Peasant Revolt of 1381

In the late 1300s medieval England was in a state of turmoil. The Hundred Years War had been raging, there was plague and problems with Scotland had also an issue. Parliament was on the rise and the absolute power of the monarch was on the decline.  It was under these circumstances that Richard II inherited the throne in 1377. Of course he was only a boy when he became king and his uncle John of Gaunt did a lot of the actual running over government. The ascension of a young king  is always bound to bring some degree unrest and this was no exception. The main reason for the revolts could be traced back to taxes though. With the situation in France, England was under a lot of debt so they ad to raise a poll tax to pay for their ongoing foreign activities.

One main leaders of the revolt was a charismatic fellow by the name of Wat Tyler. Apparently not much is known about his life prior to the revolt and just came out of the wood work in the spring of 1381 leading popular uprisings. Another leader of the rebellion was a disgraced priest named John Ball. His involvement shows that there was support among the middle class and not just peasants.

After stirring up unrest in the countryside the rebels marched to London on June 13th of 1381. The young king Richard II in a display of bravery, rides out to negotiate with Tyler. While they are talking, Wat got brutally cut down. Richard seized the opportunity to take charge of the crowd, leading them out of the city. Most regular folks still liked the king, just not his corrupt noble, so leading them out wasn’t actually that hard. Once they were out in a field the king made a bunch of promises which he prompted reneged on. The troops came in, took down the rebels, and Richard had successfully averted one the first major challenges of his reign.

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