid heavy fines on the regions that had supported the rebels. The Pilgrimage of Grace was a popular response to the Dissolution of the Monasteries proclaimed by Henry VIII in 1536. This threat to traditional religion, combined with dissatisfaction over taxation, eventually led to risings in ... log in or subscribe to read full text

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