In the summer of 1381, the people of England had had enough: disease, war, and low harvests had caused great discontent throughout the land. The Statute of Labourers (1351)—which kept wages fixed at a low price—was still in force, while the lowest class in society, the serfs, were the virtual slaves of the lord, forced to work the land for little-to-nothing beyond what was needed for their subsistence. To add insult to injury, the government had imposed 3 successive poll taxes in 1377, 1379, and 1380.
It wasn’t only men who had all the fun during the Peasants’ Revolt: Joan Smith was ‘the leader of a great band of rebellious evil-doers from Kent’. Who were these rebellious women in the Peasants’ Revolt?
“We would have killed the king and driven out of the land all possessioners, bishops, monks, canons, and rectors of churches. We would have created kings, Walter Tyler in Kent and one each in other counties, and appointed them and we would have set fire to four parts of the city and burnt it down and divided all the precious goods found there amongst ourselves.”
My book on Wat Tyler in medieval and post-medieval literature is now available for preorder on Amazon!
Mrs. O’Neill’s story of the Peasants’ Revolt, all-but-forgotten now, reflects the political agitation leading up ot the passage of the Great Reform Act (1832)
Robin Hood has always been an awkward socialist figure, but according to William Morris (1834-1896), he prepared the way for the radical preacher, John Ball (d.1381).
I have recently been contracted by a commercial publisher to write a popular history book entitled “The Mob Reformer: The Life and Legend of Wat Tyler” which is due for publication in 2018.
A brief look at Georgian and Victorian representations of Wat Tyler, the leader of the Peasants’ Revolt of 1381.
A paper read at Chethams Library, Manchester – 20 May 2016.
The penny dreadful author that you’ve never heard of…