The Pilgrimage of Grace broke out in October 1536, affecting most of the north and raising nine armies manned by 50,000 men. Its threat to march on London extracted from the government a pardon for every rebel and the promise of a parliament at York to consider its grievances. It saw itself as a rising of the commons. Each army was the commons militant; its leaders were called captains of the commons; its manifestos were issued with ‘the consent of the commons’; its oath was ‘to be true to God, the king and the commons’; its cause was seen as ‘the business of the commons’; its complaints were described as ‘the griefs of the commons’; the 24 articles it submitted to the government were referred to as ‘the commons’ petition’; and those resisting the uprising were regarded as ‘traitors to the commons’. ‘Commons’ was the cry to raise revolt: not ‘Dacre, a Dacre’, not comrades, goodfellows, neighbours, brothers, liegemen. The term meant commonalty, not community, and designated that level of society below the gentlemen and the clergy.2.
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