The Pilgrimage of Grace was a religious uprising in York, England which started in late 1536 and finished in early 1537, where people lead by Yorkshire lawyer Robert Aske staged protests and demonstrations in opposition to King Henry VIII’s dissolution of monasteries and break from the Catholic Church. This rebellion was mostly aimed at Thomas Cromwell, who was Henry’s High Chancellor; and many of these marchers influenced Cromwell’s policies. The participants of the Pilgrimage of Grace had a goal to reinstate the Catholic Church, and a concern of the economic impacts caused by losing monasteries; those who opposed the movement had a goal to punish leaders and anyone associated with the movement and a political concern of losing power for the king. Documents 1, 3 and 5 demonstrate the marcher’s religious purpose and desire to bring power back to the church. Documents 4, 6 and 11 prove the marcher’s concerns about the economic impact that the dissolution of monasteries caused. A goal to punish anyone associated with the Pilgrimage of Grace can be found in Documents 8 and 10. Documents 7 and 9 indicate the oppositions’ concerns of the king losing power.
Commoners who were a part of the movement participated in protests to oppose King Henry VIII’s new policies. In Documents 1, 3, and 5, the marcher’s goal to reinstate the Catholic Church is evident. Document 1 is extracted from the “Oath of Honorable Men”, which was taken by marchers for this rebellion lead by Robert Aske, and within this oath, marcher’s state that their purpose for participating in the Pilgrimage of Grace is not for “worldly gain” (individual gain in terms of wealth, reputation, jobs, etc.), but rather for the better purpose of the “love of God, for the Holy Catholic Church militant”. In Document 1 there are many religious references which prove that the supporters of this rebellion had an ultimate goal to gain back the Catholic Church, in sentences such as “Take before you the Cross of Christ, and in your hearts His faith.”- the ultimate message conveyed through this document is that a key goal in the uprising is to protest for the Church and for the love of God, to keep God’s faith and help spread love of God and the “Cross of Christ” through the Catholic Church. In Document 3, a banner carried by peasant marchers depicting the “Wounds of Christ” is shown. The focal point of this banner is a heart with 2 hands and 2 feet protruding out of it which have wounds to represent the 5 wounds that Christ had when he was crucified. This banner is representative of the Christian religion and has a very religious point of view to show that marchers were fighting in Christ's cause for restoration of the Catholic Church. Other specific symbols on the banner such as a communion chalice (with a halo on top showing holiness and god-like qualities) symbolizing members of the clergy (those who pray), a plow symbolizing the commoners (those who work), and a cattle (hunting) horn symbolizing nobles (those who fight) signified that the Pilgrimage of Grace affected a wide variety of people, and several different social classes were on board with the movement. From Document 5, taken from selected articles from a petition (Pontefract articles) presented to members of the King’s Council, one specific article in the petition written by Robert Aske (leader of the Pilgrimage of Grace) addresses the king and outlines specific points/goals of the movement in terms of reinstating the Catholic Church; Aske “beseech[es]” the “Sovereign King” to “have the supreme head of the Church be the pope in Rome as before”. Since the pope in Rome during this time period was known to be Catholic, the marchers support him being reinstated as the head of Church. Also, punishments for heretics are mentioned in “heresies…annulled and destroyed” and “heretics consigned to punishment by fire”-heretics are professed believers who maintain religious opinions contrary to those accepted by his or her...
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