Jack Cade



Cade Background

Jack Cade is something of a mystery man. (10) We really don’t know who he was. (9) OR Little is known about (5,7) Jack (1,2) (real name (1,7) possibly (11) John (1,7)) Cade. (1,2) He appeared to history out of nowhere in the spring of 1450, (10) and did not leave behind any personal documents. (11) The use of aliases was common among rebels, forcing historians to base their claims on rumour and speculation. (11) By sheer dint of personality became the recognized leader of the Kentish protests. (10) He was (1,2) probably (7) OR may have been (8) born between 1420 and 1430 (11) in Ireland (1,2) OR according to Mark Antony Lower, in Sussex (11) and so ‘English’. (8,11) Historians agree for certain that he was a member of the lower ranks of society. (11) He was living in Sussex (4,7) where another rumour suggested that he enjoyed dabbling in the dark arts (11) and had once worked for Sir Tomas Dacres (11,14) Fiennes, a member of the family of Lord Saye and Seal, the Lord Treasurer murdered by the rebels. (14) There may have been a feud between the Fiennes and Dacre cousins. (14) In 1449, (4) he was accused of murdering (4,7) OR murdered a (7,11) pregnant (11) woman. (4,11) He fled to France (4,7) where he served as a soldier (7,10) for France against England. (10) He returned to England (4,7) in 1450 and (4) settled in Kent (2,4) posing as a physician (4,11) OR was of uncertain occupation, (2) but he was certainly not a peasant. (14) He had worked for and lived with Thomas Dacre, One tale of the time claimed that (11) he took the name of John (4,11) Aylmer (4,7) OR Alymere (11) and married a lady of good position, (7,11) the daughter of a squire in Surrey. (11)During the rebellion of 1450, Cade took on the title of “Captain of Kent” (11) then took the name of (2,4) OR some of his followers called him (8) John Mortimer, (2,4) who has generally been regarded as identical with Cade. (7) His dedication to having the people’s complaints heard and restoring order within both local and central governments earned him the nickname “John Mend-all” or “John Amend-all”. (11) John Mortimer, (2,4) and his followers claimed he was a cousin of (8) OR he identified himself with the family of Henry’s rival, (2,4) Richard (4,8) duke of York, (2,4) Henry VI’s main rival for the throne of England. (11) It was this that gave the name Mortimer negative connotations for the king and his associates, though as of yet no evidence has been found indicating that he was involved in funding or inciting the uprising. (11) It is most likely that Cade used the name Mortimer as propaganda to give his cause more legitimacy. (11)

The rebels

It was well-organized, (8) the largest (5) and one of the most important (3) popular uprisings to take place in England during the 15th century (5) OR Middle Ages. (3) It is estimated that about 5,000 people took part in the uprising. (11) It was not just a peasant uprising: (6) OR It was not a peasant uprising at all. (9) OR The majority of the participants were peasants and small (10) landowners (10,11) from Kent. (10) OR They were mostly peasants. (11) The protests were mainly political, (8,9) not social, (8) OR quite as much political as social, (9) The leaders were men of property who objected to the political climate of the times. (10)A good many artisans of the Kentish Town1 were involved (9) but it also found support among men of higher status. (9) OR its supporters were (2,4) peasants (10) and small (2,4) Kentish (4,5) OR and Essex, (9) OR and Sussex (6) property holders (2,4) OR the inhabitants (3,4) of areas further afield (3,9) in south-eastern England. (3) There were shopkeepers, craftsmen, and some landowners: (11) over 70 persons who described themselves as gentlemen were involved: (9) (the list of pardoned shows the presence of one knight, two MPs and eighteen squires) (11) Local notables included the clerks of Dallington and Wartling. (6) Several soldiers and sailors returning via Kent from the French wars also joined in the fray. (11) Even churchmen joined the rebels: (10) the rector of Mayfield and the Prior of St Pancras in Lewes. (6,10) Cade’s lieutenant Robert Poynings came of lordly blood. (9) The rebellion was widespread, and the men of Appledore and Frant were known to have been in the fighting. (6)

The Rebels’ Grievances

Like 1381?

