YORKSHIRE UNDER THE TUDORS.
Richard's reign was short; the battle of Bosworth Field terminated his rule in 1485, and transferred the crown to Henry Tudor, Earl of Richmond (the representative of the House of Lancaster), who became king by the title of Henry VII. His marriage with Elizabeth of York, daughter of Edward IV., united the two Houses and ended the contests between the Red and the White Rose, in which from eighty to ninety thousand Englishmen had been slain.
INSURRECTIONS. - Though Henry had obtained the crown, he was not long to hold it in peaceable possession. Before the end of twelve months Lord Lovel, who had been chamberlain to the late king, raised the standard of rebellion in Yorkshire, where the people were devotedly attached to the House of York, now represented in the male line by the young Earl of Warwick, son of the Duke of Clarence, brother of Edward IV.; but this was soon suppressed by the Duke of Bedford. The following year a more formidable insurrection took place, under Lambert Simnel, who personated the young Earl of Warwick, then a prisoner in the tower, whither he had been removed from the castle of Sheriff Hutton, in this county. The insurgents were routed with great slaughter at Stoke; Simnel was captured, confessed his imposture, and was made a scullion in the king's kitchen.
Soon afterwards the king became involved in war with France, and Parliament granted him a subsidy, to enable him to carry it on. This tax pressed heavily on the people of Durham and Yorkshire, who openly expressed their discontent and determination to resist its collection. The Earl of Northumberland, then Lord Lieutenant, wrote to inform the king of the threatening attitude of the people, and praying him to lessen the demand, but Henry would not abate one penny. The populace assembled at Cox Lodge, near Thirsk, to receive the king's answer, and, believing the Earl to be one of the chief advisers of the measure, they broke into the house, and murdered him and several of his servants. Their passions were still further inflamed by the harangues of one John ç Chambre, a man of mean extraction, but held in high esteem by the common people. They broke out into open revolt, and chose Sir John Egremont for their leader, but were easily subdued by a superior force under the Earl of Surrey. The plebeian orator was captured, and, with several associates, executed with due formality at York; but Sir John Egremont escaped to Flanders, where he obtained the protection of the Duchess of Burgundy, sister of the late king, and the implacable enemy of Henry VII.
To inspire the people of the county with a wholesome dread of his royal displeasure, the king visited the city of York, appointed the Earl of Surrey President of the North, and Sir Richard Tunstal his chief commissioner for the collection of the tax. After this the citizens proved themselves his loyal and faithful subjects; and when, a few years later, his daughter Margaret, with a retinue of five hundred lords and ladies, halted here on her way to Scotland, to be married to James IV., she was welcomed with all the pageantry that their joy could display.
In the meantime another imposture was concocted, and met with a considerable amount of support. The principal character, one Perkin Warbeck, represented himself as Richard, Duke of York (who was murdered in the tower along with his brother, Edward V.), and heir to the English crown. As the impostor never visited the county wherein was the seat of his pretended dukedom, we need only observe here that, after many extraordinary adventures, he was taken prisoner in the south of England, confined several years in the tower, and then executed.
Henry was succeeded by his son, the eighth of that name, in 1509. Circumstances soon occurred to interrupt the harmony which had subsisted between England and Scotland since the marriage of Margaret Tudor and James IV. The Scottish king had several causes for complaint; the jewels bequeathed to Margaret by her father, Henry VII., had been withheld; Barton, a Scotchman, the commander of a privateer, had been killed whilst privateering in the Downs; and the murderers of Ker, the warden of the Scottish marches, had not been brought to trial. Henry VIII. was at the time involved in war with France, and was with his army in that country. Taking advantage of his absence, the Scots crossed the border in tremendous force. The Earl of Surrey called out the men of the north to repel the invaders. Yorkshire sent a strong contingent, the city and county of York alone contributing 500 men. The hostile forces met at Flodden Field, September 9th, 1513, when the Scots were defeated with great slaughter. Amongst the slain were James IV., Henry's brother-in-law, and the flower of the Scottish nobility. The king's body was conveyed to York, and there exposed to public view till Henry's return from France, when it was presented to him at Richmond, in Surrey.
