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By Robert Whiting

The spiritual revolution often called the 'Reformation' needs to rank one of the most vital and reworking occasions in English background. but its unique reception by way of the English humans is still mostly imprecise. Did they welcome the recommendations - or did they withstand? via what inner motivations have been their responses made up our minds? And by means of what exterior impacts have been their attitudes formed? those are the major concerns explored by way of Robert Whiting during this significant research, dependent totally on unique examine within the south-west. Dr Whiting's debatable end is that for many of the inhabitants the Reformation used to be much less a conversion from Catholicism to Protestantism than a transition from non secular dedication to spiritual passivity or perhaps indifference.

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Between 1530 and 1547 fonts, for example, were acquired at Antony and Iddesleigh, banners or streamers at Iddesleigh and Morebath, altars at Chagford and Morebath, chalices at Camborne, Morebath and Winkleigh, and vestments at Antony, Ashburton, Chagford, Exeter St Petrock's, Iddesleigh, Morebath, Stratton and Woodbury. Iddesleigh bought a new mass-book, and Woodbury a new canopy 'to hang over the sacrament at the high altar'. 38 Nevertheless there were already signs of change. With some exceptions, most notably the £55 spent on bells at Chagford between 1538 and 1540, large-scale expenditure was apparently becoming more rare.

36 Assessment By no means all of the rebels, therefore, can plausibly be portrayed as pious defenders of the ancient rites. But even more dubious is the assumption - to be found in most of the standard accounts - that the insurgents were necessarily representative of regional opinion. Even Holinshed's claim that they totalled 10,000 is an exaggeration. According to Hooker, a muster of rebels 'out of every quarter' produced at Clyst St Mary a total of 6,000. According to the government estimate - made at the height of the insurrection, and based on reports from 'some that hath viewed them' - the rebels in Devon and Cornwall together numbered no more than 7,000.

In 1548 the number dropped to a mere 3 of the 27; and in 1549 to just 1 of the 20. In this last year the sole investor was John Southwood of Hemyock, who on 10 March left 12d to a priest in return for his prayers. Of the 31 wills composed between January 1550 and July 1553, not one attempted to arrange prayers or masses for the dead. Typical of this abandonment of the traditional forms was the will of Richard Lock, husbandman ofYarcombe,inl550. 54 To what extent were these forms revived after Mary's accession?

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