In the years preceding the rebellion, England suffered from both internal and external difficulties and the animosity of the lower classes toward Henry VI was on the rise. (11) In the early spring of 1450 the loss of French territory and ports was causing England, a country reliant on foreign trade, lost markets and ever increasing levels of taxation, (14) and there were a number of serious riots in Kent. (9) In May (7,8) OR June (4) 1450, (4,7) Cade became the leader of (1,2) a major (1,3) a full-scale (9) rebellion in 1450 against the government of (1,2) the weak and unpopular (5,14) King Henry VI of England. (1,2) In the spring of 1450, Cade organized the creation and distribution of a manifesto entitled ‘The Complaint of the Poor Commons of Kent’. (11) The manifesto represented not only the grievances of the people but of several MPs, lords and magnates as well. (11) The document included a list of fifteen complaints and five demands to be brought before the king for scrutiny and dictated the causes of the revolt. (11) The first issue to be addressed was that Cade’s followers from Kent were being unjustly blamed for the death of the Duke of Suffolk. (11) Despite the well-known anger of the peasants towards the Duke, the Bill of Complaints dismissed the idea that the rebels were responsible. (11) In addition the rebels called for inquiries into cases of corruption within local and national governments and for the removal of corrupt high officials. (11) Cade’s list of complaints goes on to charge King Henry with injustice for not choosing to impeach his underlings and lords even though they were guilty of treasonous and unlawful acts. (11) The king’s counselors and officials were accused of rigging elections, extortion, manipulating the king for their own gains and using their close position to the king to oppress those below them. (11) Besides the duke of Suffolk, the rebels explicitly called out the Lords Saye, Crowmer, Isle, Slegge and Est for extortion. (11) Affiliates of Suffolk, Lord Saye and his son-in-law Crowmer held prominent positions within the king’s household and in the local administration of Kent. (11) Both had served several terms as the sheriffs of Kent and as members of the king’s council. (11) Furthermore, in 1449, Saye was appointed to the prestigious office of lord treasurer. (11) Isle and Slegge also served as sheriffs and MPs in the county of Kent. (11) When the king failed to remedy their grievances the rebels marched on London. (11) Superficially, this revolt of the commons of Kent bore resemblance to the movement of 1381. (9,10) It was really very different, (9,10) although they did call for some social change (8,9) to the 14th Century Statute of Labourers (8,9) (which attempted to freeze wages and prices). (8)

The War

The loss of royal lands in France (8,9) such as Normandy, (5,9) Gascony, Guienne and Anjou (9) caused morale to decline and led to a widespread fear of invasion. (11) Already the coastal regions of England such as Kent and Sussex were seeing attacks by Norman soldiers and French armies. (11) Henry’s call to set warning beacons along the coastline confirmed peoples’ suspicions that an attack by the French was possible. (11) Ill-equipped by the government, English soldiers took to raiding towns along the route to France with their victims receiving no compensation. (11) These fears and continuous unrest in the coastal counties inspired many Englishmen to rally in an attempt to force the King to address their problems or abdicate his throne in favour of someone more competent. (11) At court the different opinions on how England should proceed in the war with France led to party divisions. (11) Henry favoured peace while his uncle the duke of Gloucester and other nobles felt England should continue to fight for England’s claim to the French throne. (11) In 1449 the fortunes of war changed, with the French introducing their new artillery, designed by Jean Bureau. (14) In April 1450 the French won a major victory at Formigny. (14) Internecine fighting in court eventually led to the banishment of the king’s closest friend and advisor William de la Pole, 1st Duke of Suffolk. (11) To add to England’s troubles many believed that the king had surrounded himself with advisors who were ineffective and corrupt. (11) At the heart of the corruption scandal was the duke of Suffolk. (11) Suffolk had succeeded only in making confusion worse. (9) The misdoings of his long period of ascendancy, at home and abroad, built-up popular resentment to flash point. (9) In fairness to him, it must be admitted that Suffolk came to influence at a time when public confidence in government, shaken by aristocratic rivalry and financial mismanagement during the King’s minority, had long been declining, and that he inherited a well-nigh impossible diplomatic situation. (9) When Englishmen suddenly saw what was left to them of Henry V’s famous conquests in the process of being engulfed, the structure of central government proved too fragile to withstand the shock. (9)


People were angered by high taxes and prices. (2,4) The never-ending struggle with France that we know as the Hundred Years War had (5,10) depleted the English treasury and left the royal coffers constantly in need of replenishment. (10,11) Heavy taxation was the result, but added to the burden of this taxation was the greed of royal officials, who lined their own pockets at the expense of proper administration of the tax system. (10)

