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This Sceptred Isle

Richard II, Wat Tyler and the Peasants' Revolt
Richard II came to the throne in 1377 aged 10. John of Gaunt became Steward of England. John of Gaunt was unpopular with the businessmen of City of London, the clergy and the commoners of Parliament. He wanted to re-establish the authority of the crown and the Royal Family. He had at the end of Edward III's reign charged the Chancellor and the Treasurer and replaced them with his own men. 'The Good Parliament' spent the rest of Edward III's reign trying to overthrow Gaunt's men and at the start of Richard II's reign politics were complicated and unsettled.

The country was over-taxed and when in 1381 an extra poll-tax was introduced, the peasants' of Kent and Essex rebelled. They gathered behind Wat Tyler and marched to London. The Chancellor and the Treasurer were beheaded by the mob on Tower Hill. The young King met the mob at Smithfield, Wat Tyler presented their charter. Tyler attacked the Lord Mayor of London as he tried to arrest him, he was later beheaded.

Richard II
Richard II
RICHARD II (1367-1400)

  • King of England (1377-1399)
  • Son of Edward the Black Prince and Joan of Kent
  • Acceded to the throne as a boy
  • John of Gaunt acted as guardian
  • Married Anne of Bohemia
  • Showed courage during the Peasants Revolt
  • Fell out with his ministers and advisers and was humiliated at the Merciless Parliament in 1388.
  • Avenged this humiliation by dispossessing a third of the nobility and thereby became a very wealthy King
  • In 1399 he went to Ireland and lost two armies in two weeks
  • Surrendered at Conway and was forced to abdicate in 1399 and was imprisoned
  • Died, probably murdered, in 1400

did you know?
The sword traditionally carried at the coronation of the kings and queens of England is called Curtana. It is a short sword and is the symbol of mercy.

Select historical period

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Voices of the Powerless
1377Richard II becomes King of England
John Of Gaunt is Steward of England
1381Peasants' Revolt
1388Merciless Parliament
1390Robert III, King of Scots
1394Richard II leads successful invasion of Ireland
1399Death of John of Gaunt
Richard II deposed
Henry IV becomes King of England
1400Richard II dies

The repeal of oppressive statutes
The abolition of villeinage
The division of Church property
In particular that "no man ought to be a serf or do labour services to a seigneur, but pay four pence an acre a year for his land and not have to serve any man against his will, but only by agreement".

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