How seriously did the Pilgrimage of Grace Challenge Henry VIII’s power and authority in England, 1536-39?
The Pilgrimage of Grace was the rebellion of the commoners, led by the gentry against their fears for religion, their community life and their prosperity. It is questionable weather the rebellion occurred from below, among the commoners who were outraged by new taxes and the momentous changes upon the church. Or alternatively, from above, a revolt of the Nobility against the factions at court and Cromwell himself. It is also debated as to the causes of the sudden outburst of dissatisfaction, weather it was down to economic concerns; the recent taxation and new subsidy tax, or more with Religious concerns; the dissolution of the monasteries, the publication of the ten articles, and Cromwell’s plans for a divorce.
Neither the source from Randell or Elton enlightens us as to the cause of the pilgrimage; instead they provide the course and some potential consequences. The most plausible thesis, as suggested by Hoyle that the actual cause behind it is that it came from below, the commoners were becoming increasingly unhappy by the way in which their country was governed and therefore encouraged those above them to make a stand with them. Having the Gentry, and even nobility onside, meant the king was bound to take more notice, as they had more influence and power. Evidence suggests that once onside the Gentry had to restrain the commoners, they allowed the situation to unfold and used the commoners to express their own grievances. The presence of the nobility and Gentry among the rebels was concerning for the king and threatened his authority as they provided the forces he would need in order to quash the increasing momentum of upset.
The suggestions of the force behind the movement being from above lowers the severity of the situation as it shows the majority of the country, the commoners were not the driving force. The nobility with their influence...