Peasants Revolt

The origins of the peasants’ revolt can be traced back to the fallout from the Black Death and economic changes that ensued. : Because som many had died during the time of the black Death, labour was at a premium, which led to a rise in wages for labourers, which led to inflation. Because goods were more expensive to produce. Land lords were struggling in the labour market, so the government in 1349 issued the ‘Ordinance of Labours’ (the start of the English labour laws) and in 1352 the ‘Statute of Labourers’, which tried to curb peasants’ demands for better terms and conditions, by pegging wages to pre-plague levels, and restricting mobility of labour.. It also demanded that all able bodied men and women must work. Between 1377-81 a Poll tax was imposed on a country where there already was a nationwide sense of injustice with labour relations.

In 1381 the Peasants’ Revolt began in Fobbing in essex, when local gentry and free peasants refused to pay the tax. Events then moved very quickly, with different areas of the revolt in touch with each other. Kentish rebels reached Blackheath on 12 June. By June 14 the met with the King, demanding the sacking of certain councilors, and the abolition of serfdom.

Meanwhile the Essex rebels were at Mile End (further out of London) awaiting news. The Kentish rebels crossed London Bridge and stormed the Tower, beheading the Kings’s Chancellor and the Archbishop. By now the fate of the King was in the balance.

The King met with Wat Tyler at Smithfield and Wat Tyler was killed by the Mayor of London. The peasant army soon backed away, faced by 7,000 troops.

The crack down on the rebels was totally ruthless and unsparing. The ringleaders were executed by a vengeful government. The East Anglian rebels were finally defeated on 23 June at North Walsham in Norfolk. The Peasants’ Revolt was lterate and well organized, and expressed real grievances. The fallout from the revolt led to many changes, with people articulating individual belief and matters of conscience.