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A History of the Reformation (Vol. 2 of 2)

Risings took place in Yorkshire


"The bearded crucifix called the 'Rood of Grace' (was brought from Maidstone, and) while the Bishop of Rochester preached it turned its head, rolled its eyes, foamed at the mouth, and shed tears,--in the presence, too, of many other famous saints of wood and stone ... the satellite saints of the Kentish image acted in the same way. It is expected that the Virgin of Walsingham, St. Thomas of Canterbury, and other images will soon perform miracles also in the same place; for the trickery was so thoroughly exposed that every one was indignant at the monks and impostors."[461]

A second Act of Parliament followed, which vested all monastic property in the King; and this gave the King possession not only of huge estates, but also of an immense quantity of jewels and precious metals.[462] The shrine of St. Thomas at Canterbury, when "disgarnished," yielded, it is said, no fewer than twenty-six cartloads of gold and silver.[463]

This wholesale confiscation of monastic property, plundering of shrines, and above all the report that Henry had ordered the bones of St. Thomas of Canterbury to be burned and the ashes scattered to the winds, determined Pope Paul III. to renew (Dec. 17th, 1538) the execution of his Bull of excommunication (Aug. 30th, 1535), which had been hitherto suspended. It was declared that the Bull might be published in St. Andrews or "in oppido Calistrensi"

in Scotland, at Dieppe or Boulogne in France, or at Tuam in Ireland.[464] The Pope knew that he could not get it published in England itself.

The violent destruction of shrines and pilgrimage places, which had been holiday resorts as well as places of devotion, could not fail to create some popular uneasiness, and there were other and probably deeper roots of discontent. England, like other nations, had been suffering from the economic changes which were a feature of the times. One form peculiar to England was that wool-growing had become more profitable than keeping stock or raising grain, and landed proprietors were enclosing commons for pasture land and letting much of their arable land lie fallow. The poor men could no longer graze their beasts on the commons, and the substitution of pasture for arable land threw great numbers out of employment. They had to sell the animals they could no longer feed, and did not see how a living could be earned; nor had they the compensation given to the disbanded monks. The pressure of taxation increased the prevailing distress. Risings took place in Yorkshire, Lancashire, and Lincolnshire, and the insurgents marched singing:

"Christ crucified, For Thy woundes wide, Us commons guyde, Which pilgrims be, Through Godes grace, For to purchache, Old wealth and peax Of the Spiritualitie."[465]

In their demands they denounced equally the contempt shown for Holy Mother Church, the dissolution of the monasteries, the spoliation of shrines, the contempt shown to "Our Ladye and all the saints," new taxes, the enclosure of commons, the doing away with use and wont in tenant rights, the branding of the Lady Mary as illegitimate, King's counsellors of "low birth and small estimation," and the five reforming Bishops--Cranmer and Latimer being considered as specially objectionable.[466] The Yorkshire Rising was called the Pilgrimage of Grace.

The insurgents or "pilgrims" were not more consistent than other people, for they plundered priests to support their "army";[467] and while they insisted on the primacy of the Bishop of Rome, they had no wish to see his authority re-established in England. They asked the King to admit the Pope to be head of spiritual things, giving spiritual authority to the Archbishops of Canterbury and York, "so that the said Bishop of Rome have no further meddling."[468]


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