Peasants’ Revolt began in Essex and soon became a major protest with people from varied sections of rural society participating in it. Also referred to as Wat Tyler’s Revolt after the leader of the rebels, it peaked when the rebels famously entered the Tower of London. Here are 10 interesting facts about one of the most prominent events in England’s history.
1. Black Death was indirectly responsible for the Peasants’ Revolt
In 1348 a plague known as Black Death, one of the most devastating pandemics in human history, spread to England killing about 50% of its population. Huge number of peasants died during Black Death and this meant that after the plague there was plentiful land but landowners were short of peasants. This allowed the labourers to charge more. However the government introduced labour laws which sided with landowners, like fixing wages at pre-plague levels. These laws were unpopular and provoked the peasants.
2. Hundred Years’ War made the situation worse for the peasants
At the time of the revolt, England was in constant conflict with France which came to be known as the Hundred Years’ War. The war put England under huge financial pressure and the parliament reacted by introducing a taxation of 4 pence on every person on the tax register, known as the poll tax. The poll was used three times in four years with the last one collecting as much as 12 pence on each person over 15. The poll tax tensed the already fragile relationship between the peasants and the ruling class.
3. Peasants’ Revolt began in Essex
The revolt began on June 1, 1381 in Essex. A royal official by the name of John Bampton summoned and interrogated people in Brentwood to collect unpaid poll taxes. Violence broke out and although Bampton escaped, three of his clerks and several people who had agreed to act as jurors were killed.