History series. Historian Michael Wood charts the Reformation, including the Cornish Prayer Book rebellion and the rise of industry and commerce.
Browse content similar to Lost Worlds and New Worlds. Check below for episodes and series from the same categories and more!
The story of the British is a tale of creativity,
resilience, and struggle.
The tale has been told many times, and in different ways,
but this is about the people's experience.
Told from all around the British Isles,
with the help of today's people.
So far in this series, we've seen how our society's emerged
through the trials of the Middle Ages.
How our people set out on their long march
to make a free and just society,
a story that still continues today.
In this second half of the tale, we leave the mediaeval world behind.
Now we enter the age of the Tudors,
and the Protestant Reformation.
It's the next chapter of the Great British Story.
In the 16th century,
a Tudor poet described Britain as, "Its own little world.
"A sceptred isle. A precious stone set in a silver sea.
"A fortress built by nature against infection,
"and the hand of war."
But in the 16th century, Britain would not be immune to war.
And nor, especially, to the infection of ideas.
In our story, we've reached the 1500s.
In the thousand years or more since the fall of Rome,
through the Middle Ages, the peoples of Britain
have developed societies and cultures and nations.
And as things stand at this point in our history,
in the islands of Britain,
there are three kingdoms.
There are four nations - five, if you include the Cornish.
There are three parliaments, in Edinburgh, Dublin and in London.
And there are ten languages spoken,
including Cornish and Scots and Irish Gaelic.
But in all this great patchwork of cultures and identities,
here's the key:
there's only one religion. The Catholic faith.
But in a few decades in the 1500s, that situation will change
so dramatically and so contentiously,
as to reshape our identities as Britons from then until now.
This is the village of Llancarfan, near Cardiff.
Here, only recently, the villagers made an extraordinary discovery.
From underneath layers of whitewash, a lost world has come to light.
She's drawing a swan with a feather pen to make it show out.
Like the painting up there.
Deliberately defaced in the Reformation,
the still bright images of the old Catholic universe
to which we all once belonged.
You can imagine late-mediaeval painters,
with all their stuff out here in the church, can't you?
And all the local kids coming in to watch them!
'And as the paintings emerge, the villagers have been inspired
'to explore the lost world of their ancestors.'
So this is called pigment, OK? Pigment.
See that? You're going to put it on the wall using these.
And they are called pouncers.
Up to 1547, like every church in Britain,
this was a Catholic Church.
Its walls covered with paintings of the Christian story, the saints,
the seven deadly sins, purgatory and hellfire.
The world that we lost in the 16th century.
If you want to get an idea of what a mediaeval church looked like
here in Wales before the Reformation,
an incredible new discovery here in Llancarfan -
only found a couple of years ago.
It's being restored at the moment,
and it's the story of St George and the dragon.
'I was in The Fox and Hounds, and the conservator came in,'
and she said, "Sam! You won't believe it!"
And showed me the photographs
of the king's head and the top of the princess.
She said, "If this is what we think it is,
"it's going to be one of THE most exciting finds ever."
There's the king and queen in their castle.
Their daughter, the princess. She's the dragon's dinner.
She's been left outside the city as a human sacrifice.
And there to rescue her,
St George himself.
With his huge spear coming down into the dragon's mouth.
They're just fairy tales to us,
but to our forebears,
these supernatural stories were real.
And as further paintings are uncovered,
the villagers have been driven to find out more about them.
-And the egg's a binding element in mediaeval paint?
They've got egg tempera today, that would have been used
in the more expensive churches and cathedrals.
And these colours, these mediaeval colours,
you've actually ground these from the natural elements, have you?
-Well, I mined the yellow ochre from Clearwell Caves!
-You mined them?!
-Yes, I did! With a pickaxe!
-Do you see her eyes?
This was, of course, the centre of the community in its day,
and it's becoming so again, which is rather splendid.
And all around, other typical pieces of mediaeval painting.
The seven deadly sins over there,
the Virgin Mary you can see.
And here, the gallant and death.
"Don't get too tied up with worldly things,"
the typical warning of mediaeval Christianity.
These were the beliefs, the feelings
that once bound us all together.
But then, in just a few years, the new Protestant rulers in London
condemned it all as Popeish superstition,
and it was literally whitewashed away.
To be rediscovered only in our time.
The Reformation is an amazing story.
The greatest destruction of our heritage in British history.
So how had it happened?
The story goes that it was started by Henry VIII,
sparked by his feud with the Pope
over his right to divorce Catherine of Aragon,
and marry Anne Boleyn to get a male heir.
But the beginnings of the attack on the Catholic Church in Britain
lie much further back in the Middle Ages.
'Here in Oxford, in the late 14th century,
'an academic heresy had lit a slow-burning fuse.
'John Wycliffe and his followers, who became known as Lollards.
'They were against the power of the Catholic Church,
'its rituals, its image worship, and its moneymaking.
