The Pilgrimage of Grace participants were Catholics who were against the Protestant Reformation. They made armed demonstrations and protests from 1536 to 1537 against Henry VII, head of the Anglican Church, and Thomas Cromwell his Lord High Chancellor. Cromwell implemented a series of policies that included the confiscation of Catholic Church lands. The goals of these participants were to stop the Protestant Reformation and give more rights back to Catholics. They had concerns with the protestants growing more powerful and having a protestant King in Henry the VII. The goals of the Pilgrimage of Grace were to give power back to the Catholic Church in Europe and take credibility from Proestants, but instead their concerns of the Protestant Reformation overshadowed them and their goals were not reached.
The "Oath of Honorable Men" the participants must take says, "You shall not enter into our Pilgrimage of Grace for worldly gain. Do so for the love of God, for the Holy Catholic Church militant....(Doc. 1)." This oath shows that the members of the Pilgrimage must only protest for the Catholic Church, not for their own gain. The members must do this through their love for God. At the time protestants and catholics had very different views and religion was a source of tension, even though both groups are Christians. In a petition presented to the King's Council, written by Robert Aske in December of 1536, many things are asked of the Council. "To have the supreme head of the Church be the Pope in Rome as before (Doc. 5)." Henry VII had become the head of the Church by the Act of Supremacy in 1534. The demonstrations and protests of the Pilgrimage of Grace were in part reactions to this act. The Pope had been the face of the Church for past centuries. Now, the King, a protestant political figure head, was also the leader of the Church. This was a major concern of the Catholics who started these armed demonstrations. After the petition, a random pamphlet attributed to Sir Thomas Tempest (a former member of Parliament for Newcastle) said that, "The King should grant our petition against the traitor Thomas Cromwell and his adherents, or at least exile them from the realm (Doc. 6)." Calling Cromwell a traitor was a failed attempt to take away credibility of the King's Lord High Chancellor. The protesters goal here was to get rid of the person who was influencing the King the most, and taking away from the Catholic Church's land.
In December of 1536, Henry VII wrote a letter that gave pardon to the marchers and protesters. "Let it be confessed to you, the King's subjects and commoners, have recently committed rebellion that might have ruined your country (Doc. 9)." this is stated in the beginning part of his letter, where he says that Catholics who rebel against the Protestant way are ruining their own country. The King then goes on to state that he has pity on them and will pardon their offenses. This gave the protesters more time to demonstrate against the Protestant King and followers. The members still had concerns that the Protestant Reformation would continue so they did not stop their protests to restore power to the Catholic Church.
In the first trials against the members of the Pilgrimage of Grace in 1537, 223 people were tried and 144 convicted. Of those people, the vast majority were commoners, but the group with the highest conviction rate were the members of the clergy with 80% of those tried convicted (Doc. 10). The trials lasted from January to March, but the Pilgrimage stopped protesting in February of that year. In 1537, Robert Aske stated in his testimony before his execution that, "Once the monasteries in the north gave great help to the poor men and laudable service to God. Now no hospitality is shown to travelers (Doc. 11)." This gentleman and member of the Pilgrimage felt that because the goals the protesters set were not achieved, the country was not as good as it could be. He felt that a Catholic Europe during his time period would be better than the Protestant Europe it was becoming. His testimony before his death gives meaning to the fact that the Reformation was to powerful for the Pilgrimage of Grace and their goals were never reached.
The goals of the Pilgrimage of Grace were never reached because the concerns and factors against them were to great. Thomas Cromwell hired a writer named Richard Morrison to say, "When every man rules, who will obey (Doc. 7)." Here Cromwell's thoughts are saying that the rebels are not making anything better for themselves, they are making it worse. They should just stay and obey the King, rather they go and continue to protest. Their plans were stopped when the King and Cromwell had enough and the majority of the members were convicted after only a year of protesting. The Protestant Reformation taking place during these demonstrations was the reason the demonstrations were not successful. The country was in religious reform and the majority of people were reforming with it.