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The Tudor Period : Reform and Rebellion 1485AD TO 1603AD

From the late 14th Century, individuals like the North Yorkshire-born John Wycliffe (1320-1384) had challenged the rule of the Roman Catholic Church and set in motion the religious changes which resulted in Henry VIII's break with Rome. Henry is best known for his six wives, but it was the refusal of the Pope to annul his first marriage that led to the establishment of the Protestant Church as the Church of England. Henry destroyed the old church and its monasteries and although the North rebelled in the Pilgrimage of Grace, it was heavily crushed. Henry's daughter, Elizabeth I (1558-1603), likewise crushed the Catholic Rising of the North in 1569. The hopes of the Catholic North in Tudor times were temporarily raised by the Marys - "Bloody Mary", the Queen of England (1553-1558) and Mary, Queen of Scots (1542-1567).

August 22, 1485 - HENRY TUDOR IS KING (Leicestershire)

The Wars of the Roses ends following the death of Richard at The Battle of Bosworth Field. Welshman Henry Tywdr (Tudor) is crowned Henry VII.


Henry VII stays for some time in Newcastle while investigating people involved in a rebellion against him. Last year, he visited York for the same purpose.

1496 - CASTLE DESTROYED (Northumberland)

King James IV of Scotland invades England to support the Yorkists who are attempting to overthrow Henry Tudor. The Scottish king destroys Twizel Castle in Northumberland but the rebellion fails.


Margaret Tudor, the eldest daughter of Henry VII and who is due to marry the King of Scotland, stays at Durham where she is entertained by Bishop Fox in the Great Hall.

1503 - MARGARET AT BERWICK (Newcastle)

Margaret Tudor arrives in Berwick on her way to Edinburgh to marry King James IV. She also visits Northallerton, Durham, Darlington, Newcastle, Morpeth and Alnwick.

1508 - RENOVATIONS AT BERWICK (Northumberland)

Henry VII encourages renovations to fortifications at Berwick.


Henry VIII is crowned King of England in succession to his father Henry VII.

September 9, 1513 - BATTLE OF FLODDEN FIELD (Northumberland)

The English under the Earl of Surrey have defeated and killed King James IV of Scotland at the battle of Flodden Field near Branxton in North Northumberland. The Scots lost 12 earls, 15 lords, an archbishop and a number of clan chiefs.


Henry VIII's chief adviser Cardinal Thomas Wolsey becomes Bishop of Durham. He has been Archbishop of York since 1514 but has yet to visit his diocese. His favourite plants, rushes, are planted at Auckland Castle ready for his appearance but he never vis its Durham.


Wolsey is arrested at York on the orders of Henry VIII on suspicion of treason. Wolsey only came north to be Archbishop after he was stripped of the position of Lord Chancellor by Henry. Wolsey later dies at Leicester while being transported to London fo r imprisonment.

1532-34 - ENGLISH RAVAGE SCOTLAND (Northumberland)

The Earl of Northumberland ravages the Scottish Borders in 1532 and in 1534. In 1534 the English destroy

192 Scottish castles, towers and churches.


The Pilgrimage of Grace takes place. It is a Northern rebellion of Catholics against Henry VIII's anti-Catholic reforms with marches and demonstrations centred on Lincolnshire and York. Rebels, including gentry and commoners, march from throughout Yorksh ire to York to hear the address of pilgrimage leader Robert Aske. Support also comes from Barnard Castle and Bishop Auckland and other places further north. On December 8, the Duke of Norfolk, on behalf of Henry, promises the rebels a pardon. The Duke's promises were designed to subdue the rebellion but they will not be kept. Robert Aske and the Abbot of Jervaulx are among those who will be executed in the following years.

December 31, 1538 - COUNCIL OF THE NORTH MOVES (Darlington)

The Council of the North has been moved to Darlington to keep peace and administer the affairs of the Border Country.


Wealthy monasteries like Rievaulx and Whitby are stripped of their wealth and power by Henry VIII. Monks are pensioned off and the monasteries and their land are sold.

November 24, 1542 - BATTLE OF SOLWAY MOSS (Cumbria-Scotland)

James V and 10,000 Scots are defeated by a small army of English.

1544 - COUNCIL MOVES (Barnard Castle)

The Council of the North established at Darlington in 1538 has moved to Teesd because of the threat from the plague.

February 27, 1545 - BATTLE AT ANCRUM MOOR (Scotland)

Henry VIII's forces are scattered by the Scots on Ancrum Mooor.

1547 - KING EDWARD VI (England)

Henry VIII's ten-year-old son Edward becomes King of England. He rules under the protectorship of John Dudley, Earl of Warwick (later Duke of Northumberland).