'And new discoveries in the documents show they had wide support
'among ordinary people
'in cities like Coventry, Norwich, and Leicester.
'And in villages all over south-eastern England.'
Wycliffe thought that his new ideas should be spread
by an army of what he called "poor preachers".
And that the law of the Gospel
should be the law that we were living under.
And what about images?
They were against images, were they?
-There were complaints of corruption too, weren't there?
Were those exaggerated?
No, I don't think they were exaggerated!
THEY LAUGH I'm not one of those who thinks that, no!
No, I think there was quite a lot of corruption.
And peasants, I think,
they wanted to know a bit more about what their religion really was.
To read, in their own language, the Bible,
which was at the centre of their lives.
But the English church bishops
were very against Bible translation.
Because you couldn't have people,
just ordinary people, reading the Bible for themselves,
because there were lots of dangerous ideas in there.
For instance, there was a certain wing of the Lollards,
or the Wycliffites, who believed in community of property.
Because that's something that was in the Bible.
I mean, there were some Lollards and Wycliffites
who believed that women were entitled to go out
and preach the gospel, even.
From around 1400, these heretical views
spread as far as the Welsh borders and up into Scotland.
"Women have the power and authority to preach
"and make the body of Christ."
"That any good man may be a priest."
"Or any good woman."
"That every man may lawfully withhold
"tithes and offerings from priests
"and give them straight to the poor."
A Lollard revolt against King Henry V was crushed in 1414.
But at the grassroots, their ideas survived.
In the 1530s, when Henry VIII was refused a divorce by the Pope,
he broke with Rome and made himself head of a Church of England.
In 1536, at the height of his feud with the Pope,
and deep in money troubles,
Henry then ordered the closure, or the dissolution, of the monasteries.
With wealth built up over 1,000 years,
the church controlled 40% of the British economy.
And now the monasteries were to be taken over,
the monks driven out, and their wealth confiscated.
One of the abbeys targeted by Henry
owned the West Midlands market town of Halesowen, near Birmingham.
The Abbot of Halesowen had been an oppressive landlord,
and his property was ripe for the picking.
Henry VIII's agents came here to Halesowen Abbey in 1539.
The movable wealth was confiscated.
The treasure, the plates, the timber, the lead, the bells.
And then the abbey was sold off to a local grandee,
who leased it to a well-to-do farmer.
And he demolished the church,
sold off the building's stone,
built himself a nice house,
and turned the rest of the buildings into barns.
It's Tudor asset-stripping.
The sharp end of the Dissolution of the Monasteries.
The monasteries had held a third of all the land in England.
Much of this now went to Henry's cronies.
But a great part was sold on
to a new rising middle-class,
of merchants and entrepreneurs.
This huge shift in national wealth
'gave this new class a stake in the Reformation.'
And as we see it now,
it's a key moment in the rise of capitalism in Britain.
Here in Bristol, then Britain's second city,
one man who rose on the profits of the Dissolution
was a merchant called John Smith.
'His father was a sort of middling Bristol merchant.'
John Smith became a much wealthier merchant.
By the end of his career,
he was the wealthiest merchant in Bristol.
Served as sheriff, been twice mayor of the city
and used his great resources
to buy up lands, largely ex-monastic lands,
from the Dissolution,
to establish a foundation for his family,
which became a gentry family,
which lasted until the 20th century in Bristol.
Cor, great story! So he's one of the self-made men
who do very well out of Henry VIII's Reformation?
He's one of these people who did well in great property bonanza
which followed the Dissolution.
His main focuses are the Bordeaux region for wine,
San Sebastian for iron,
Lisbon and Lucia for olive oil,
for dried fruits, raisins, things like this.
These are the goods he's buying in.
He'll take those, and then he'll be marketing all those goods.
Everywhere up as far as places like Manchester, Coventry, Birmingham,
into Wales and other parts of the West Country.
So it's the whole west of England.
And this is his book?
Yes, this is very typical of a 16th century merchant's ledger.
This is his handwriting, is it?
Yes. I mean, to be a merchant in this period,
you're going to have to be numerate, be literate.
It's double-entry bookkeeping.
It's based on the most advanced
Italian counting techniques of the time.
So it's a way of tracking your different business ventures,
establishing how profitable they are,
so that you can know what's making money,
what isn't, and therefore what you're going to do next.
Sounds like the beginning of our world, almost.
It's a world ruled by account books.
By the mid-16th century, England had only 3 million people.
By the standards of the time,
it was an underdeveloped country.
But with the discovery of the Americas after 1492,
the centre of gravity of the world's economies
was beginning to shift to the Atlantic seaboard.
To small maritime nations,
For the merchants of trading towns like Bristol, their time had come.
Since the Middle Ages, one of Bristol's staples had been wine.
And Avery's are one of the city's oldest wine merchants.
