Jack Cade's Rebellion


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Jack Cade’s Rebellion

 

a rebellion that broke out in England in 1450, fostered by the exacerbation of social contradictions resulting from the dominance of a grouping of major feudal lords who ruled in the name of Henry VI of Lancaster and from the defeats suffered by the English in the Hundred Years’ War (1337–1453) against France. Jack Cade’s Rebellion erupted at the end of May near Greenwich (Kent). In June it spread to Sussex, Essex, and Surrey.

By the beginning of July, the rebels numbered more than 20,000. The main force of the uprising was made up of the middle and small peasantry, who were joined by artisans, petty traders, and hired laborers. Leadership was exercised by representatives of the gentry, prosperous yeomen, and the urban elite.

The rebellion was named after Jack (John) Cade, the chief of the rebels. Statements of the rebels’ aims called for reduced taxes, the eradication of corruption, court and administrative reforms, and the repeal of the Statute of Labourers.

Routing the royal forces at Sevenoaks on June 18, the army of rebels entered London on July 2. The king was forced to flee the capital. The lower classes of the city, who joined the rebels, helped them to identify and execute the royal officials most hated by the people. The urban elite, upset by attacks on the houses of rich merchants, assembled a guild militia, which with the aid of the Tower garrison, drove the rebels out of London on July 5.

Disorder became a problem in the rebel army. Many of its members dispersed to their homes upon being granted pardon. Cade himself was fatally wounded in fighting near Lewes (Sussex) on July 12. His death did not bring an end to the movement. In August the poor united again in several rebel bands led by W. Parmynter, who called for the elimination of the feudal order so that “everything might be held in common.” Parmynter was killed early in 1451. Individual bands of rebels continued the struggle until 1454.

REFERENCES

Bogdanova, S. V., T. A. Kantemirova, and E. V. Kuznetsov. Vosstanie v Anglii 1450–1451 gg. pod rukovodstvom Dzheka Keda i Uil’iama Parmintera. Gorky, 1969.
Lyle, H. M. The Rebellion of Jack Cade, 1450. London, 1950.

E. V. KUZNETSOV

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18) According to David Bevington, "In Henry VI Shakespeare portrays the irresponsibilities of Jack Cade's rebellion with an exaggerated satirical animus that appeals to a deep mistrust of the mob," (19) a judgment echoed by Thomas A.
Chapter 2, "Dangerous Practices: Making History in 2 Henry VI," offers a satisfying analysis of Eleanor Cobham's rhetorical function in that play, complementing the recent emphasis on Jack Cade's rebellion and re-examining Richard Helgerson's argument that Shakespeare was "in the business of `staging exclusion'" (50).
De Sousa considers Shakespeare's deliberate conflation of Jack Cade's rebellion and the Peasant's Revolt of 1381 as a way to revisit the anti-literacy past of England's history by foregrounding the elitist control of texts and Cade's attempt to combat literacy and the bourgeois control of history's record.
For example, he compares agrarian protest in Jack Cade's rebellion to Shay's Rebellion, the eighteenth-century agrarian protest in western Massachusetts, and, more predictably but no less ironically, Othello to Clarence Thomas.