THE LOLLARDS. - So far the reign of Henry had been prosperous, money was gradually becoming more plentiful, and there had been no long and expensive wars to oppress the people; but clouds had long been gathering on the religious horizon. Upwards of a century and a half before, Wycliffe had preached against, what he considered, the abuses of the church, the possession of fixed property by the clergy, and the spread of monasticism. When summoned to answer for his heretical opinions before the Primate and the Bishop of London, he appeared between his two chief supporters, John of Gaunt, Duke of Lancaster, and Earl Percy, the lord marshal, the two most powerful noblemen in England. Wycliffe was a Yorkshireman, a native of the village of that name, and vicar of Lutterworth, in Leicestershire. Though his doctrines met with but limited acceptance, they are regarded as the initial steps to the Reformation which convulsed England and the Continent in the sixteenth century. His followers, the Lollards, as they are called, surpassed their master in their extravagances and the fierceness of their denunciations, Some of the principles they inculcated were of a dangerous political character, and in 1401, an Act was passed, chiefly through the influence of another Earl Percy, empowering the secular authority to commit to the flames anyone convicted of heresy. The first victim was William Sawtre or Salter, a clergyman of London, who was burnt at Smithfield; in 1410, John Badby, a tailor, suffered death in the same place for denying the doctrine of transubstantiation; and a few years later, Sir John Oldcastle and several other Lollards met the same fate. But Hume pronounces Sir John to have been guilty of high treason, and the sect in general to have had treasonable designs. These terrible examples checked, for a time, the spread of Lollardism; but the fire only smouldered; and in the sixteenth century, it burst forth with a force so irresistible as to destroy the whole power of the church.
THE REFORMATION. - Martin Luther, an Augustinian monk, and professor in the university of Wittemberg, had raised the standard of revolt in Saxony, by preaching and writing against the traffic in indulgences, which had been granted by Leo X. and his predecessor, Julius II., in order to raise money for the erection of St. Peter's Church, Rome. Henry VIII. entered the polemical lists against Luther; and the Pope was so pleased with the king's reply, either from the force of the arguments advanced, or else the dignity of the advocate, that he conferred upon him the title of "Defender of the Faith."
Soon afterwards, Henry transferred his affections from his queen, Catherine of Arragon, to her maid of honour, Anne Boleyn. He had been married eighteen years, and he besought the Pope, Clement VII., to annul the contract, alleging scruples of conscience, as Catherine had been affianced to his brother, Arthur. The pontiff, either from conscientious motives, or from fear of offending the emperor, Charles V., the nephew of Catherine, was loth to give his decision; but the impetuosity of Henry's temper could ill brook the papal hesitation; and he obtained from his own servile parliament, and from some still more subservient divines, a dissolution of the marriage. The next parliament constituted him supreme head of the church, thus totally severing the connection with Rome.
THE DISSOLUTION OF MONASTERIES - When Henry ascended the throne he inherited the immense wealth left by his avaricious father. This amounted, in gold and silver, to £1,800,000, a sum equal to nearly £20,000,000 of our present currency. By a life of profligacy and extravagance he had squandered all, and it now became necessary to replenish his exhausted coffers. The spoliation of the church offered the readiest means. The suppression of the monastic institutions was resolved on; and as a preliminary step, a visitation of monasteries was commenced in the autumn of 1535, by order of Cromwell, chancellor of the exchequer, who filled the office of vicegerent and vicar-general. The spirit in which this visitation was made, clearly indicated that the reports were meant to form the groundwork for the dissolution of those institutions, and the consequent appropriation of their lands and revenues to the use of the crown. The visitors appointed for the northern counties were Dr. Thomas Leigh and Dr. Richard Layton, men of neither high standing nor reputation in the church; and the matters for investigation were reduced to the following heads :- 1. As to the incontinence of the heads of each monastery. 2. The name of the founder. 3. The estate of the convents. 4. The superstitions practised in them. 6. The debt they had incurred; and 6. The names of the votaries who wished to be discharged from their vows.
