England’s Peasants’ Revolt #OnThisDay

On the 12th of June 1381, the forces of the first known rebellion of the people of England, began arriving at Blackheath – The Peasant’s Revolt.

England was in the midst of the consequences of The Black Death and repeated waves of pandemics. There was extreme economic hardship for the people. A poll tax had been imposed in 1380 and was deeply unpopular.

The King of England at the time was the 14 year old Richard II and his tactless government who thought increasing taxes on the people was the way to go.

The rising had started in Kent in May 1381 and quickly gathered support from many classes of society.

The people were led by Wat Tyler who had been chosen to be their leader.

King Richard II promised the rebels many concessions: cheap land, free trade, the abolition of serfdom and forced labour. 

Richard II meeting with the rebels of the Peasants’ Revolt of 1381. Painting by Jean Froissart

On June 15th at the violent breakdown of negotiations Wat Tyler was seriously injured. His followers carried him to St. Bartholomew’s Hospital, from which he was later dragged away and beheaded by order of the lord mayor of London, William Walworth.

William Walworth was knighted by the King.

After Tyler’s death the government quickly reasserted its authority and ended the rebellion.

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