Saturday, 16 February 2013

Wyatt's Rebellion

When Mary I published her intentions of marrying the Catholic Philip II of Spain, it sparked a rebellion that would be known as the Wyatt rebellion named after it's main leader. Sir Thomas Wyatt, Sir James Croft, Sir Peter Carew and Henry Grey, Duke of Suffolk, were the four main leaders of the rebellion against Mary I.

Thomas Wyatt by Hans Holbein
the Younger
It is considered that the motive of the rebellion was religious since all the main leaders were committed Protestant. Each of the riot-leaders rose a rebellion in their respective counties and joined forces to march on London on March 18 1554. Their goal was to dethrone Mary I and replace her with Elizabeth, who they then wanted to marry Lord Devon. Meanwhile a French fleet should prevent Philip II from reaching England.

But the Imperial Ambassador to England, Simon Renard, suspected that something was about to happen. He alerted Stephen Gardiner, who arrested Lord Devon - he revealed that there indeed was a plot when he was questioned.
Croft immediately gave up and when Henry Grey was denied access to Coventry, he surrendered. Grey was later beheaded - as was Lady Jane Grey despite that she was not involved in the rebellion.
The court was informed that Sir Peter Carew was stirring up a riotous mood by saying that a Spanish King would bring the Spanish Inquisition with him to England - something the Protestants in England feared the most. But the Protestant nobles did not want to commit treason and the inhabitants were mostly Catholic in the area where Carew tried to raise a rebellion - he ended up fleeing to Normandy but was captured shortly afterwards. The French ships returned to France after finding it more difficult to maintain their position than expected.

Wyatt was the only one who was successful in actually raising a rebellion and with his allied set the date for the rising: January 25 1554.

Wyatt occupied Rochester where he managed to get a substantial number of the peasant to support him - Kent was one of the counties most opposed to the Spanish marriage. At first it seemed that Mary I's supporters Lord Abergavenny and Sir Robert Southwell were crushing the rebellion without effort but soon found themselves deserted by their men who either stayed out of the conflict or joined Wyatt.
Wyatt now had 3000 men at his command and when a delegation headed by the Duke of Norfolk was sent to stop him, the men joined him as well which meant that Wyatt now had 4000 men - the duke fled to London.

The threat became so great that Mary and her court went so far as to ask for Wyatt's terms but they were so outrageous that the people of London - who had supported him at first - now turned against him. Mary I succeeded in getting the complete support of her capital. Wyatt continued till he reached Southwark on February 3 but found the London Bridge blocked by Mary's troops - meaning that the rebels could not enter the capital. Wyatt's rebels refused to give up their cause and marched on to Kingston where they found the bridge there also burnt but they rebuilt it and crossed over. Meeting very little resistance, the army moved in on London but the people of Ludgate put up a fight against them and the army disbanded.

Wyatt was consequently arrested, beheaded and his body quartered. Despite being heavily tortured he refused to implicate Elizabeth. 

No comments:

Post a Comment