Corruption at Court

In the years preceding, Suffolk had maintained himself only by his personal influence with the king and queen, and by total unscrupulousness when it came to eliminating such potential opponents as Humphrey of Gloucester. (9) The chief demands (9) in Cade’s manifesto (4,9) were for the punishment of the traitors who were about the king. (9) They criticized the extravagance of the court (8) and the corruption, mismanagement, and oppression of (3,5) the royal favourites in (8) Henry VI’s government. (3,5) “We say that our sovereign Lord may understand this: his false council has lost his law: his merchandise is lost: his common people are destroyed: France is lost. The king himself is so placed that he may not pay for his meat and drink.” (9) Several of the King’s chief ministers (4,9) “The false progeny and affinity of the Duke of Suffolk” in consequence of whose counsel “the Good Duke Humphrey was done to death”, (9) should be removed. (4,10) and the king should “take about his royal person men of his true blood from his royal realm”. (9) to wit the Duke of York (4,9) who should be recalled from (4) his virtual exile in Ireland, (4,11) and the Dukes of Exeter, Buckingham and Norfolk. (9)


Most of these minor gentry wanted an end to poor government. (10) They did not call for sweeping social change. (10) Some of the grievances were local (5,9) such as the breakdown of the administration of justice, (8) forced labour, and the seizure of royal estates by nobles. (10) Courts were corrupted by (10) maintenance by local officials in Kent, and of purveyance. (9) Added to the burden of taxation was the greed of royal officials, who lined their own pockets at the expense of proper administration of the tax system. (10) The rebels called for improved methods of taxation. (10)

The events before London

When the duke of Suffolk’s body washed up on the shores of Dover the people of Kent feared retaliation. (11) Rumours emerged claiming that the king intended to turn Kent into a Royal forest in retaliation for the duke’s death. (11) When no assurance of any remedy came from the king, the rising soon collapsed into violence. (3) News of the defeat at Formigny came in April. (14) In May 1450, the rebels began to join together in an organized fashion (11) and marched on London (2,4) in order to force the government to end the corruption and remove the traitors—as they saw the King’s closest advisors—surrounding the king’s person. (5) The government had hoped that the exiling of Suffolk would have proved enough to persuade people that it intended to reform, but the rising was showing that it had not (14) The government therefore sought further scapegoats, arresting Lord Say and Seal and Bishop Aiscough (14) OR Ayscough (9,11) and imprisoning them in London. (14) OR Ayscough was assassinated in Salisbury. (9) Lord Say is described as ‘dredynge the malice of the peple’. (14) Cade sent out delegates to the surrounding counties to elicit aid and additional men. (11) Cade and his followers, (2,4) men from Kent and the surrounding counties, (5) The possibility that Cade may have been working with York was enough to prompt the king into moving against the rebels without delay. (11) Hoping to disperse the rebellion before any real damage could be done, (11) the king sent a small host of his royal contingents to quell the rebellion. (10,11) The royal forces were led by Sir Humphrey and William Stafford. (11) The royal forces underestimated the rebels’ strength and were led into an ambush at Sevenoaks. (11) but they (2,4) triumphantly (10) defeated the royal army (2,4) in a skirmish (11) at (4,8) OR near (6) Sevenoaks (4,6) in Kent (2,4) on June 18th (4,7) OR by early June. (11) The two Stafford brothers were killed. (11) Cade took the expensive clothing and armour of Sir Humphrey as his own. (11) More than 5,000 men assembled at Blackheath, 12 miles (19 km) southeast of the capital city. (11) Afraid that he might meet the same fate and shocked by the rebel’s military ability, the king fled (11,14) and sought refuge in Warwickshire. (11) He left the Mayor of London in charge of the city. (14) Mr James Gairdner, considers it probable that it was only at this point that Cade took command. (7) On 28th June (11) a few days before the rebels reached London (9,11) William (11) Ayscough (9,11) the unpopular (11) Bishop (9,11) of Salisbury (11) a member of the recent governing clique (9,14) was assassinated (9,11) by a mob (11) at Salisbury (9) in Wiltshire. (9,11) Suffolk and Moleyns were also killed. (9) William Ayscough had been the king’s personal confessor and his position next to the king had allowed him to become one of the most powerful men in the country. (11)

