This week, in the second episode on Tudor Rebellions, I talked about each of the major rebellions that the various Tudor monarchs had to deal with, in chronological order (mostly). I also made my first political commentary. It was a big week. Listen, or read the transcript below.
Book Recommendation (Amazon affiliate link – you pay the same price, but the podcast gets a portion of the profit – yay!)
Tudor Rebellions by Anthony Fletcher and Diarmaid MacCulloch
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Hello, and welcome to the Renaissance English History Podcast. I’m your host, Heather Teysko, and I’m a storyteller who makes history accessible because I believe it’s a pathway to understanding humanity and our place in the universe.
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So, moving on to the second episode on Tudor Rebellions.
If you haven’t listened to the first yet, I would recommend it, as this episode is going to assume that you have. In that episode from about 2 weeks ago we talked about the general causes of rebellions for our Tudor monarchs. In this episode I’m going to look at some of the more famous rebellions, in chronological order. Then next episode we’ll synthesize much of the information, and look at the long term effects on the Tudor dynasty, as well as the monarchy in general. Well that sounds both fascinating and exciting, no?
As I said in the last episode, Henry VII came to the throne through combat against Richard III after decades of civil war that we now call the Wars of the Roses. The rebellions against the early Tudors, especially Henry Tudor, were about removing the Tudors from the throne entirely, whereas the later ones involving succession were more about changing the succession rather than completely replacing the monarch. So let’s jump in, shall we, and see what Henry Tudor had to deal with early on.
Within a year of beating Richard III Henry faced a rebellion now called the Lovel and Stafford Rebellion. Francis Viscount Lovel and Humphrey Stafford, who were high up councillors and supporters of Richard III managed to not get themselves captured at Bosworth. After Bosworth, they claimed sanctuary at Colchester, and then they escaped. Henry Tudor had spies in the north telling him that they were gathering an army, to overthrow Henry. It failed, and Lovel fled to the court of Margaret of York in Flanders while his buddy Stafford was executed after trying to claim sanctuary again, and being forcibly removed from it.
Almost immediately after this Henry saw a more threatening rebellion in the form of Lambert Simnel.
This involved Lambert Simnel claiming to be the Earl of Warwick, a Yorkist whose claim was better than Henry. He was the son of the Duke of Clarence, Edward IV’s brother, and so he would have been the cousin to Edward V. Lambert Simnel looked a lot like Edward IV and his sons, so the rebels who had picked him out actually wanted to first portray him as Richard Duke of York, but then there was a rumor that the Earl of Warwick had died in the tower, so they decided to go with him.
The rebels spread a rumor that Warwick had escaped from the tower and was with them. The thing is, the actual Earl of Warwick was still alive and well, and in the custody of Henry, so it wasn’t the smartest move. Simnel had some support from English and Irish nobles, but was defeated at the Battle of East Stoke. King Henry pardoned Simnel (probably because he had mostly been a puppet in the hands of adults) and gave him a job in the royal kitchen as a spit turner. When he grew older, he became a falconer. Almost no information about his later life is known. He died some time between 1525 and 1535. He seems to have married, as he is probably the father of Richard Simnel, a canon of St Osyth’s Priory in Essex during the reign of Henry VIII.
In 1489 and then 1497 Henry saw the Yorkshire and Cornish rebellions, respectively.
These weren’t so much about overthrowing Henry, but about taxes. Yorkshire rebelled in 1489 over the fact that they didn’t want to pay taxes for a war with France, which they thought didn’t really affect them. The rebels had killed Henry’s tax collector, the Earl of Northumberland, and so Henry had to go kick some proverbial ass, which he duly did. In 1497 Cornwall didn’t want to pay taxes to fight Scotland, and the rebels marched to London. They were all killed at Blackheath, the leaders executed, and Cornwall was heavily fined as punishment.
