The Peasants’ Revolt 1381

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Map Code: Ax02007

The Peasants’ Revolt of 1381 was the most serious uprising in Medieval England. The peasants were angry about a recently imposed poll tax (to cover the cost of war with France), food-shortages, poor wages and their serfdom. The revolt began when a tax collector was thrown out of an Essex village. Essex and Kent villagers, led by ex-soldier Wat Tyler, marched on London where, on 13 June, they destroyed tax records, massacred lawyers and foreign merchants, and burned down the Savoy Palace. King Richard II met the marauding rebels outside the city and ‘ceded’ to their demands, which included an end to feudalism. Wat Tyler and 30,000 rebels, unconvinced, stayed in London. On 15 June, peasants captured the Tower of London and beheaded the Archbishop of Canterbury. On 15 June, Wat Tyler met with the king and, following a tense meeting, the Mayor of London, Sir William Walworth, cut his throat for his insolence. Tyler died of his injuries and the peasants returned to their villages. Richard, pleading that his promises had been made under threat and were therefore worthless, did not meet any of the peasants’ demands.

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