Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)



Document Type



This dissertation examines the Pilgrimage of Grace and the Lincolnshire rebellion. Both rebellions occurred in England in 1536 during the reign of Henry VIII. The rebellions were primarily risings of the commons and occurred as the result of several causes. Much of the recent historiography has focused primarily on the causes of the rebellions and the motives of those involved. Most contemporary interpretations of the Pilgrimage of Grace have cast it primarily as either an economic rebellion or a result of social conflict between the commons and gentry. Practically no analysis of the role of the clergy exists, although it is clear that the religious reforms instituted by Henry VIII beginning in 1534 caused widespread disaffection. These reforms attacked traditional religious practice and worship, affecting the entire clergy and laity. The argument put forth in this dissertation is that the clergy—priests, friars, and monks—supported, stirred, and spread the rebellion throughout Lincolnshire and the North Country of England. In addition, this dissertation supports the argument that both the Lincolnshire rebellion and the Pilgrimage of Grace were essentially religious rebellions. Research makes it clear that a significant number of the clergy of northern England had the means, motives, and opportunity to incite the commons to rebel against the Henrician Reformation. Many of the available sources indicate that a significant number of priests, friars, and monks offered stiff resistance to the Henrician reforms. It is also clear that many members of the clergy opposed the royal supremacy as well as the reforms that attacked traditional practice and worship. Evidence also exists that members of the clergy initiated and spread a series of rumors throughout England. These rumors are important because they played a significant role in causing both the Pilgrimage of Grace and the Lincolnshire rebellion. Extant sources also indicate that many clergymen supported the rebels with words, money, and food. There is also evidence that several priests, friars, and monks stirred and spread rebellion. By addressing the role of the clergy in stirring, this dissertation adds a new approach to the historiography of the Pilgrimage of Grace.



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Committee Chair

Stater, Victor



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History Commons