The reports furnished by the visitors present a deplorable picture of monastic life; but how can we place credence in them, seeing that the visitors were deputed with the set purpose of discovering or inventing some foul stain in the character of the inmates, which might afford a plausible excuse for the suppression of such institutions. A bill was passed through parliament, with very little deliberation, for dissolving all monastic establishments in England, whose clear yearly income did not exceed £200. In the preamble of the bill it is said,
"Forasmuch as manifest sin, vitious, carnal, and abominable living is daily used and committed, commonly in such little and small abbeys, priories, and other religious houses of monks, canons, and nuns, where the congregation of such religious persons is under the number of twelve," etc., "whereupon the lords and commons, by a great deliberation, finally be resolved, that it is, and shall be more to the pleasure of Almighty God, and for the honour of this His realm, that the possessions of all such religious houses, not being spent, spoiled, and wasted for increase of maintenance of sin, shall be used and converted to better uses, and the unthrifty religious persons so spending the same, be compelled to reform their lives; be it, therefore, enacted, that his majesty shall have to himself and to his heirs for ever, all and singular monasteries, the yearly value of which do not amount to £200."
It cannot be denied that there were amongst the religious some whose lives were not spotless, but then, let us bear in mind, that there was a traitor among the twelve apostles, and a heretic among the seven deacons. There never was and never will be a society of men without some human failings; but "the collecting of ex parte evidence by stipendiary emissaries, and the making of that evidence a ground for plundering the property of the church, was a proceeding full of injustice, and an example that no future age can imitate with impunity. * * *Baines' History of Lancashire.
By this act of spoliation about 380 communities were dissolved, and an addition of £32,000 was made to the royal revenue (equivalent to £160,000 of our present money), exclusive of £100,000 in money, plate, and jewels. According to Fuller, "ten thousand persons were by this dissolution sent to seek their fortunes in the wide world; some had twenty shillings given them at their ejection, and a new gown, which needed to be of strong cloth, to last till they got another. Most were exposed to want; and many a young nun proved an old beggar."
While thus the royal treasury was enriched, the suppression entailed a heavy loss upon the poor, who derived their chief support from the monasteries. The monks were kind and indulgent landlords, who exacted no rack-rents for their lands; their doors were always open to receive and relieve the wayfarer, the houseless, and the poor. "Religious houses," says Grose, "were also hospitals for the sick and poor, many of both being daily relieved by them. They also afforded lodging and entertainment to travellers, at a time when there were no inns. The nobility and gentry, who were heirs to their founders in them, could provide for a certain number of ancient and faithful servants, by procuring them corrodies or stated allowances of meat, drink, and clothes They were also asylums or retreats for aged indigent persons of good families. The places near the sites of these abbeys were considerably benefitted, both by the recourse of people resorting to them, by fairs procured for them, and by their exemption from the forest laws."
The discontents of the people broke into open rebellion in Lincolnshire, where 20,000 men assembled, under the leadership of Mackerel, abbot of Barlings, who assumed the name of Captain Cobbler, and demanded the redress of their grievances. A promise of pardon from the king was sufficient to disperse this irregular army, their leaders having first been delivered up, and afterwards executed.
THE PILGRIMAGE OF GRACE. - Meanwhile, a more formidable rising was being organised in the northern counties, under the sanction of several abbots, nobles. and gentlemen. Robert Aske, a man of good family, residing on his patrimonial estate at Aughton, in the East Riding of Yorkshire, was placed at its head. The insurrectionary spirit spread from the Humber to the Tweed; and all who joined in the enterprise bound themselves by oath to stand by each other, "for the love which they bore to Almighty God, his faith, the holy church, and the maintenance thereof; to the preservation of the king's person and his issue; to the purifying of the nobility; and to expulse all villein blood and evil counsellors from his grace and privy council; not for any private profit, nor to do displeasure to any private person, nor to slay or murder through envy, but for the restitution of the church, and the suppression of heretics and their opinions." To excite the enthusiasm of the pilgrims, and to induce people to join their ranks, a body of priests marched at their head, bearing a banner, on which was painted the image of the crucified Saviour, with the chalice and the host; and each soldier wore on his sleeve the emblem of his holy cause - a representation of the five wounds of Christ, with the name "Jesus" in the centre. The enterprise was quaintly called "The Pilgrimage of Grace," and wherever the pilgrims appeared, their first object was to re-instate the ejected monks in their monasteries. Wilfrid Holme, a writer of that age, residing at Huntington, near York, tells us that the pilgrims were wont to regale themselves by reciting the following lines from the so-called prophecies of Merlin:
"Foorth shall come a worme, an Aske with one eye,
He shall be the chiefe of the mainye;
He shall gather of chivalrie a full faire flock
Halfe capon and halfe cooke:
The chicken shall the capon slay,
And after that shall be no May."
