Robert Aske

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Robert Aske as played by Gerard McSorley

born c. 1500 - executed July 27, 1537 by order of King Henry VIII

Character's backstory: Born in Yorkshire, but became a lawyer in London. In autumn of 1536 Aske led <a class="external" href="" rel="nofollow" target="_blank" title='"The Pilgrimage of the Grace"'>"The Pilgrimage of the Grace"</a> an uprising of approximately 40,000 Catholics in Yorkshire to defend the religious houses that were being closed and property seized by the king. The rebel army was joined by priests carrying crosses and banners. Leading nobles in the area also began to give their support to the rebellion. The rebels marched to York and demanded that the monasteries should be reopened. On October 16th the insurgents captured York and on the 20th took Pontefract Castle.

The insurgents surrendered to Thomas Howard. 3rd Duke of Norfolk, before they could attempt to overtake Hull and Carlisle. Although the insurgence were superior to the king's forces in size, Aske agreed to accept the King's Pardon and a parliament at York in return for the insurgence to be disbanded. Aske was received by the king in London and treated well. Whether out of curiosity thanks for his part in ending the rebellion, or a cynical desire to detach him from the rebels, Henry VIII invited Aske to spend Christmas with the court at Windsor.

But the story does not end there. A few months later another Yorkshire landowner, Sir Francis Bigod, led a fresh uprising at Beverley. Although Aske and other leaders of the original Pilgrimage of Grace tried to defuse Bigod's revolt, they were held responsible.

Aske and his friends were arrested & tried for treason in London. Robert Aske was hanged in chains until dead on Clifford Tower in York on July 27, 1537 as a warning to other rebels. The entire north of the country was placed under martial law and roughly 250 people were hanged, many on the merest suspicion of sedition.This included Lady Bulmer who was burnt at the stake & Abbots of the four largest monasteries in the north.

The vigorous repression of the Pilgrimage of Grace and its aftermath effectively ended any popular resistance to Henry's religious policies, and the Dissolution of the Monasteries proceeded without further serious difficulty.

*The historical character of Aske was in his early 30's unlike the actor who portrays him in the series. He was not married and had no children.

Gentility: son of a knighted courtier, descended from a powerful Yorkshire family. The family was well-connected. One of Aske's cousins was the Earl of Cumberland (whose eldest son, Lord Clifford, had married the Duke of Suffolk's daughter, Eleanor, the king's niece), he also served the 6th Earl of Northumberland as secretary.

Position: lawyer who became "chief captain" of the insurgency

Personality type: Charismatic, skilled orator & a devout Catholic

Signature look:

Endearing trait(s): Great organizational skills.
Able and energetic, and with a charismatic personality he used his legal skills to draft a statement of the rebels' aims, and devised an oath by which they swore not to seek their own profit but to take part in a quasi-religious Pilgrimage of Grace, the confusing and enigmatic name by which the Yorkshire rebellion has been known ever since. He did everything possible to prevent the use of force: only one man was killed during the Pilgrimage. He did not want to overthrow Henry VIII, but to present him with the Pilgrims' views, persuade him to reverse his religious policies, and to dismiss evil councillors such as Cranmer and Cromwell.

Annoying trait(s):

Robert Aske as played by Gerard McSorley
Robert Aske - The Tudors Wiki

Banner of the Pilgrimage of Grace
with the five wounds of Christ

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Family members:
Father: Sir Robert Aske
of Aughton near Selby
Cousin: Henry Clifford, Earl of Cumberland

Romance(s): unknown

Lord Darcy
Sir John Constable
Cardinal Reginald Pole
Cardinal Von Waldburg

Henry Lee, Archbishop of York
(Cathollic faction)

Thomas Cromwell
Charles Brandon
Thomas Howard, the Duke of Norfolk
(The Royalist Men)


  • <a class="external" href="" rel="nofollow" target="_blank" title="Full Story of The Pilgrimage of the Grace - The Worst Uprising of King Henry's Reign">Full Story of The Pilgrimage of the Grace - The Worst Uprising of King Henry's Reign</a>





Robert Aske as played by Gerard McSorley
Robert Aske as played by Gerard McSorley
The Pilgrims
The Pilgrims
Pontefract Castle
In the Middle Ages, Pontefract Castle (aerial view) was one of the most important fortresses in the country.
It became a royal castle in 1399, upon the accession of Henry Bolinbroke to the throne. Richard II subsequently died in the castle the following year after being one of many important prisoners to lodge there. During the English Civil War it was held by the King's supporters throughout three sieges, but as a result, after 1649, it was largely demolished.
The remains of the castle, and the underground magazine chamber, are open to visitors.
Clifford tower
Clifford Tower, York Castle where Aske was executed & hung in chains for all potential rebels to see
Robert Aske - The Tudors Wiki
Picture depicting the Pilgrimage of Grace