On this day - August 17th

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The defeat of the Prayer Book Rebellion

The Prayer Book Rebellion was a popular revolt in Devon and Cornwall in 1549. In that year, the Book of Common Prayer, presenting the theology of the English Reformation, was introduced. The change was widely unpopular — particularly in areas of still firmly Catholic religious loyalty. Along with poor economic conditions, the enforcement of the English language liturgy led to an explosion of anger in Devon and Cornwall, initiating an uprising.

In response, Edward Seymour, 1st Duke of Somerset sent Lord John Russell to suppress the revolt.

The Cornish rebels, with the Devon contingent who joined them, never stood a chance. They managed to lay siege to the city of Exeter for five weeks, but the city refused to surrender. The rebels were beaten at the battle of Clyst St Mary, after which the King's forces massacred 900 rebel prisoners.

The final defeat came at the quaintly named Battle of Sampford Courtenay on August 17th 1549, when many more rebels were killed and their leaders eventually captured.

Some historians think that the defeat of the Prayer Book Rebellion and the brutal suppression which followed it led to the eventual loss of the Cornish language.

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