at Tyler, along with Jack Straw and John Ball, were the leaders of the Peasant's Revolt that took place in 1381. It is not known if he was a tiler, or even a soldier, but he led the Kentish rebels during the uprising. The cause of the revolt can be traced back to the affects of the Black Death that reduced the population in England greatly. With less hands to work the fields the working people were entitled to more money and to pay less rent, but instead they were forced to endure wages that were fixed and rules preventing them from moving to other areas of the country. In order to raise money for the war with France, Parliament called for a series of poll-taxes. The third poll-tax raised was the hardest and even the poorest were expected to contribute. In an effort to prevent the workers avoiding paying the taxes, judges were sent out to ensure the taxes were paid. In June of 1381 in Kent and East-Anglia the peasants and townspeople rose up in rebellion against the taxes and led by Wat Tyler they marched towards London. On June 14, the rebels met with King Richard II at Mile End. The King agreed to several demands and the Essex rebels returned home. But Wat Tyler wanted more and attacked the Tower of London where Archbishop Sudbury was killed. The next day Wat Tyler met with the King as Smithfield with more demands but was killed. Richard persuaded the rebels to return home. The rebels were later tracked down and punished for taking part in the rebellion.
William Courtenay was elected the new archbishop of Canterbury by the Kentish rebels who crowded into the church. The previous archbishop was in London with the king and was to be beheaded by the rebels. The Essex section of the revolt burnt and sacked a Hospitaller commandery that had previously belonged to the Templars called Cressing Temple. ¹
King Richard II negotiated with the rebel peasants at Mile End, London. At the same time a group of rebels entered the Tower of London and Archbishop Simon of Sudbury, Sir Robert Hales and other officials were killed. Disturbances also started in St.Albans. ¹
Richard II again met the rebels, at Smithfield; they demanded the confiscation of church land; Watt Tyler was killed and the rebels dispersed; the Prior of Bury St.Edmunds was executed by the townspeople; University property was attacked in Cambridge. ¹
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Selection of references used:
1. John J. Robinson, Born in Blood, ISBN:0-87131-602-1