TYLER'S REBELLION. The name usually applied to the English social revolt in 1381, from Wat Tyler, its chief leader. It had been prepared for years by the teaching of a priest, John Ball (q.v.), in Southern and Eastern Eng land, and from his home at Colchester it was silently organized throughout Essex, and thence in the adjoining counties, especially Middlesex, Sus sex, and Kent. The brutal collection of an oppres sive poll-tax greatly incensed the people, and gave occasion for the outbreak in Essex in the early part of June, 1381. The country was soon aflame, and a division under \Vat Tyler and Jack Straw crossed the Thames at Erith. After captur ing the Castle of Dartford, where Tyler was chosen leader, and securing the allegiance of the Mayor and Council of Canterbury, they marched, in irresistible force, on London. On June 12 they camped at Blackheath, a southeastern suburb, while the Essex men, under Jack Straw, gath ered at Mile End. From all sides hands of in surgents, from the most distant counties, marched on London, Corpus Christi (June 13) being the day of reckoning chosen.
Disappointed in a promised conference at Blackheath with the young Richard II.. whom the Council would not permit to land from his barge in the Thames, the insurgents on June 13 marched on London. The London populace and the powerful Fishmongers' Company sided with them, and both the southern and northern armies were admitted into the city. The former straight way invested the Tower of London, in which the King, his Council, and many of the nobility had taken refuge. In vain di11 Richard try to ealm them from a turret; yielding to their threats, the Council agreed to the King's meeting them on the following morning at Mile End.
The traditional account of this conference, based on Froissart, represents the boy King by his cool courage calming the raging insurgents and inducing them to disperse. In reality it was a conference between the timid lad and the lead ers, with Tyler as spokesman, in presence of the entire rebel army. The King listened to Tyler's harangues, graciously granted all their demands, and then retired to the Tower Royal, another London fortress. The insurgents' demands in cluded the abolition of serfdom, a maxinnun rent of fourpence the acre for lands thus freed, the right to bny and sell free of toll all over Eng land, and the abolition of the Statutes of Labor ers, by which wages had been fixed in the inter ests of the landlords and master craftsmen. The
King also agreed to the execution of his min isters by the insurgents, and promised in future to choose his couneilors from among them.
By virtue of this grant, the commons marched straightway to the Tower, seized and beheaded such of the ministers as they could secure—the Archbishop of Canterbury, who was Chancellor, and the Treasurer, Sir Robert Hales, besides a few others, among whom were four collectors of the poll-tax. Meanwhile a large number of the insurgents returned home, satisfied with the abolition of villeinage. But the most formidable division, under Tyler, Straw, and Ball, remained, demanding further economic concessions, and above all the reformation of the Church, in ac cordance with Ball's ideals. The King agreed to meet them at Smithfield at vespers of June 15. Here, too, the traditional account has thrown unnecessary glamor about the heroism of Walworthe, :Mayor of London, and the boy King. In reality, Tyler was lured out of sight of his men, and after his demands had been granted, a pretext was found to arrest him, in resisting which he was dispatched by \Valworthe and others of the royal retinue. Their demands having been granted, the rebels were induced to go to Saint John's Field, as they supposed, at Tyler's command. When they learned the truth, and saw the royal forces approaching, they were glad to disperse, retaining the charters of free dom granted at Mile End.
The demands of the insurgents at Smithfield include two legal requirements directed especially against the Statutes of Laborers, one against serfdom, and a fourth demanding free use of woods, hunting and fishing to all tenants of manors. Their demands for the reformation of the Church differ from others of a later period in that the confiscation of church property ac crues to the benefit of the common people, in stead of King or nobility, by enfranchising the tenants of clerical domains and decreasing cleri cal taxes. The reforms were the most democratic ever demanded.