Wat Tyler

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Wat Tyler
Known for Peasants' Revolt

Tyler, Wat

Tyler, Wat, d. 1381, English rebel. His given name appears in full as Walter; his surname signifies the trade of a roof tiler. He came into prominence as the leader of the rebellion of 1381, known as the Peasants' Revolt. The revolt had its origins in the plague of 1348–49, which had swept away nearly a third of the population of England. The result was a scarcity of labor and a rise in wages. In 1351, Parliament passed the Statute of Labourers to hold down wages. This proved almost impossible to enforce but aroused much resentment among the peasantry. Another source of discontent was the fact that landlords were attempting to stem the new mobility of labor by asserting their ancient manorial rights. This unrest flared into rebellion when the poll tax was increased in 1380. The first outbreak came in Essex, but the trouble soon spread to Kent, where Tyler was chosen as leader. The rebels seized Canterbury and then proceeded to London, their number increasing on the way. After an unsuccessful attempt to interview Richard II, Tyler led the mob into the city, where it plundered and burned many houses (including the Savoy Palace, residence of John of Gaunt) and the Fleet and Newgate prisons. On June 14 the king met some of the rebels at Mile End and agreed to their demands to abolish serfdom, feudal service, market monopolies, and restrictions on buying and selling. At the same time, however, or immediately thereafter, Tyler and another group of rebels captured the Tower of London and killed the archbishop of Canterbury and several other officials. The following day Tyler met the king at Smithfield, where he presented new demands, including one for the confiscation of all church property. In an exchange of blows with the mayor of London, Tyler was mortally wounded and died soon afterward. The king, though a boy of 14, cowed the mob and held them at bay until the mayor brought up armed support. The rebels dispersed, and the revolt, which had raged over all England, was put down with severity. King Richard immediately revoked the Mile End grants.


See C. Oman, The Great Revolt of 1381 (1906, repr. 1969); R. B. Dobson, ed., The Peasants' Revolt of 1381 (1970); R. H. Hilton and T. H. Aston, English Rising of 1381 (1987).

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References in periodicals archive ?
A Watt Tyler B Emmeline Pankhurst C Sir Thomas Watson D William Wilberforce 6.
The first feud Wheatley examines is the controversy surrounding the publication of Robert Southey's fiercely Jacobin play Watt Tyler. Southey had written the play in his youth, and approached the radical publisher James Ridgeway with it in 1795.
When I emerged, the peasants were revolting under their doughty leader, Watt Tyler, and the sun was high over the steeple on the village church, where a weary gull had perched to rest his wings and to dream a while.
It's the sort of mass mobilisation of people power that should be calling to mind Watt Tyler, the Jarrow Marches and little Mahatma Ghandi.
To suggest that it has no status is a bit like reminding Post readers that enemies could never see the point of Watt Tyler, The Tolpuddle Martyrs, the Taff Vale judgment or Suffragettes.
Of his historical knowledge the headmaster wrote: 'Good for his age, but said the rebellion of Watt Tyler happened in the reign of Edward VI.