Aske, Robert

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Leader in Yorkshire insurrection during the pilgrimage of grace, 153637; b. place and date unknown; d. York, England, (JuneJuly?) 1537. Little is known of his early life, except that he was a lawyer with a good London practice. Restrictive enactments of Parliament (1536) brought about an uprising of squires, knights, and commons in Lincolnshire. By October 30,000 Yorkshiremen, wearing the badge of the "Five Wounds," also were in arms; Aske was their leader. Objectives of the pilgrimage were complex; the pilgrims' motives were not always clear and distinct; and religious and social elements were inextricably combined in the revolt. Aske issued a proclamation opposing Thomas Cromwell and "other evil counsellors" of Henry VIII, demanding repeal of the Statute of Uses, and calling for an end to the suppression of monasteries. The pilgrims proclaimed loyalty "to Holy Church militant and to the preservation of the King's person and his issue." Aske advocated moderation and restraint. Only if all petitions to the king failed was the sword to be used. Under the command of Thomas Howard, Earl of Surrey and second Duke of Norfolk, a royal force of some 8,000 was sent to quell the revolt. On December 5 Aske, falling on his knees, confronted Norfolk at Doncaster and petitioned the king's pardon. Invited to court, Aske received Henry's promises of pardon and assurance that a parliament would shortly be held at York. In January 1537 a new outbreak in East Yorkshire provided Henry with a pretext for breaking his pledge. Treachery and brutality marked his treatment of the leading insurgents. Aske, again summoned to London, was imprisoned in the Tower. He insisted that the Supremacy Act "could not stand with God's law," and that belief in the pope's authority was the touchstone of orthodoxy; he maintained that Thomas Cranmer and other bishops were heretics because they had been the cause of the breach of unity in the Church and were supporters of the new learning and of the opinions of Luther and Tyndale. Aske was sentenced and condemned to be drawn on a hurdle through the city of York and hanged in chains.

Bibliography: m. h. and r. dodds, The Pilgrimage of Grace, 15361537, and the Exeter Conspiracy, 1538, 2 v. (Cambridge, Eng. 1915). p. hughes, The Reformation in England (New York 1963) a. taylor, Dictionnaire d'histoire et de géographie ecclésiastiques 4:104849. j. gairdner, The Dictionary of National Biography from the Earliest Times to 1900 (London 190809), 1:661664.

[j. g. dwyer]