The Pilgrims' Complaint: A Study of Popular Thought in the Early Tudor North, 1st Edition (Paperback) book cover

The Pilgrims' Complaint

A Study of Popular Thought in the Early Tudor North, 1st Edition

By Michael Bush


322 pages

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The Pilgrimage of Grace, a popular uprising in the north of England against Henry VIII's religious policies, has long been recognised as a crucial point in the fortunes of the English Reformation. Historians have long debated the motives of the rebels and what effects they had on government policy. In this new study, however, Michael Bush takes a fresh approach, examining the wealth of textual evidence left by the pilgrimage of grace to reconstruct the wider social, political and religious attitudes of northern society in the early Tudor period. More than simply a reassessment of the events of October 1536, the book examines the mass of surviving evidence - the rebels' proclamations, rumour-mongering bills, oaths, manifestos, petitions, songs, prophetic rhymes, eye-witness accounts and confessions - in order to illuminate and explore the kind of grass-roots feelings that are often so hard to pin down. He concludes that the evidence points to a much more complex situation than has often been assumed, revealing much more than simply a desire for the country to return to the old religion and familiar ways. Rather, this book demonstrates how the rebels sought to use the language of custom and tradition to bolster their own political and economic positions in a rapidly changing world. It reveals a populace at once conservative and radical, able to judge innovation and change in relation to its own benefit and ultimately able to advance a coherent programme of reform. Whilst this programme was carefully couched in language supportive of the traditional orderly society, it nevertheless carried within it more radical proposals, which proved extremely challenging to the monarchy, government and church, who eventually closed ranks to bring the uprising to an end. As both an exploration of the causes and aims of the pilgrimage of grace, and the wider religious, social and political attitudes of northern England, this book has much to offer the student of the period.


’Through this close reading of the contemporary complaints the author has more than made good his claim that the Pilgrimage of Grace provides a unique insight into northerners’ thinking on religion, politics and society in the third decade of the sixteenth century.’ Northern History ’Recommended.’ Choice ’Meticulously and exhaustively researched, this last book in what might be called Bush’s Pilgrimage trilogy� is a fitting capstone, eloquently and persuasively elucidating as much as we will no doubt ever be able to ascertain about how the commons themselves understood this rising of the commons� that was the Pilgrimage of Grace.’ Renaissance Quarterly ’The Pilgrims' Complaint is an important work that needs to be read by scholars and students of Tudor England; not only does it expand our understanding of the Pilgrimage of Grace, but also it may very well raise new questions for graduate students to pursue in their research.’ Anglican and Episcopal History 'Bush's study of popular radicalism during the English Reformation is a welcome addition to Ashgate's series on Catholic Christendom.' The Historian '… this book is an extremely good example of demonstrating the complexities of a historical incident that has been reduced by previous scholars to merely a failed reaction to religious change.' Sixteenth Century Journal 'This remarkable study seeks to unpick the desires and motivations of ’the people’ during the series of tumults that constituted the Pilgrimage of Grace of 1536… Through detailed analysis of the Pilgrims’ petition material - oaths of allegiance, manifestos, petitions, and prophetic rhymes - Bush focuses on the rising of the commons on their own terms. His handling of this material is refreshing and imaginative and challenges the view that an ’elite/popular’ dichotomy existed between the leaders of the rebellion and its followers.' English Historical Review 'This is a very engaging text that is revealin

Table of Contents

Contents: Preface; For faith and commonwealth; In defence of the faith; 'Intolerable exactions'; The polity defended; North and South; Agrarian conflict; Conclusion; Appendix; Bibliography; Index.

About the Series

Catholic Christendom, 1300-1700

Catholic Christendom, 1300-1700
Catholic Christendom, 1300-1700 addresses all varieties of religious behaviour extending beyond traditional institutional and doctrinal church history. It is interdisciplinary, comparative and global, as well as non-confessional. It understands religion, primarily of the 'Catholic' variety, as a broadly human phenomenon, rather than as a privileged mode of access to superhuman realms. Catholic Christendom, 1300-1700 will appeal to academics and students interested in the history of late medieval and early modern western Christianity in global context. The series embraces any and all expressions of traditional religion, books in it will take many approaches, among them literary history, art history, and the history of science, and above all, interdisciplinary combinations of them.

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Subject Categories

BISAC Subject Codes/Headings:
HISTORY / General