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The Pilgrimage of Grace: The Rebellion That…
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The Pilgrimage of Grace: The Rebellion That Shook Henry VIII's Throne

by Geoffrey Moorhouse

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743247,548 (3.65)1
Protesting the king's betrayal of the "old" religion, his new taxes, and his threat to the rights of landowners,  the poor and the powerful united against Henry VIII, raising an army of 40,000. Under the influence of the charismatic, heroic figure of Robert Aske, most of the Northern nobility joined the rebellion and gathered for battle at Doncaster where they would have outnumbered the king's soldiers by 4 to 1. But Aske was persuaded by the king's men to abandon military force and negotiate terms in London. Once there he was arrested, charged with treason and hanged in chains.… (more)

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Definitely not a book for readers wanting something quick, Pilgrimage of Grace is, nonetheless, an interesting look at events transpiring during the years 1536 to 1537 which could have seriously cost Henry VIII his reign. Commoners and gentry, along with some noblemen united in a series of uprisings against the policies of stripping the monasteries, but more because of Thomas Cromwell, with other prelates they considered as "heretical." There were other reasons as well, largely monetary and political in nature that caused angry mobs to join together to try to effect change. In most cases, the uprising grew as those who led the movement forced others into joining, until thousands of armed men stood against poorly-maintained, poorly paid and often sympathetic troops under the command of the officials sent to quash the rebellion. It was the job of different dukes to maintain order, and in this case, the work fell to the Duke of Norfolk and for the first, smaller rebellion in Lincolnshire, the Duke of Suffolk.

The author does an excellent job with primary sources, often noting the bias in many of the accounts of the time, depending on authorship. He has woven together an outstanding look at causes, events and effects of these uprisings, examining not only the changes in the church under Henry VIII, but economic and political factors as well. He portrays Henry VIII as a monarch with a penchant for revenge and a monstrous temperament. At the end of the book he poses the question of what would have happened had the rebels not stopped their activities when and where they did, offering food for further thought.

This is definitely not a book for general readership -- you pretty much have to decide you're in it for the long haul to finish it -- but it is a very well-written history of the time. I'd recommend it to people who enjoy a good history, and those who want to know more about the reign of Henry VIII. It didn't come across as dry to me, but all three of my majors were in the field of history & I love this stuff. Highly recommended. ( )
  bcquinnsmom | Jun 9, 2009 |
An interesting and impartial account of the rebellion in favour of the old religion against Henry VIII - though in fact the target was really Thomas Cromwell. The book didn't totally succeed for me - the prose was a little dry and a bit hardgoing in places, though the author's research is certainly thorough. One probably more for those already immersed in Tudor history, rather than for a more general reader who is more likely to take to an Alison Weir-type approach. ( )
  john257hopper | Apr 21, 2007 |
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