The Pilgrimage of Grace

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The Pilgrimage of Grace

  • Oath taking takes place in Dent and the West Riding of Yorkshire.
  • Late 1536 three government commissioners dissolving smaller monasteries were working in the Lincolnshire area.
  • Rumours fly that the people are going to be taxed heavily on things like horned cattle, baptisms and marriages.
  • 3rd Oct. the commons of Louth march on the town to meet the commissioners. They believe that their weapons are about to be confiscated.
  • Captain Cobbler leads them.
  • The rebels went on to a nearby nunnery.
  • 4th Oct. gentry join in.
  • A manifesto is written.
  • The Bishop of Lincoln's registrar is murdered.
  • The rebels march to Lincoln. A new set of articles is drawn up.
  • Henry sends Suffolk to Stamford to be on standby.
  • Rebels march with a banner which shows the five wounds of Christ.
  • 8th Oct. Robert Aske calls upon the people of Beverley to be true to 'God, the king, the commonwealth and to maintain the Holy Church'.
  • 10th Oct. the West Riding of Yorkshire is called to rebellion by the ringing of church bells.
  • 13th Oct. while marching to York, Robert Aske begins to speak of their campaign in terms of a 'pilgrimage'.
  • 16th Oct. the rebels led by Aske reached York.
  • He gives the mayor a list of grievances, among which were:
  • Suppression of the religious houses.
  • Act of Uses - people had liberties taken from them because of this act which enquired into land value.
  • Tax on sheep and cattle was unfair - the commons were already in a state of poverty.
  • The low birth of most of the councillors who rule only for their own profits, like Richard Rich and Cromwell.
  • Reforming bishops were not popular.
  • He also made this declaration:


  • From the 16th - 23rd Oct. a number of important Yorkshire cities and towns gave in to the rebels, including, Richmond, Sedburgh and Nidderdale.
  • 21st Oct. Skipton castle was under siege.
  • In this time the king disbanded his army thinking that it was no longer needed.
  • The rebels went to Pontefract castle to try to secure support of the nobility.
  • The Duke of Norfolk meets with the rebels at the River Don.
  • Some Yorkshire nobles go to London to petition the king.
  • 2nd Nov. the king promises to pardon all but the ten ringleaders. He says that he will receive the rebels in London and consider their case further.
  • 2nd Dec. the promise of a pardon is repeated and Henry promises a free parliament.
  • Aske relays these messages back to the rebels at Pontefract. They are disbelieving and threaten to rise again.
  • After Christmas there is a second rising in Yorkshire, as many see the king's promises going unheeded. This is led by Sir Francis Bigod. Aske tried to warn off Bigod.
  • The Duke of Norfolk declared martial law in the West Marches.
  • The rebels were all hanged in Carlisle, except for Aske who was executed at Clifford's Tower in York.

  • Focus your further reading/revision around these possible causes of the Pilgrimage of Grace
  • A protest against the dissolution of the monasteries on religious grounds.
  • A protest against the dissolution of the monasteries on economic grounds.
  • A protest against Cromwell more than Henry.
  • A commons led revolt focussing on dissolution.
  • A gentry led revolt.
  • A revolt driven by economic and social grievances with very little to do with the dissolution.
  • A spontaneous or a well-planned outbreak?
  • A revolt spurred by the nobles' dislike of the Reformers in government (led by the remnants of the Aragonese faction).

Here's a list of historians who have conflicting views on the rebellion:

Elton GR, Reform and Reformation in England

Scarisbrick JJ, Henry VIII

Loades DM, Politics and the Nation 1450-1660

Fletcher A, Tudor Rebellions