By Tudor times,
the city imported half a million gallons of wine a year.
In cash, nearly half of all the city's imports.
And the younger generation are still involved today.
So you have various of the finer, sweet wines.
But beautiful colours.
My favourite bit of coming in here
is the colours of the sweet wines.
The links with France and Spain are eight centuries old.
We are probably in the oldest trade in the city.
And the general prosperity of Bristol
would have been helped considerably
by the wine and spirit trade, I have to say.
In fact, it's probably been the most consistent trade
over the period when Bristol has been
an important city, or town, in the early days.
And in the 16th century, all this was part
of the opening up of the horizons and tastes of the British people.
Bristol is twinned with Bordeaux.
And then, of course, both of them, Bordeaux and Bristol,
became very involved with the trade with the Americas.
With the New World.
So hard-headed merchant enterprise
helped shape 16th-century Britain too.
And it had many repercussions.
The first Africans living in Bristol are recorded in the 1560s.
And in London, too, the world was changing.
Here in the East End,
there have been waves of migrants throughout history.
Flemings, Huguenots, and Jews.
The Bengalis of Brick Lane.
But the first Bengalis and the first West Africans
are all recorded in the mid-16th century.
This little-known part of Tudor history
features on Tony Warner's black history tour.
This was the Jamaica Coffee House,
where you'd come to do business in Jamaica.
Only yards from the Bank of England, there are surprises for those
who thought Britain's black history is a late 20th-century phenomenon.
This is a really important church in terms of black history,
because this church has records of the African presence in London
going back to the 1500s.
Back at the Marrakesh Cafe, we poured over
the parish registers of St Botolph's,
to find the forgotten lives of black Elizabethans.
This is where we are, in the 1550s. This is Aldgate.
That's the city, crammed in, and London Wall.
-There's Botolph's church.
-We went there as well, yeah.
You know, and Aldgate tube. Then, lined with inns.
And that's where we get hundreds and hundreds of black people.
You see this guy here, Robert, a servant...
"Robert Annega, being servant to William Matthew, a gentleman.
"He was buried in the outer churchyard.
"He had the second cloth and four bearers."
The ceremonial, with fine funeral cloths,
gives a clue to how their employers and friends felt
towards these black musicians, workers, and servants.
It's a very interesting indicator of the status of these people.
And here you've got Cassanggo, a black servant...
"Cassanggo, a black and Moor servant
"to Thomas Barbour, a merchant from his house
"at the sign of the red cross,
"was buried on the ninth day of October, 1593."
More surprising perhaps, is the evidence of Tudor mixed marriages.
Because there's records of marriage
between black and white people in these records, isn't there?
Here you go. "Marriage of James Curres, a Moor..."
Meaning an African, and Christian.
"..to Margaret Pearson, a maid."
Yeah, I'm really shocked, you know, that marriage
within different races was never illegal.
But in these registers, there are people
who are obviously marrying because they love each other.
Yeah, I'm just really interested in the aspect
that they just assimilated into the community.
In school, they don't say there wasn't any,
but they don't say there was any.
You know, as a black boy, all you learn about
is slavery and Martin Luther King, and that is it.
I got taught in school there was no black people here.
Because in my primary school,
the teaching that we got was that we just came here.
There wasn't ever a presence of us, but we came here.
Yeah, and that was it.
It will definitely change a lot of people's perspectives,
cos when I was younger,
I was told by the old man down the road, "Go back to your own country!"
I could say, "Well, this is my own country!
"I was probably here before your family was!"
'So it was the Tudor age that saw the beginnings
'of Britain's black community.'
So the Dissolution of the Monasteries
opened new directions in our history.
At this point, most of the English people were still Catholic,
using a half-Protestant, half-Catholic prayer book,
bequeathed them by Henry VIII.
But after Henry's death,
the new rulers of England began their devastating attack
on traditional religion itself.
Now the Dissolution of the Monasteries,
the destruction of places like Halesowen Abbey,
had really come about through chance and circumstance.
Henry's divorce and his financial problems.
And there, things might have ended.
In 1539, nobody could have imagined the huge changes
that the people of Britain would go through
in the practice of their religion,
in their ideas about life and death and the afterlife.
The great change began a few years later with Henry's death in 1547.
The new government under Henry's teenage son, Edward VI.
Edward was a pious, cold-hearted swot,
surrounded by hardline Protestant ministers
who wished to put through
a more root and branch reform of the religion.
And in 1549, they announced that all churches in the land
were to destroy their imagery and their statues,
whitewash their walls,
dig out their altars,
and bring in a new, Protestant prayer book.
The revolution had begun.
And the revolution would turn out to be an attack
on the very way of life of the people.
England then was still a traditional society,
especially the countryside, where most of the people lived and worked.
TRADITIONAL MUSIC PLAYS
Their lives were marked by the cycles of the farming year,
with fairs like Bampton, here, on the edge of Exmoor.
