The causes of Tudor Rebellions from 1485-1601

Tuesday, 17 November 2009

Kett's rebellion 1549

Kett's rebellion was motivated by both religious and economic issues. In contrast with the Western rebellion, the Kett's rebellion, was in part a reaction to the slow rate of progress Protestantism was making in eastern England. There was a strong feeling that the ministers were not good enough to advance the reformation. The rebels demanded better educated and resident clergy.

However, while religion became increasingly important to the rebels it was economic issues which first sparked the rebellion. Enclosures were becoming increasingly common particualrly in the East of England during this period. The rebellion was triggered between two local rivals, Robert Kett and John Flowerdew. Both had enclosed their land and while rioting broke out on Flowerdew's estates Kett had the foresight to dismantle his before offering himself as the spokesman of the rebels. What had agitated the rebels were accusations that these men were obstructing a government commission that was investigating illegal enclosure in the area. The rebels believed they would have government backing (The Good Duke) if they took the law into their own hands.

1. Enclosures: Protector Somerset and his civil servant John Hales believed that the economic and agrarian problems of the time were caused by greedy landlords trying to enclose land. They tried to stop this but the commons blocked three bills in 1548, so they set up commissions to look into enclosure abuses. The only one that got anywhere was near the area affected by the rebellion. The rebels thought that they were supported by the central government when they began tearing down enclosures. Resentments against the landlords was made worse by rack renting, and overstocking [grazing more than their fair share of animals] of commons by landlords.
2. Bad Local Gov: The rebellion began in Norfolk, which was particularly ill-administrated by its traditional magistrates’ (Elton). Kett’s article 57 says his purpose was to ensure that the ‘good laws, statues, proclamations’ made for the good people were no longer disregarded by the JPs. The rebels at Mousehold were careful to govern the area around very fairly. Many of the rural ruling classes had been corruptly abusing their privileges, and in Norwich city there Was a ‘breakdown of trust between the governing class and the people who normally sustained local government which has no parallel in the Tudor period’ (Fletcher)
3. Religion: 7 articles in Kett’s manifesto contain more protestant demands – that priests should preach and teach more, that priests live with aristocrats rather than with their flocks, and that they are grasping over tithes. They demanded that parishioners should choose new priests if their existing priest was not good enough. Norfolk had a tradition of Protestant radicalism- including Lollardy.

There had been many anti-enclosure riots across England, and one such riot at Attleborough in Norfolk gained a leader in Robert Kett, who led rioters to Norwich. He was joined by citizens and other s from the country, and soon had 16,000 in his camp at Mousehold outside Norwich. Mass uprisings swept through East Anglia and the South East, with several rebel camps set up. On July 22, they took Norwich by storm. The Suffolk rebel camp was suppressed, but Kett’s organization was excellent and popular, and the marquis of Northampton, sent by Somerset to put Kett down, mishandled events: he wasted time, allowed his Italian mercenaries to rest on cushions and was defeated by the rebels in a battle in the streets of Norwich. Northampton fled Norwich, and panic spread through the gentry. The Earl of Warwick was then sent with 12,000 men, and eventually defeated Kett outside Norwich, killing 3,000 men. Kett and between 50,300 men were hanged. Other riots and minor risings continued.

Indirectly fatal to Somerset. He was blamed by many for provoking the rebellion and for being too weak and slow to suppress it. Warwick’s success made him the obvious leader to challenge Somerset, and his army could be used to topple Somerset. This happened, bloodlessly, on 5th October. But the rising was not aimed at bringing Somerset down- more at supporting him against local gentry.

1. A counter reaction by MPs in November 1549 re-enacted the 13th century statue of Merton, enabling lords of the manor to enclose common land at their own discretion, leaving ‘sufficient’ for tenants use [landlords judged what was ‘sufficient’], with the death penalty for those who broke down fences. MPs also passed laws making it a felony to combine to lower rents and lower the price of corn.
2. Warwick brought in a more extreme Protestantism [but not due to Kett]


  1. brilliant thanks for the exam help on the ketts rebellion!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  2. Got my mock exam tomorrow and was panicking because I didn't know the causes of Ketts!! Thank you so much, I'm far more confident now!

  3. Thank you ^.^ Will be used for my history project.

  4. article 27 not 57 in the causes paragraph

  5. thanks can now do my history hw

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