Politics and the Pilgrimage
of Grace revisited
Only two years after the royal supremacy was written into law, and only months after Henry VIII's first, tentative reforms of religious worship, a series of rebellions threatened to halt the English Reformation in its tracks. Sparked in Lincolnshire in October 1536 and spreading quickly through Yorkshire and the far north, the Pilgrimage of Grace was the largest popular uprising in England between the Peasants' Revolt of 1381 and the civil wars of the 1640s. As in the maid of Kent affair, the pilgrims strove for a legitimate voice with which to oppose a regime whose radical fiscal and ecclesiastical policies had severely depleted its stockpile of goodwill and instinctive obedience. Also as in Elizabeth Barton's movement, the Pilgrimage of Grace combined popular and elite politics in a particularly explosive mixture. Much more so than Barton, however, the Pilgrimage directly threatened the government's survival: with perhaps 50,000 men in arms, if the rebels had marched on London no royal force could possibly have stopped them.1____________________
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Publication information: Book title: Popular Politics and the English Reformation. Contributors: Ethan H. Shagan - Author. Publisher: Cambridge University Press. Place of publication: Cambridge, England. Publication year: 2003. Page number: 89.
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