'Bampton is a very, very thriving community.'
We have about 33 different clubs, groups, associations here.
So we like to keep these old traditions alive
as much as we possibly can.
'There's a Devon tradition got to be kept going.'
We've got several pony fairs around, Chagford Fair, Bampton Fair.
There's quite a few going. Just keeping the tradition going.
Hay, straw, bit of farm machinery.
Poultry, ferrets, ducks,
guinea pigs. The lot, really.
AUCTIONEER: At two pound, at two pound...
In such country communities,
old-fashioned country religion
was simply the way things had always been.
The saints, the feasts, the festivals.
AUCTIONEER: At five pound...well, where do you want them now?
Hampshire, 30 guineas!
And so it was in the little village of Morebath, under Exmoor.
The vicar here from 1520 to 1574
was the wonderfully-named Christopher Tricky.
It would be Tricky's task to steer his village
through four changes of religion in 20 years.
And his notes in the church warden's book tell the story,
starting in the last days of the old faith.
"William Potter gave his hive of bees to maintain..."
"..to maintain a lamp,
"burning before the figure of Jesus and before St Sidwell,
"every principal feast in the year."
"And to St Sidwell, a ring of silver,
"which did help make St Sidwell's shoes."
I think one of the things that fascinates people
is the fact that it is just ordinary people.
You know, just everyday, ordinary people. Nobody special.
But because they've kept these wonderful records,
that story, that voice of those ordinary people, can come out.
It's just... I think that's what attracts people.
What about Tricky himself?
Do you get any impression of what he was like as a bloke?
I think he must have been an incredibly tough, resilient man.
I mean, there must have been times
when he really didn't like what was going on.
THEY LAUGH But he still stuck it out.
And he didn't leave or do the modern thing.
He actually just stuck it out
and took care of the community in the way in which he did.
"Anno domini, 1548.
"The warden of the church was Lucy Skelly,
"and in her time, the church goods were sold away
"and no gift given to the church.
"But all taken from the church."
"1551, paid to John Lowesmore.
"For taking away the altars and the rood loft.
These are things that involve
the very basic human feelings, aren't they?
About family and the hereafter
and how you bury your mum and dad, or your child that's died.
All these things were being in some sense attacked,
weren't they, by the new rules?
People don't like change to this day, particularly within the church!
And how this man ever managed
the change that they went through is astounding.
We have a slight change, and it takes counselling!
THEY LAUGH Yes, yes!
So, across the country, Edward's government pushed through
the destruction of the mediaeval Christian heritage.
From Morebath to Llancarfan,
and from Long Melford to Halesowen.
Popular support for Edward's Reformation was strongest
among the middle classes in London and the South East,
where Lollard beliefs had been found a century before.
Loyalty to the old faith was strongest in the North
and the West, and there, the changes were bitterly resisted.
Especially down here in Cornwall and Devon,
where opposition burst out in open warfare.
As so often in this story, you get a very different perspective
on the great events of British history
if you leave London and the South East,
and you come out to the perimeter Britain.
Cornwall here in the 1540s,
was still formally an English county like all the others.
But actually, everybody saw the Cornish as a different race
with their own language and their own customs.
Their own religion in Cornish.
To the people here, Edward's introduction
of a Protestant prayer book in English was the last straw.
Here, the people spoke Cornish and prayed in Latin.
To them, it was an attack on their Cornish identity,
and their traditional way of life.
As they tried to explain to the king himself.
"It is not the devil's persuasion,
"nor the temerity of the seditious which caused us to assemble."
"It is more the responsibility that each of us owes his friend
"and our common displeasure at seeing the religion of our ancestors
"now so much changed and reduced by new ways."
The revolt began down in the Lizard Peninsula,
and it spread like wildfire
among the fishermen, farmers, and tin miners.
They formed a Cornish army,
in what became known as the Prayer Book Rebellion.
Here at Sampford Courtenay,
the Cornish army joined forces
with the men of Devon.
Suddenly, a threat to the Tudor state.
-You've said, a conservative part of the world.
Different reactions across Britain.
Yes, and this seems to be an area that is perhaps in some ways
particularly remote from the main swim of national life.
Protestantism was not at all strong in Devon and Cornwall,
and I think this particular region of Devon was probably even more
conservative than the other regions of the county.
The rebel army now marched on Exeter,
the main centre of Tudor power in the South West.
News of the rising soon reached little Morebath,
on the edge of Exmoor.
Here, vicar Christopher Tricky, true to the old faith,
was on the side of the rebels.
Morebath has heard the call, and is preparing to answer.
And the people of Morebath have decided
to send their young men to assist the rebels.
And here we have an actual recording of that fact. "Paid to William...
"...to William Hurley, the young man,
"at his going forth to the camp on St David's Down.
"Six shillings and eight pence."
And it's interesting, this word, "camp",
was used a great deal by the rebels at the time.
