Although Wat Tyler’s rebellion failed, the story was retold in plays, poetry, novels, and the rebels’ names were used as aliases in protests through the ages—this post looks at the first every play written about the events of the Peasants’ Revolt.
Poetry: The Rebellion of Wat Tyler and Jack Straw (c.1612)
Unlike that other medieval hero and man of the people, Robin Hood, Wat Tyler does not enjoy an extensive ballad “afterlife.”
This song, first published in The Garland of Delight (1612), is perhaps the first proper ballad which features the famous rebel. It was subsequently published by Thomas Evans in “Old Ballads, Historical and Narrative” (1777) during the “age of ballad scholarship.” Presented here is a transcription of the song.
It wasn’t only men who had all the fun during the Peasants’ Revolt: Joan Smith was ‘the leader of a great band of rebellious evil-doers from Kent’. Who were these rebellious women in the Peasants’ Revolt?
The History of Thomas Walsingham’s Historia Anglicana traced through Reappearances of Jack Straw’s Last Dying Speech
How do certain ‘facts’ about one of the major events of English history get forgotten? Between 1715 and 1863, one such fact which people forgot was a dying confession made by Jack Straw, ahero of the Peasants’ Revolt.
The Last Dying Speech and Confession of Jack Straw
“We would have killed the king and driven out of the land all possessioners, bishops, monks, canons, and rectors of churches. We would have created kings, Walter Tyler in Kent and one each in other counties, and appointed them and we would have set fire to four parts of the city and burnt it down and divided all the precious goods found there amongst ourselves.”
Available for preorder: “The Life and Legend of a Rebel Leader: Wat Tyler” (2018)
My book on Wat Tyler in medieval and post-medieval literature is now available for preorder on Amazon!
“The Bondman” (1833): Wat Tyler, Medievalism, and the Great Reform Act of 1832
Mrs. O’Neill’s story of the Peasants’ Revolt, all-but-forgotten now, reflects the political agitation leading up ot the passage of the Great Reform Act (1832)
‘Robin Hood Should Bring Us John Ball’: The Outlaw in William Morris’ “A Dream of John Ball” (1886)
Robin Hood has always been an awkward socialist figure, but according to William Morris (1834-1896), he prepared the way for the radical preacher, John Ball (d.1381).