Wyatt's rebellion
Wyatt's Rebellion was a popular uprising
Popular revolt in late medieval Europe
Popular revolts in late medieval Europe were uprisings and rebellions by peasants in the countryside, or the bourgeois in towns, against nobles, abbots and kings during the upheavals of the 14th through early 16th centuries, part of a larger "Crisis of the Late Middle Ages"...

 in England
Kingdom of England
The Kingdom of England was, from 927 to 1707, a sovereign state to the northwest of continental Europe. At its height, the Kingdom of England spanned the southern two-thirds of the island of Great Britain and several smaller outlying islands; what today comprises the legal jurisdiction of England...

 in 1554, named after Thomas Wyatt the younger
Thomas Wyatt the younger
Sir Thomas Wyatt the younger was a rebel leader during the reign of Queen Mary I of England; his rising is traditionally called "Wyatt's rebellion".-Birth and career:...

, one of its leaders. The rebellion arose out of concern over Queen Mary I
Mary I of England
Mary I was queen regnant of England and Ireland from July 1553 until her death.She was the only surviving child born of the ill-fated marriage of Henry VIII and his first wife Catherine of Aragon. Her younger half-brother, Edward VI, succeeded Henry in 1547...

's determination to marry Philip II of Spain
Philip II of Spain
Philip II was King of Spain, Portugal, Naples, Sicily, and, while married to Mary I, King of England and Ireland. He was lord of the Seventeen Provinces from 1556 until 1581, holding various titles for the individual territories such as duke or count....

, which was an unpopular policy with the English. Queen Mary's overthrow was implied in the rebellion, although not expressly stated as a goal.


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, not easily separated from religious ones in the 16th century, and notably the desire to prevent the unpopular marriage of Queen Mary to Prince Philip of Spain
Philip II of Spain
Philip II was King of Spain, Portugal, Naples, Sicily, and, while married to Mary I, King of England and Ireland. He was lord of the Seventeen Provinces from 1556 until 1581, holding various titles for the individual territories such as duke or count....

. On 16th November 1553 a Parliamentary delegation had waited upon Queen Mary, and formally requested that she choose an English husband, the obvious though tacit candidate being her kinsman Edward Courtenay, recently created Earl of Devon. 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:
  • Sir Thomas Wyatt
    Thomas Wyatt the younger
    Sir Thomas Wyatt the younger was a rebel leader during the reign of Queen Mary I of England; his rising is traditionally called "Wyatt's rebellion".-Birth and career:...

    , who owned large areas of land in Kent
    Kent is a county in southeast England, and is one of the home counties. It borders East Sussex, Surrey and Greater London and has a defined boundary with Essex in the middle of the Thames Estuary. The ceremonial county boundaries of Kent include the shire county of Kent and the unitary borough of...

     and had great influence there
  • Sir James Croft
    James Croft
    Sir James Croft PC , Lord Deputy of Ireland and MP for Herefordshire in the Parliament of England.He was born the second but eldest surviving son of Richard Croft of Croft Castle, Herefordshire, inheriting the estate on his father's death in 1562.He was elected seven times as knight of the shire ...

    , who came from an influential Herefordshire
    Herefordshire is a historic and ceremonial county in the West Midlands region of England. For Eurostat purposes it is a NUTS 3 region and is one of three counties that comprise the "Herefordshire, Worcestershire and Gloucestershire" NUTS 2 region. It also forms a unitary district known as the...

  • Sir Peter Carew
    Peter Carew
    Sir Peter Carew was an English adventurer, who served during the reign of Queen Elizabeth of England and took part in the Tudor conquest of Ireland.He is to be distinguished from another Sir Peter Carew Sir Peter Carew (1514? – 27 November 1575) was an English adventurer, who served during the...

    , who was an MP
    Member of Parliament
    A Member of Parliament is a representative of the voters to a :parliament. In many countries with bicameral parliaments, the term applies specifically to members of the lower house, as upper houses often have a different title, such as senate, and thus also have different titles for its members,...

     for Devon
    Devon is a large county in southwestern England. The county is sometimes referred to as Devonshire, although the term is rarely used inside the county itself as the county has never been officially "shired", it often indicates a traditional or historical context.The county shares borders with...

  • Henry Grey, 1st Duke of Suffolk
    Henry Grey, 1st Duke of Suffolk
    Henry Grey, 1st Duke of Suffolk, 3rd Marquess of Dorset, KG was an English nobleman of the Tudor period and the father of Lady Jane Grey.-Henry VIII's reign:...

    , who was based in Leicestershire
    Leicestershire is a landlocked county in the English Midlands. It takes its name from the heavily populated City of Leicester, traditionally its administrative centre, although the City of Leicester unitary authority is today administered separately from the rest of Leicestershire...


Other rebels, aside from Edward Courtenay, Earl of Devon, included Sir Henry Isley, Lord John Grey of Wilton, Lord Thomas Grey (Henry Grey's brother), Sir William Thomas
William Thomas (scholar)
William Thomas , probably a Welshman, was an Italian scholar and clerk of the council to Edward VI, who was executed for treason after the death of Edward.-Early years:...

