Henry VIII's progress through Yorkshire in 1541 and its implications for northern identities

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Henry's visit to the North in 1541 has been seen as, alternatively, a powerful response to the ongoing threat to order in the years after the Pilgrimage of Grace or a move in diplomatic relationships with Scotland and France. This paper suggests the level of immediate threat of disorder in the North was low and that the role of the journey in relations with Scotland was more its consequence than its cause. Rather it finds the significance of the visit in a potential renegotiation of the position of the North within the wider realm, a question opened by political and constitutional changes since 1530, a negotiation which the King himself overthrew. Instead of accommodation, Henry sought to emphasise the extent of his defeat of the Pilgrims and the Percy interest, and to humiliate utterly all but the most clearly loyal elements, especially in York itself. Yet the memory of his triumph, if triumph it was, was poisoned for Henry by his failure to meet James of Scotland and by the collapse of his marriage to Catherine Howard; and it passed remarkably quickly from the collective memory of the North, overlain by a developing sense of relations with the Tudors, as with their predecessors, as supportive of a distinctive northern identity.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)231-244
Number of pages14
JournalNorthern History
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 1 Sep 2009


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