Peasants' Revolt

Updated: 10/9/2021
Peasants' Revolt

Storyboard Text

  • Labour shortages cause Lords to pay peasants to work for them. Peasants must also work on Church land for free
  • A tax collector arrives at a village in Fobbing, Essex to find out why the peasants' Poll Tax hasn't been paid.
  • Wat Tyler becomes leader of the rebel peasants
  • The Black Death killed around 1/3 of the population. Due to this, there were labour shortages which caused Lords to pay peasants to work for them to keep their workers, as they were in short supply. Some Peasants were also required to work for free on Church-owned land up to two days a week instead of working to support their own families. A priest called John Ball sympathises with the disgruntled peasants and supported them.
  • King Richard II met with the peasants on June 14th & 15th 1381
  • in 1380, the peasants were forced to pay a tax called the Poll Tax to fund war efforts in France. This tax had been introduced 3 times within the last 4 years and by 1381 the peasants had had enough. A tax collector went to the village of Fobbing, Essex, to find out why they hadn't paid. The collector, was thrown out by the villagers. When soldiers eventually came to establish law and order, the villagers, now an organised group, joined by many other local villagers, threw them out and marched to London to plead with the king to hear their complaints
  • Wat Tyler is killed by the Lord Mayor and peasants dispersed.
  • A man called Wat Tyler, from Kent, emerged as leader of the peasants. During the march to London, the peasants destroyed tax records and registers. Government buildings housing records were burnt down. Tyler demanded discipline from those who looked to him as leader but he did not acquire it. Many got drunk and looting took place.
  • John Ball is hanged, along with other revolt leaders from Kent and Essex.
  • King Richard II and his aides met with the peasants twice. The first time they met, it was at Mile End. The King gave the peasants all they demanded and asked them to go home peacefully. Some went, while others returned to the city of London and murdered the Treasurer and Archbishop, beheading them on Tower Hill near the Tower of London. That night, the King hid, fearing for his life.
  • The next day, the King met the rebels at Smithfield. It resulted in violence and Wat Tyler was killed by the Lord Mayor, Sir William Walworthe. The peasants returned home after another promise from the King that their demands would be met.
  • The Peasants' Revolt ended in the summer of 1381. John Ball was hanged, along with other rebel leaders from Essex and Kent. King Richard II did not keep his promises, claiming that his word was forced out under threat and therefore not valid in law. The poll tax was withdrawn, but the peasants were forced back into their old way of life, working under the control of lords. However, changes over the next 100 years forced lords to cave and pay peasants higher and higher wages with some travelling for work. This spelled the end of the Feudal System