The Great Revolt of June, 1381

Edmund Fryde takes a look at a major English medieval rebellion with far-reaching consequences.

E.B. Fryde | Published in History Today

The Great Revolt of 1381 began in south-west Essex sometime between late May and June 2nd. It was sudden and unpremeditated. Later, some of the higher clergy tried to attribute it to a vast conspiracy by the 'lollard' followers of the arch-heretic, John Wycliffe, but modern research has disposed of that particular explanation. Within the space of a week much of southeastern England was engulfed in a fierce revolt and by the middle of June it had spread further to East Anglia. Throughout these most populous and prosperous regions of England royal officials lawyers, landowners and their agents and other notables were everywhere in flight or in hiding. Between the early hours of June 13th and the middle of June 15th the rebels controlled the City of London. The rising influenced a succession of later popular revolts for over a century.

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