In this essay I will examine the principal reasons which led to the failure of the Peasants Revolt in 1381. Firstly I will look at the development of the rebellion, I shall then look at the primary reasons for its failure and finally assess whether in the greater context of things the revolt can be classed as a failure.
The revolt was precipitated by aggressive attempts on the part of the nobility to enforce the third poll tax which allegedly was to finance a continuation of the hundred years war. The problems encountered with the poll were that it was not levied on a flat rate basis nor according to schedule and this caused widespread discontent. The event that finally sparked the uprising was the attempt to force the village of Brentwood to pay the recent poll tax. When John Bampton demanded that they pay the village insisted they already had and when he tried to have them arrested he was chased out of town by one hundred men led by Thomas Baker. Subsequently troops were sent to deal with the village but were again successfully driven away and the discontent among the peasants began to slowly spread. In 1381 two groups from essex and Kent marched on London with Walter Tyler at their head and proceeded to storm the tower of London. They executed all they found inside including The Lord Chancellor, The Lord Treasurer and the Archbishop of Cantebury who was synonymous with the poll tax and then proceeded to sack London destroying scores of buildings including the Savoy Palace. The government lacked any significant military capability and so decided to follow a policy of conciliation with the King meeting the mob and its leader Wat Tyler first at Mile end and then at Smithfield.
At Smithfield Wat Tyler left his army and proceeded towards the King with the intention of confirming the promises the King had made at Mile End to end feudal serfdom, to abolish market monopolies and to end the service to a feudal lord. Tyler, it is alleged by his...
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