How Far Do You Agree?

10 October 2016

Tudor governments underestimated the threat presented by rebellions in England and Ireland. ’How far do you agree? Tudor governments during the Tudor period dealt with rebellions in different ways, whether most governments underestimated the threat posed by them will be dependent on how well and effectively they reacted and responded to theses rebellions.

Most Tudor Monarchs were either not prepared or faced the consequences of their most serious errors, however factors that will have to be taken in consideration are how governments consulted with their advisers, how governments gathered information, the role of communication to nobles and officials in rebellious areas and the time bought when they had limited resources. How well governments dealt with rebellions before they became too dangerous and the decisions to raise troops will also be considered, as they too decide whether or not most Tudor government underestimated the threat posed by rebellions.

How well Tudor Monarchs consulted with their advisers is one factor that can determine if they underestimate the threat posed by rebellions. Henry VII for example dealt with rebellions most effectively with his councillors as he picked his most trusted household servants for advice, In comparison to Henry VIII who left the strategy of combating rebellions to his principal ministers did not deal with rebellion as effectively, as when raising money for the Amicable Grant Wolsey raised ? 60,000 in forced loans which despite promising to pay back and there was already rising unemployment in the area of the rebellion which added to the resentment and ultimately lead to rebellion. Mary in comparison also relied on her councillors to deal with rebellions, but unlike Henry VIII she was given poor advice on the threat of Wyatt’s rebellion which led to Wyatt entering and coming close to taking London, she was even advised to leave London which would have cost her the throne. However it could be argued that it was the fault of Mary’s councillors that made her seem to underestimate Wyatt’s rebellion.

The Duke of Somerset did not regularly consult with advisers on rebellion and made poor decisions as well as not dealing with the Western and Kett’s rebellion quickly enough. To conclude government who did not consult with counselors(Henry VIII and Somerset) underestimate the threat posed by rebellion, while others (Henry VII) who did and dealt with them effectively and did not underestimate them. Mary is an exception as another outcome could have been made if not for the poor advice given by her councillor’s.

How Tudor governments gathered information when rebellion rose is also a factor that is taken into consideration. Henry VII had an extensive network of spies throughout europe which allowed him to kept up to date with the pretenders locations and who their supporters were, another example is a spy in Flanders was able to infiltrate the Yorkists circle and provide Henry VII information on Warbeck. It was also thanks to Henry’s many spies that Sir William Stanley was arrested before he could join the pretender’s. In comparison, Elizabeth also used used agents overseas. he relied intelligence to Francis Walsingham who used theses agents discover conspiracies, arrest suspects and prevent the likelihood of rebellion from developing. To conclude the government’s gathering of information shows thier seriouness of the rebellion and if they underestimated the threat. Henry and Elizabeth clearly did not as their use of spies allowed them to gather valuable information that aided them. The role of communication to nobles and officials also determines if most Tudor governments underestimated threats posed by rebellion.

The Duke Somerset used out of date reports for the Western rebellion due to communication problems, which lead him to believe that the Devon JP’s could raise troop from the local gentry if negotiations failed, when in reality the size of rebellion exceeded 6000 leading most of the local gentry to either hide or join the rebellion. This is similar to Henry VIII who, also due to communication problems led him to a decision to send the Earl of Derby to execute the monks and rebel captains when he heard they had captured Sawley Abbey.

This was an unwise decision as the Earl was heavily outnumbered and some distance away from the abbey and was in no way in any position to give orders. In both cases, it was the lack of communication between government and the local nobles which lead to serious errors with the rebellion and not underestimation. In comparison, Henry VII dealt the most serious disturbances himself (Simmel,Cornish and Warbeck) and on each occasion he was present on the battlefield.

Henry also only relied his closest advisers and men who had been with him in exile to apprehend Lovel in the North and nobles who had fought with him in the battle of Bosworth to deal with areas that might support Simmel. This shows Henry did not underestimated the rebellions as he would as he would risk his life and only use his closest of men to deal with them. Elizabeth Privy Council was effective when instructing nobles and officials. The privy council had alerted all Sheriffs, Lieutenants and JP’s of food riots.

Also the the Oxford gentry had been informed of a possible attack and 4 men were arrested before it became a threat. To conclude government who send instructions on how to deal with rebellions to nobles, in this case Henry VIII and Somerset, was only due to communication problems. Somerset’s error when dealing with the Western rebellion was clearly not underestimation but instead the lack of information that made him seem to underestimate the threat posed by this rebellion. While even though Henry VIII made an unwise decision it was not because he underestimated but was instead again due to communication.

Elizabeth’s Privy Council communicated efficiently to nobles and officials in the area and was able to suppress rebellions before they became a threat showing that they did not underestimate it. Governments who were trying to buy time is another factor in showing if most governments underestimated the threat of rebellions. Henry VIII underestimated the size of Pilgrimage of grace, as he sent the Duke of Norfolk with 8000 men while the Pilgrimage of grace had 30,000 rebels, Henry had to buy time by telling them negotiations would commence if the rebels went home.

Henry kept buying time when he kept 4 of the rebel leaders waiting for 3 weeks only to refuse discussions of their request’s and told to arrange another meeting with Norfolk. It was only when Norfolk promised that parliament will resolve the issues that the rebellion dispersed. Henry used this time the gather information onto what do about the north. This shows that Henry underestimated the threat of POG, as he was alarmed by it’s size and had to buy time in order to come up with a plan. The use of pre-emptive measures is also a factor that will dermine if governments underestimated the threat of rebellion.

Henry VII took pre-emptive measures against suspects before they became too dangerous. For example in1487 a clergy proclaimed a paper bull that excommunicated all rebels and when this was produced on the eve of battle of Black heath many rebels surrenderd, in 1487, Easter the real Earl of Warwick was paraded to prove that simmel was an Impostor to visiting ambassadors and in 1495 when Warbeck tried to land in England Henry was waiting, this resulted in 51 of them were caught and hanged while 150 were on trail. Mary also displayed pre-emtive strikes.

Mary’s councillors heard of a conspiracy to depose of her and acted quickly and by interrogating Edward Courtney they were able to the main leaders Carew, Wyatt, Croft and the Duke of Suffolk. To prevent this letters were sent counties and local authorities where they began searching, which discouraged others when seaching for the Duke of Suffolk. In comaparison, Elizabeth also acted preemptive when she too herd that nobles were planning to dispose of someone from govetment(William Cecil), in order to secure a succestion to Mary Queen of Scots and marry her to the Duke of Norfolk.

Elizabeth took preemptive measures and denied Norfolk to marry Mary and took it further, as when had rose she placed Norfolk in the tower and Mary was moved to a new location 30 miles away. Government that took preemptive measures during rebellion shows that they did not underestimate the threat, but instead were willing to take precautions and would even go as far (Elizabeth) to throw nobles in the tower to safeguard there throne becasuse they acknowledge the threat they pose.

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