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The Peasant's Revolt and King Richard's Love

As tax riots roll across Europe the English Parliament has imposed yet another head tax (a poll tax). In modern terms it's not much money but it hits everyone above the age of 14 and it's the third such tax in a time of wage and price controls which seem able to control wages but not prices. The English Regent has built the largest palace in London history. 30,000 peasants converge on eastern London and burn John of Gault's palace to the ground. The young King Richard II (possibly 14 years old) rides out to tell the peasants that he loves them. Then one of the King's escorts (possibly the Mayor of London or Sir John Cavendish) stabs the worst of the leaders and has the rest hung by the neck. The rebellion comes apart but it's a close thing. [1] [2] [3] [4] [5] [6]

My Take by Alex Shrugged
Wat Tyler (a roofing contractor) is the one usually blamed for this goat rope of a Peasant's Revolt but regardless of who led it, it was made worse and ultimately failed because of the poor leadership of the Oxford scholars who helped the illiterate peasants write out their demands. These Oxford scholars (one of which was a Wycliffe follower) were long on theory but short on practical leadership. This civilization is coming apart as a result. The so-called divine right of kings is coming into question. Who else will call this divine right into question in years to come? That will be the English philosopher John Locke who won't be born until 1632. We have a long way to go. [7] [8]

The Jews and the Provost of Paris

After King Charles the Wise revoked the hearth tax (a fundamental property tax) and then died, riots broke out as the French government tried to restore order (and income) to the government. To do that the government is going to need some serious intermediate financing, and that means turning to the Jews who understand banking. But, some Frenchmen see opportunity in chaos and try to erase their debts by killing off the Jews who hold their loans. The Provost of Paris, seeing the danger to the Jews and France's imminent financial collapse, places the Jews under protective custody. For this supreme act of Christian charity and common sense, the Provost has been convicted and sentenced to life in prison on bread and water. He manages to escape and flee the city. [9] [10]

My Take by Alex Shrugged
This is a tricky subject because finance is considered a black art... even today. Who knows finance in the Middle Ages? The Lombards know it but they are Italian. The Knights Templar knew it but they are disbanded so that leaves the Jews to work France's finances but not everyone is seeing the big picture so they are going for the short-term gain.

Controversial opinion: To excuse their own violence against the Jews, these Christians have kidnapped Jewish babies and baptized them. To be fair to their faith, the Christians probably thought that was a good idea but they wouldn't have forced it unless money was on the line in the first place.

FYI: Alex Shrugged is Jewish so he can comment on things Jewish. He can comment on Christianity with less authority but he studied in it in college. He also feels perfectly comfortable talking about himself in the third person.

This Year on Wikipedia

Year 1381, Wikipedia.

See Also


  1. 1300-1400 AD, from History Central, Multieducator, Inc., quote="1381 AD The Peasants Revolt - A rebellion led by Wat Tyler created anarchy throughout England. 30,000 rioters converged on London. Once there, they burned a number of public buildings and beheaded the archbishop of Canterbury. King Richard made promises to meet the rioters demands, however the next day Tyler was killed and the revolt was put down."
  2. 1381: Simon of Sudbury and Robert Hales during Wat Tyler's peasant rebellion, ExecutedToday.com, 2011-Jun-14. (WEB PAGE)
  3. Cantor, Norman F., In the Wake of the Plague: The Black Death and the World It Made, Harper Perennial, 2001. pp. 61-62. (BOOK), quote="John of Gaunt was able to remain solvent, and set the leading edge in the billionaire lifestyle. He built the biggest house in London, which was burned down by angry peasants in 1381."
  4. Cantor, Norman F., In the Wake of the Plague: The Black Death and the World It Made, Harper Perennial, 2001. pp. 90-93. (BOOK). quote="The young King Richard II came riding out to meet the peasants. He assured them that he loved them and if they would go home their demands would be met and justice fulfilled. The most militant of the peasant leaders was struck down by a Plantagenet courtier accompanying the pallid young monarch."
  5. Cantor, Norman F., The Civilization of the Middle Ages, Norman F. Cantor, Harper Perennial, August 3, 1994. pp. 483-484. (BOOK)
  6. John Cavendish - Wikipedia, 2014 [last update]
  7. Peasants' Revolt - Wikipedia, 2014 [last update]
  8. John Locke - Wikipedia, 2014 [last update]
  9. Tuchman, Barbara Wertheim. (Barbara Tuchman, bio). A Distant Mirror: The Calamitous 14th Century. Ballantine, 1979. pp. 369-371. (BOOK) quote="For the moment, the crown's need of money dictated an effort through Hugues Aubriot, Provost of Paris, to take the Jews under royal protection. Aubriot, a contentious figure and notorious libertine, sent out heralds ordering restoration of everything stolen from the Jews including the kidnapped children."
  10. Hugues Aubriot - Wikipedia, 2014 [last update]

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