The longest and most threatening of the Tudor Rebellions for Henry saw was from Perkin Warbeck. His rebellion lasted 8 years. He picked a better person to impersonate someone who wasn’t alive and in the custody of the King one of the princes in the tower, Richard Duke of York. This time period is actually the closest that Henry came to losing his throne. According to the Tudors he was the son of a drunk in Tournai, and for some reason he wound up going to school and learning Latin.
Somehow he came to the notice of a Edward IV’s godson, got paraded through the courts of Europe, and had several European leaders agree that he was indeed Richard Duke of York. He then sailed to England to lead a rebellion, was captured, and executed. According to historical fiction writer Phillippa Gregory, author of the White Queen, this was highly unlikely, and she purports a theory that Elizabeth Woodville, mother of the Princes in the Tower, was actually able to smuggle Richard out of England to his aunt’s court, and so Perkin Warbeck actually might have been Richard Duke of York. Even at the time, Elizabeth of York, Henry’s wife and Richard’s sister, had a difficult time being able to tell whether it was indeed her brother or not. There’s a lot of mystery around this one, but either way it was a huge threat to Henry Tudor, and so he needed to be executed.
Moving on to Henry Tudor’s son, Henry VIII. Henry VIII saw three pretty big rebellions, two of which were very large.
In 1525 the Amicable Great Rising was a response to taxes to find another war with France. The rebellion spread throughout East Anglia, the Midlands, and parts of the Home Counties, and they were successful in that the government ended the tax. The Silken Thomas Rebellion Rebellion was in Ireland, and basically a guy called Silken Thomas, Thomas O’Neill, the Earl of Kildare; his father had been arrested. The Kildare’s had been the English deputies in Ireland, but more and more English officials were coming in, and so they rebelled. They were defeated, and executed.
The most famous Tudor Rebellion for Henry VIII, probably, is the Pilgrimage of Grace, from 1536-1537.
They were actually three separate rebellions in northern England. They are a reaction to the reformation and all of the changes in religion, and also incorporated some underlying economic issues and complaints. There were rumors that with the religious changes things would happen like white meat would no longer be available to commoners. It was a time of great change, obviously, with the monasteries on the brink of dissolution, and people coming in and destroying idols and relics.
Plus, being so far north and away from the center of power, it was really difficult to get news of what was actually happening. So there was a rebellion against this new regime and these new regulations. The rebels reached over 40,000 at the high point, and Henry was actually forced to negotiate with the rebels to buy some time, actually inviting the leader Robert Aske to spend the holidays with him. When Aske went back North, more fighting broke out, having nothing to do with Aske, but it provided Henry the opportunity to go back on his word, and take Aske, and the other leaders into custody, executing them.
Moving on to Edward VI, Henry’s son. He only reigned for just about 6 years, but there were several large scale rebellions that he had to deal with.
The Western Rebellion in 1549 was a reaction to the Protestant Reformation. It was also called the Prayer Book rebellion the rebels were protesting against the imposition of Cranmer’s Book of Common Prayer, and while they were at it they also wanted to end the taxes on sheep and wool, which showed that in many of these rebellions that we think of as religious, there were also social and economic tensions. The rebels demanded that transubstantiation and purgatory be included back into the liturgy, and that relics come back to the services. The government actually had to fight five battles to regain control at the Battle of Clyst Heath.
Edward also saw Kett’s rebellion in Norfolk where the rebels were protesting land enclosures, as well as the Protestant reformation not going far enough. They set up camps and captured Norwich, but were eventually defeated and the main leaders were left to hang in chains.
Mary I started off her reign with the rebellion of her subjects in trying to raise Lady Jane Grey to the throne.
