A Bold Attempt to put Mary Queen of Scots on the English Throne: The Northern Rising of 1569

Norton, Thomas (1532-1584)

To the Quenes Maiesties poore deceyued Subiectes of the North Countrey, drawen into rebellion by the Earles of Northumberland and Westmerland. Written by Thomas Norton. Seen and allowed according to the Quenes iniunctions

London: Henrie Bynneman for Lucas Harrison, 1569


Octavo: 13.5 x 9.8 cm. [56] pp. Collation: A-G4

ONE OF FOUR EDITIONS all printed by Bynneman in 1569 of Thomas Norton’s tract against the Catholic rebels of the Northern Rebellion of 1569.

Bound in 20th c. brown morocco, all edges gilt, signed Sangorski and Sutcliffe “Bound for Bernard Quaritch.” A nice copy, a few side-notes shaved, repaired paper flaw on one leaf. Faded contemporary inscriptions on the title and last page.

The aim of the uprising, led by the Earls of Westmorland and Northumberland, was to depose Elizabeth I and crown Mary, Queen of Scots as queen. The rebels and their supporters were by and large English Catholics, frustrated and angry over the suppression of their religion by the Protestant regime. The rebels found justification for their treason in the belief and assertion that Elizabeth was a bastard (Henry VIII’s marriage to Anne Boleyn being largely considered by Catholics to have been illegitimate) and therefore had no claim to the throne.

Marching under the banner of the Five Wounds of Christ, Westmorland, Northumberland, and their army occupied Durham and held a Catholic mass (forbidden under Elizabeth’s injunctions) in Durham cathedral before moving south in an attempt to seize York while Elizabeth struggled to raise a force to oppose them.

In December, the Earl of Sussex, loyal to the queen, marched from York and defeated the rebel army with a force several times its size. The members of the routed army, including the two earls, fled to Scotland. After their retreat, Leonard Dacre, an early sympathizer of Mary, seized and fortified two castles and raised 3,000 Cumbrian troops. Dacre and his men resisted Elizabeth’s army during the siege of Naworth Castle but the Queen’s forces later defeated them. Dacre himself fled to Flanders. Ultimately, 600 of the rebels, including Northumberland, were killed and in 1587, Mary Queen of Scots was herself executed.

Three works against the rebels and their Catholic apologists were printed during the rebellion. “The longest and most elaborate response was Thomas Norton’s missive ‘To the Queen’s Majesty’s Poor Deceived Subjects of the North Country, Drawn into Rebellion by the Earls of Northumberland and Westmoreland’. Norton acknowledged the sincerity of the religious sentiments of the bulk of the rebel host but sought to convince these good, if misguided, people that their leaders did not share these views. He insisted that, no matter how noble the men might think their goals to be, the earls used them merely to their own malicious ends. Even if the rebels only wanted a return to the old faith, they were participating in a plot designed to overthrow the queen, bring in foreign enemies, and enrich the earls.

“Echoing the official line, Norton talked repeatedly of deception, seduction, ‘‘erroneous shows,’’ and ‘‘false colors.’’ He accused the earls of ‘‘an apish counterfeiting of feigned popish devotion’’: if these be good Catholic men, he suggested, make them demonstrate the good works upon which they so insist. Norton went even further in his warnings of deceit: he argued that the wives who spurred the men to rise for the old faith only wanted the return of unmarried, lascivious priests to satisfy their own carnal lusts. He hoped to convince both the rebel ranks and their favorers elsewhere that they had, quite simply, been had. They must open their eyes, return to their homes, and trust in the clemency of their queen.”(K. J. Kesselring, “A Cold Pye for the Papistes”: Constructing and Containing the Northern Rising of 1569, in Journal of British Studies, Vol. 43, No. 4 (October 2004), pp. 417-443)

STC 18680