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How far was religion a motivating factor for rebels in Tudor England 

During the sixteenth Century in Tudor England many rebellions took place due to certain changes that individuals regarded as inadequate, these matters have been sub-divided into four groups which consist of religious, political, economic and social. The many triggers of a common rebellion involved the lack of communication technology, refusal of many individuals to follow orders or rules, government changes, congregations ignoring instruction and rumours. These factors will be explored in further depth stating what they are and how they had an impact on motivating rebellions, I will also explore which factor is of most significance.The religious changes made by government and monarchs throughout the sixteenth century was one of the factors why many parts of the country spiralled into rebellion; as this was an aspect shared by everyone. The pilgrimage of grace that took place in 1536 is an example of a rebellion were religion was the most dominant factor, this is evident in the imagery of the five wounds of Christ used to represent their campaign, this same imagery is adopted in the Northern rebellion of 1569. The description used by the pilgrims for the title of their campaign reflects a religious journey which perhaps suggests their aims being spiritual and in name of religion.The rebels also swore an oath which meant they were undertaking the campaign in the name of Christ and the fact that it took place just after the closure of the smaller monasteries reveals religious intentions as churches and monasteries had a huge importance in peoples lives as they gave spiritual guidance, education for the poor and related to the needs of the ‘commoners’. therefore this made people uncertain for their futures. Also there was the changes to tradition that Henry VIII applied such as making himself the head of church in place of the pope and authorising his divorce. D.G. Newcombe states in “Henry VIII and the English reformation” (1995) that “religious issues dominated the minds of those who rose”, this shows that he views religion as a motivating factor within the Pilgrimage of grace.Within the Western Rebellion of 1549 religion was also a main factor as due to the “Act of uniformity” which defined a certain manner of worship amongst all churches created much resentment. There was also the common changes to worship such as services were to be given in English instead of Latin, wine as well as bread offered to the congregations which implied priests had no special rights, the publishing of a new Prayer Book with protestant beliefs created much discontent. These very changes made by the government created resentment as the centuries of tradition and ways of conducting churches was being changed and people were told it was all wrong which made individuals question whether or not they were safe from damnation.The northern Rebellion of 1569 is another rebellion which mainly focused on religion as the nobles and gentry involved were either openly catholic or secretly and their focus being on Mary Queen of Scots who was a direct heir to the English throne. Providing them hope for the succession of Catholicism as Elizabeth aim to force churches under the control of Bishop Durham who was a practising Protestant.In terms of social and economic changes a strict hierarchy was present known as the “great chain of being” were people were defined by their income, status, occupation, wealth, lifestyles and manners. Many people could rise higher within this chain earning more money and a higher status such as farmers who learnt new techniques. Most people lived In rural areas working on land, there was also a variety of landowning such as enclosures. In terms of the Pilgrimage of grace and it’s links to social and economic causes historians such as Michael Bush believe it’s main focus was to protect its “commonwealth” which included issues such as issues of taxes, enclosures and the loss of rights of tenants and farmers. His evidence to back this up is the fact the actual title of the movement was “The pilgrimage of grace for the commonwealth”.He also states that the leader of the movement Robert Aske gave a religious impression to get more support from individuals of different social statuses. Evidence to point out this theory can be found in the idea that the subsidy of 1534 which collected money for war was refused by many people and the appearance of commissioners spread rumours on taxation on the livestock. Also the greatest supporters of the movement were monks who had already been thrown out of the monasteries. Within Robert Aske’s examination he claimed that the closure of monasteries affected the well being off society. However this is not enough evidence to state that economic and social factors were behind the cause of the rebellion. Within the Western rebellion of 1549 Protector Somerset’s government antagonised by the enclosures taking place in the west decided to introduce a tax on the number of sheep’s owned by farmers, however the fact that the west had a well established woollen industry many individuals owned sheep’s therefore this was an attack on the economic well-being of many.Ket’s rebellion which took place in 1549 mainly just focused on social and economic factors such as the rising prices of monastic land’s which could only be brought by nobles and landowners, within this time there was also a growth in population which lead to inflation as there was shortages of food supplies and the wages could not keep up. In this part of the country within the common lands many resources such as timber, fish and plants were taken by anyone for use when these rights were stopped this infuriated many people. The determination of landowners to have further land available for enclosure and engrossing in some cases emptied villages in the process.Wyatt’s rebellion had minor aspects of these factor such as some of the supporters Wyatt gathered were due to the fact that Kent depended on the woollen industry and the decline of it in the 1550s due to new types of fabric coming in such as silk affected trade and this resentment gave him further supporters.On the whole In terms of whether religion was a motivating factor for the rebel I believe it was as there is much evidence to support it and the fact that although some of the leaders had other aims in mind the majority of the “commoners” had the religious changes taking place as the number one priority and people like Robert Aske noticed this gaining support with individuals different beliefs. Also religion was something everyone believed in at the time. However Ket’s rebellion does not have much religious issues in mind as it focuses on the social and economic changes that have taken place, and rebellions such as Wyatt’s rebellion was mainly political and to do with the dynastic order but contained aspects of religion within there. Therefore In my opinion religion was mainly the motivating factor for rebels in some of the rebellions such as the Pilgrimage of grace, the western rebellion and the northern rebellion.

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