Ket's Rebellion

Ket's Rebellion

  • 20th June 1549 there are enclosure riots in Attleborough, Norfolk.
  • Local gentleman Robert Ket (a wealthy tanner) becomes leader of the 'mob', and the riot becomes more organised under his direction.
  • Other gentlemen like Thomas Aldryche join the rebellion.
  • 12th July there is an organised camp on Mousehold Heath, just outside Norwich. Ket has 16 000 men under his control.
  • There are three other camps in the area: Downham Market, Ipswich (this moved to Melton later), and at Bury St Edmunds.
  • 23rd July the rebels take Norwich against the resistance of the local civic authorities.
  • Thomas Cod, the Mayor of Norwich throws his lot in with the rebels.
  • Somerset issues a pardon on the condition that they all go home.
  • 30th July the Marquis of Northampton is sent to deal with the rising. It's a disaster - he fled at the first sign of resistance.
  • Ket remained on Mousehold Heath (had he lost his nerve?).
  • Late August the Earl of Warwick, John Dudley arrived in Norwich with 12 000 men. He makes some limited attempts at negotiation.
  • Warwick starts to use martial law. He hangs any rebels that he can find.
  • 26th August, Ket risks battle. He suffered a considerable loss faced with the Royal cavalry. 3 000 rebels lost.
  • Arrest of Ket and others.

The tone of the demands of the Norfolk rebels was very different to that of the Western Rebels. They began their petition with the words, "we pray your grace". There was no "we will have!"

There were 29 Articles in all, and off these thirteen were agricultural and seven were anti-clerical. There were also articles protesting against the local lords.

The Articles including the following:

  1. No Lord should pasture animals on the commons (a reference to an effect of enclosure).
  2. Rent prices of copyhold land, meadowland and the marshes should be set at the 1485 level.
  3. Land that was held in freehold should not be converted to copyhold.
  4. No man worth £401 or over a year to keep cattle or sheep except for their own subsistence. (A direct attack on gentlemen farmers).
  5. The political roles of priests and vicars should be limited in the towns and the villages.
  6. Lower the tax levied on the inheritance of the land.
  7. If priests or vicars earn above £10 a year they should teach the poorer children.
  8. Secured rights for fishermen.
  9. Parishioners should have the right to choose their own priests.

These articles were signed by Robert Ket, Thomas Cod and Thomas Aldryche.

Religious They were encouraged by the Protestant writings of Ridley, Latimer and others. These ideas wanted fairness for the commons. People wanted to be able to appoint their own priests. Does this reflect unhappiness with the changes?
The gentry had benefited from scale of monastic lands.
Fall of Howard family, Duke of Norfolk, under Henry, left a political vacuum in Norfolk.
Local gentry too wound up in own affairs to see what was going on around them. (S.T.Bindoff).
They thought they had a chance with Somerset.
Lack of ability to contain insurrection by local lords.
Ket's appeal was not against king's councillors, but against wicked local officials.
Social Jealousy against the rising wealth, and power of the gentry. The 'riot' was changed into a 'rebellion' under the leadership of local 'gentlemen' like Ket.
They guarded 'ancient customs' and family rights - jealousy.
Economic Enclosures were an ancient grievance. it was the 'engrossing of farms' that hit the smaller farmer the most. 1548 saw a bad harvest. They were hit hard by the falling prices of wool on the Antwerp market.
The levelling of fences was an established form of protest in East Anglia.
High rents, despite no rise in wages.

Northumberland used martial law to deal with the rebels. He hanged any that he could get his hands on during the siege of Norwich. After the battle he continued his rule of the area in this arbitrary way, and as many as 250 were hanged without trial after the rebellion.

Somerset was humiliated by both the rebellion in Norfolk and the rebellion in the West country. He was seen as weak in his approach to the rebels. In contrast, Warwick appeared extremely firm (if not ruthless).

Warwick was able to march back to London in control of the army. Consequently, when he reached London on 14th September, he was in control of the city. This heralded the downfall of Somerset. Did Dudley plan it?

St Bindoff says that it was a monster breach of the peace, which showed a breakdown in law and order in the locality.

John Guy says that it was the closest England came to class conflict in this period.