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The Tudors – Edward VI and Mary I, 1547-58

6. Risings and Rebellions, 1549-54

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In this module, we think about the risings and rebellions that occurred in the reigns of Edward VI and Mary I, with a particular focus on The Prayer Book Rebellion in Devon and Cornwall (1549), Kett's Rebellion in Norfolk (1549), and Wyatt's Rebellion in Kent and London (1554). As we move through the module, we consider: (i) the fact that all Tudor monarchs faced rebellions and revolts of some description, although there were a cluster of armed risings in this period in particular; (ii) the social make-up of the rebellions: mostly the commons, but also some members of the gentry; (iii) the view of historians such as Diarmaid Mccullough and Anthony Fletcher that the succession crisis following the death of Edward was a "rebellion", and the reasons why (in the lecturer's view) it wasn't; (iv) the origins of Kett's Rebellion (1549) as a group of petitioners who drew up a list of grievances that they wanted the government to redress; (v) the course of Kett's Rebellion: the gathering on Mousehold Heath, the petitioning of government, the government response, escalation, the crushing of the rebellion by the army; (vi) the origins of the Prayer Book Rebellion (1549) and the nature of their demands, both religious and economic; (vii) the course of the Prayer Book Rebellion: the siege of St Michael's Mount, Plymouth and Exeter, crushing of the rebellion by the army; (viii) the reasons why rebellions occurred in these regions in particular, including the power vacuum left by the arrest and imprisonment of local aristocrats; (ix) the extent to which Kett's Rebellion and the Prayer Book Rebellion were anticipated by previous acts of violence, e.g. the murder of Edward's commissioner, William Body, in 1548; (x) the extent to which unrest was widespread in 1549 in particular; (xi) the nature of Wyatt's Rebellion (1549): the figure of Sir Thomas Wyatt and his key aims; (xii) the course of Wyatt's Rebellion; (xiii) the reasons people supported Wyatt: sectarianism, unhappiness at Mary's marriage to Philip II of Spain, economic factors; and (xiii) the extent to which risings and rebellions were endemic in the Tudor period as a whole, not just in the reigns of Edward and the Mary.


In this course, Professor Sue Doran (University of Oxford) explores the reigns of Edward VI (1547-53) and Mary I (1553-58), a period which some historians have labelled the Mid-Tudor Crisis. We begin by thinking about the religious policies of Edward VI, focusing in particular on the nature of the changes and the key influencers on Edwardian policy in this period. After that, we think about faction in the reign of Edward, looking especially at the figure of Edward Seymour. In the third module, we consider the Succession Crisis of 1553 and the problems faced by Mary as a woman, before moving on in the fourth module to look more closely at her religious reforms, which were far more innovative, popular and progressive than Mary is often given credit for. In the fifth module, we think about how the religious changes of both Edward and Mary were felt in the parishes of England, before turning in the final module to think about the similarities and differences between the two major rebellions in the mid-Tudor period: Kett's Rebellion in 1549, and Wyatt's Rebellion in 1553.


Susan Doran is Professor of Early Modern British History at the University of Oxford. She has a substantial publishing record which reflects a particular interest in the religious and political history of the Tudors, especially Elizabeth I. She is also a Senior Research Fellow at Jesus College and Director of Studies in History at Regent’s Park College.

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APA style

Doran, S. (2018, August 15). The Tudors – Edward VI and Mary I, 1547-58 - Risings and Rebellions, 1549-54 [Video]. MASSOLIT.

MLA style

Doran, S. "The Tudors – Edward VI and Mary I, 1547-58 – Risings and Rebellions, 1549-54." MASSOLIT, uploaded by MASSOLIT, 15 Aug 2018,

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