Wyatt's rebellion


Wyatt's rebellion

Wyatt's Rebellion was a popular uprising in England in 1554, named for Thomas Wyatt the younger, one of its leaders. The rebellion was intended to overthrow the newly crowned Queen Mary I.

Motives

The precise reason for the uprisings has been subject to much debate. Many historians, such as D.M. Loades, consider the rebellion to have been primarily motivated by political considerations, notably the desire to prevent the unpopular marriage of Queen Mary to Prince Philip of Spain. The rebels explained that the reason for the rebellion was "to prevent us from over-running by strangers." Nevertheless, all the rebel leaders were committed Protestants.

Initial plans

There were four chief rebel leaders:
*Thomas Wyatt, who owned large areas of land in Kent and had great influence there
*James Croft, who came from an influential Herefordshire family
*Peter Carew, who was an MP for Devon
*Henry Grey, 1st Duke of Suffolk, who was based in Leicestershire.

Each of the four leaders would raise rebellions in one of the four counties, and together they would converge on London. They would then replace Mary with her half-sister Elizabeth, who would then marry Edward Courtenay. Meanwhile, a fleet of French ships would prevent Philip of Spain from reaching England.

Implementation of these Plans were prevented when Simon Renard, the Imperial ambassador to England, suspected a plot. He informed the Lord Chancellor, Stephen Gardiner, who questioned Courtenay, who revealed that there was indeed a rebellion planned.

Realising that under the circumstances a rebellion would be unsafe, Croft gave up. Grey proved more determined, but only managed to raise a force of 140 rebels, many of whom were his own men. He was refused entry to Coventry, and gave himself up. He was tried and executed, along with Guilford Dudley and Lady Jane Grey, neither of whom were involved in the uprising.

Carew attempted to raise support for the uprising in Devon, but the Protestant nobles there proved unwilling to commit treason, and the county's peasant inhabitants were largely Catholic. Also, he had played a large part in crushing the earlier Prayer Book Rebellion there. Carew fled to Normandy, but was arrested soon after. By this time, the French ships found themselves unable to maintain their position and returned to France.

Only Wyatt succeeded in raising a substantial force. On January 22, 1554 he summoned a meeting of his friends at his castle of Allington, and January 25 was fixed for the rising.

Rebellion

On January 26 Wyatt occupied Rochester, and issued a proclamation to the county. Many country people and local gentry collected. At first the queen's supporters, led by Lord Abergavenny and Sir Robert Southwell, the sheriff, appeared to be able to suppress the rising with ease. But the Spanish marriage was unpopular, and Kent was more affected by the preaching of the reformers than most of the country districts of England. Abergavenny and Southwell were deserted by their men, who either disbanded or went over to Wyatt. He now had 3,000 men at his command. A detachment of the London trainbands was sent against him under the command of the elderly Duke of Norfolk. But they also joined the rebels, raising their numbers to 4,000, while the Duke fled to London.

The rising now seemed so formidable that the queen and council sent a deputation to Wyatt to ask for his terms. He demanded that the Tower of London should be surrendered to him, and the queen put under his charge. The insolence of these demands turned an initially sympathetic London against Wyatt and Mary was able to rally the capital to her cause on 1 February by delivering a rousing speech at the GuildhallFact|date=September 2008.

Wyatt's army reached Southwark on February 3. Mary's supporters occupied London Bridge in force, and the rebels were unable to penetrate into the city. Wyatt was driven from Southwark by the threats of Sir John Brydges, afterwards Lord Chandos, who was prepared to fire on the suburb with the guns of the Tower.

Refusing to give up, the rebels marched to Kingston. The bridge there was also destroyed, but the rebels repaired it and crossed over. They met little resistance as they marched through the outskirts of London, but were stopped by the inhabitants of Ludgate. The rebel army then broke up.

Aftermath

Wyatt surrendered, and was tried and executed, along with approximately 90 rebels. Courtenay was exiled. Elizabeth, however, was spared execution because she had been unaware of the planned uprising. However, she was imprisoned as a precautionary measure.

The rebellion proved disastrous for the Wyatt family, as they lost their title and lands, including the family home, Allington Castle. However, when Elizabeth, a Protestant and distant relative of the Wyatt family, ascended the throne in 1558, she restored the family titles and lands.


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