Pilgrimage of Grace

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Pilgrimage of Grace,

1536, rising of Roman Catholics in N England. It was a protest against the government's abolition of papal supremacy (1534) and confiscation (1536) of the smaller monastic properties, intensified by grievances against inclosuresinclosure
or enclosure,
in British history, the process of inclosing (with fences, ditches, hedges, or other barriers) land formerly subject to common rights. Such land included fields cultivated by the open-field or strip system, wasteland, and the common pasture land.
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 and high rents and taxes. The Catholics protested their loyalty to Henry VIII, citing as their "great grudge" the position and influence of Thomas CromwellCromwell, Thomas, earl of Essex,
1485?–1540, English statesman. While a young man he lived abroad as a soldier, accountant, and merchant, and on his return (c.1512) to England he engaged in the wool trade and eventually became a lawyer.
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. In Oct., 1536, several thousand men occupied the city of Lincoln, but dispersed after receiving a sharp rebuke from the king. Almost immediately, another rally occurred in Yorkshire. The movement, which rapidly gathered strength in N England, was led by Robert Aske, a Yorkshire lawyer. Aske and his followers occupied York and then moved on to Doncaster. Thomas Howard, 3d duke of Norfolk, promised from the king a general pardon and a Parliament to be held at York within a year. The men dispersed. Aske was well received by the king in London. In Jan., 1537, Sir Francis Bigod of Settrington, Yorkshire, led an uprising at Beverley. Although Aske and other leaders of the Pilgrimage of Grace tried to prevent this new disorder, they were arrested, tried in London, and executed in June, 1537. The northern counties were placed under martial law, and many people were hanged on mere suspicion of disaffection. The repression in N England after the Pilgrimage of Grace put an end to open opposition to the government's religious policy.


See study by M. N. Dodds and R. Dodds (2 vol., 1915, repr. 1971).

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The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.

Pilgrimage of Grace


uprising (1536–37) in northern England, encompassing Yorkshire and the neighboring counties. This rebellion proceeded under religious slogans (for the restoration of the Catholic Church and the monasteries), but it was essentially an agrarian movement; peasants made up the core of insurgents. The cause of the uprising was the worsening of living conditions among the peasant masses during the agrarian revolution. The secularization of the monasteries in particular served as an impetus for depriving the peasants of land. The motley social composition of the participants (taking part in the pilgrimage of grace were also members of the gentry and the clergy) made it easier to crush the uprising.


Semenov, V. F. Ogorazhivaniia i krest’ianskie dvizheniia v Anglii XVI v. Moscow-Leningrad, 1949. Pages 246–67.
The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.
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