The castles of Scarborough and Skipton held out against them, but York, Hull, and Pontefract opened their gates, probably because they were insufficiently garrisoned to offer any resistance. In the castle of the last named town, a herald from the Duke of Norfolk, Lord President of the North and leader of the royal army, was admitted to the presence of Aske, who sat in state between the Archbishop of York, and Lord Darcy, attended by Sir Robt. Constable, Sir Christopher Danby, and others, but on hearing the contents of the proclamation he refused to allow it to be published to the army. The insurgents then, to the number of 30,000, marched to take possession of Doncaster. But here they were met by the Duke of Norfolk, who, with a battery of cannon, guarded the bridge over the Don, and the ford was, at the same time, rendered impassable by the swollen state of the river.
This was fortunate for the duke, as his small force of 5,000 men was quite inadequate to cope with the large army of insurgents. Negotiations for a compromise were entered into by the duke, and purposely prolonged until the arrival of the king with fresh reinforcements. An armistice was then agreed upon, and the insurgents laid their demands before the king. They were as follows: (1) That a general pardon should be granted, without any exceptions; (2) That a parliament should be held at York or Nottingham, or some other convenient place; (3) That no man residing north of the Trent should be compelled, by subpœna, to attend any court except York, unless in matters of allegiance; (4) That some Acts of the late Parliament, which were too grievous to the people, should be repealed; (6) That the Princess Mary should be declared legitimate; (6) That the suppressed monasteries should be restored to their former state; (7) That the Papal Authority should be re-established; (8) That heretical books should be suppressed, and heretics punished according to law; (9) That Cromwell, the vicar-general, Audeley, the chancellor, and Rich, the attorney-general, should be removed from the Council; and (10) That Leigh and Layton, visitors of the northern monasteries, should be prosecuted for their briberies and extortions.
The Duke of Norfolk was appointed by the king to confer with the insurgents, and was empowered to offer a pardon to all except ten persons, six named and four unnamed, but these terms were refused. The conference was broken up, and the pilgrims decided to commit their cause to the arbitrament of arms. The duke was alarmed, as his force was disproportionately small, and besought the king to comply with, at least, some of their demands. The royal mercy was then extended to all the rebels, and a promise given that their grievances should be patiently discussed in a parliament which should be held at York. "On these terms the pilgrimage was dissolved (December 9th, 1536), but the king, on the dispersion of the insurgents, read them a lecture, in a royal manifesto, of a nature which would, in these days, rather have raised than suppressed a rebellion. In answer to that part of their petition which related to the removal of his ministers, who were charged with a design to subvert the religion of the state and to enslave the people, the king says: 'And we, with our whole council, think it right strange that ye, who be but brutes and inexpert folk, do take upon you to appoint us who be meet or not for our council; we will, therefore, bear no such meddling at your hands, it being inconsistent with the duty of good subjects to interfere in such matters.' (from Baines' History of Lancashire.)
The rebel army dispersed; but the cause of their discontent remained unremoved, nor did the king show any disposition to redeem his promises. Early the following year the pilgrims were again in arms in several places in the north. They attempted the capture of Hull and Carlisle, but were repulsed in both cases, and in their retreat from the latter town they were intercepted by the Duke of Norfolk, with a largely augmented army, and seventy-four officers were hanged on the walls of the city. Henry considered this second rising as a breach of the amnesty he had granted; and though many of the former leaders were not concerned in this second rebellion, they were apprehended, tried, and executed. Among them were Robert Aske, Lord Darcy, Sir Robt. Constable, Sir John and Lady Bulmer (the latter being burnt at Smithfield), Sir Thomas Percy, Sir Stephen Hamilton, Nicholas Tempest, William Lumley, the abbots of Fountains, Sawley, Jervaux, and Rivaulx, and the prior of Bridlington. Two or three years later another outbreak took place in Yorkshire, in which Sir John Neville and ten other persons were taken in arms and executed at York.