 (Clerk of the Privy Council), Sir Nicholas Throckmorton, John Harington, 1st Baron Harington of Exton
John Harington, 1st Baron Harington of Exton
John Harington was an English courtier and politician.-Life:He was the son of James Harington and was knighted in 1584...

, Sir Nicholas Arnold
Nicholas Arnold
-Life:He was the son of John Arnold, Lord of the manor of Highnam and Over, and his wife Isabel Hawkins.In 1530 he entered the service of Thomas Cromwell and assisted him in the Dissolution of the Monasteries...

 and Sir William St Loe. Others involved included the French ambassador, Antoine de Noailles, who knew that a Spanish king on the throne of England was not in the best interests of France.

Each of the four leaders would raise rebellions in one of the four counties, and together they would converge on London
London is the capital city of :England and the :United Kingdom, the largest metropolitan area in the United Kingdom, and the largest urban zone in the European Union by most measures. Located on the River Thames, London has been a major settlement for two millennia, its history going back to its...

, on 18 March 1554. They would then replace Mary with her half-sister the princess Elizabeth
Elizabeth I of England
Elizabeth I was queen regnant of England and Ireland from 17 November 1558 until her death. Sometimes called The Virgin Queen, Gloriana, or Good Queen Bess, Elizabeth was the fifth and last monarch of the Tudor dynasty...

, who would then marry Lord Devon
Edward Courtenay, 1st Earl of Devon (1553 creation)
Edward Courtenay, 1st Earl of Devon was the only son of Henry Courtenay, 1st Marquess of Exeter and his second wife, Gertrude Blount...

. Meanwhile, a fleet of French ships would prevent Philip of Spain from reaching England.

Implementation of these plans was prevented when Simon Renard
Simon Renard
Simon Renard, sir de Bermont was an advisor of the Emperor Charles V and his son Philip II of Spain, overlords of the County of Burgundy and Counts of Burgundy.He was ambassador of Spain in France and England...

, the Imperial ambassador to England
Imperial ambassadors to England
This is a partial list of Imperial resident ambassadors to the Kingdom of England.* Bernardo de Mesa, December 1514 - March 1523* Louis of Praet, May 1522 - May 1525* Jean de le Sauch, February 1525 - August 1525...

, suspected a plot. He informed the Lord Chancellor
Lord Chancellor
The Lord High Chancellor of Great Britain, or Lord Chancellor, is a senior and important functionary in the government of the United Kingdom. He is the second highest ranking of the Great Officers of State, ranking only after the Lord High Steward. The Lord Chancellor is appointed by the Sovereign...

, Bishop Stephen Gardiner
Stephen Gardiner
Stephen Gardiner was an English Roman Catholic bishop and politician during the English Reformation period who served as Lord Chancellor during the reign of Queen Mary I of England.-Early life:...

, who on 21 January arrested Devon, who revealed that there was indeed a rebellion planned. Under increased pressure of time, the planned rebellion was moved forward and went awry.

The following day Sir James Croft delivered a message to Elizabeth at Ashridge House
Ashridge is an estate and house in Hertfordshire, England; part of the land stretches into Buckinghamshire and it is close to the Bedfordshire border. It is situated in the Chiltern Hills, an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, about two miles north of Berkhamsted and twenty miles north west of...

 in Hertfordshire, but realizing 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, as were his daughter Lady Jane Grey
Lady Jane Grey
Lady Jane Grey , also known as The Nine Days' Queen, was an English noblewoman who was de facto monarch of England from 10 July until 19 July 1553 and was subsequently executed...

, and her husband Lord Guilford Dudley neither of whom were involved in the uprising.

News that Sir Peter Carew was spreading dissent at Exeter
Exeter is a historic city in Devon, England. It lies within the ceremonial county of Devon, of which it is the county town as well as the home of Devon County Council. Currently the administrative area has the status of a non-metropolitan district, and is therefore under the administration of the...

 in Devon by saying publicly that a Spanish king would bring the Spanish Inquisition
Spanish Inquisition
The Tribunal of the Holy Office of the Inquisition , commonly known as the Spanish Inquisition , was a tribunal established in 1480 by Catholic Monarchs Ferdinand II of Aragon and Isabella I of Castile. It was intended to maintain Catholic orthodoxy in their kingdoms, and to replace the Medieval...

 reached the Court in January 1554. Carew attempted to raise support for the uprising in Devon, but the Protestant nobles there proved unwilling to commit treason
In law, treason is the crime that covers some of the more extreme acts against one's sovereign or nation. Historically, treason also covered the murder of specific social superiors, such as the murder of a husband by his wife. Treason against the king was known as high treason and treason against a...