Sometimes the rebels themselves were called camp men,
and just this word
is actually dangerous for Sir Christopher to have recorded it.
And he later goes along and scrubs this out.
-Erased three times.
-Three times, yes.
Gosh! So, do we get the names of the other boys?
Yes, we do. We have here Thomas Borridge...
"Thomas Borridge, the younger,
"be paid for his going to the camp six shillings and eight pence.
"To John Taywoll, Christopher Morse,
"and Robert Sayer, at their going forth
"to St David's Down camp..."
Two shillings here, I think. And fourpence.
They're sending several young men,
we think a total of five set off from Morebath.
That's a large number of young men from such a small place
with a very small population. They were sending probably
their bravest and best to fight alongside the rebels.
So Morebath's boys went to Exeter.
Behind the city's massive walls, the royalist mayor refused to surrender,
and the siege began.
Here we are in the castle,
the strongest point of the city's defences.
We know it was garrisoned by troops during the siege.
And looking out beyond them, there would have been rebel positions
all the way along here, from the big camp at St David's Down,
stretching along the hillside here and right round to St Sidwell's.
They'd have been taking pot shots at you,
there'd have been abuse and catcalls coming up from down below.
The rebels were very close.
The siege lasted six weeks.
Eventually, a government army 8,000 strong,
stiffened by foreign mercenaries, closed in,
and the rebels were routed.
Their last desperate stand took place on a windswept hill,
outside Sampford Courtenay.
Over the next weeks, the survivors were hunted down
in the lanes around Dartmoor.
The Morebath boys among them.
Well, I suppose we should reconsider those myths
which we read about, certainly when I was a kid in my schoolbooks,
that somehow the Reformation was consensual,
we got rid of all that superstitious stuff and moved on.
-It wasn't quite like that, was it?
-Not at all.
I think it's remarkable that Henry VIII succeeded
in pushing through the Reformation in the first place
and then Edward and his government succeeded in going as far as they did
because there was such resistance to what they were trying to do.
I think the great surprise of the English Reformation
is the fact it actually succeeded.
So the Reformation was forced from above on a divided population.
In Wales, which had been joined to the English crown
since Henry VIII, the bards bitterly lamented the end of the old ways.
THEY SPEAK IN WELSH
"We have been changed by the faith of the English,
"our hearts are not inclined towards it."
SHE SPEAKS IN WELSH
Up in the north, in the kingdom of Scotland,
the Protestant Reformation unfolded later than in England and Wales.
In 1559, the great cathedral at St Andrews
was stripped of its altars and images and left in ruins.
The Reformation here was driven by the firebrand preacher,
Knox's ideals, shaped in Geneva by John Calvin himself,
made Scottish Protestantism much stricter than England's,
and those differences still mark the Scots and the English today.
In these small islands,
we all have a lot of stereotypes about each other,
but these are things...The Kirk and Presbyterianism
and Calvinism and, you know, even not that long ago
we had all those stories about places in the Western Isles
who wouldn't allow the ferries to go on a Sunday.
Why did Scotland become different?
I think it - it's partly the form of organisation
that is put in place.
They act as a kind of moral police force.
The Kirk session records are full of examples of people
being hauled up before the Kirk session
for transgressing in terms of Sabbatarianism,
violating the Sabbath, blasphemy is another one.
And fornication, the number of cases of fornication,
which is extra-marital-sex, basically, are legion.
"Margaret Raining, reported to be scandalous
"in entertaining the dragoons.
"Also alleged to be guilty of fornication
"with Patrick Robertson."
"George Martin, Isabel Hardy and Isabel Dunbar
"accused of laughing in church."
"Six young boys were found playing golf in time of preaching
"and are convicted of profaning the law of Sabbath."
The effectiveness of these Kirk sessions is really quite remarkable.
As they spread throughout the kingdom,
and I think it's that system and the moral discipline
and Godly discipline, as they liked to call it,
which they tried to inculcate,
which in a way differentiates the Scottish situation
from the English one.
So how long does it take them
to achieve that across the whole country?
It's very difficult to say,
but we're talking at least one, two, three generations.
And perhaps because it's gradual, it's able to take root
in a more radical form that it does in England.
In both Scotland and England,
there was a link between Protestantism
and the rise of capitalism and industry.
In the Black Country, Tudor iron masters are now working
the coal seams on the old monastic lands of Halesowen.
In Cornwall, Tudor entrepreneurs opened tin and copper mines.
And up here on the Firth of Forth, an amazing discovery has revealed
the ambitions of Scottish industrialists
at the former monastic town of Culross in Fife.
Culross now became a centre for the export of coal and salt
to the Baltic and Scandinavia.
It's one of those places in Britain where, with their innovations,
early capitalists anticipated the Industrial Revolution,
in this case by a couple of hundred years.
Here, believe it or not, they dug a coalmine in the sea.