Though these risings had for their object the preservation of the monastic institutions, they only hastened the downfall of the remainder. The monks were charged with encouraging their tenants to join in the Pilgrimage of Grace, and a commission was appointed to investigate their conduct. But this was only a plausible excuse for the dissolution of the larger monasteries, in which it had been said, by parliament, that "in divers of them religion was right well kept and observed." The visitation occupied four years, during which time the visitors went from house to house, trying, by offers of pensions and church preferments, to obtain the voluntary surrender of the monastery; and, where these failed, threats and menaces were used. The pensions given to the superiors varied £266 to £6 per annum, and those to the other monks from £6 to £2, with a small sum to each, as a departure fee, to provide for his immediate wants.
The number of houses thus suppressed, in England and Wales, amounted to 645, exclusive of 96 colleges, 2,374 chantries and free chapels, and 119 hospitals. The value of the property seized by the king has been variously estimated, but, according to the Liber Regis, it yielded annually £142,914 12s. 91/4d., which, taken at twenty years' purchase, would produce £2,858,290, worth, according to the present value of money, £28,582,900. "A revenue so immense," says Baines, "as that yielded by the monasteries might, under judicious application, have extinguished all public burdens, both for the support of the state and the relief of the poor, and expectations of this kind were held out to the people; but they were soon undeceived; pauperism became more widespread than ever, and within one year from the period of the last appropriation, a subsidy of two-tenths, and another of two-fifteenths, were demanded by the king, and granted by parliament, to defray the expenses of reforming the religion of the state." A small portion of the monastic revenues was appropriated to the advancement of religion; six new bishoprics were erected, but very inadequately endowed; fourteen abbeys and priories were converted into cathedrals and collegiate churches; two colleges and a few hospitals and grammar schools were established. This, with the exception of a small sum expended on the improvement of Dover harbour, and the erection of five fortresses, was all the benefit that the nation received from the suppression of monasteries, and the poor, who before had been wholly supported by the religious orders and the church, have ever since been a burden on the people.
The total number of monastic institutions suppressed in Yorkshire amounted to 106. Of these 14 were abbeys, 44 priories and nunneries, 7 alien priories, 23 friaries, and 13 cells. After the dissolution of all the religious houses had been accomplished, Henry, accompanied by his queen, visited the north, 'where the suppression had met with the greatest opposition, to receive the submission of the inhabitants. "On his entrance into Yorkshire," says Holinshead, "he was met by two hundred gentlemen of the same shire, in coats of velvet, and four thousand tall yeomen and serving men, well horsed, who, on their knees, made submission to him by the mouth of Sir Robert Bowes, and gave to the king £900. On Barnsdale, the Archbishop of York, with more than three hundred priests, met the king, and, making a like submission, gave to him £600. The like submission was made by the mayors of York, Newcastle, and Hull, and each of them gave the king £100.
One of the complaints of the Pilgrims of Grace had been the injustice of requiring the inhabitants of the northern counties to lodge their cases for trial in the metropolis. To remove this hardship, Henry, during his visit to York, which extended to twelve days, established " His Majesty's Council in the Northern Parts." This court, which was in some sense viceregal, consisted of a council, with a president at its head, assisted by twenty-two noblemen, gentlemen, and officers of the law. Four sessions, of one month's duration each, were to be held in a year - one at York, another at Hull, the third at Newcastle, and the fourth at Durham; and that suitors might not be oppressed with heavy bills of costs, it was directed "that no attorney should take, in one sitting or session, above twelve pence, nor any councillor more than twenty pence, for that matter."
