Henry Craik, ed. English Prose. 1916. Vol. I. Fourteenth to Sixteenth Century
Wat Tylers Rebellion
By Robert Fabyan (d. 1513)
IN this mayors year and end of the third year of King Richard, toward the summer season, in divers places of the land, the commons arose suddenly and ordained to them rulers and captains, and especially in Kent and Essex, the which named their leaders Jack Straw, Will Waw, Wat Tyler, Jack Shepherd, Tom Miller, and Hob Carter. These unruled company gathered unto them great multitude of the commons, and after sped them toward the city of London, and assembled them upon Black Heath in Kent, within three miles of London, and upon Corpus Christi day, being the eleventh day of June, they entered the tower of London, and there the king being then lodged, took from thence perforce Master Sudbery, then Archbishop of Canterbury, Sir Robert Halys, lord or prior of St. Johns, and a white friar, confessor unto the king, which three persons, with huge noise and cry, they led unto the hill of the said tower, and smote off their heads, and when they had so done, they returned into Southwark by boats and barges, and there slew and robbed all strangers that they might find: and that done they went to Westminster, and took with them all manner of sanctuary men, and so came unto the Duke of Lancasters place standing without Temple Bar, called Savoy, and spoiled that was therein, and after set it upon fire and brent it; and from thence they yode1 unto the head place of Saint Johns in Smithfield, and despoiled that place in like wise. Then they entered the city, and searched the Temple and other inns of court, and spoiled their places and brent their books of law, and slew as many men of law and questmongers2 as they might find: and that done they went to Saint Martins the Grand, and took with them all sanctuary men, and the prisons of Newgate, Ludgate, and of both counters, and destroyed their registers and books, and in like manner they did with the prisoners of the Marshalsea and Kings Bench in Southwark. When Jack Straw had thus done all thing at his will, and saw that no resistance was made again, he was smitten with so huge a presumption that he thought no man his peer, and so being enflamed with that presumption and pride rode unto the Tower, where the king, being smally accompanied of his lords, caused him to ride about some part of the city, and so conveyed him into Smithfield, where in the kings presence, he caused a proclamation to be made, and did full small reverence unto the king. Which misorder and presumption when William Walworth, then Mayor of London, beheld, of very pure disdain that he had of his pride, ran to him suddenly with his sword, and wounded him to death, and forthwith strake off his head, and areared it upon a spears point, and therewith cried, King Richard, King Richard. When the rebels beheld their captains head, anon they fled as sheep: howbeit many were taken, and many were slain, and the remnant chased, that the city and suburbs of the same was clean voided of them that night, which was Monday, and the fifteenth day of June. When the king had beholden the great manhood of the mayor, and assistance of his brethren and aldermen, anon, in reward of his deed, he dubbed the said William Walworth, Nicholas Brembre, John Philpot, Nicholas Twyfford, Robert Launder, and Robert Gayton, aldermen, knights. And in this season also, called the hurling time,3 the commons of Norfolk and Suffolk came unto the abbey of Bury, and there slew one of the kings justices, called John Candish, and the prior of the place with other, and after spoiled and bare away much thing out of that said place: but after this, as well the one as the other of these rebels, were taken in divers and sundry places and put in execution, by ten, by twelve, by fifteen, and twenty, so that one of them accused the other to the destruction of a great number of them.