Key Stage 3 History: Medieval Life 7: The Peasants’ Revolt: The Death of Wat Tyler

In blog 7 of our Key Stage 3 History series we look again at the Peasants’ Revolt – today, the death of Wat Tyler.

The Peasants’ Revolt: The Death of Wat Tyler

Didn’t I say I saw trouble ahead? Oh, how right I was. The meeting between the rebels and the King went ahead. And the leader of the rebels was killed. But like so many events that have happened, no one seems to know for sure what happened. Everyone has a different version of events. I’ve listened to them all and this is what I think happened.

It was a Saturday morning when the King arranged to meet Wat Tyler and the rebels. They met at Smithfield in London, the middle of a field. The King had armoured men with him for protection. But I guess a King would do that wouldn’t he? He’d hardly turn up alone or unarmed! And Wat Tyler had a group of the rebels with him. They were armed with knives and other weapons. Not proper army weapons, but they were armed.

So the king was talking to Wat Tyler. Apparently Tyler was making all these demands about what the rebels wanted. Like fairer taxes and an end to all the expensive wars. The King said he needed to talk to his advisers. Tyler said that was fine, but he wanted a drink of water whilst he waited. It was a terribly warm day. And that was when it all kicked off.

You won’t believe how silly Tyler was. The arrogance of the man! He took a mouthful of water and swilled it around his mouth. But instead of swallowing it like any sensible man in his position would do, he spat it out. IN FRONT OF THE KING!!! He couldn’t have shown more disrespect if he tried!

One of the King’s attendants drew his sword and hit Tyler on the head. Tyler fell to the floor. I don’t know how grievous the injury was, but it doesn’t really matter because another attendant also drew his sword and struck Tyler in the side. That was the blow that killed him.

The other attendants had the foresight to draw around to stop the crowd seeing what had happened to their leader. The King hastily promised to consider the demands of the rebels and speedily withdrew from the field. Before he went, he told the peasants to go home. And they did. They meekly went back to their homes and carried on as if nothing had happened. And because their leader was dead, the King got away with totally ignoring the demands. Nothing ever changed. Utter madness. A full scale rebellion and nothing happens as a result. The king really does have ultimate power.

Penny Brooks


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