In London

Gaining confidence through their victory the rebels (7,11) led by Cade (7,9) advanced to Southwark, (7,11) at the southern end of London Bridge. (11) A contingent from Essex joined Cade. (9) Cade set up headquarters in The White Hart inn before crossing the bridge and entering the city with his followers, (11) and on July 3rd, (4,7) the rebels stormed (6) OR made their way into (7,11) London. (2,4) They were in control of London on 4th of July. (9) To prevent any infringement on his comings and goings within the city Cade disabled the Bridge’s lifting system (11,14) by cutting the ropes on the bridge. (11) Upon entering London, Cade stopped at the London Stone. (11) He struck the stone with his sword and declared himself Lord Mayor in the traditional manner. (11) By striking the stone, Cade had symbolically reclaimed the country for the Mortimers to whom he claimed to be related. (11) At first (11) part of (7) OR All (10) the populace was doubtless favourable to the rebels, (7,10) being in sympathy with many of Cade’s aims. (10) They welcomed the rebels, who stormed the Tower of London, (10) but just failed to take the fortress. (6,10) Once inside the city’s gates, Cade and his men initiated a series of tribunals dedicated to seeking out and convicting those accused of corruption. (11) James Fiennes was dragged from the Tower along with about twenty others. (14) At Guildhall (11) the lord (2,6) High (11) treasurer (2,6) Sir (6,10) James Fiennes (4,6) Lord (4,8) OR 1st (11) Baron (7,11) Saye (4,11) OR Say (7,9) and Sele, (4,7) another of Suffolk’s late friends (9) who was hated (4) because he was blamed for the losses in France, (8) was brought in for a sham trial, (11) along with the other twenty. (14) They were found guilty of treason (11) OR murder (14) and condemned to death there and then. (14) Fiennes appealed for a proper trial, which only served to infuriate Cade, who accused him of ‘erecting a grammar school’ and using education as a tool to oppress the poor. (14) He was then taken to Cheapside. (11,14) He was allowed to confess to a priest, and is said to have admitted involvement in the death of the Duke of Gloucester and the acquisition of land in Romney Marshes by corrupt practices. (14) He was beheaded (2,4) before the priest could absolve him. (14) They also executed (2,4) at Mile End (14) Fiennes’ son-in-law (11) William (7,9) Crowmer, (7,11) OR Cromer (9,14) who was (7,10) OR had been (9) sheriff of Kent. (7,9) They also executed the Archbishop of Canterbury. (6,10) The heads of the Fiennes and the Archbishop were (6,10) put on pikes and unceremoniously paraded (11) in front of Cade (14) OR through the streets of London, while their bearers pushed them together (11) so that they appeared to kiss. (6,10) James’ body was then stripped, tied to a horse’s tail and dragged naked ‘so that the flesh clave to the stones all the way from Chepe to Southwarke’. (14) Their heads were then put on spikes, and the bodies hanged and quartered. (14) After this they were affixed to London Bridge. (11) Despite Cade’s (5,11) frequent (11) assurances that his followers would maintain a proper and orderly demeanour, (5,11) as the rebel host made its way through the city many of the rebels, (5,7) including Cade himself, (4,7) began to engage in looting (5,7) and drunken behaviour. (11) They sacked several houses. (8) The lawlessness quickly (4,5) OR eventually (11) alienated the Londoners: (4,5) when Cade and his followers retired to Southwark (7,11) for the night (11) the citizens prevented them (7) OR London officials closed the bridge to prevent them (11) from re-entering the city. (7,11) OR The rebels were only dislodged from the city when Lord Scales brought up professional troops. (9) The next day, on 8th July at about ten in the evening a battle erupted on London Bridge between Cade’s army and various citizens and officials of London. (11) A fierce (4,9) and bloody (5,7) battle raged all the night of the 5th – 6th July on London Bridge: (4,9) it lasted until eight the next morning, when the rebels retreated (11) out of the city (2,4) OR the Royalist forces regrouped and fought the rebels until both sides were exhausted. (6,10)


After the battle on London Bridge, (11) a truce was called. (6,10) Cade met royal officials. (7,10) OR Archbishop (11) John Kemp (7,11) (Lord (11) Chancellor) (7,11) on the 7th July. (11) OR he also discussed with William of Wayneflete, Bishop of Winchester. (7) Cade presented a long list of complaints, including the following. (6) If anyone wishes to see the King, they have to pay bribes. (6) The King owes significant debts to many merchants and will not pay. (6) Land and goods in Kent are taken by the King’s Servants without payment. (6) Bribery and corruption is the normal way for Judges and Sheriffs to operate. (6) Taxation is too high, and unfair. (6) The people want free elections. (6) Terms of peace were arranged. (6,10) The officials (6,10) OR Archbishop Kemp (7,11) assured Cade that the demands would be met, (6,10) They persuaded Cade to call off his followers by issuing official pardons, and promising to fulfill the rebel’s demands, (11) and Cade in turn handed over a list of his men so that each could receive a royal pardon. (10) Pardons were drawn up, that for the leader being in the name of Mortimer, (7,11) OR Cade himself was also pardoned. (10) His followers (2,4) OR Most of the mob (10) dispersed on being offered a pardon (2,4) by the government (4,8) OR the king (5,10) OR the Royalist leaders (6,7) and NOT the king. (6,10) They returned home. (10)

