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mercenaries, under the command of Spinola, a soldier of fortune. The royalists having become thus formidable, engaged the insurgents upon Clyst-heath, and finally defeated them with frightful slaughterAmong those who escaped the sword in that murderous encounter was Arundel, the unhappy leader of his infatuated neighbours. He, with a few other gentlemen, were shortly after executed, as were nine rebellious priestsk.
While Devonshire was thus distracted, Norfolk was equally unquiet. A disorderly rabble had assembled at Attleborough on the 20th of June, under colour of resisting those agricultural arrangements which passed under the general appellation of enclosures. The ferment occasioned by these rioters was continually upon the increase until the 6th of July, when the disorderly peasantry, assembled for the annual festivities of Wymondham, were moulded into a dangerous association by Robert Kett, an opulent tanner of that place. This demagogue inflamed the passions of the mob by urging the topics usually employed by persons of his stamp; such as the oppressions of the gentry, and the hardships of inferior stations. By such discourses, aided as was his eloquence by popular discontents of long standing, he easily collected a formidable assemblage of
i Fuller, 397. More than a thousand rebels were slain altogether in this western insurrection. The Duke of Somerset to Sir Philip Hoby. Strype, Eccl. Mem. Appendix, II. 426.
"Strype, Eccl. Mem. II. 281.
distressed and ignorant rustics, who were animated, as all such parties are, by those idle and disorderly men “who love to fill their bellies by plunder, rather than by labour.” Kett then advanced at the head of his rabble to Norwich; in which city were many who wished well to his enterprise ; for although chiefly at war with property and the established government, he failed not to take the popular side in religion. The insurgent leader, fixed his quarters upon Mousholdhill, which overhangs the city, and he there affected all the airs of revolutionary grandeur. He daily seated himself under a noble oak, which he denominated the Oak of Reformation, and thus enthroned, he administered such sort of justice as suited his views. Conyers, one of the Norwich incumbents officiated as his chaplain, and daily among the rebels, said the Latin mass, with all its rubrical formalities! Kett's military talents were first put in requisition by the Marquess of Northampton's arrival at Norwich, with a body of troops under his command. The noble general, however, proved incompetent, and the Norfolk peasantry acquired fresh spirits from an advan
This clergyman had the merit of saving Dr. Matthew Parker, afterwards Archbishop of Canterbury, from being murdered by the seditious. Parker went among them to preach upon the folly and irreligiousness of their proceedings. His sermon, however, proved so offensive, that arrows were levelled at him. Conyers seeing his danger abruptly began the Te Deum. This diverted the people's attention, and before they recovered from their surprise, the menaced preacher withdrew.
tage over the royal forces. In the encounter, Lord Sheffield lost his life. Having been thrown from his horse, he took off his helmet, in the hope, that by discovering his quality, he might meet with quarter. But his assailants heeded not hereditary distinctions, and a butcher struck a mortal blow upon his head with a club. After this repulse, Northampton was strengthened by the arrival of the Earl of Warwick, at the head of some German mercenaries, who were destined for the war in Scotland. Kett still occupied his position upon Moushold-hill, and thence might have looked down upon the royal forces in security for some time longer, had not want of necessaries rendered his men impatient", and a stupid prophecy lured them prematurely to their fate". They now madly descended into the level ground below them, and there fell an easy prey to the royal commander. A miserable carnage ensued, from which Kett, the leader of these infatuated peasants, escaped. But having sinned past all forgiveness, he was shortly after hanged on Nor
m The Duke of Somerset to Sir Philip Hoby. Strype, Eccl. Mem. Appendix. II. 426.
* “ The country knuffs, Hob, Dick, and Hick,
With clubs and clouted shoon,
With slaughtered bodies soon." Hayward, 299.
The Duke of Somerset, in the letter cited above, says of the rebels, “issuing out of their camps into a plain near adjoining, they determined to fight, and, like mad and desperate men, ran upon the sword: where a thousand of them being slain, the rest were content to crave their pardon."
wich Castle. His brother William met with the same fate upon Wymondham steeple, as did nine others upon the Oak of Reformation o.
When intelligence of these insurrections arrived in the North, it incited some bigoted and turbulent spirits there to disturb the public peace. A ridiculous prophecy, current among the vulgar in Yorkshire, induced an expectation, that when a commotion should arise on the shores of both the southern and the northern seas, the throne and the gentry would be destroyed, and four governors, appointed by the inferior orders, would rule the land. In Devonshire, these unhappy people discerned the southern commotion predicted, and some designing agitators among them resolved upon completing that condition in the prophecy which regarded their own side of the country. At Seamer, in the North Riding of Yorkshire, this delusion first found a vent. A few obscure malcontents there contrived to raise the country, first, by declaiming upon the iniquities of gentlemen, and the changes in religion, and then by firing the beacons as if the coast were invaded. These artifices having thrown the North and East Ridings into confusion, a riotous mob, three thousand strong, was eventually collected. Some murders and other outrages were committed in consequence, but the affair nationally was never important. After a few weeks of disorder, the deluded rustics slunk away to
o Fuller, 397.
their homes, and their leaders were executed at York?
P Foxe, 1191. The following extract from a letter of Somerset's to Sir Philip Hoby thus mentions the real and alleged causes of the insurrections which agitated different parts of England at this time. “The causes and pretences of their uproars and risings are divers and uncertain, and so full of variety almost in every camp, as they call them, that it is hard to write what it is; as ye know it is like to be of people without head and rule, and would have that they wot not what. Pluck down enclosures and parks; some for their commons; others pretend religion ; a number would rule and direct all things, as gentlemen have done: and indeed all have conceived a wonderful bate against gentlemen, and take them all as their enemies. The rufhans among them, and soldiers cashiered, which be the chief doers, look for spoil : so that it seems no other thing, but a plague and a fury among the vilest and worst sort of men." (Strype, Eccl. Mem. Appendix, II. 425.) It is hence evident, that these commotions had for their real objects plunder and revolution: two things, in fact, generally at the bottom of insurrectionary schemes. Religion was little better than a pretence with
of the rebels, except those of Devonshire; and among these were several gentlemen. The whole summer's, miseries were plainly an ebullition of popular uneasiness resembling that which now disquiets Ireland. The cultivated parts of England were over-peopled, and landlords could only render their properties productive by arrangements which drove the unhappy labourer from his paternal soil. This, as commerce and manufactures were in their infancy, caused extensive distress ; for the expelled cottager could not look to the crowded city for that subsistence which his native fields refused to him. Unprincipled plunderers, political incendiaries, and gloomy bigots eagerly laid hold of the discontents necessarily springing from these unavoidable causes, and by persuading the miserable peasantry, that their distresses arose from the abolition of their accustomed superstitions, inflamed their passions so far as to lead them into open rebellion.