A Level History: The Tudors: Challenging the Forces of Authority

Between the years 1547-1554, there was a great number of disturbances in Tudor Society, with 1549 singled out as the most notable period of the crisis because it witnessed two rebellions and contributed to the fall of the Lord Protector Somerset. Indeed, in both town and country, social and economic issues seemed to have intensified by the time Edward VI was crowned King of England. Some historians have suggested that religious changes were to blame for a reduction in loyalty to the monarchy, some, the new government, whilst others deny any crisis caused by growing disrespect of the forces of authority on the part of the governed.

Whichever view you side with (if any), certainly, it could be argued that there was a degree of crisis caused by a challenging of authority on at least four notable occasions, particularly in 1549, with the fall of Edward Somerset (overthrown by his fellow élites) from power and the Kett and Western (Prayer Book) Rebellions; 1553 saw a power struggle among the élites as to who would succeed Edward VI as monarch (Lady Jane Grey vs. Princess Mary); 1554 saw another conspiracy among élites, some of whom were opposed to Mary I’s marriage to Phillip of Spain, and finally, 1569 when some of the Catholic élites in the country rebelled against the rule of Elizabeth I. (If you need more information on the rebellions, simply click here)

Today, we look at some of the reasons that prompted the non-élites and the élites (respectively) to challenge the forces of authority. Of course, a key grievance shared by many of the non-élites and the élites was the issue of religion, which, with the break from Rome in 1534, became a key issue and source of conflict among the élites and between the monarch and their subjects. There are other causes for the discontent of these groups, however, and we look at them below…






What do you think was the greatest cause for the challenging of authority during the Tudor period? We’d love to hear what you think! Comment below!




Henry VIII coat of arms, credit: Sodacan; Altering by: Breaktheenigma


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