Newcastle annexes Gateshead from the Bishop of Durham and plans are afoot to create a new bishopric at Newcastle, with Nicholas Ridley as bishop, out of part of the area covered by the Bishop of Durham. All changes are stopped by the death of Edward VI.

1553 - BLOODY MARY IS QUEEN (England)

Mary I, Roman Catholic daughter of Henry VIII and Catherine of Aragon, becomes Queen of England. She is known as Bloody Mary because of her ruthless persecution of Protestants. The Northumbrian-born Nicholas Ridley is one of many burnt at the stake in Ox ford (1555).

1558 - QUEEN ELIZABETH I (Britain)

Elizabeth I ascends to the throne following the death of Mary. She is the daughter of Henry VIII's second wife Anne Boleyn.

February 22, 1560 - TREATY OF BERWICK (Berwick)

English and Scottish Protestants sign a treaty at Berwick and

agree to expel French Catholic forces north of the border.


Darlington, like many Northern towns, is an agricultural centre and most of its inhabitants are employed in farm-related industries like weaving, leather, tanning and fulling (cloth-making). Unfortunately, Darlington is also renowned for unpaved streets and will come to be known as Darnton i' the Dirt.


James Pilkington is the first Protestant Bishop of Durham. He removes all superstitious books and statues of idolatry from the cathedral.

1568 - SCOTS QUEEN HELD (Wensleydale)

Mary, Queen of Scots, seen as a dangerous focus for Catholic rebellion, is imprisoned on the orders of her cousin Queen Elizabeth. She

is imprisoned at Castle Bolton in Wenseydale but will be held in many other places in the North in the coming years.

1569 November - RISING OF THE NORTH (Raby Castle and Brancepeth)

The Nevilles of Durham and Percys of Northumberland plot to overthrow Elizabeth I and reinstate Roman Catholicism in "The Rising of the North". The rising is planned at meetings in Brancepeth and Raby Castle. The rebels capture Durham and reinstate Catho lic mass in the cathedral before marching south to Tutbury near Nottingham where Mary Queen of Scots is imprisoned. During the journey many rebels lose their nerve and flee. George Bowes, a steward of Elizabeth, defends his castle at Barnard Castle again st the rebels but is defeated.

December 8, 1569 - ROOKHOPE RAIDS (Weardale and Tynedale)

Tynedale livestock rustlers raid Weardale while many Weardale men are away assisting the Rising of the North. The remaining Weardale men see them off.

1570-72 - REBELS EXECUTED (North-East)

Rebels from the Rising of the North flee to Scotland. Raby and Brancepeth are confiscated from the Nevilles by the Crown and 60 people are executed at Durham. Many other executions occur in nearly every town and village from Wetherby to Newcastle. In 157 2, Charles Neville of Raby is executed at York for his part in the rising.

1571 - HARROGATE SPA (Harrogate)

A spring is discovered at Harrogate which will attract many tourists

1579 - NEWCASTLE PLAGUE (Newcastle)

Plague is so bad at Newcastle that the Mayor writes to Yarmouth warning ships not to visit Newcastle for coals.


A sourcerer from Hart near Hartlepool is serving penance by sitting in Durham Market Place, Hart Church and Norton church while wearing a paper hat.

1585 May 7, - DARLINGTON FIRE (Darlington)

273 houses are destroyed in a Darlington fire. The fire affects High Row and Skinnergate, leaving 800 people homeless. Figures may have been exaggerated to encourage charitable donations but flames could be seen from Roseberry Topping.

1586 - MARY EXECUTED (Northamptonshire)

Mary Queen of Scots is executed at Fotheringhay Castle on Elizabeth's orders.

1588 - NORTHERN PLAGUES (North-East)

A Hartlepool plague killed 89 last year. 1,726 die in Newcastle this year.


In 1588, three Roman Catholic priests are executed at Durham, the first of many during the reign of Elizabeth I, who forbids Roman Catholic priests from practising. In 1593, a member of the Lambton family is executed at Newcastle for being a Roman Cathol ic priest. In Durham John Speed, a layman, and John Bost, a Roman Catholic priest, are executed. Other executions take place at Gateshead and Darlington.

1590 - GRAMMAR SCHOOLS (North-East)

Yarm Grammar School is established. Recently established schools include Newcastle (1525), Berwick (1559), Guisborough (1561) and Darlington (1567).

1597 - MORE PLAGUE (North-East)

Plague has ravaged Newcastle, Darlington (killing 340), Aycliffe, and Chester-le-Street. It will return to Durham and Darlington next year.


Elizabeth I dies and is succeeded by James VI of Scotland, son of Mary Queen of Scots. He is the first king of both England and Scotland.


James VI of Scotland becomes James I King of Scotland and England following the death of the childless Elizabeth I.

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