The Peasants’ Revolt, also known as the Great Rising or Wat Tyler’s Rebellion, occurred in England in June 1381. It was a major uprising by peasants and lower-class workers against oppressive taxes and social inequalities.
The immediate cause of the revolt was the imposition of a poll tax, the third within four years, which was seen as unfair and excessive. The tax was part of the government’s effort to finance military campaigns, but it placed a heavy burden on the poorer sections of society.
The rebellion started in Essex and quickly spread to other parts of the country. The rebels, led by figures like Wat Tyler and John Ball, a radical preacher, demanded the abolition of serfdom, removal of harsh taxes, and political reforms. They marched to London, gaining support along the way.
Upon reaching London, the rebels presented their demands to King Richard II. Initially, the king agreed to their terms, but the situation turned violent when the Mayor of London killed Wat Tyler during negotiations. Following Tyler’s death, King Richard II managed to calm the rebels by promising reforms.
However, once the immediate threat was over, the king and the nobility reneged on their promises and suppressed the remaining rebels. The aftermath saw the leaders of the uprising executed, and the peasant’s conditions remained largely unchanged.
The Peasants’ Revolt was significant as it highlighted the growing tension between the lower classes and the ruling elites in medieval England. It demonstrated the potential power of the peasantry when united against feudal oppression, although it ultimately failed to achieve its aims. The revolt is often seen as a precursor to later social and economic reforms in England.