June 15th – On this day in 1381, the Peasants’ Revolt came to an end when one of its leaders was killed at West Smithfield.
According to the French chronicler Jean Froissart (c.1337-c.1405), writing in the second of his “Chroniques”, completed in 1388:
“This day all the rabble … assembled under Wat Tyler, John Straw and John Ball, at a place called Smithfield … . There were present about 20,000, … breakfasting, and drinking Rhenish wine and Malmsey Madeira … without paying for anything … . [W]hen the King, attended by sixty horses, … arrived before the Abbey of St Bartholomew, … and saw the crowd of people, he stopped, saying that he would … endeavour to appease them. Wat Tyler … was only desirous of a riot … . … The Mayor of London [William Walworth], with about twelve men, rode forward, armed under their robes, … seeing Tyler’s manner of behaving, … . [T]he Mayor, … supported by the King, … then drew a kind of scimitar, and struck Tyler such a blow on the head as felled him to his horse’s feet. As soon as the rebel was down, he was surrounded on all sides, in order that his own men might not see him; and one of the King’s squires, by name John Standwich, immediately leaped from his horse, and drawing his sword, thrust it into his belly, so that he died. When the rebels found that their leader was dead, they drew up in a sort of battle array, each man having his bow bent before him. The King at this time … hazarded much, though it turned out most fortunately for him; for … he left his attendants, giving orders that no one should follow him, and riding up to the rebels, … said ‘Gentlemen, … I am your King, remain peaceable’. The greater part, on hearing these words, were quite ashamed, and those among them who were inclined for peace began to slip away … ”.
For additional information, please see my Previous blog posting on the Summer of Blood, which includes an extract from my book, ‘The Lost City of London’ (for further information on the book, including stockists, see the Book section of the website).
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