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Pilgrimage of Grace

Pilgrimage of Grace, 1536, rising of Roman Catholics in N England. It was a protest against the government's abolition of papal supremacy (1534) and confiscation (1536) of the smaller monastic properties, intensified by grievances against inclosures and high rents and taxes. The Catholics protested their loyalty to Henry VIII, citing as their "great grudge" the position and influence of Thomas Cromwell. In Oct., 1536, several thousand men occupied the city of Lincoln, but dispersed after receiving a sharp rebuke from the king. Almost immediately, another rally occurred in Yorkshire. The movement, which rapidly gathered strength in N England, was led by Robert Aske, a Yorkshire lawyer. Aske and his followers occupied York and then moved on to Doncaster. Thomas Howard, 3d duke of Norfolk, promised from the king a general pardon and a Parliament to be held at York within a year. The men dispersed. Aske was well received by the king in London. In Jan., 1537, Sir Francis Bigod of Settrington, Yorkshire, led an uprising at Beverley. Although Aske and other leaders of the Pilgrimage of Grace tried to prevent this new disorder, they were arrested, tried in London, and executed in June, 1537. The northern counties were placed under martial law, and many people were hanged on mere suspicion of disaffection. The repression in N England after the Pilgrimage of Grace put an end to open opposition to the government's religious policy.

See study by M. N. Dodds and R. Dodds (2 vol., 1915, repr. 1971).

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Pilgrimage of Grace

Pilgrimage of Grace, 1536–7. The Pilgrimage was a widespread northern rising against Henry VIII's religious policies and the greatest challenge to his position during his reign. It seems to have been triggered by the dissolution of the smaller monasteries, began at Louth in Lincolnshire, spreading to Yorkshire and then to Cumberland and Westmorland. The rebels, who took the badge of the five wounds of Christ and called themselves pilgrims, were led by Robert Aske and for some weeks commanded overwhelming numbers. Henry's response was to temporize, to offer pardons, and to attempt to split gentry from commoners. By the spring of 1537 most of the rebels had dispersed and he was able to take a bloody revenge on the pilgrims. Aske was executed at York and Lord Darcy, who had surrendered Pontefract castle to the rebels, was beheaded on Tower Hill. The weakness of royal control which the rising had demonstrated led at once to the establishment of the Council of the North in October 1537 to reassert authority.

J. A. Cannon

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