The dissolution of the monasteries had not attracted significant opposition elsewhere but was an important factor in the Pilgrimage of Grace, which was the only major rebellion of Henry’s reign. The Pilgrimage of Grace was the central event in a series that took place in 1536, firstly in Lincolnshire and the across Yorkshire and the north-west. Some would argue that this rebellion was not a major threat and did not damage Henry but there were underlying issues including Henry’s relationship with the Pope and his reliance on the rebels loyalty to Robert Aske and the monasteries that contributed to the result.
Some historians claim that the Pilgrimage of Grace was not a great threat to Henry as it was controlled promptly and efficiently but the rebellion would have been more serious had the Pope intervened. Cardinal Pole a leading member of the York family was instructed to organise an invasion however, before he could act the rebellion was over. Henry still took advantage of his power and executed other senior members of the Pole family, including elderly matriarch, the Countess of Salisbury. The strained relationship between the Pope and Henry within the past few years caused by ‘The Great Matter’ of Henry’s divorce and the more recent matter of the dissolution of the monasteries was more than likely to encourage the Pope’s decision to attempt to take part in the rebellion.
Henry had no permanent army or police force and any rebellion was a threat. Henry was always mindful of the turbulence of the War of The Roses and the efforts of Henry VII to secure the dynasty. In his own mind, for the safety and the security of the realm he had to be completely ruthless which is what Henry did in the Pilgrimage of Grace. Henry’s policies for this rebellion were to play for time by promising anything, hoping the rebels would disperse when they thought they had achieved their