The Killing of Jack Cade

July 12th, 1450

Through the haze of government propaganda, it is not possible to say with confidence who exactly Jack Cade was. According to the hostile official line, he was a man of low origins, born in Ireland, who murdered a woman in Sussex in 1449, fled abroad for a time and returned to live in Kent under the name of John Aylmer. Whoever he really was, Cade emerged from obscurity as the leader of rebels against Henry VI’s weak and incompetent government, who in spring 1450 issued The Complaint of the Poor Commons of Kent. The rebels complained bitterly of the government’s financial exactions, corrupt officials and the idea that the king was above the law. They also bemoaned the loss of France, which had severely damaged Kent’s foreign trade.

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