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Tudor Minute July 31: Kett's Rebellion Starts to Turn


Today in 1549 the rebellion in Norfolk we call Kett’s Rebellion was starting to turn for the government. Initially the rebellion started over land enclosures, which was the process of closing off previously communally owned land and appropriating it to wealthy landowners leaving poor people with nowhere to graze their animals. The rebellion started on the 8th of July when some rebels tore down fences, but it quickly gave rise to a host of issues including religion. But interestingly, this rebellion wasn’t to preserve the old Catholic ways, as was the case with rebellions like the Pilgrimage of Grace. This rebellion was about England not going far enough in the direction of Protestantism, and the local clergy not being competent in the Protestant liturgy.

The rebels took Norwich, which is where our story today lies. The king sent the Marquess of Northampton with 1500 men to stop the rebellion, and as the army approached he was told that the rebels had retreated to higher ground overlooking the city. Kett decided to allow the government army to defend the city while he laid siege to it. Today, on the 31st of July, the Royal army improved defenses and started to patrol the streets of Norwich. At midnight there were alarms, and it seemed that the rebels were using the darkness and their own detailed knowledge of the tiny streets and alleys to launch hit and run attacks on the royal troops.

The next day the government would be fooled again when they were told that the rebels wanted to meet to surrender, but when they arrived to the meeting, there were no rebels, and instead they were crossing the river back into the marketplace at Norwich.

The government retreated, and didn’t stop until they reached Cambridge. The rebellion would be ended a few weeks later when a much larger army descended upon Norwich, and the leaders hung in chains, but for today it seemed as if the rebellion touched a nerve and was giving the government a rough time.

That’s your Tudor Minute for today. Remember you can dive deeper into life in 16th century England through the Renaissance English History Podcast at englandcast.com.

Kett's Rebellion
Tudor Rebellions Part One

Tudor Rebellions Part Two