In 1547, William Body arrived in Cornwall and made sure that all the statues from churches were removed, all walls were whitewashed, and gold and silver plates removed. In 1548, a group of men from Helston tried to murder him but failed.
In 1549, the English Prayer Book was introduced, and the old Latin one banned. This enraged many people, so the people in Sampford Courtenay made their priest read the prayer in Latin.
10 days later, people from Devon and Cornwall marched to Bodmin to meet and write a list of complaints. They wanted religion to go back to the way it was during Henry VIII's reign. They demanded that heretics be punished as they had been in Henry's time. They wanted to see Archbishop Cranmer burned at the stake.
They then started marching towards Exeter. The local gentry tried to contain the situation but failed. In Devon, a man called Mr Hellier tried to stop them and was hacked to pieces. Sir Peter Carew, a Protestant, tried to do the same as Hellier but was chased back to Exeter by the rebels. By 23 June a rebel army surrounded Exeter.
The Duke of Somerset asked Lord Russel, a Catholic member of the Council, to work out a solution and provided him with a small army in order to do so. Russel tried to negotiate with the rebels but got nowhere, so on 28th July, he and his army advanced against them. They defeated the rebels at Fenny Bridges and Clyst St Mary, relieved Exeter and finished off most of the rebel army at Samford Courtenay, where it had all begun.
The rebel army was defeated, but there were still a few rebels in villages. When they were found, they were hanged without trial and their property was given away to government supporters. Robert Welsh, the vicar of the church of St Thomas in Exeter, was suspected of being the leader of the rebellion, so was hanged. Approximately 3,000 rebels were executed in all.