Coal would be the driving force
behind the Industrial Revolution across Britain.
And we now know that it's extraction was underway,
if only on a small scale, far earlier than has been thought.
And here, they were pioneers of a new technology.
So, Douglas, that's where the shaft is, that little island peeping up?
Very much so, it's just starting to show itself now.
You imagine we were standing here in, say, 1590,
shortly after the pit had been constructed.
What we would see is a tower about perhaps 10 metres,
sticking out of the ground.
A round tower some 15 metres in diameter.
It's like a very, very, heavy, thick chimney,
with a small four metre wide shaft in the middle,
which was travelling all the way down, some 40, 50 feet,
to the galleries of coal that were being mined below it.
It's absolutely fantastic, cos we have to remember
this is the 16th century and this is half a kilometre out to sea.
They're actually mining under the sea bed -
and not only are they under the sea bed,
once they're down there, they're going for another half mile or so,
and what I think we're seeing here is the very origins,
the earliest glimmerings, of the Industrial Revolution.
The plan is to go out to the moat pit
and to try and strip it of seaweed
so we can get some really clear pictures of the site
to enable us to survey it.
On a very low tide, these local volunteers are hoping
to expose the remains of the top of the shaft.
In a minute, you will be amazed
when you see just how lovely this thing is.
Well, what we're actually seeing here just coming to light,
just in the last few moments,
we can actually see this large circular enclosure,
this is the actual inner shaft, the shaft itself.
I'm standing on part of the wall of the vertical shaft
that dropped 40 feet below us.
So below us now,
probably 100 metres either side, we have a complex of galleries.
I just find it a really exciting structure.
We sort of know the story of the pit but you somehow can't believe it
until you see the distance it is from the shore.
Did you realise it's tongue and groove board they put in here?
It's tongue and groove board. That's incredible.
Well, that gives you a watertight line into the tower.
Now we can see very, very clearly the moat pit in front of us,
we can see the outer wall, we can see the inner wall.
We've exposed some structural details of the timbering,
which held the clay in place to keep the structure watertight
and of course we've got this lovely inner shaft,
and this is the coal mine in front of us. Right here.
Would the coal have been taken out from here?
Very much so, absolutely, and ships would have - small ships -
would have come alongside,
and the coal would have been loaded directly from the top of the actual
shaft itself, straight into the ships and off it would have gone.
By the time the Culross pit was dug,
down in England, the Reformation had taken further extraordinary twists.
The Protestant Edward was followed by the Catholic Mary,
and then in 1558 by Elizabeth I,
who steered England and Wales back to the Protestant religion.
Elizabeth was a convinced Protestant but not a zealous one,
let alone fanatical.
She had no desire to open windows on men's souls, she said.
But events in England now were no longer determined
simply by what happened within the country,
but by the wider stage, both of Ireland and of Europe.
And the threat of Spain.
Across Europe, the Reformation had produced a deep religious divide.
The looming power of the Spanish Catholic empire,
which occupied the Netherlands,
provoked English paranoia about Papist invasions and plots.
Especially in English-occupied Catholic Ireland.
Here, the Protestant Reformation had made no headway.
So, fatefully, the Elizabethans began
the conquest and colonisation of Ireland,
an event which has marked our common histories to this day.
To the English, the Irish were uncivilised barbarians
and the Irish tried to persuade Elizabeth otherwise.
Here in Dublin,
there's an extraordinary survival from that time.
A presentation booklet asking Elizabeth herself
to see Ireland as one of Europe's ancient cultures.
This is it!
It's a very delicate, almost flimsy document,
but it's quite beautiful.
It's talked of being put together around 1563-64,
in anticipation of Elizabeth's visit to Cambridge.
The author of it is the Baron Of Delvin, Christopher Nugent.
And what this is, at the very start is an address to Queen Elizabeth,
thanking her for according him the honour of inviting him
to supply her with an account of the Irish language.
"Among the many fold actions, most gracious
"and virtuous Sovereign,
"that bare testimony to the world of your Majesty's great affection,
"tending to the Reformation of Ireland."
-So this is politically loaded, then.
-It is indeed.
But, of course, she ignored it, I don't know that it ever left
the area of Cambridge, it was found there in the mid-19th century.
Don't know if she ever even read it. So it's a poignant document.
It's very poignant, isn't it?
Her interest in Irish, as we know now,
was purely in using the language as a vehicle for the propagation
of the reformed religion.
This is where he is laying out the parallels between
Latin, Greek, Hebrew and the Irish language.
Not barbarian, it's a classical language!
Precisely, that is the subtext.
And then he gets around to giving Elizabeth what she wants,
which is the... as we said, is the alphabet
and then he finishes off with some useful phrases, you might...
Great! Will you read them in Gaelic if I read them in English?
So, well, it's, "How do you do?" Which is "quomodo habes?"
