You are dealing with a total of 19 rebellions. (Yes, there are other things you could consider, like the Evil May Day of 1517, but frankly there’s more than enough to worry about – and write about – with these 19.) The rebellions and their dates and locations can be tabulated as follows: Rebellions To begin with, you’ll need to think some general thoughts about these rebellions. Which were serious and which were minor – and why? Why did some last a long time while others were over in a matter of hours or days? What were the grievances of the rebels – where do they differ and where can they be compared? How did the type of leadership that the rebellions had influence the way they panned out? In addition to knowing about each of the rebellions, you will need to master some of the basics of several underlying topics that explain how rebellion ties in to the broad history of the period. These can also form the basis for questions. There are three of them and they are:

  • Government and order
  • Protests and disorder
  • Reactions to protest

The first point that needs to be made is this: All rebellions had more than one cause, but for the purposes of this paper each – maybe with the exception of the Pilgrimage of Grace – can be ascribed a “primary cause”, and the rebellions that took place can be divided into broad groups by cause. You’ll need to know these groups so you know where to draw examples from in essays that ask you to argue whether “x” was the main cause, or most serious threat arising from, rebellion in this period. The primary causes we are going to be dealing with are as follows:

Local economic issues – taxation & enclosure

  • Yorkshire tax rebellion
  • Cornish rebellion
  • Amicable Grant
  • Kett’s rebellion


  • Pilgrimage of Grace (also about tax & independence)
  • Western Rebellion
  • Wyatt’s Rebellion

Independence from the centre

  • Silken Thomas *
  • Northern Earls
  • Shane O’Neill *
  • Munster Rebellion *
  • Geraldine Rebellion *
  • Tyrone’s rebellion *

[* = Irish rebellion]

Dynastic & influence at court

  • Lovell & Staffords
  • Simnel
  • Warbeck
  • Lady Jane Grey
  • Essex’s rebellion

This classification gives you a broad categorisation which can form the basis of a structured answer, but a sophisticated (high-scoring) answer will push a stage beyond this by looking at other factors. We’ll come back to this point later. The second point to make is this: There are 3 broad interpretations of the impact that rebellion had in the Tudor period as a whole. You need to choose ONE of these, or create YOUR OWN COMBINATION of these, and make it the basis of the thesis (argument) of each essay that you write. The interpretations are:

  1. The Tudor state was severely threatened by protest and rebellion
  2. The Tudor state was never seriously threatened by protest and rebellion
  3. The Tudor state not only survived the threat of rebellion, but also grew stronger as a result of them

Personally I favour a combination of ii and iii, along the lines of

The Tudor state was rarely threatened by rebellion, and never decisively, but it always feared it. Because of that, it developed a stronger central government, more efficient intelligence service, better propaganda, more sensitive understanding of what the people would find affordable and fair, and greater stability… all of which ensured it was far stronger in 1603 than it had been in 1485.


3 thoughts on “Overview

  1. Hi there,
    I really like the site and I’m finding it really useful for revision. To make it even better would it be possible to post an example essay or two so that I can see what an A* essay would look like.
    Thanks again.


    • They come from the materials we were handed at school. I was at a school which issued a lot of academic journal articles to students and encouraged us to read books about the period. A couple of the main sources were Fletcher’s Tudor Rebellions, Fellows’s Disorder and Rebellion in Tudor England, and Woodward’s Rebellion and Disorder Under the Tudors.

      You could also look at some more specific sources some of which are available online, such as Gregory’s “Sixteenth Century Justices of the Peace: Tudor Despotism on the County Level”


      or Andy Wood’s The 1549 Rebellions and the Making of Early Modern England.


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