The Pilgrimage of Grace was an uprising in York in October 1536 headed by Robert Aske, a lawyer, protesting the Crown’s break with Rome and the dissolution of the monasteries. There are many factors that contribute to the pilgrimage of grace such as religion, social and economy, and politics.
In the Lincoln and Pontefract articles of 1536 many articles clearly held religious meaning, suggesting that the Pilgrimage was caused by religious factors. For example in the Lincoln Articles it states that the rebels wanted “an end to suppression of religious houses” and “bishops in England do not have… the faith of Christ”. Furthermore in the Pontefract Articles, it is said that the rebels wanted “the Pope as the Supreme Head of the Church of England”, “to end the heresies within this realm.” This shows that the Pilgrimage was a reaction from the peasants after the Break with Rome. Moreover the rebels marched behind the Five Wounds of Christ, showing that the peasants were heavily influenced by religion. Also, in the 16th century religion held communities together as people prayed and paid for the rituals of the Church, so the dissolution would have affected this. Historian Geoffrey Elton says that the uprising was religious and associated with Catherine of Aragon. The Pilgrimage, which was planned in advance, wanted to overturn the faction that made Catherine of Aragon’s marriage illegitimate. This can be supported as Lord Darcy and Hussey were involved in the revolt and they were both fans of Catherine. As there was support from the higher members of society and classes were brought together by religion it is fair to say that the Pilgrimage of Grace was caused by religious factors.
Although religious factors contribute to the Pilgrimage of Grace there were many other factors that also contributed, such as the social and economic affects. The monasteries that were being shut down usually provided education, food for the poor and some medical services meaning that people’s wellbeing and livelihood was being threatened and this was enough for the community to act against the government. In 1535 and 1536 the price of food rose due to poor crops and the lack of access to benefits led to riots such as the one at Settle in 1535. Furthermore, in the Pontefract articles it is stated the common people wanted an end to enclosures. The increase in tax on farmers also affected the people’s wellbeing, giving them reason to rebel. Historian Steven Gunn expressed the view that leaders in society were more important that the parish clergy therefore coming to the conclusion that the social and economic factors that caused the Pilgrimage of Grace are more important than those that are religious. The trouble in economy and the loss of public services were definitely significant factors