Cade continues the revolt

Cade had retained some of his men, (7,9) and at this time, or a day or two earlier, broke open the prisons in Southwark and released the prisoners, many of whom joined his band. (7) Cade’s army was declining in size. (6) OR The uprising was suppressed (1,2) His demands had not been agreed by either Parliament or the King, (6,10) neither seemed prepared to do so anytime soon. (10) His position was therefore insecure. (5) When it was discovered that he had lied about his identity, the pardon was rendered void. (11) When the King demanded his arrest, (6,10) Cade fled (5,6) to the Weald. (6) He continued his resistance. (2,4) Having collected some booty, he went to Rochester, made a futile attempt to capture Queenborough castle. (7) He then quarrelled with his followers over some plunder. (7) Although Henry VI had issued pardons to Cade and his followers, (5,10) a proclamation written by the king shortly after the rebellion, (7,11) on the 10th of July (7) voided all previously issued pardons. (11) A proclamation (7,11) entitled “Writ and Proclamation by the King for the Taking of Cade” (11) was issued against him in the name of Cade. (7,11) In the document the King claimed that he revoked the previous pardons because they had not been created or approved by the Parliament. (11) In the proclamation Cade was charged with deceiving the people of England to assemble with him in his rebellion and stated that none of the King’s subjects should join Cade or help him in any way. (11) A reward (7,11) of 1000 marks (11) was promised to whomever could capture and deliver Jack Cade to the king, (7,11) dead or alive. (11) Escaping into Sussex (7,11) Cade fled towards Lewes. (11) He was hunted down by (6,10) Alexander Iden2, (5,6) the new (10,14) Sheriff (6,10) OR a future High Sheriff (5,11) of Kent, (6,11) who caught up with Cade (6,11) in a garden in which he had taken shelter (11) near (6) OR at (1) Heathfield (1,6) at a hamlet (6,10) now called Cade Street . (6) Five days (5,7) OR a year (14) after having left London. (5,7) There was a skirmish (5,11) in which Cade was mortally wounded. (2,4) OR he was mortally wounded in the attack on Queenborough Castle. (9) He was captured (2,4) on 12th July 1450 (5,7) near Lewes (4) in Sussex. (2,4) He died (1,4) later in the same day, (5) in the cart which was conveying him (7) to London (4,6) for trial. (11) On 29th August the naval battle of Winchelsea took place. (John of Gaunt)


As a warning to others Cade’s body underwent a mock trial and was ritually (11) beheaded (7,11) at Newgate. (11) It was hung drawn and (6) quartered, (6,7) and his head fixed on a pole on London Bridge. (6) In 1451 Cade was attainted. (7) Cade’s body was then dragged through the streets of London before being quartered. (11) The ringleaders were all killed, and their dismembered bodies distributed around the country as a warning to other would be rebels. (6) Cade’s limbs were sent throughout Kent to various cities and locations that were believed to have been strong supporters of the rebel uprising. (11) Although the rebels’ demands weren’t met, in general with the exception of the ringleaders, the pardon was kept. (6) The government did not feel strong enough to take repressive steps, and dispatched instead a judicial commission to Kent to hear the grievances of the County. (9) To prevent further uprisings, the Duke of Buckingham was given permission from the king to seek out the remainder of Cade’s followers and bring them to trial. (11) The search took place in and around areas where support for the uprising was felt to be the strongest – Blackheath, Canterbury and the coastal areas of Faversham and the Isle of Sheppey. (11) The inquiries by bishops and justices were so thorough that in Canterbury (the first area searched by the royal commission) eight followers were quickly found and hanged. (11) Although the Jack Cade Rebellion was quickly dispersed after Cade’s death, (11) the momentum of the rebellion died down only gradually. (9) The royal commission failed to rid England of the feeling of rebellion (9,11) and the threat of large-scale disturbance rumbled on in Kent for 5 years. (9) Inspired by Cade and his rebellion many other counties in England revolted. (11) In Sussex the yeomen brothers John and William Merfold organized their own rebellion against King Henry VI. (11) Unlike Cade’s revolt the men of Sussex were more radical and aggressive in their demands for reform. (11) It is possible the animosity felt by the men of Sussex had arisen in part because the king had revoked the pardons issued to Cade and his followers. (11) An indictment following the Sussex rebellion accused the rebels of wanting to kill the king and all his Lords, replacing them with twelve of the rioters’ own men. (11) The rebellions in Sussex did not achieve the same following as that of Cade’s. (11) While the minor rebellions inspired by Cade’s rebellion did not produce a large number of deaths or immediate changes they can be seen as important precursors to the Wars of the Roses. (11) The rising (1,2) has been perceived as a reflection of the social, political and economic issues of the time (5) and contributed to the breakdown of royal authority that led to (1,2) the decline of the Lancaster dynasty and the rise of the Yorks (5) in the Wars of the Roses (1455–85), (1,2) OR the deaths of Suffolk, Moleyns, Ayscough and Lord Say demonstrate clearly the degree to which, in the year 1450, the governing council had lost control of the kingdom. (9) These large battles over the crown of England would result in the end of the Lancaster dynasty and the creation of the Yorks. (11) The weakness of the Lancaster dynasty and the English government had been exposed. (11) In addition, the request made by the rebels in Cade’s manifesto that the king welcome the duke of York as his advisor outright informed the king that the masses wished to see the duke return from exile. (11) When Richard the Duke of York finally did return to England in September 1450 several of his demands and reform policies were based on those made in the manifesto issued by Cade. (11)

