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The Peasants' Revolt
King betrays Londoners

Richard II talks to the Peasants during the Peasants' Revolt - © Nash Ford Publishing


  • 14-year-old King Richard II introduced a new poll tax (money paid to the Government by an individual) in 1381.
  • It was very unpopular with the peasants (poor people) because some of them had to pay more than others & the amount had tripled from last time. They already hated the young Kingís advisors, especially the Kingís uncle, John of Gaunt
  • The Kingís officials tried to collect the tax in Essex & Kent. They were sent away. Lots of men in those counties gathered together with weapons in large groups. They marched on London.
  • The Kentish men went to Blackheath. Then they crossed London Bridge into the City. They were led by Wat Tyler. The Essex men went to Stepney. They were led by Jack Straw.
  • They attacked buildings owned by the money-grabbing Knights Hospitaller and the hated John of Gaunt, including the Savoy Palace.
  • They captured the Tower of London. The Archbishop of Canterbury, the Lord Treasurer & the Grand Prior of the Knights Hospitaller were taken prisoner & executed. They let the King's popular mother go, but asked for kisses in return!
  • A meeting with the King was arranged at Smithfield, near the Priory of St. Bartholomew the Great. Wat Tyler was rude to the King and got out his dagger. So the Lord Mayor attacked him with his sword and another man ran him threw. He died almost immediately.
  • The rebels didnít know what was happening. King Richard rode amongst them. He said Wat had been knighted & their demands would be met if they marched to Clerkenwell.
  • The King had lied. The nobles quickly gathered 7,000 militia men (local soldiers). They dispersed the rebels. They captured the leaders & executed them.
  • King Richard was back in control.


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