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The Pilgrimage of Grace: The Pilgrim's Oath

Updated on May 17, 2016

The Five Wounds of Christ

The Pilgrim's banner depicted the five wounds of Christ to display their religious convictions and protest the dissolution of the monasteries.
The Pilgrim's banner depicted the five wounds of Christ to display their religious convictions and protest the dissolution of the monasteries. | Source

In 1536 the Pilgrimage of Grace was started by rebels in North England and old York territory who opposed the dissolution of Monasteries throughout England, which also began in 1536 as Thomas Cromwell and Henry VIII attempt to consolidate the king’s power. These rebels, or pilgrims, protested the closing of the monasteries not only for religious reasons that included wanting the original church back instead of the new Church of England, but also because they saw the dissolution as a conflict between central and local powers. Cromwell reported on the monasteries as corrupt and that they manifested sin, and encouraged Henry VIII to close the monasteries. Many supporters of the Pilgrimage of Grace saw this as the central power stepping into matters that should be dealt with by the counties and local lords. However, the pilgrims were also critical of enclosure, or the act of land lords taking over communal lands and enclosing them for their own profits or for the king to take a share of the profits.

The Pilgrim's Oath


The pilgrims were very cynical of the corruption that was taking place, not in the false reports of the monasteries, but in the lords enclosing communal land as well as the king’s advisors encouraging and advocating such false reports and dissolution of monasteries. A part of the Pilgrims Oath is that part of their goal is “ to expulse all villein blood and evil councillors against the commonwealth from his Grace and his Privy Council of the same”. The villain and evil councilor they are specifically talking about is Thomas Cromwell. The pilgrims say in their oath that they want to protect the king as well as their churches and monasteries, and that the real evil is Cromwell who is the one that is causing the monasteries to be closed unjustly. They want Cromwell to be expelled from the king’s council so that he cannot further corrupt the king, and they also want him to be punished for the corruption he has already caused. The pilgrims may not necessarily agree with the king, but they know that they cannot openly go against him, so they say that Cromwell is the source of evil within the royal council and that their goal is to restore the church, help the commonwealth of the country, and expel Cromwell who has caused the evil and corruption within the king’s court.

In conclusion, the Pilgrims Oath called for the rebels in the Pilgrimage of Grace to join together to protect the commonwealth, restore the church, and most importantly expel the evil advisers to the kings that caused the dissolution of monasteries. The main adviser they wanted expelled and punished was Thomas Cromwell, who was the most powerful leader during the dissolution of the monasteries. Cromwell faked reports of corruption within monasteries in order to have them closed, which would further consolidate Henry VIII’s power since he just proclaimed that his royal law is above religious law. The pilgrims were appalled by the dissolution and saw Cromwell’s corruption, and since they cannot openly oppose the king they decided to try to bring Cromwell to justice.


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