Key Stage 3 History: Medieval Life 6: Causes of the Peasants’ Revolt


 The sixth blog in our Key Stage 3 History series is about the Peasants’ Revolt.

Causes of the Peasants’ Revolt

Now, you know I’m not one for drama, but the whole world has gone mad! I never thought I’d see what I’ve seen in the last few days. The peasants are rebelling! All around Essex, Kent and London there are riots. People are being killed, houses and shops are being looted, buildings are being set on fire… It will be quite a clean-up operation I can tell you!

From what I’ve heard, there are several reasons for all this trouble. Some of the reasons started a while ago and have been building up. Do you remember I told you that a law was passed so that lords couldn’t put wages up after the Black Death? Well, that has annoyed a lot of peasants. Quite a few of them have managed to buy their freedom over the last few years and others want to be able to do the same. But even the Church is against peasants being free. The bishops are arguing that peasants shouldn’t be given freedom. Only because they want cheap labour to work on their lands, mind you.

All that built up tension as you can imagine. But things hit a real low point when the new King, Richard II (who is only ten years old!!!) introduced a Poll Tax. Everyone has to pay him 4d. Most of us can’t afford it. But if we don’t pay we’ll end up in prison. It’s the final straw for some peasants.

And now all this anger has been pulled together into violence because some peasant leaders have emerged. I’ve not seen them but I’ve heard they are out to get the King and will commit whatever violence necessary. There’s John Ball. He’s a priest, but only a poor one. He says the Church is too rich and he’s been travelling around the countryside encouraging peasants to rebel. And there’s Wat Tyler. Some say he’s always been a low life, stealing and helping pirates, but now he’s leading the revolt. He’s stirred things up so loads of peasants were riled enough to march to London and do all that damage.

Apparently, Richard II has arranged to meet Wat Tyler to find out what he wants and try to sort this mess out. I see trouble ahead!

Penny Brooks

Tutor

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