The massacre of thousands of Cornish people during the vicious suppression of a Cornish uprising more than 450 years ago was an‘enormous mistake’ which the Church should be ashamed of, the Bishop of Truro has said.
In acknowledging the ‘brutality and stupidity’ of the atrocities on behalf of the Church, Bishop Bill Ind has tried to heal much of the hurt felt by many, many Cornish people, who still believe the Church of England has tried to ignore the events of the 1549 Prayerbook Uprising.
In a wide-ranging address at Pelynt Parish Church in Southeast Cornwall, the man dubbed ‘The People’s Bishop’ attempted to draw a line under a moment of history that left one-in-ten of the Cornish population dead. Too often, this history is overlooked or ignored.
Bishop Bill, who was in Pelynt to be presented with the prestigious Trelawny Plate, said: “I am often asked about my attitude to the Prayerbook Uprising and in my opinion, there is no doubt that the English Government behaved brutally and stupidly and killed many Cornish people. I don’t think that apologising for something that happened 500 years ago helps, but I am sorry it happened and I think it was an enormous mistake.”
The Prayerbook Uprising, sometimes called the Western Rising, was prompted by Edward VI’s introduction of a range of legislation, including the use of English language in all forms of worship.
In Cornwall 1549, where the vast majority of people spoke only Cornish, the new measures effectively took away the means of worship. When the Cornish protested, English forces responded with a series of massacres that can only be called genocide and the main reason why our Cornish language went into decline.
During one notorious incident, Chronicler John Heyward records that in the space of just ten minutes nine hundred bound and gagged prisoners had their throats lacerated. The next day a further 700 were butchered.