Appendix 1

Proclamation of Grievances, 1450

These be the points, cause and mischiefs of gathering and assembling of us, the king’s liege men of Kent, the 4th day of June the year of our Lord 1450, the reign of our sovereign lord the king 29th, which we trust to Almighty God to remedy, with the help and the grace of God and of our sovereign lord the king, and the poor commons of England, and else we shall die therefore: We, considering that the king our sovereign lord, by the insatiable, covetous, malicious persons that daily and nightly are about his highness, and daily inform him that good is evil and evil is good: Item. They say that our sovereign is above his laws to his pleasure, and he may make it and break it as he pleases, without any distinction. The contrary is true, or else he should not have sworn to keep it. Item. They say that the commons of England would first destroy the king’s friends and afterward himself, and then bring the Duke of York to be king so that by their false means and lies they may make him to hate and destroy his friends, and cherish his false traitors. They call themselves his friends, and if there were no more reason in the world to know, he may know they be not his friends by their covetousness. Item. They say that it were great reproof to the king to take again what he has given, so that they will not suffer him to have his own good, nor land, nor forfeiture, nor any other good but they ask it from him, or else they take bribes of others to get it for him. Item. It is to be remedied that the false traitors will suffer no man to come into the king’s presence for no cause without bribes where none ought to be had. Any man might have his coming to him to ask him grace or judgment in such case as the king may give. Item. They say that whom the king wills shall be traitor, and whom he wills shall be not, and that appears hitherto, for if any of the traitors about him would malign against any person, high or low, they would find false many that should die a traitor for to have his lands and his goods, but they will suffer the king neither to pay his debts withal, nor pay for his victuals nor be the richer of one penny. Item. The law serves of nought else in these days but for to do wrong, for nothing is spread almost but false matters by colour of the law for reward, dread and favour and so no remedy is had in the Court of Equity in any way. Item. We say our sovereign lord may understand that his false council has lost his law, his merchandise is lost, his common people is destroyed, the sea is lost, France is lost, the king himself is so set that he may not pay for his meat nor drink, and he owes more than ever any King of England ought, for daily his traitors about him where anything should come to him by his laws, anon they take it from him. Item. They ask gentlemen’s goods and lands in Kent and call them rioters, and traitors and the king’s enemies, but they shall be found the king’s true liege men and best friends with the help of Jesus, to whom we cry day and night with many thousand more that God of His grace and righteousness shall take vengeance and destroy the false governors of his realm that has brought us to naught and into much sorrow and misery. Item. We will that all men know we blame not all the lords, nor all those that are about the king’s person, nor all gentlemen nor yeomen, nor all men of law, nor all bishops, nor all priests, but all such as may be found guilty by just and true inquiry and by the law. Item. We will that it be known we will not rob, nor plunder, nor steal, but that these defaults be amended, and then we will go home; wherefore we exhort all the king’s true liege men to help us, to support us, for whatsoever he be that will not that these defaults be amended, he his falser than a Jew or Saracen. Item. His true commons desire that he will remove from him all the false progeny and affinity of the Duke of Suffolk and to take about his noble person his true blood of his royal realm, that is to say, the high and mighty prince the Duke of York, exiled from our sovereign lord’s person by the noising of the false traitor, the Duke of Suffolk, and his affinity. Also to take about his person the mighty prince, the Duke of Exeter, the Duke of Buckingham, the Duke of Norfolk, and his true earls and barons of his land, and he shall be the richest king Christian. Item. Where we move and pray that some true justice with certain true lords and knights may be sent into Kent for to inquire of all such traitors and bribers, and that the justice may do upon our sovereign lord direct his letters patent to all the people there universal openly to be read and cried, that it is our sovereign lord’s will and prayer of all his people truly to inquire of