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of the people, and the news of its fall gave confidence to rebellion and caused the hands of the governors to tremble.'
And this agrees with what is generally recorded of the conduct of the nobles and gentry. A paralysing panic had seized them. In Kent they and their retainers remained quietly at home, as though asleep.' They had neither rallying-point, leader, nor plans. In London the Ministers were equally panic-struck; they attempted no resistance, but submitted to their butchers like so many sheep. The conduct of the French nobles during the Terror is described as closely resembling this. There was not one instance in which the victims resisted the order for their arrest, and though Taine considers that this was due to a life's training in the belief that a brawl of any kind was bad form,' it would seem to have been rather the effect of a mental paralysis such as, at the first, under somewhat similar conditions, disabled the gentry of England. They recovered themselves the next day, and resumed their wonted ascendency after the death of Wat Tyler. Mr. Trevelyan's account of this celebrated incident is valuable, if only for his discussion on the individuality of the man. That the rebels that assembled at Smithfield were led by a man ' who was afterwards generally known as Wat Tyler' is certain. But that is all that is so.
* So many Tylers appear in the records of these troubles that it is impossible to trace his identity or his previous performances. It is clear that he was a man of the people, and not one of those gentlemen who in some places consented to lead the rebels. He may have gained his position either by really superior talents as an organiser, or, as some of the leaders of the French Revolution gained theirs, solely by a sufficient display of audacity. One of the King's attendants declared that he recognised lim at Smithfield as one of the most notorious rogues and robbers in Kent. He appears to have been not wanting in insolence, and it is quite likely that his head had been a little turned by success. He rode forward from the ranks of his followers, who were lined up on one side of the market, and joined the group of horsemen that surrounded the King's person. Precisely what passed during the next two minutes seems to have been afterwards forgotten, or differently reported by the actors in the scene.
When the story came to be put down every chronicler obtained different details. It appears, whatever his demands were, that he treated the King with familiarity and his attendants with contempt. The lords and citizens were no longer in the humour to cringe to the peasants, and answered him back roundly. The King at tirst tried to act as peacenaker, but the next minute Walworth, who, like the rest of the company, was wearing armour under his official robes, struck Tyler from his horse. The others leaped to the ground and stabbed him to death where he lay. It was practically the first blow struck in defence of authority since the rebels had appeared on Blackheath.' And it was sufficient. With the death of Tyler the rebellion in London collapsed, a result to which the gallant bearing of the young King largely contributed. The Essex serfs had already departed, trusting to the King's promises at Mile End. The Kent insurgents now allowed themselves to be led peaceably through the city and dismissed to their homes. When Tyler's head had been struck off and set up orer London Bridge, London was quiet. But in the provinces there was still much to do. Many of the rioters sent out of London did not go home. One party of them broke into Guildford a few days later. Another party went northwards, got into the fens, and were massacred by a body of loyalists from Huntingdon. From all parts of England men were roaming the country to keep the rebellion alive. In East Anglia the rising was sternly put down by Henry Spencer, bishop of Norwich, the only man who, at the time, showed presence of mind and fearlessness of responsibility. It did not, of course, take much military skill to rout a mob of undisciplined and half-armed peasants ; but Spencer deservedly received great credit for his prompt and vigorous action. In Huntingdonshire, Cambridgeshire, Suffolk, and Norfolk the rebellion was stamped out in little more than a week from its commencement. In Dorset and Sounerset it was suppressed by the Earl of Salisbury. For Kent and Hampshire orders were sent to the sheriffs. The Earl of Buckingham* and Sir Robert Tresilian, newly appointed chief justice, had a special commission for all England.
Mr. Trevelyan casually mentious disturbances in Yorkshire, but without giving any details. If we rightly understand him, these were included in the original essay, but have been now deleted, in deference to the supposed tastes of the general reader. This seems to us a mistake, for they present many curious features which distinguish them from the rising, properly so called. With better judgement, M. Petit-Dutaillis has preserved them, together with a number of the original documents transcribed by Réville. From these it appears that though the rising in the south was directly connected with that at Scarborough, the disturb
* Better known in history as Duke of Gloucester, who, seven years later, as one of the lords appellant, had Tresilian hanged.
ances at Beverley and York had a purely local origin, though possibly intensified by the news from the south.
For many years Beverley had groaned under the tyranny of a municipal oligarchy, consisting of the more wealthy inhabitants (probiores et magis sufficientes burgenses '), who had made use of their power to enrich themselves at the expense of their poorer neighbours (é mediocres et minus
sufficientes homines de communitate ville illius '). Early in the summer of 1381—the exact date is indeterminate -- these mediocres rose in revolt against their oppressors, broke into their houses, and by murderous threats forced them to sign certain bonds (literas obligatorias '). As a counter move, on the night of July 6 a party of the probiores murdered one of their assailants, threw his body into the river, and came to an agreement with his widow that she should accuse his own companions of the murder. They were accordingly arrested, thrown into prison, and released only on paying a fine of 1001. On inquiring into these disorders the King-that is to say, the King's Ministers-took the part of the probiores, and granted them an amnesty for their illegal exactions, though prohibiting them for the future. M. Petit-Dutaillis assumes that this was because the rebellion against the usurpation and extortion of the probiores included also rebellion against the Statutes of Labourers; but it is not impossible that the facts that the name of the leader of the probiores was John Erghum, and that Ralph Erglum, bishop of Salisbury, was a partisan of the Duke of Lancaster, may have had something to do with it. Of this, however, there is now no evidence.
