Prayer Book Rebellion 1549

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Map Code: Ax02009

The Act of Uniformity made it law for Cranmer’s Protestant Book of Common Prayer, published in 1549, to be used in all English churches. Some churches were happy to use the new prayer book, which decreed that all services be conducted in English, while others, while prepared to adhere to Protestantism, insisted on continuing to conduct services in Latin. In Cornwall and Devon many people only spoke Cornish-Gaelic and rejected the new prayer-book, insisting that it be translated into their own language. This was refused and, after a government agent named William Brody, who was sent to Devon and Cornwall to ensure that the prayer book was used, was murdered by a mob, a rebellion ensued. Rebel forces gathered in Bodmin and marched on Devon, picking up supporters en route. They went on to besiege Exeter where, on 6 August, they were finally crushed by Royal forces, augmented by German mercenaries. Some 4,000 rebels were killed and the five ringleaders hung, drawn and quartered; the attempt by the peoples of the West Country to stem the tide of the Protestant Reformation had been brutally suppressed.

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