every man’s government and of defaults that reign, neither for love, favour, dread, nor hate, and that due judgment shall be forthwith and thereupon. Source: [1] The Internet Medieval Sourcebook The text in its original language is: Thes be the poyntys, causes, and myscheves of gaderynge and assemblinge of us the Kynges lege men of Kent, the iiij day of June, the yere of owr Lorde M.iiijc.l., the regne of our sovereyn Lorde the Kynge xxix^’, the whiche we trust to All myghte God to remedy, withe the helpe and the grace of God and of owr soverayn lorde the kynge, and the pore commyns of Ingelond, and elles we shall dye there fore : We, consyderyng that the kynge owre sovereyn lorde, by the insaciable covetows malicious pompes, and fals and of nowght browght up certeyn persones, and dayly and nyghtly is abowt his hynesse, and dayly enforme hym that good is evyll and evyll is good, as Scripture witnesseth, Ve vobis qui dicitis honum malwn et malum, honum. Item, they sey that owre sovereyn lorde is a bove his lawys to his pleysewr, and he may make it and breke it as hym lyst, withe owt eny distinction. The contrary is trew, and elles he shuld not have sworn to kepe it, the whyche we conceyvyd for the hyghest poynt of treson that cny sogct may do to make his pryncc rcnn in perjury. Item, they sey that the commons of Inglond woldc fyrst dystroye the kynges fryndes and alFtarwardc hym selfT, and tlien brynge the Duke ot” Yorke to be kyng, so that by ther (als menys and lyes they make hym to hate and to distroy his frendys, and chcrysythe his fals traytors. They calle themselves his frendys, and yf ther were no more reson in y worlde to knowe, he may knowe they be not his fryndes by theyr covytysnes. Item, they sey that the kyng shuld lyve upon his commons, and that ther bodyes and goods ben the kynges; the contrary is trew, for then nedyd hym nevar perlement to syt to aske good of his comonys. Item, they sey that it were gret reproiFe to the kynge to take ageyne that he hath gevyn, so that they woU not sufere hym to have his owne good, ne londe, ne fbrfeture, ne eny othar good but they aske it from hym, or ells they take bribes of othar to gett it for them. Item, it ys to be remedied that the fals traytours wyll sofre no man to come to the kynges presens for no cawse with out bribes where none owght to be had, ne no bribery about the kynges persone, but that eny man myght have his comynge to hym to aske hym grace or jugement in such cas as the kynge may gyve. Item, it is a hevy thynge that y*’ good Duke of Gloucestar was apcchid of treson by o fals tray tour alone and so sone was morderyd and myght nevar come to his answer; but the fals traytur Pole was apechyd by all the hoU comyns of Ingelond, the whiche nombre passyd a quest of xxiiiJM., and myght not be suffryd to dye as y” law wolde, but rather the sayd trayturs of the affinite of Pole that was as fals as Fortager “^ woldc that the kynge owre soverein lord shuld hold a batayll with in his owne realme to dystroy his pepyll and aftarward hym selffe. Item, they say that wliom y® kyng woU shall be traytur and whom he woll shall be non, and that apperyth hederto, for yf eny of the traytours about hym wolde malygne ageynst eny person, hyghe or low, they wolde fynd fals menys that he shuld dy a traytor for to have his londes and his goods, but they wyll sufer the kynge nethar to pay his dettes with all, ner pay for his vytaylls ner be the rychar of one peny. Item, the law servyth of nowght ellys in thes days but for to do wrong, for nothyng is sped almost but false maters by coulour of the law for mede, drede, and favor, and so no remedy is had in y« cowrt of conscience in eny wyse. Item, we sey owr sovereyn lord may understond that his fals cowncell hath lost his law, his marchandyse is lost, his comon people is dystroyed, the see is lost, Fraunce is lost, the kynge hym selfFe is so set that he may not pay for his mete nor drynke, and he owythe more then evar eny Kynge of Yngland owght, for dayly his traytours abowt hym wher eny thyng shuld come to hym by his lawes, anon they aske it from hym. Item, they aske jentylmens goodys and londes in Kent and call them rysers and traytors and the kynges enimys, but they shall be fond the kynges trew legemen and best frendys with the helpe of Jesu, to whom we cry day and nyght with many M. mo that God of his grace and rytwysnese shall take vengawnce and dystroy the fals govournors of his realme that hath brought us to nowght and in to myche sorowe and mysery. Item, we wyll that all men knowe we blame not all the lordys, ne all tho that is about y^ kyngs person, ne all jentyllmen ne yowmen, ne all men of la we, ne all bysshopes, ne all prestys, but all suche as may be fownde gylty by just and trew enquery and by the