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Posted by admin on February 9, 2018 in Articles

How justified have historians been in stylising the Duke of Northumberland as the ‘evil duke’ compared to the ‘noble’ Duke of Somerset? (30 marks)There has been a change in historian’s views on whether the Duke of Somerset and the Duke of Northumberland have been correctly branded for their time in history. The traditional view is that Somerset was always the ‘noble’ ruler as ‘he was certainly ambitious with no selfish motive’ (A. F. Pollard, 1902.) Northumberland, on the other hand, was branded as being ‘evil’, ‘John Dudley was arguably the evillest statesman to govern England in the sixteenth century’ (A. Weir, 1996.) However, these views are in large factually incorrect, and the views of historians are reversing to show Northumberland as the ‘remarkably able governor’, and Somerset as the ‘failed’ ruler.The Duke of Somerset came into power in 1547 as Lord Protector. He came into power at a time when England’s economy was ruined by inflation, in a full blown existing war with Scotland, not to mention the increasingly rising population creating social disorder, and a religious balancing act between reformers and conservatives. Creating an effective society had already become a struggle. In 1548 there was an extremely poor harvest which was out of Somerset’s control, however the situation didn’t help the country’s morale, and their views on the newly appointed ruler. Somerset showed triumph and leadership effectiveness when he defeated Scotland in the Battle of Pinkie in 1547. He also showed his sympathetic side when introducing the Treasons Act in 1547, which in turn allowed people to openly talk about religion, a more democratic policy. The ‘noble’ Duke is often known for his Book of Common Prayer and Act of Uniformity in 1549 which showed a move towards Protestantism. The book allowed the ‘common prayer’. Along with all these arguably noble points, he headed the Enclosure Commission in 1548. He thought this was the cause of ‘the hardships the poor…