Monday, 10 December 2012

Build up the Battle of Sampford Courtney 1549

The Prayer Book Rebellion of 1549 that led to the battles at Fenny Bridges and Clyst St Mary had been sparked by an uproar in the parish church at Sampford Courtenay, so it was apt that the rebellion should come to a bloody conclusion in this same village.

The uprising takes its name from the fact that it was the forcible imposition of a standard and strictly Protestant service book on the church in England that both sparked the trouble and which was used as a rallying cry by the Catholic gentry who led the movement. In fact many of the men who joined the uprising were motivated as much by anger at the enclosure of open land and the severe economic crisis as by religious motives.

After the defeat at Clyst St Mary most of the rebels took the opportunity to slip off home. The rebellion was clearly doomed and the Royalist commanders had shown themselves to be in vengeful mood. By 10 August, when Sir Humphrey Arundel mustered the remaining rebels at Sampford Courtenay, only those motivated primarily by religion and unwilling to compromise were left. He had perhaps 2,000 men with him.

Arundel would have known that execution was the only fate that awaited him and his fellow rebel leaders. While the government had been fairly lenient in dealing with outbreaks of unrest elsewhere in England, there was every indication that the religious motivation of the rebels in Devon would mean they would be treated severely. Those at Sampford Courtenay probably expected to die one way or another.

Arundel set his men to work to fortify the village for a last stand. Coming against him was a royal army made up of around 3,000 Englishmen under Lord Russell, some 300 German mercenaries led by Lord Grey and about 1,000 Welsh professionals commanded by Sir William Herbert.

from "Battlefield Walks in Devon" by Rupert Matthews

Buy your copy HERE

Book Description

1 April 2008
A peaceful county today, Devon has seen clashes between Dumnonian and Welsh kings in the seventh century, Viking raids in the tenth and eleventh centuries and baronial uprisings in the fifteenth century. In 1549 the so-called Prayer Book Rebellion led to violent skirmishes at Sampford Courtney, Fenny Bridges and Clyst St Mary. It was the Civil War in the mid-seventeenth century that brought the greatest bloodshed to the county.

Rupert Matthews, ‘the History Man’, presents eighteen guided walks around the battlefields of Devon. He provides an account of events as they unfolded on the ground along with full background and context. His expertise, descriptive powers and lively enthusiasm bring the drama of history vividly to life.

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