, and the county's peasant inhabitants were largely Catholic. Also, he had played a large part in crushing the earlier Prayer Book Rebellion
Prayer Book Rebellion
The Prayer Book Rebellion, Prayer Book Revolt, Prayer Book Rising, Western Rising or Western Rebellion was a popular revolt in Cornwall and Devon, in 1549. In 1549 the Book of Common Prayer, presenting the theology of the English Reformation, was introduced...

 there. A warrant was issued for Carew's arrest, but, forewarned, he escaped across the Channel to Normandy
Normandy is a geographical region corresponding to the former Duchy of Normandy. It is in France.The continental territory covers 30,627 km² and forms the preponderant part of Normandy and roughly 5% of the territory of France. It is divided for administrative purposes into two régions:...

, 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 22 January 1554 he summoned a meeting of his friends at his castle of Allington, and 25 January was now fixed for the rising.


On 26 January 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
Henry Nevill, 6th Baron Bergavenny
Henry Nevill, 6th and de jure 4th Baron Abergavenny K.B. was an English peer. Son of Sir George Nevill, 5th Baron Bergavenny and Mary Stafford daughter of Edward Stafford, 3rd Duke of Buckingham...

 and Sir Robert Southwell
Robert Southwell (sheriff)
Sir Robert Southwell was an English civil servant during the reigns of Henry VIII, Edward VI and Mary I. He was elected Member of Parliament from Kent in October 1553 and in 1555. In January-February 1554 Southwell, then the High Sheriff of Kent, was one of the key loyalist officers engaged...

, the sheriff
High Sheriff of Kent
The High Sheriff is the oldest secular office under the Crown. Formerly the High Sheriff was the principal law enforcement officer in the county but over the centuries most of the responsibilities associated with the post have been transferred elsewhere or are now defunct, so that its functions...

, appeared to be able to suppress the rising with ease. But the Spanish marriage was unpopular, and Kent
Kent is a county in southeast England, and is one of the home counties. It borders East Sussex, Surrey and Greater London and has a defined boundary with Essex in the middle of the Thames Estuary. The ceremonial county boundaries of Kent include the shire county of Kent and the unitary borough of...

 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 trainband
Trainbands were companies of militia in England or the Americas, first organized in the 16th century and dissolved in the 18th. The term was used after this time to describe the London militia. In the early American colonies the trainband was the most basic tactical unit. However, no standard...

s was sent against him under the command of the elderly Duke of Norfolk
Thomas Howard, 3rd Duke of Norfolk
Thomas Howard, 3rd Duke of Norfolk, KG, Earl Marshal was a prominent Tudor politician. He was uncle to Anne Boleyn and Catherine Howard, two of the wives of King Henry VIII, and played a major role in the machinations behind these marriages...

. But they also joined the rebels, raising their numbers to 4,000, while the Duke fled to London.

Elizabeth, meanwhile, had been summoned to Court and was held incommunicado, in mortal fear for her life. 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
Tower of London
Her Majesty's Royal Palace and Fortress, more commonly known as the Tower of London, is a historic castle on the north bank of the River Thames in central London, England. It lies within the London Borough of Tower Hamlets, separated from the eastern edge of the City of London by the open space...

 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 Guildhall
Guildhall, London
The Guildhall is a building in the City of London, off Gresham and Basinghall streets, in the wards of Bassishaw and Cheap. It has been used as a town hall for several hundred years, and is still the ceremonial and administrative centre of the City of London and its Corporation...


Wyatt's army reached Southwark
Southwark is a district of south London, England, and the administrative headquarters of the London Borough of Southwark. Situated east of Charing Cross, it forms one of the oldest parts of London and fronts the River Thames to the north...

 on 3 February. Mary's supporters occupied London Bridge
London Bridge
London Bridge is a bridge over the River Thames, connecting the City of London and Southwark, in central London. Situated between Cannon Street Railway Bridge and Tower Bridge, it forms the western end of the Pool of London...

 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
Kingston upon Thames
Kingston upon Thames is the principal settlement of the Royal Borough of Kingston upon Thames in southwest London. It was the ancient market town where Saxon kings were crowned and is now a suburb situated south west of Charing Cross. It is one of the major metropolitan centres identified in the...

. 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
Ludgate was the westernmost gate in London Wall. The name survives in Ludgate Hill, an eastward continuation of Fleet Street, and Ludgate Circus.-Etymology:...

. The rebel army then broke up.


Wyatt surrendered, and was tried and executed along with approximately 90 rebels. Courtenay was exiled and eventually died in Hungary. Elizabeth was intensely interrogated and in danger of execution, but managed to be spared due to evasive and intelligent responses, in which she maintained she had been unaware of the planned uprising. Nothing could be proved, but the degree to which she was privy to the preparations has been questioned by modern scholars. Elizabeth remained 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
Allington Castle
Allington Castle is a stone-built moated castle in Allington, just north of Maidstone, Kent in England.-History:Allington Castle is a Grade I listed building. Much of the stonework was laid in an intricate herringbone pattern which is still visible today...

. However, when Elizabeth, herself 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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