Rebellions in Tudor and Stuart England

Royalists — versus — Rebels

Rebellions of Lambert Simnel and Perkin Warbeck, 1487-1497
Prayer Book Rebellion, 1549 ,   Wyatt's Rebellion, 1554
Northern Rebellion,   Gunpowder Plot,   Monmouth Rebellion

The following is a list of most of the rebellions that occurred within England during the Tudor and Stuart reigns. Skirmishes between England and Scotland are treated separately, and the English Civil Wars is considered a major war rather than a rebellion.

Henry Tudor : Rebellions of Lambert Simnel and Perkin Warbeck : 1487-1497

Henry Tudor, like Henry Bolingbroke, rose to the throne of England through armed rebellion rather than normal succession, and like Bolingbroke, faced several rebellions by forces who desired to put forth other claimants to the throne. The most famous of these rebellions started when a young boy pretender, who claimed to be a legitimate heir to the throne landed in Ireland and was accepted by the aristocracy there as the king. Henry Tudor was able to prove that the child, whose real name was Lambert Simnel, was an imposter, and defeated the rebels at the battle of Stoke Field. A similar rebellion occurred several years later when another imposter, this one known as Perkin Warbeck, claimed to be one of the (murdered) sons of Edward IV, and the legitimate heir to the throne. This conspiracy appeared to be conceived by Margaret of Burgundy and supported much of the Irish and Scottish aristocracy. Again, the rebellion was put down as soon as the rebels entered English territory. In both cases, Henry Tudor did not deal harshly with the rebels, but sought to conciliate rather than destroy those who opposed him, and he largely succeeded in this.

DateBattle Summary
Battle of Stoke Field (Lambert Simnel's Rebellion ) Royalists victory
Fought June 16, 1487, between the royal troops, under Henry VII, and the rebels, under John de la Pole, Earl of Lincoln, who was aided by 2,000 German mercenaries, under Martin Schwarz. The King, whose force was superior in numbers, completely defeated the rebels, Simnel and all the rebel leaders being taken prisoners.
Battle of Blackheath (Flammock's Rebellion ) Royalists victory
Fought June 22, 1497, between the royal troops under Henry VII, and the rebels under Flammock and Lord Audley. The rebels were defeated with a loss of 2,000 killed, and all their leaders were captured and executed.

Short Biography
Lambert Simnel Pretender to the throne of England during the reign of Henry Tudor.
Perkin Warbeck Pretender who tried to pass himself off as one of the murdered sons of Edward IV.
Henry VII Descendent of John of Gaunt (a Lancaster) who fought Richard the Usurper for the throne.

Story Links
Book Links
Henry VII. and the Beginning of Modern Times  in  The Story of England  by  Samuel B. Harding
Henry VII—The Story of the Make-Believe Prince in  Our Island Story  by  H. E. Marshall
Henry VII—Another Make-Believe Prince  in  Our Island Story  by  H. E. Marshall
White Rose of England  in  Historical Tales: English  by  Charles Morris

Edward VI : Prayer Book Rebellion : 1549

The reign of the boy king Edward VI was dominated by his uncles, the Dukes of Somerset and Northumberland, who both sought to increase the influence of Protestants. Somerset introduced the Book of Common Prayer, which forced all churches in England to say the mass in English instead of Latin. This was a dramatic change, and was widely resisted, most particularly in areas where some form of Gallic, rather than English was the still the predominant language. The imposition of Protestantism by Henry VIII was purely a political move, and did not influence the church service itself, and so was largely unopposed by those who did not have a theological issue at stake, but modifications to the traditional liturgy itself stirred up widespread discontent. The resulting was 'Prayer Book Rebellion', was centered in Cornwall, but spread to several areas where there was still Catholic sympathies. It was put down harshly by Somerset, and many of the rebels were killed. The Book of Common Prayer was successfully imposed in England, but Somerset's popularity suffered greatly and he was deposed.

DateBattle Summary
Battle of Farrington Bridge (Prayer Book Rebellion ) Royalists victory
Fought July 27, 1549, between a small force of Cornish rebels, and an equal number of Royal troops under Lord Russell. The rebels were defeated and driven from the field, but there was no pursuit. Each side lost about 300.
Battle of St. Mary's Clyst (Prayer Book Rebellion ) Royalists victory
Fought August 4, 1549, when Lord Russell, marching with the Royal army to the relief of Exeter, was attacked by 6,000 rebels, detached from the besieging force. The rebels were defeated with a loss of 1,000 killed, and Arundel was forced to raise the siege of Exeter.
Battle of Sampford Courtney (Prayer Book Rebellion ) Royalists victory
The final engagement with the rebels, fought August 17, 1549, when Arundel was defeated by the Royal troops, under Lord Russell, with a loss of 700 killed and many prisoners, including most of the ring-leaders in the rising.
Battle of Duffindale (Kat's Rebellion ) Royalists victory
The scene of the defeat of the rebels under Kat, by the royal troops, under the Earl of Warwick, in 1549.

Short Biography
Duke of Somerset Regent for Edward VI who imposed the Book of Common Prayer on all of England.

