led to the well-known episode of Wat Tyler’s death
and the dispersal of his adherents.87
London being pacified, the king despatched his half-brother, Thomas
Holland, Earl of Kent, with the Constable of Dover, to deal with the
rebels in the county itself. Their task was accomplished without any
fighting, although it is said that the king in his anger wished to
conduct a great army there and wipe out the whole county.88 When
all were dispersed, Chief Justice Belknap was sent to hold a special
assize in Kent, and many persons were put to death. Cave, the first
leader of the Kentish rebels, was punished by a long term of
imprisonment, and many other inhabitants of the, county were excluded
from the king’s general pardon issued on 14 December 1381,89
these were all set at liberty after imprisonment and fine. Canterbury
was also pardoned. Discontent continued, however, to smoulder for some
time, and it is curious to note that at Maidstone, in October 1381, an
obscure attempt at an insurrection was made in the name of John of
Gaunt, who at the beginning of the outbreak had been so detested by the
In 1385 Kent was put in a state of alarm by rumours of the projected
invasion for which active preparations were being made in French ports,
and every possible precaution was taken to guard its shores. A fleet was
gathered at Sandwich and Dover, and the shire-levies were mobilized
close to the shore, where they waited week after week for an enemy who
never appeared, and were themselves a much resented burden on the county
in consequence of :the exhaustion of their provisions and the
irregularity of their pay. By the autumn of 1386, owing to incredible
mismanagement in France, the French army was broken up and the fleet
dismantled without a blow being struck. But the county had again
protested against the heaviness of the burden it was called on to bear
in the sustenance of the soldiers before these could be disbanded.
Parliament met on 1 October, and while danger was still threatening
began to harp on grievances instead of making a grant to meet what
seemed an imminent crisis, so the king retired in disgust to his palace
at Eltham. Here the fatal ending of his career was foreshadowed by the
expedient adopted to bring him back to London to meet his Parliament.
The Duke of Gloucester and Thomas, Bishop of Ely, on behalf of the
Houses of Parliament, informed him that the records of the deposition of
Edward II had been sent for and recited, in order that it might be known
what was the form of procedure to use against their sovereign in such a
case. Two years later this precedent was again adopted when he
endeavoured to save from execution his old tutor, Sir Simon Burley,
warden of Dover Castle in 1384, who was selected as a victim by
Gloucester and the Lords Appellant 90 for no other reason
than that he was the king’s oldest friend. In the struggle of the
ensuing years, of the great families of Kent the Hollands naturally took
the king’s side, while Lord Cobham 91
87 Polit. Hist. of Engl. 42-49 Walsingham (op. cit. i, 464)
gives a somewhat different account.
88 Walsingham, op. cit. ii, 14. Kentishmen even were active in the
tumults at Cambridge, which the mayor and burgesses contended were the
work of ’les traitours et Malfaisours de les contees de Essex,
Hertford, & Kent, qi vindrent a leur yule en melt outrageouse
multitude & avec eulx une certaine petite noumbre des Malfaisours
& Riotours de leur yule, lesqueux depuis partant sont pris et morts
très-toz.’ Rot. Pan. iii, 109a. The best modern authorities on the
rising are Professor C. Oman, The Great Revolt of 1381; Mr. G. M.
Trevelyan, in Eng. Hist. Rev. 1898; André Reville, Le Soulèz’ement
des Travailleurs d’ Angleterre.
89 Rot. Parl. (Rec. Corn.) in, 113, where these names are given.
Walsinghain, op. cit. ii, 32-34.
90 Rot. Parl. iii, 241-3.
91 He was impeached in 1397 and convicted, but his sentence of hanging,
drawing and quartering was changed to forfeiture and banishment.