Friday, January 21, 2011


Analyze the concerns and goals of participants in the Pilgrimage of Grace and those who opposed it.
Outline: Goals of Marchers
- Restore England to Catholicism
- Reform of the Government and Parliament including Cromwell
- Get the King to renounce the writings of Luther and other Reformists
- Get King to secure borders from Scots and to make the country safe again.
Goals of opposition
- Stop Marches
- Arrest Leaders
- Restore order
The Pilgrimage of Grace was a march by dissidents of the Henry VII in order to protest the way the country was ruled and the Religious reformation England was undergoing. Marchers were unhappy with a parliament they believed to be corrupt, at the fact that England had split from the Catholic Church and that Scots and robbers were roaming the countryside. The opposition to the march on the other hand included the King, his court and the nobility and they wished to disperse the marches and to restore order. The marches took place in the north eastern parts of England where Royal influence was not as strong. The Pilgrimage of Grace and the goals of the marchers and opposition not only give us a glimpse of England in the Early 16th century but show how willing the English people were to have a reformed government ruling for the people like Oliver Cromwell’s after the English civil war.

One of the 1st and foremost goals of the marchers was to protest Henry VIII decision to split England from the catholic church and to proclaim himself head of a new English Church which was ruled solely by the King or Queen of England. The Oath of honorable men was taken by marchers during the pilgrimage. It begins, “ You shall not enter into our Pilgrimage of Grace for worldly gain, do so only for your love of God, for the Holy Catholic Church militant,”(Doc1) The marchers were primarily Catholics angered at their King’s decision to change their countries religion on a whim. The also sent a petition to the King and his council which included pleas for him to abolish the works of Reformists like Luther from England, to restore the land and authority of the Catholic Church in England and to have Thomas Cromwell condemned for treason. (Doc5) The marchers were angry at the King, his recent decisions and his council and chose to show it by marching.

A secondary goal of the marches was to gain reforms in English government which included: a parliament that actually represented the people and was not a puppet of the throne and they also wished for the King to secure the English borders and roads from robbers and raiding scots. A marchers proclamation which was read before many marches began, “Because the rulers of this country do not defend us from being robbed by thieves and scots…We must be ready to help one another when thieves or scots would rob or invade us.” (Doc2) The marchers were angered at their leader’s failure to protect them and the properties from Scots and petty criminals. In a pamphlet which was eventually attributed to Thomas Tempest a former member of parliament we learn that many are unhappy at how the current parliament is run almost like a puppet of Thomas Cromwell’s, ”The current parliament has little authority or virtue. It is merely a council of the King’s appointees.” The English people at this time wanted a government that they could have a say in, not one completely dominated by the whims of the King and his nobles.

On the flip side of the marches were the opposition which mainly included the King and others in positions of power in government like Thomas Cromwell. This opposition wanted to stop the marches and to restore order to northern England. Many protesters were arrested and tried for treason and the King issued pardons to protesters as long as they renounced their protests and returned to their everyday lives. (Doc9) Arrest statistics show that 65% of all those tried in the first trials were convicted of treason and 233 were tried. (Doc10) The opposition wanted to arrest the leaders and disperse the remainder of the marchers. A writer named Richard Morrison was hired by Thomas Cromwell to write the book, “A remedy to Sedition.” In the book he opposed the idea of equality in government and reinforced the authority of the King, “When every man rules who shall obey?”(Doc7) Cromwell commissioned the book in what was perhaps an attempt to present an argument against an equal state.

These sources show how many in England wanted a reform in the nobility of England and a change in how the government was run. They wanted more authority for the people and less for the King and his council. This shows that when Oliver Cromwell took over after the English civil war the people were easily convinced to make him Lord Protector and basically a King of England as long as he preserved their civil liberties. The Pilgrimage of Grace gives us a glimpse of how the English civil war happened.

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