Story Links
Book Links
How a Woman Struck a Blow for Freedom  in  Our Island Story  by  H. E. Marshall

Mary I : Wyatt's Rebellion : 1554

On the death of Edward IV, a plot by Northumberland to seize the throne in the name of Lady Jane Grey, a cousin of the Edward and Mary, was thwarted. Mary pardoned many of the offenders, including her cousin, who was not primarily responsible for the rebellion. Once Mary began to rule as a Catholic however, the Protestants greatly feared losing power and again raised a rebellion against Mary. Again Lady Jane Grey, who was again an unwilling participant, was held up as the legitimate heir to the throne, and a rebellion was raised. The rebellion was easily put down, but this time Mary felt she had no choice but to execute the traitors including her young cousin. Even worse, her sister Elizabeth was implicated in the scheme, but Mary contented herself with imprisoning Elizabeth, rather than executing her.

DateBattle Summary
Battle of Wrotham Heath (Hun Invasion ) Royalists victory
Fought January, 1554, when the Kentish insurgents, under Sir Henry Isley, were totally defeated by the Royal troops, under Lord Abergaveuny.

Short Biography
Duke of Northumberland Uncle of Edward IV who plotted to gain the throne for Lady Jane Grey.
Lady Jane Grey Young noblewoman executed for involvement in conspiracies engineered by ambitious relatives.
Mary Tudor Eldest daughter of Henry VIII. Tried to restore Catholicism to England.

Story Links
Book Links
Lady Jane Grey  in  Queen Elizabeth  by  Jacob Abbott
Story of Lady Jane Grey  in  Our Island Story  by  H. E. Marshall
How the Princess Elizabeth Became a Prisoner  in  Our Island Story  by  H. E. Marshall

Elizabeth I : Northern Rebellion

The Northern Rebellion was a Catholic uprising in England which attempted to depose Elizabeth and put Mary, Queen of Scots, who was currently imprisoned, on the throne. The rebellion did not have a great deal of support and the organizers fled to Scotland, but the incident was used to incite anti-Catholic fervor in England, and to associate the practice of the Catholic faith with political treason.

DateBattle Summary
Battle of the Gelt (Northern Rebellion ) Royalists victory
Fought February, 1570, between the rebel Borderers under Leonard Dacre, and the royal troops under Lord Hunsdon The rebels were completely routed.

James I : Gunpowder Plot

One of the most famous rebellions in British history was foiled before it came to blows and so involved no actual battles. The Gunpowder plot, better known as Guy Fawkes' rebellion involved a conspiracy of catholic nobles who planned to blow up parliament and then, in the confusion that followed, launch an uprising with the hopes of restoring a Catholic to the throne. The plot was foiled when a member of parliament received a strange warning to stay away on a particular day, and soon after, a basement room below the parliament buildings was found to be loaded with gunpowder. Guy Fawkes, was not the instigator of the conspiracy—he was a only a military-explosives expert, but he was arrested on site and became the romantic anti-hero of the foiled rebellion. The main effect of the Gunpowder plot was to foment anti-Catholic sentiment among English Protestants.

Short Biography
Robert Catesby Leader of the catholic 'gunpower plot' conspirators, who tried to blow up parliament.
Guy Fawkes Explosives expert of the infamous "Gunpowder Plot" to blow up Parliament.

Story Links
Book Links
Story of Guy Fawkes  in  Our Island Story  by  H. E. Marshall
What Gunpowder Plot Was  in  The Tudors and the Stuarts  by  M. B. Synge

James II : Monmouth Rebellion

Soon James II ascended to the throne as a Catholic, there was a rebellion to try to replace him. A number of Protestants united behind the Duke of Monmouth, who was an illegitimate son of Charles II. His supporters insisted the Charles had in fact married the mother of Monmouth, but this was a fairly dubious claim. Monmouth himself actively promoted his cause, but failed to get much support either in England or Scotland. Since James II did not have an heir at the time, many hoped he would die without issue, and the country would return peaceably to a Protestant ruler. It was not until a son was born to James II that many Protestants, fearing a legitimate Catholic succession, rose against James II.

DateBattle Summary
Battle of Sedgemoor (Monmouth's Rebellion ) Royalists victory
Fought July 5, 1685, between the Royal troops, under the Earl of Faversham, and the rebels, under James, Duke of Monmouth. Monmouth attempted a night attack on Faversham's camp, but the alarm was given, and the Royal troops falling upon their assailants, put Monmouth's cavalry to flight, and though his infantry made a sturdy resistance they were at length overpowered and routed with heavy loss. This defeat put an end to the rebellion.

Short Biography
Duke of Monmouth Illegitmate son of Charles II, who tried to claim the throne from James II.
James II Catholic king of England, deposed by his daughter Mary and William III.

Story Links
Book Links
Fiery Cross  in  Our Island Story  by  H. E. Marshall
Story of King Monmouth  in  Our Island Story  by  H. E. Marshall

Image Links

Ruins of the Savoy
 in Richard II

Harry of Monmouth dashed to his father's aid
 in Historic Boys

The Battle of Shrewsbury
 in Stories From English History, Part Second

Edward's Escape
 in Great Englishmen