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The Tudor Tournament

John Dudley vs. Robert Aske

*As an update to yesterday’s competition, Francis Walsingham thoroughly clobbered Thomas Wyatt the Younger, with 85% of the vote!

Today’s contestants are tied to one another by rebellion. One led the Pilgrimage of Grace, while the other was a part of the forces that put it down. That shouldn’t lead one to believe that the latter was not without controversy, either – he would later lead forces to secure his daughter-in-law’s claim to the English throne. In a face-off between John Dudley and Robert Aske, who would you choose?

John Dudley

John Dudley

Date: ?? 1504 – August 22, 1553

Brief blurb: As a child, Dudley experienced an early lesson in treason under the Tudors: his father was caught in the wave of executions that occurred when Henry VIII became king. Two years later, Dudley became a ward of his father-in-law, Edward Guildford. He was knighted in 1523 for his service in the English invasion of France. Further honors followed as he was made a Knight of the Body.

Strengths: Dudley grew very close to Henry VIII, and served the king loyally during his lifetime. He was an able military general, and was one of the leaders of the Reformist circle in Henry VIII’s court. After Henry’s death, he was second only to Edward Seymour, the Lord Protector, as the most influential male (adult) in the land. He effectively put down Kett’s Rebellion, and appealed to the local gentry to halt the wholesale slaughter of the remaining peasant army. In 1549, he joined in a coup against Edward Seymour, and successfully maneuvered himself into the position of regent. Dudley groomed Edward VI so that he would be able to make decisions as effectually and confidently as possible upon reaching adulthood – this worked a little too well, as various historians have noted that Edward’s will can be seen to overshadow Dudley’s in a variety of cases. On his deathbed, Edward VI named Dudley’s daughter-in-law, Jane Grey, as his successor. How much Dudley influenced this decision is a hotly debated topic amongst scholars.

Weaknesses: Dudley could be passionate about his religious beliefs. He was fortunate to only be expelled from Henry VIII’s court for a month when he hit Bishop Stephen Gardiner in a Council meeting. Upon Jane Grey being named as queen, Dudley failed to capture Princess Mary, who stayed a step ahead of him in the pursuit. When the Privy Council declared that Mary was the rightful queen, Dudley proclaimed his new allegiance to her. He claimed to have only followed the orders of Edward VI and the Privy Council, but this did him little good. A few days before his death, he returned to Catholicism. On August 22, 1553, he was executed for treason (but not before being visited by Gardiner, what fun that must have been!).

Manner of Death: Beheaded

The Pilgrimage of Grace, as depicted by later generations

Robert Aske

Date: ?? 1500 – July 12, 1537

Brief blurb: Aske came from an old Yorkshire family, and was trained as a lawyer. He was a member of The Honorable Society of Gray’s Inn, which was one of the four Inns of Court in London. It was on his way back from one of his many trips to London in 1536 that Aske learned that rebellion had broken out in Yorkshire due to the new religious reforms that were sweeping England.

Strengths: Aske was very strongly opposed to the new religious policies, and especially detested the dissolution of the monasteries. He joined with the other inhabitants, and eventually was regarded as the leader of what became known as the Pilgrimage of Grace. Later that year he was invited, with assurances of safety, to an audience with Henry VIII. He accepted, and while there, was guaranteed that the populace’s concerns would be addressed.

Weaknesses: On Aske’s way back to Yorkshire, fighting resumed. This resumption of the conflict angered Henry VIII, who ordered that Aske be arrested and charged with treason. He was thrown into the Tower of London, tried, and found guilty. The result was his transportation back to Yorkshire, where he was hung by chains to serve as a warning against any future rumblings of rebellion.

Manner of Death: Hung by chains

Now, vote!

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