A somewhat similar state of things prevailed at York, where, on November 25, 1380, the communitas* broke violently into the Guildhall, deposed the mayor, John of Gisburn, who, rightly or wrongly, was accused of being associated with a gang of coiners and swindlers, elected i new mayor, one Simon Quixley, and compelled the more wealthy burgesses (“bones gentz') to recognise him. The authors of this revolution were artisans and tradesmen who had not previously had any share in the government of the city ; but Quixley appears to have been one of the bones gentz,' and to have at first hesitated about accepting
* M. Petit-Dutaillis says, we think correctly: 'Il est évident qu'ici, en dépit des théories de Mrs. Green sur le sens du mot communitas, ce terme désigne le bas peuple, par opposition aux riches bourgeois.'
the greatness thus thrust on him, though finally he determined to go through with the business. John of Gisburn, however, thought the position--with its emoluments, legitimate and illegitimate—worth fighting for; and the news of the rising in the south made the quarrel more bitter. On July 1 he, with a considerable body of his friends, made an attack on the city, and endeavoured to recover the power. They were overcome, and many of them, thrown into prison, were compelled to pay heavily for their release. The power of the King's Government seems to have been invoked in vain, and many months later the quarrel was still unsettled.
In these instances the cause of disturbance lay somewhat outside that of the Peasants’ Rising, and doubtless a fuller knowledge of the history of local corporations would show many others. In the northern and north-western counties there do not seem to have been any outbreaks : ruined, wasted, depopulated by the ceaseless war with the Scots, they were in no condition to move, though M. PetitDutaillis thinks that they may possibly have sent some contingents of vagabonds to join the insurgents in Yorkshire. That there was some excitement appears from the appointment to these counties of keepers of the peace, to prevent, or if necessary to suppress, any rising. Northumberland, Cumberland, and Westmoreland are explicitly named; not Durham or Lancashire.
When the first danger of the rebellion was passed men's minds turned to revenge. The rude peasants had not been let loose from their accustomed restraints without committing many excesses; and though not actuated by any mere thirst for blood, such as has often led French mobs into nameless atrocities, they had burnt and murdered freely enough when they conceived that they had their oppressors before them. They had put to death many lords of the manor who had abused, or were thought to have abused, their power; many lawyers also, who were regarded as their wicked instruments, tax-gatherers, and Sir John Cavendish, the chief justice. Worse than all, they had struck terror into the hearts of the Government and the nobles, who were now angry at their own weakness, and eager for vengeance rather than punishment. Mr. Trevelyan considers that the reprisals were excessive. He says:
The King had begun his Bloody Assize in Essex. Tresilian, appointed chief justice in place of the murdered Cavendish, was the Jeffreys of
the occasion, and Buckingham the Kirke. . . . Tresilian's severities won him an unenviable fame, not only with the peasantry, but with some of the more discriminating among the friends of order. It was said that he spared none who came before him for trial. He seemed to feel that he was revenging his profession and his murdered predeces all they had suffered in the rebellion. Hanging, quartering, disembowelling, went on apace. ... Even in London revenge outran decency. A block was set up in Cheapside by the authorities, on the site which had a few days before been used by the rebels as their Place de la Révolution, and on it scores of victims were offered up to the manes of those who had there perished.' And much more to the same effect; in all which we think that Mr. Trevelyan has taken the chroniclers too literally, without checking their gossiping statements by the more exact records of the law reports. It is to these that M. Petit-Dutaillis refers as supporting the contention that the severities have been grossly exaggerated; that Walsingham's stories of the London hangman having no rest, of the block permanently set up in Cheapside, of the necessity for additional gallows in the provinces, are born of imagination; that even the number of 1,500 executions mentioned by Froissart is far beyond possibility ;t for that, in point of fact, the number of rebels officially named as hanged or beheaded is about 110; and though some of the rolls are imperfect, there is no reason to suppose this number to be very far from the truth. He argues, too, fairly enough, that when, in October 1382, Parliament passed an Act of amnesty, but excepted by name 287 as men whose crimes put them outside the pale of forgiveness, we have a very clear proof that these had not been hanged; and though some of them were brought to the gallows later on, it appears that the greater number were quit for a term of imprisonment and a fine.
Of a more lively importance are our authors' discussions of the ultimate effect of this threatening rebellion. M. Petit-Dutaillis, differing from our best English writers-including Thorold Rogers and the Bishop of Oxford-maintains that it had no results : for the promises made at Mile End were annulled, the serfs were not emancipated, their position
The references are to Knighton and Higden-i.e. to the anonymous continuations of their works--and must be taken for what they are worth. On such a matter as this they seem to be mere popular rumour.
† It is, perhaps, scarcely necessary to point out that Froissart's numbers are always dealt out with oriental license.