13th December 1569. Northern Earls take to Rebellion.
The 1569 Northern Uprising is often a footnote in the history of the first Queen Elizabeth, but reflects a deep-seated religious divide and shows the vindictive reprisals against the discontents, reminiscent of Judge Jeffreys a century later.(1)
Assisted by the Scots, the rebels were led by a banner of the ‘Five Wounds of Christ’, the symbol of the Pilgrimage of Grace a generation before.
The short-lived, but significant challenge to Elizabeth, was led by the Northern Earls, Thomas Percy, of Northumberland and Charles Neville, of Westmoreland who demanded a return to Catholicism and supported claims by Mary Queen of Scots, after her imprisonment, for her return to the throne after her flight from Scotland.
The response came Today in 1569 with the dispatch from York, with 7,000 men of the Earl of Sussex, appointed to put down the rebels who had massed at Bramham Moor.
The discontents thus abandoned their plans to besiege York, capturing Barnard Castle instead before fleeing back north to the Scottish Borders.
However Percy was captured and held hostage by William Douglas at Lochleven Castle on behalf of the Scottish Regent whilst negotiations were held with English who wanted his return.
Neville remained free with the help of Scottish lairds, supporters of Mary, and went into exile. Percy wasn’t so lucky, as sent to England he was executed at York 1572.(2)
Those of the rebels who could pay the large fines were reprieved, whilst the mass of the peasantry involved were ‘strung up’: par for the course!
Elizabeth’s problems apart from the religious controversy, was that in England there was no Salic Law which prohibited a female succeeding or via a female, but Succession Laws had always been blurry as seen in the anarchy of the 12thc.(3)
Thus for Elizabeth there would be contenders for the throne, one of the most dangerous was the Catholic, Duke of Norfolk who had plans to depose her, marry Mary and in the process become king.
The rebellions in the 16th and early 17thc did the Catholics no favours, as it resulted in continued intolerance, so that even by the time of Isaac Newton, the only Catholic Chapel in England was in the Spanish Embassy.
(1) Jeffreys was the hanging judge at the time of the Monmouth Rebellion.
(2) Elizabeth adored cruel sports and asked for a more cruel method of execution.Quoted Alison Macleod reviewing Williams Punch 29.11.1967 ‘Tudor Review’.
(3) Before the 16thc we had not faced the possibility of a female on the throne since 1135 when Henry I died without legitimate male issue and who named his daughter Matilda as heir, only to be deposed by the nephew of the King Stephen.
Ref: Elizabeth, Queen of England, Neville Williams, Weidenfeld and Nicholson.
Ref: Hullweb List of Plots in Reign of Elizabeth.
Ref: tudorplace.com/Pic of Map.Studies in History. Fletcher/McCullogh. Longman 1999.
Ref: Pic of Percy. Image by Derrick E Witty. Courtesy of National Trust.