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Title: A study of the rebel petitions of 1549
Author: Greenwood, Aubrey R.
ISNI:       0000 0001 3517 8579
Awarding Body: University of Manchester
Current Institution: University of Manchester
Date of Award: 1990
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The rebel petitions of 1549 are the subject of this thesis. The thesis concentrates on the petitions composed during the rebellion in Devon and Cornwall, and the disturbances in Norfolk and Suffolk. Its aim is to assess what light the articles shed on rebel motivation and mentality. The thesis has been divided into two halves because the petitions are so very different. Part I deals with the six religious petitions of the Western rebels; Part II examines the agrarian articles produced by the men in Norfolk and Suffolk, especially the twenty-nine articles. In the course of the text the standard interpretations of the petitions are revised. Part I argues that the articles of the Western rebels, which were predominantly religious, represented the religious views of the people. It dismisses the notion that the articles reflected only the interests of the priestly leaders. It shows that priests were denied a leadership role in the rebellion and that they had limited influence on the contents of the petitions. Instead, the articles must be seen to embody the 'religiose Volkskunde'. Chapter three explains why the people were so attached to the traditional rites and rituals which feature in the petitions. The argument is constructed from a detailed analysis of original sources relating to patterns of parochial piety in the diocese of Exeter. The conclusions clash sharply with the recent work done by R. Whiting on this subject. By concentrating on the rebels' religious grievances, this thesis redresses the imbalance in recent historical accounts which tend to emphasise the rebels' secular motives. These are discussed in chapter four, although when evaluating their significance, the thesis argues for the primacy of religious motivation. Part II proposes that the twenty-nine articles portrayed the agrarian problem in Norfolk and Suffolk in a particular way not fully appreciated by historians. The petition does not indicate that the rebellion was a rearguard action by the poorest of the peasantry against manorial oppression. Instead it shows a confrontation over tenant rights. Chapter two argues that tenants were facing a manorial reaction. It shows how lords under the economic pressures of the age were trying to maximise their own rights in an attempt to re-define the landlord tenant relationship. It shows the ensuing conflict between lords and tenants, as lords infringed and abrogated their tenants' rights, especially tenant rights of common. The petition, therefore, portrayed the rebellion as a constitutional struggle over tenant rights. Nor was the petition anti-manorial, as is sometimes supposed, since it endorsed manorial custom when custom upheld tenant right. Nevertheless, chapter five argues that the twenty-nine articles were very radical as they not only wanted to modify certain disadvantageous aspects of manorial custom, but also demanded political innovations and sought to restrict the Royal Prerogative. The thesis concludes that the petitions can be said to represent the views and aspirations of the people. They reflected the voice of the usually inarticulate masses, although the petitions were weighted towards the interests of the 'peasant elite'.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available