Arundel’s Rebellion (1549)
PRINCIPAL COMBATANTS: Humphrey Arundel vs. English
PRINCIPAL THEATER(S): Cornwall, England
DECLARATION: No formal declaration
MAJOR ISSUES AND OBJECTIVES: Violent peasant protest
against religious and economic policies enacted by King
OUTCOME: Rebellion was crushed and Arundel was
APPROXIMATE MAXIMUM NUMBER OF MEN UNDER ARMS:
Rebel forces, 6,000; Royal forces, 8,000
CASUALTIES: At Farrington Bridge (July 27, 1549) 300
killed (including rebels and Crown forces); at Exeter, 1,000
rebels killed; at Stamford Courtney, 700 rebels killed
Cornish land baron Humphrey Arundel (1513–50) was so
outraged by the economic policies of King Henry VIII
(1491–1547) that he joined—and soon became leader
of—a peasant revolt against the Crown. On July 27, 1549,
his Cornish rebel force attacked royal troops at Farrington
Bridge. Casualties were heavy on both sides—some 300
died—and the rebels were forced to retreat.
Arundel regrouped and recruited more than 6,000
volunteers from the countryside. With this force he laid
siege against the fortified town of Exeter. On August 4,
Lord John Russell, earl of Bedfordshire (1486–1555) and
his royal troops, en route to relieve Exeter, were ambushed
by rebel forces at St. Mary’s Clyst. However, Russell’s men
easily outmatched the poorly organized and untrained
peasants. More than a thousand Cornish rebels died, and
Arundel was forced to lift his siege.
On August 17 Arundel returned for a final confrontation
with the royalists at the battle of Samford Courtney.
Arundel suffered a defeat that crushed the peasant movement:
700 Cornishmen died, including most of the rebellion’s
leaders. Arundel fled to Launceston, where he was
promptly arrested and executed the next year.
See also ANGLO-SCOTTISH WAR (1542–1549).
Further reading: Diarmaid MacCulloch, ed., The
Reign of Henry VIII: Politics, Policy and Piety (London: Palgrave
Macmillan, 1995); Jasper Ridley, Henry VIII: The
Politics of Tyranny (New York: Viking, 1985); Derek A.
Wilson, In the Lion’s Court: Power, Ambition, and Sudden
Death in the Reign of Henry VIII (New York: St. Martin’s