Catholic Encyclopedia (1913)/Pilgrimage of Grace

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Catholic Encyclopedia (1913), Volume 12
Pilgrimage of Grace

by Edwin Hubert Burton


The name given to the religious rising in the north of England, 1536. The cause of this great popular movement, which extended over five counties and found sympathizers all over England, was attributed to Robert Aske, the leader of the insurgents, to "spreading of heretics, suppression of houses of religion and other matters touching the commonwealth". And in his "Narrative to the King", he declared:

In all parts of the realm men's hearts much grudged with the suppression of abbeys, and the first fruits, by reason the same would be the destruction of the whole religion in England. And their especial great grudge is against the lord Crumwell.

The movement broke out on 13 October, 1536, immediately following the failure of the Lincolnshire Rising; and Robert Aske, a London barrister of good Yorkshire family, who had been to some extent concerned in the Lincolnshire rising, putting himself at the head of nine thousand insurgents, marched on York, which he entered. There he arranged for the expelled monks and nuns to return to their houses; the king's tenants were driven out and religious observance resumed. The subsequent success of the rising was so great that the royal leaders, the Duke of Norfolk and Earl of Shrewsbury, opened negotiations with the insurgents at Doncaster, where Aske had assembled between thirty and forty thousand men. As a result of this, Henry authorized Norfolk to promise a general pardon and a Parliament to be held at York within a year. Aske then dismissed his followers, trusting in the king's promises. But these promises were not kept, and a new rising took place in Cumberland and Westmoreland, and was spreading to Yorkshire. Upon this, the king arrested Aske and several of the other leaders, who were all convicted of treason and executed. The loss of the leaders enabled Norfolk to crush the rising. The king avenged himself on Cumberland and Westmoreland by a series of massacres under the form of martial law. Though Aske had tried to prevent the rising he was put to death. Lord Darcy, Sir Henry Percy, and several other gentlemen, together with the four Abbots of Fountains, Jervaulx, Barlings, and Sawley, who were executed at Tyburn, have been reckoned by Catholic writers as martyrs for the Faith, and their names inserted in martyrologies, but they have not included in the cause of beatification of English martyrs.

EDWIN BURTON