"Cones ta tu?"
"I'm well." "Benesum."
"Taim to maih."
And here's one for you. "God save the queen."
Never thought I'd find myself saying this.
"Dia shabhail banrion."
But Elizabeth couldn't listen with an open mind.
Tensions were ratcheted up as the English feared the Irish Catholics
would make common cause with Spain.
It was the thorn in the side of the Tudor administration.
And it was the area over which they -
certainly the Henrytian administration -
and later the Elizabethan one, had so little influence,
and in fact it was the frustration, I suppose, that encouraged
Elizabeth to try to bring it under her control to a greater degree.
Elizabeth's government committed itself
to making Ireland British.
And they met fierce resistance,
especially from the great Ulster Catholic clans, like the MacDonalds.
And in the summer of 1575, an Elizabethan army
besieged the MacDonald stronghold out there on the island of Rathlin,
where the MacDonald lords had put their families for safety.
It was a four-day bombardment by the English commanders,
including Francis Drake.
And in the end the garrison surrendered,
believing they had safe conduct.
200 of them were massacred and so were 300 or 400 women and children,
hunted down in the caves and sea cliffs,
in revenge against the rebels.
And the MacDonald lords themselves,
believing that their families were safe out there,
stood here on the coast, powerless to intervene
as the tragedy unfolded.
It was a grim foretaste of what was to come in the 17th century.
In 1588, Spain attempted a full-scale invasion of England,
the Spanish Armada.
Defeated in the channel by Drake and his captains, the invasion failed.
That autumn, the returning Armada was destroyed
here on the rocky shores of Antrim and Donegal.
The victory set the seal
on Elizabeth's fledging English Protestant state.
On the victory medal, a proud inscription,
"God blew and they were scattered".
In Ireland, the English began a policy of plantations,
shipping over settlers from Devon and Cornwall,
and especially from Scotland.
The English regarded colonisation as a kind of civilising mission.
TRADITIONAL IRISH MUSIC
The English poet Edmund Spencer said
the Irish must be made to forget their Irish nation,
and that meant a war on Irish culture.
Now, in traditional societies, still strongly oral societies
like 16th century Ireland, Tudor Wales or Cornwall for that matter,
the bards, the poets, the harpers were not just entertainers,
they were the custodians of history and language, of genealogy,
of the people's claim to the land -
in other words, of the communal identity and collective memory.
But in Queen Elizabeth's reign,
the Irish people were faced with an occupying English state
that remorselessly pushed nationalistic propaganda,
the Irish didn't have that.
In the 1590s, Irish bards and poets
responded by speaking of the single Irish people.
Elizabethan government's answer was to declare war on the poets.
So it was in the face of this cultural oppression
that the people of Ireland began to form an Irish national identity.
And by the end of the century, right across the British isles
these religious and national divisions had hardened.
And they would shape our modern world.
In England, too, national identity
had been moulded by Reformation politics.
Flushed with patriotic pride after the Armada,
by the 1590s, England could now call itself a Protestant nation.
And the English people could begin to look back more calmly
on the tumultuous events of the century.
They'd gone through four changes of religion in a single lifetime,
at times they can't have known
what the government would tell them to believe next.
But now the mass of the people had accepted the changes and moved on.
And here in Long Melford, a remarkable manuscript
gives us a sense of what that meant.
Written by the churchwarden Roger Martin,
it sums up Britain's age of new worlds and lost worlds.
Yes, this is the so-called black book of Melford.
This page shows his account of the contents of the book.
Listed here are the documents that he thought it was important
to record for all time.
This is his characteristic hand, with his Rs and Hs
and the tendency to write uphill.
And then Martin gets into his stride and he says,
"Item of the silver plate,
"that did belong unto Melford Church before the spoil, a remembrance."
There's a very important dig
that something pretty dramatic has happened.
And that this is worth recording for posterity.
In just a few decades, the British people had been forced
to leave their old world behind,
and many of them, like Roger Martin, with profound regret.
Yes, must have been very confusing times
for ordinary people in Britain, mustn't they?
By the end of the 16th century,
toward the end of Elizabeth's reign,
you're dealing with a nation which, religiously, was fractured.
And never the same again.
With various bodies of opinion, there were those who decided,
either by conviction or out of caution,
to conform to the new established Protestant Church Of England,
but, as we know from the case of Roger Martin and others,
others remained true to the old faith.
And Roger Martin was true in that way right up to his death in 1615.
He survived the whole of the Reformation,
across five reigns of different monarchs
but he still remained true to his faith.
On the other hand, of course, there were plenty of people
who were far more liberal and unlikely to conform to anything.
Who were much more convinced about the personal relationship
between the individual and God, and the importance of the word.
The word in the scriptures and as expounded from the pulpit,
far more than, you know, tradition,
and the theatre and the colour of old worship.
-I suppose...the dust settled?
-Has the dust settled?
