Monday, August 29, 2011

Remembering Anniversaries: Kett's Rebellion

Samuel Wales, Under the Oak of Reformation
at his Camp on Mousehold Heath, Norwich
Robert Kett and various rebels "camped at Mousehold Heath outside the regional capital of Norfolk from 10 July until final defeat by a royal army on 27 August" 1549.  That date, 27 August, rather than the beginning of the insurrection or the execution of Kett (7 Dec.), became "an annual day for the ringing of bells in the city's many churches, and for a religious service commemorating their salvation (the latter continuing into the eighteenth century)." John Walter, ‘Kett, Robert (c.1492–1549)’, Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, Oxford University Press, 2004.  In the early eighteenth century, painter Samuel Wale was born, possibly in Yarmouth.  It was possibly in the 1740s that Wale "painted a historical scene in oils of the Norfolk insurrectionary Robert Kett," above or to the right, which "is now in the Norwich Castle Museum." M. G. Sullivan, ‘Wale, Samuel (1721?–1786)’, Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, Oxford University Press, 2004; online edn, May 2009. Our Sources and Debates in English History, 1485-1714, includes 5.8 Depositions taken before the mayor and aldermen of Norwich after Kett’s Rising (1549–50), which suggests a more short-term, and less fanciful (what is that on Kett's head?), memory of the days when discussion freely ranged over the need (the ways?) to reduce the number of gentlemen and merchants.

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