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Kett's Rebellion

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Laurence Belcher

on 13 February 2013

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Transcript of Kett's Rebellion

Laurence Belcher Kett's Rebellion East Anglia was the most densely populated and highly industrialised part of the country. After London, Norwich was the second biggest city in the country (16,000 people) and had become a major textile centre. A collapse in the textile industry had, however, thrown large numbers of cloth workers out of work, and many independant, small farmers were being badly affected by the enclosure of wooded pastoral areas by gentry and yeoman farmers. Background Between 6 and 8 July, the entire community around Wymondham gathered to enjoy festivities. Anger and high spirits occured and the crowds broke down some enclosure fences and hedges, including those of a local lawyer, John Flowerdew. He was unpopular due to his ongoing dispute with locals over an abbey he had bought and was pulling down. The townspeople believed that they had bought the abbey for the parish. Trigger Causes Flowerdew encouraged the corwds to attack thr hedges of a local tanner and landowner Robert Kett. However, Kett welcomed the action and took leadership of the movement. The abscenece of clergy, nobility and gentry from the rebellion was extremely significant. To this day, Kett's motives remain unclear. He may have been motivated by a geniune feeling of guilt about the effect of enclosures, or it may be a result of his frustration at being at the fringes of the gentry.
By 10th July, the rebels had reached Norwich, and by 12th July, mthey had encamped on Mousehold heath, with a crowed which had swelled to 16,000. The Rebellion takes hold The size and speed of the movement paralysed the authorities of the county.The Sheriff of Norwich was nearly arrested when he attempted to dispearse the rebels and the rest of the gentry were powerless against this well established force. Local Reaction
On 21st July, the York Herald arrived to offer a full pardon to all those who dispersed. The tone of the offer was concilatory, promising to prohibit landlords from acting as farmers or clothiers, to reduce the price of wool by a thrid, and to appoint commissioners to report abuses.Kett rejected this offer, despite support from the corwd.

The rebels now prepared for conflict. The rebels fethced cannon from voastal defences and attacked Norwich after the heralds departure.By the evening of 22nd July, the rebels had taken Norwich.

Somerset, in response, sent a small army of around 1,800 men under the command of William Parr, with orders to negotiate and cut off the rebel's supply lines.The army arrived on 30th July and occupied Norwich. He offered a full pardon to any who dispersed, but the minds of the rebels were set firm and only 20 responded.Crucially, Northampton did not wield the weight od his title in negotioations with Kett. Kett's army once again successfuly occupied Norwich. The historians Fletcher and MacCulloch state that 'Northampton had succeeded in turning a vast popular demonstration into a full scales rebellion, where everywhere else the commotions had been diffused.'

Commissions were issued for the militias to be raised in all counties around Norfolk, troops were taken from the Scottish border, and mercenaries were hired. This force of 12,00 men arrived in Norwich on 23rd August.

Bolstered by another 1,000 mercenaries, the scene on 27th August was carnage. 3,000 rebels were killed, and Kett was arrested. Governmental Response Kett was tried for treason and was hanged on 26th November, however, Northumberland appears to have refrained from mass execution, as the historian MacCulloch has found evidence of ony 49 executions.

There have been many different views on why the rebellion came about:

- D. Loads writes that 'The riots and risings of 1549 were not a cry of dispair from a hopeless and exploited pesantry, but the anger of men who felt that what they held by law and custom was being eroded.

- Feltcher and MacCulloch, however, state that'the events at Norwich in 1549 indicate a breakdown of trust between the governing class and the people who normally sustained local government that had no parallel in the Tudor period.'

- Finally, J.Cornwall writes that 'In Norfolk religion was not an issue; complaints about the church were confined to the shortcomings of its ministers. Protestantism was firmly established amongst the rebels. It never occurred to the to enlist the help of Mary even though she was living not far away under house arrest.' Aftermath and Historiography
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