Henry VIII. survived the suppression of monasteries little more than half a dozen years, and was succeeded by his son, Edward, a boy of nine years, who died at the early age of sixteen. Henry had been on the whole as favourably inclined to the "old learning" as to the new, and sent indiscriminately both Catholics and Protestants to the stake, but in the short reign of his son the Reformation made rapid progress. The Lord-Protector Somerset was a zealous reformer, and in the name of the young monarch, he closed by proclamation every place of worship, and no one was allowed to preach except he was duly licensed by the Protector or the Archbishop of York. A new order of divine worship, called a liturgy, or Book of Common Prayer, was drawn up with the "assistance of the Holy Ghost," as it was declared, and severe pains and penalties were enacted to enforce its adoption. These proceedings met with considerable opposition, and insurrections took place in several counties. At Seamer, near Scarborough, a rising was fomented by Thomas Dale, the parish clerk, John Stevenson, of Seamer, and William Ambler, of East Heslerton, yeoman. They demanded, among other things, the restoration of the old form of worship, and the repeal of the recent obnoxious acts. The signal for gathering was the firing of the beacon on Staxton, when the insurgents assembled to the number of 3,000. and proceeding to the house of one Mr. White, a gentleman, they seized him, Mr. Clapton, his wife's brother, Mr. Richard Savage, Sheriff of York, and Berry, a servant, and carried them off to the Wolds, where they were stripped and murdered. A detachment from York was sent against them, and when a pardon was offered, all the rebels accepted the king's mercy, and dispersed, except the nine ringleaders, who were taken prisoners soon after, and executed at York.
The reign of Mary, blood-stained, like those of her father and brother, we pass by, as possessing no features having a special reference to Yorkshire. She was succeeded by her half-sister, Elizabeth, who favoured the reformers, and Protestantism again became the religion of the state. During her sister's reign she had outwardly conformed to the old religion, but her preference for the new doctrines was well known. Now that she was at the head of the realm, she adopted the creed that was in harmony with her own convictions. But in effecting the change she proceeded with caution and prudence. One by one Catholic practices were prohibited in the chapel royal, and then commissioners were appointed to visit each diocese, to prepare both clergy and laity for the coming change. The statutes passed in the late reign for the support of the ancient religion were repealed, and the Acts of Edward VI. partially revived. The Book of Common Prayer, with certain additions and emendations, was ordered to be used under the penalties of forfeiture, deprivation, and death, and all were bound to subscribe to the royal supremacy.
THE RISING OF THE NORTH. - In the southern and midland counties, the Reformation made rapid progress, but in the north a large number of the nobility, gentry, and people remained firm in their attachment to the old faith. About this time the beautiful but unfortunate Mary Queen of Scots, having fled from her own country, came to England, and in an evil hour put herself under the protection of Elizabeth, her cousin, but also enemy and rival. She was devotedly attached to the Catholic religion, and was considered by many to have a better claim to the crown of England than Elizabeth, as the latter was illegitimate according to the views of the Catholic church, and had been bastardised by Act of Parliament. Mary was confined for a short time in Bolton Castle, Wensleydale, under the care of Lord Scrope. Thence she was removed to Sheffield Castle, and afterwards still further south to Tutbury, and lastly to Fotheringay, in Northamptonshire. Anxious to re-establish the old religion, and to release the Scottish Queen from her unjust imprisonment, the Catholics of the north entered into a conspiracy to attain their two-fold object. The prime movers in the undertaking were the Earls of Northumberland and Westmoreland, both ardent Catholics and declared friends of Mary. They revealed their views and objects to the most trusty of their adherents, to the two uncles of Westmoreland, to Leonard Dacre, to Egremont Ratcliffe, a brother of the Earl of Sussex, to the Nortons, Markenfields, Tempests, Swinburnes, and other gentlemen of wealth and influence. " From all," says Lingard, "they received promises of co-operation; from some, as it appears, through mere attachment to the chiefs of the two houses of Percy and Neville; from the majority of Catholics, who cherished a hope of relieving themselves from persecution, and restoring the ancient worship; and from numbers - men of generous and chivalrous feelings - who offered to risk their lives and fortunes for the deliverance from prison of a young and unfortunate queen." The first meetings of the conspirators were held at the Earl of Northumberland's seat near Topcliffe, whence the following proclamation was issued
"We, Thomas, Earl of Northumberland, and Charles, Earl of Westmorland, the Queen's true and faithful subjects, to all that came of the old Catholic Religion, know ye that we, with many other well-disposed persons, as well of the Nobility as others, have promised our Faith to the Furtherance of this our good meaning. Forasmuch as divers disordered and well-disposed persons about the Queen's Majesty, have, by their subtle and crafty dealings to advance themselves, overcome in this Realm, the true and Catholic Religion towards God, and by the same abused the Queen, disordered the Realm, and now lastly seek and procure the destruction of the Nobility; We, therefore, have gathered ourselves together to resist by force, and the rather by the help of God and you good people, to see redress of these things amiss, with the restoring of all ancient customs and liberties to God's Church, and this noble Realm; lest if we should not do it ourselves, we might be reformed by strangers, to the great hazard of the state of this our country, whereunto we are all bound. God save the Queen."