law. Item, we wyll that it be knonc we wyll not robbe, ne reve, ne stelle, but that thes defautes be aniendyd, and then we wyll go home ; where fore we exort all the kyngys trew legemen to helpe us, to support us, for what so evar he be that wyll not that thes defawtes be amcndyd, he is falser than a Jewe or Sarasyn, and we shall with as good wyll lyve and dye upon hym as apon a Jewe or a Sarasyn, for who is a gcnst us in this casse hym wyll we marke, for he is not the trewe kyngys legeman. Item, his trewe comyns dcsyrc that he wyll avoyd from hym all the fals progeny and aiFynyte of the Dewke of SufFolke, the which ben openly knowne, and that they be p[u]nyshyd afFtar law of lond, and to take about his noble person his trew blode of his ryall realme, that is to say, the hyghe and myghty prynce the Duke of Yorke, exilyd from owre sovereyne lords person by the noysyng of the fals traytore the Duke of Suffolke and his affinite. Also to take about his person the myghte prynce, the Duke of Exceter, the Duke of Bokyngham, the Duke of Xorffolke, and his trewe erlys and barons of his lond, and he shall be the rychest kynge crystyn. Item, the trewe comyns desyryth the punyshement upon the fals traytours, the which conterfetyd and imagcnyd the dethe of the hyghe and myghtfuU and excellent prynce the Duke of Glowcester, the which is to mych to reherse, the which duke was proclaymyd at Bery openly in the parlement a traytur, upon the whiche qwaryll we purposse us to lyve and dye that it is fals ; allso owre fadyr the cardenall, the good Duke of Exeter, the nobyll prynce the Duke of Warwyke, the wiche ware delyveryd by the same menys untrew; allso the realme of Fraunco lost, the Duchy of Normandy, Gascon, and Gyan, and Anjoy demayn ” lost by the same traytours, and owr trew lordys, knyghtes, and squyres, ind many good yemen lost and wer sold or they went, the whiche is gret pyte and gret losse to our sovereyn Lord and to all the realme. Item, they desyre that all the extorsiners myght be leyd downe, that is to say, y^ grene wexe, tl^.e which is falsly used to the per- petwall hurt and distructyon of the trew comyns of Kent; also the extorsiners of the Kynges Benche, the which is ryght chargeable to all the comyns with owten provysyon of owr sovereyn lord and his trew cowncell. Item, takynge of whet and othar greyns, beffe, motton and other vytayll, the which is inportable hurt to the comyns, with out pro- vysyon of owr sovereyn lord and his trew councell, for his comyns may no lengar here it. Item, the statute upon the laborers and the grefc extorsiners of Kent, that is to sey, Slegge, Crowmer, Isle, and Kobert Est. Item, where we meve and desyre that same °’ trew justyce wyth certeyn trew lords and knyghts may be sent in to Kent for to enqwere of all fuch traytors and brybors, and that the justice may do upon them trew jugement, what some evar they be; and that owr soverayn lorde dyrecte his lettars patentes to all the pepull ther universall opynly to be rede and cryed, that it is owre sovereyn lordys wyll and preyar of all his peple trewly to enquere of every mans govarnawnce and of defawtes that reygneth, nother for love, favor, dred ne hate, and that dewe jugement shalbe forthe with and ther upon. The kynge to kepe in his owne handes theyr londes and goodys, and not gyve them aweye to no man but kepe them for his rychesse, or ells owre soverayn lorde to make his emarme in to Fraunce, or ells to pay his dettes ; by this owr wrytynge ye may conceyve and se whethar we be the fryndes ethar enimys. Item, to syt upon this enqwerye we refuse no juge except iij chefe juges, the which ben fals to beleve. Item, they that be gylte wyll wrye ageynst this, but God wyll brynge them downe, and that they shall be ashamyd to speke ageynst reson, but they wyll go to the kynge and say that yf they be taken fro hym that we wyll put hym downe, for the traytours wyll lyve lenger, and yf we were disposed ageynst owr sovereyn lorde, as God it forbyd, what myght then the traytowrs helpe hym ? Item, thes defawtes thus dewly remedy d, and from hens forthe no man upon peyne of deth beyng abowt the kyngs person shall take no maner of brybe for eny byll of petysyons or caws spedynge or lettynge, owr sovereyn lord shall regne and rewle with gret worshipe, and have love of God and of his people, for he shall have so gret love of his people that he shall with Gods helpe conqwere where he wyll; and as lor us, we shall be all wcyc redy to defend owr cuntre from all nacions wltli our owue goods, and to go withe owr sovcreyue lordo where lie wyll conrmaunde us, as his trew legemen. Finis.

1 sic

2 Iden eventually married Elizabeth Fiennes, the widow of the murdered William Cromer. (11)


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