To what extent was the Pilgrimage of Grace a protest against the religious policies of Henry VIII's government?

Essay by muppet04University, Bachelor'sC, April 2004

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There has been great scholarly interest in the Pilgrimage of Grace for decades, with there being two main disputes; each argument provoking a great debate. The first argument being about the motive for the uprising and the second; how it was started. Religion must have been of a great influence, and therefore the reason behind the rebellion as it has become known as the Pilgrimage of Grace. This is because its leaders visualized their revolt as both a religious as well as political rebellion. As a result they used traditional religious symbols such as the Five Wounds of Christ as their emblem as they marched to London (Guy, 1990, pg 143). Religion was mentioned as a cause for concern eight times in the Pontefract articles, for that reason it must have been a topic of a great dissatisfaction.

The pilgrimage of grace was lead by disaffected members of the northern aristocracy who marched against the towns and royal strongholds, they clearly identified the religious reforms as central to their protest, in the eyes of Seymour Baker House (ed.

Mac Culloch, 1995, pg 186). They were unhappy about the execution of priests and members of the clergy who spoke up about the religious changes that Henry was making (ed. Mac Culloch, 1995, pg 185-6).

Knowles (The Religious Orders in England, volume 3, Cambridge, 1959, as quoted by Bush, 1998, pg 16 - The Historian, Winter, 1998) recognised that the pilgrims' foremost aim for rebellion was to defend Catholicism (the old religion). Knowles also suggests that it was the closing of the smaller monasteries that was a cause of great anger to the rebels, especially leading to great dissatisfaction among the people of Yorkshire (West Yorkshire Archaeology Service,, and seen by many as "being central to the rebellion" (Dickens as...