-Has the dust settled?
For after all, even today across the British Isles and Ireland,
we're still negotiating the fallout of these great events.
And again, as always in history, there were unforeseen consequences.
For once Pandora's box had been opened,
out came Pandora's Protestants.
# The tax man's taken all my dough... #
This is Scrooby in Nottinghamshire. Here, late in Elizabeth's reign,
events began that would lead to the triumph of the Puritans in England,
the overthrow of the British monarchy,
and even the founding of America.
# In the summer time... #
By now, Elizabeth's government
thought the Reformation had gone far enough,
but up here there were many who didn't agree.
We're very proud of our history, we really are.
The residents of Scrooby, I think,
see themselves as part of the British history
because it was a fundamental change in British religion
and of course it affected the Americans as well.
I think we see ourselves as almost a small republic today.
Fighting against the evils of oppressive government
and the nanny state!
But, in a funny way, don't you think that's what
they were about too?
They were against being told what to do, in a sense.
Well, absolutely, and, you know, they suffered for it.
It was the freedom that they desired that they couldn't get here.
# Help me, help me, help me sail away... #
Out of these villages came sturdy Puritan separatists,
far more radical in their politics than the Tudor government
could ever have foreseen when they started their Reformation.
Difficult question, but why did it happen here?
I mean, this tiny little area, this side of the Trent,
this cluster of villages.
The people in this area are certainly very spirited.
Maybe it's just that by chance that we have this
clump here of like minded people, able to support each other
and thank goodness that they did
because they changed the world, really,
when you look at what this did.
Ladies and gentlemen! The raffle will now be drawn in the tent.
The movement gathered momentum
and this part of the East Midlands became a hotbed of non-conformity.
Secret religious services were held in the surrounding villages.
This is the path that was used by those early separatists
from Scrooby on their journeys to listen to a charismatic preacher,
another core member of the group. Richard Clifton
was vicar in a tiny church in the woods here, of Babworth.
And here today, you'll still find both memories and physical traces
of this radical religious past.
In Babworth, a remarkable discovery was made only recently.
As the workmen went down,
they came across this old tin can, as they thought.
And they realised it was something more important.
So this would have been used for communion? 1593.
But 1593, Clifton's here preaching in this church
and doing the rituals.
And to realise that Clifton's hands, all those years ago,
held that, it is quite humbling in a way, I suppose, really.
He must have been a great preacher
because he attracted people to come this church from villages
round about, and farther than villages, and he collected
this rather dedicated band of people who were willing to follow him.
When James I heard about it, they were reporting to him
saying that they thought there should be no bishops in the church.
He said, "What? No bishop? No king! So get them out."
And he did.
The other way of looking at it is that the people of Babworth
were just bloody minded!
Yes, they were.
And to a certain extent we still are, those in the church.
The last parson said,
"Separatists, what makes them think they went away?"
THEY ALL LAUGH
These ideas now spread out from the villages of the Trent valley
to towns like Gainsborough, where they were supported
by wealthy Puritan patrons.
And from here, they went to Europe and America.
You have to remember, these ideas have been running
under the surface of society for a long time.
Indeed, that idea of intensive private reading
of the religious text
would be as important to the religious separatists here
as it had been to the Lollards.
Those ideas didn't go away, the Lollards' battle
had been against the Pope in Rome and the Catholic Church.
Now, there was an established Protestant Church of England,
but it was still state religion, tied to the monarchy,
and backed by force.
So the issue was still the same.
By whose authority is my personal path to God to be mediated?
So, in the 16th century, the British people went through
a tremendous psychological rupture
at the hands of their own government.
MUSIC: "When The Saints Go Marching In"
But resilient and adaptable, they came out of it with new energies.
With new ideas about personal freedom,
ideas which will lead to the age of revolution.
Subtitles by Red Bee Media Ltd
Historian Michael Wood continues his journey exploring the United Kingdom's remarkable past from the perspective of ordinary people. Charting the Reformation, Michael visits a fascinating community project revealing medieval wall paintings in Llancarfan, near Cardiff, and follows the Cornish Prayer Book rebellion from one parish to its defeat in battle by the government's army in Exeter. As the Reformation proceeds, other forces are working in British society with the rise of industry and commerce. In Scotland there's the amazing discovery of the remains of a mine dug under the River Forth. In Bristol, Tudor merchants open up Atlantic trade and the first black community is found in Whitechapel, London. The tale opens out to the Elizabethan conquest of Ireland where Michael examines a unique Gaelic and English phrase book written for Elizabeth herself in the hope of better Anglo-Irish understanding.
By the 1580s the establishment had triumphed and the old world was all but swept away. The programme traces the rise of radical religious ideas at Scrooby, Nottinghamshire, ideas that would lead to the radicalism of the mid century in England and the Pilgrim Fathers in America and as a woman at the village fete said: 'America began here in Scrooby'!