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Evaluate the role of the merchant class in the Pilgrimage of Grace.

The merchant class played a significant role in the Pilgrimage of Grace, primarily as financial supporters and organisers of the rebellion.

The Pilgrimage of Grace, which took place in 1536, was a popular uprising in Northern England against Henry VIII's break with the Roman Catholic Church and the dissolution of the monasteries. The merchant class, which was a growing and increasingly influential group during this period, played a significant role in this rebellion.

Merchants, particularly those in the cloth trade, were financially affected by the religious changes. The dissolution of the monasteries disrupted the wool trade, as many monasteries had been significant producers of wool. This economic impact on the merchant class led many to support the Pilgrimage of Grace. They provided financial backing for the rebellion, funding the recruitment and arming of rebels. This financial support was crucial in enabling the rebellion to gain momentum and pose a serious threat to the government.

Moreover, the merchant class also played a role in organising the rebellion. Many merchants were based in towns and cities, which were key centres of communication and organisation. They used their networks and influence to spread news of the rebellion, recruit supporters, and coordinate actions. Some merchants even took on leadership roles within the rebellion, using their organisational skills and resources to plan and execute strategies.

However, it's important to note that the merchant class was not a homogenous group, and not all merchants supported the Pilgrimage of Grace. Some, particularly those with close ties to the government or those who saw opportunities for profit in the religious changes, opposed the rebellion. These divisions within the merchant class could at times undermine the effectiveness of their support for the rebellion.

In conclusion, the merchant class played a significant role in the Pilgrimage of Grace. Their financial support and organisational skills were crucial in enabling the rebellion to gain momentum and pose a serious threat to the government. However, divisions within the merchant class also complicated their role in the rebellion.

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