Their treasonable designs were made known to the queen, and the two earls were ordered to repair forthwith to the court. They had already gone too far to trust themselves in the queen's hands, and they, therefore, preferred to die fighting in the field rather than on the scaffold. This royal order precipitated the rising before their plans were fully matured, or the probable strength of the forces at their command had been calculated. At the head of a small body of armed horsemen they made their first open demonstration at Durham, which city they occupied, and caused mass to be celebrated in the cathedral. They then marched southward, restoring the ancient service at Staindrop, Darlington, Richmond, and Ripon, as far as Bramham Moor, where their forces amounted to four thousand foot and seventeen hundred horse, well mounted. From this place they directed their march towards York, in the hope of taking the episcopal city; but in this they were forestalled. It was already in the possession of the royal troops under the Earl of Essex, and the insurgents retreated northwards, and laid siege to Barnard Castle. That fortress was under the command of Sir George Bowes and his brother, who, after a gallant defence of eleven days, capitulated on honourable terms, and marched out with their arms and ammunition to York.
The royal army having, in the meantime, been reinforced at York, went in pursuit; the insurgent leaders retreated to Durham, thence to Hexham, where they disbanded their forces, and with a number of attendants fled to Scotland. Most of the insurgents were killed or captured in flight. Among the prisoners were Simon Digby, of Aiskew, and John Fulthorpe, of Iselbeck, Esquires, Robert Pennyman, of Stokesley, and Thomas Bishop, junior, of Pocklington, gentlemen, who were imprisoned in York Castle, and afterwards hanged, headed, and quartered; and, according to the barbarous custom of that age, their heads were set up on the four principal gates of the city. The Earl of Westmoreland escaped to the continent, but the Earl of Northumberland was betrayed by a faithless borderer, and conveyed to York, where he expiated his crime on the scaffold without the formality of a trial, on the 22nd August, 1572. His head was set on a high pole over Micklegate Bar, where it remained for about two years, and was then stolen in the night by some persons unknown. (quote from Allen's History of the County of York) His body was buried without any memorial in the church of St. Crux.
The last stand in this insurrection was made by Leonard Dacres, who fled to his castle at Naworth, where he collected 3000 fierce Cumbrians, and gave battle to a detachment of the royal army, under Lord Hunsdon, at Gelt's Bridge; but, after a fiercely contested fight, he was defeated. Among the insurgents were many women, who fought with a courage and determination that inflamed and animated their male companions to dare or to die. Dacres escaped and fled to the continent, where he died in exile, in 1575.
Thus ended the Rising of the North, the last open attempt made by the Catholics to re-establish the faith of their fathers in this kingdom. Instead of helping their cause it brought untold sufferings upon innumerable families, and the publication of a bull from the pope, in which Elizabeth was declared guilty of heresy, and her English subjects absolved from their allegiance, only served to increase the burdens and persecutions under which they groaned. Little mercy was shown to any person implicated in the rising; upwards of 800 perished on the gallows, and 57 noblemen and gentlemen were attainted by parliament, and their estates confiscated. Severe penal enactments were passed, by which anyone refusing to attend the reformed service was liable to fine and imprisonment; to become a priest, or to harbour one, or be present at mass, were crimes punishable with death. At York alone, 28 priests were hanged, bowelled, and quartered for exercising their sacerdotal functions, 11 laymen were executed for harbouring priests, and one woman was barbarously pressed to death for the same crime.
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Bulmer's East Riding
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