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The Peasants' Revolt - Trends & Triggers

What caused the Peasants' Revolt? What were the peasants thinking and saying?

  • "The priests are telling us that we are just as good as the lords. One poor priest, John Ball, has been put in prison for spreading this idea."

  • "England has been at war with France for nearly 50 years. Since 1369 the war has been going badly. it is costing a lot of money. I have heard a rumour that the French might invade."

  • "When Richard II came to the throne in 1377 he was only a boy of ten. His advisers are useless. They do nothing to help us."

  • "Since the Black Death in 1348 wages have been going up. In 1351 there was a new law which said that no peasant could ever be paid more than he was before the Black Death."

  • The king's commissioners have been sent to the villages to make sure we all pay the new taxes."

  • "These new poll taxes - 1377, 1379 and now 1381 - will ruin us! Every person over 15 has o pay 4d. How can we afford it?"

  • "Since the Black Death in 1348 some of us have been able to buy our freedom from the lords. But many peasants are still villeins. They are not free."


You are a discontented peasant in 1380. Write a speech persuading your fellow peasants to revolt.

Remember you will have to persuade them to break the law therefore your argument must be based on what is really angering them at the moment. Remind them of all the unfair rules etc. of the last few years. Exaggerate - be energetic - but convince them!!!


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AS/A2 Level