2. Source Material

2.1 Historical Narratives

The main narratives of the East Anglian insurgency are provided by Nicholas Southerton (1549-1559) and Alexander Neville (1575), whose histories formed the basis for subsequent references within Raphael Holinshed and John Hayward's general chronicles of 1586 and 1599. Southerton, a resident of Norwich, probably based his account upon information garnered from acquaintances and relatives within the city, who experienced the rebellion at first-hand (Yaxley 1987). Although portions of Southerton's description of Dussindale are lost, his is the only work to offer direct information on the battlefield's location, and so plays a vital role in positioning the site within the modern landscape. Neville's text was similarly derived from contemporary eyewitnesses, drawing on the recollections of Matthew Parker, who preached to the rebels ten years before he became Archbishop of Canterbury (Beer 1976). While Neville was probably influenced by Southerton, his inclusion of different information endorses his divergence from the former narrative. This is particularly important in relation to Dussindale, where Neville provides a detailed treatment of the battle which supports the version given by Southerton, while enhancing it on a tactical level and explicitly naming the site for the first time. These regional accounts are augmented by the journal of Edward VI, a record of notable occurrences written in the King's own hand, and an anonymous, contemporary 'Spanish Chronicle' (c. 1549), providing an overview from the Tudor court, while the reports of the Spanish Ambassador, Françoise van der Delft, offer an external perspective on the rebellion.

Additionally, the government's indictment of Robert Kett (1550), produced after the rebel leader's capture, is one of the few sources to assign a location to Dussindale, specifying that the battle occurred 'in the parishes of Thorpe and Sprowston', north-east of Norwich. Finally, Sir John Smythe's Certain Discourses Military (1589), an Elizabethan treatise on the continued effectiveness of the longbow, can also be considered as a source for Dussindale (Champion 2001). Although not a conventional chronicler, Smythe cited eyewitness testimony from Warwick's son, Sir Ambrose Dudley, to assert the superiority of rebel archers over loyalist soldiers equipped with firearms. Notwithstanding the author's clear agenda to promote the longbow, his selection of Dussindale as an example suggests that the battle may not have been as one-sided as other sources imply.