This was the plot that started when Edward VI, fearing that England would go back to the Pope and Catholocism after he died, made a change to his will, and Henry VIII’s will, naming Jane Grey as his successor. She was the granddaughter of Henry’s sister Mary, and was next in line to the throne if Mary Tudor and Elizabeth were excluded it’s likely that Edward would have wanted his sister Elizabeth to take over, but if he was going to exclude Mary because she had been named a bastard, he had to do the same for Elizabeth, who had also been named a bastard. So Jane became Queen when the Duke of Northumberland crowned her. But of course Mary was able to raise troops, and after 9 days Northumberland surrendered. Of course, as we talked about in a previous episode, Lady Jane Grey was executed.
Mary also faced a threat from Thomas Wyatt, who rebelled to protest Mary’s marriage to Philip of Spain. The rebels were worried that a Spaniard was going to dominate England, and that after the reforms of Edward, the Catholics would regain control. There was a lot of xenophobia in England at the time, fear of foreigners coming in and destroying their culture and so there was a rebellion to force Mary to marry a nice English boy. It was originally meant to be a 4 prong attack on London, but Wyatt was the only one who was able to raise troops 5000 men and he reached London where he was arrested and executed.
Elizabeth I faced far fewer rebellions than her siblings, father, and grandfather did in England, but she dealt with many more in Ireland. While much of this was because of the growing English presence in Ireland, much of it was also down to interclan fighting. There were several Irish rebellions, some of which involved the potential of foreign aid to the rebels, and so for that reason were even more pressing to the English crown. One of them, the final one led by Hugh O’Neill, the Earl of Tyrone, lasted for 8 years until 1603, and it resulted in several English defeats. Elizabeth eventually sent enough forces under to crush the rebellion.
In England, the most serious rebellion Elizabeth faced was the rebellion of the Northern Earls in 1569.
We touched on this in the episode on Mary Queen of Scots the idea was that Mary would marry the Duke of Norfolk and force Elizabeth to name her as her heir to the throne. Despite the fact that the rebels managed to celebrate the Catholic mass in Durham Cathedral, the rebellion didn’t get traction, and as the army approached the rebels largely fled. Northumberland was executed, but the main planner was the Earl of Westmorland, and he was never captured. In 1596 the Oxfordshire Rebellion was a total failure when only 4 rebels showed up to fight, but the government still executed them all. I can just imagine how pissed off they all would have been at their fellow rebels.
Finally in 1601 the Earl of Essex, who had been a favorite of Elizabeth’s, tried to protest the faction at court led by Cecil. He wanted more power and more prestige at court. Then when Elizabeth refused his application for a patent for wines, which was a considerable source of his income, and so he began to brood about the injustice with which he was treated. The whole act of rebellion only lasted 12 hours. Within ten days Essex was found guilty of treason, and was executed with 2 weeks.
In the next and final episode in this little mini series on Rebellions, we’re going to look at how rebellions changed the monarchy both for the Tudors, and long term.
So now for the book recommendation which is Tudor Rebellions by Anthony Fletcher and Diarmaid MacCulloch (Amazon affiliate link). Remember you can get the show notes, and this transcript, as well as sign up for the newsletter by simply sending a text with your email address to the listener support line at 801 683 9756 or 801 6TEYSKO. It’s easy peasy. Do it now. Unless you’re driving. In that case, pull over and do it. You can also get in touch on facebook at facebook.com/englandcast or via twitter @teysko.
Thanks so much for listening everyone. The next episode will be the interview with Tudor Times on their Person of the Month, which will come out in about 2 weeks. Then we’ll wrap up Tudor Rebellions, and then I’m going to be away for a bit moving back to the US from Spain. But never fear, loyal and gentle listeners. I have some fantastic guest episodes scheduled, so you can rest assured that I will still be showing up in your feed even when I’m away. Don’t forget to check out the website, support the show on Patreon, and thanks for listening!
(Remember, if you like this show, there are two main ways you can support it. First (and free!) you can leave a review on iTunes. It really helps new people discover the show. Second, you can support the show financially by becoming a patron on Patreon for as little as $1 episode. Also, you can buy one of my journals, planners, or virtual tours!)