Judicial records of the rising of 1381.
This thesis provides an analysis of material relating to
the peasants" revolt of 1381 found in the records of
royal judicial agencies. A number of previously unknown
sources of information about the rising are described.
Commission records help to establish the main features
of the pattern of development and geographical distribution
of the disturbances in Kent, Essex and East Anglia.
King's bench records are extremely heterogeneous in character,
but Ar, mainly of interest for the information they
provide about the unrest in London and other towns. The
private litigation against the rebels permits extremely
detailed investigation of the background of the insurgents
and also allows rebel bands to be identified. Escheators'
accounts and exclusions from the general pardon
have been overrated as sources, but, together with
gaol delivery records, provide some details of incidents
in counties for which information about the rising is otherwise
patchy. Judicial records emphasise the importance
of local tensions and private quarrels in the rising.
They suggest that the rapid spread of the troubles across
a large part of the country was mainly due to the pursuit
of local and personal grievances of this sort. The
varied background of the participants in the rising probably
reflects the strong local and personal elements in
the disturbances. The judicial records also indicate that
the events in London did not form the focal point of the
rebellion in the way suggested in the chronicles. The
demands presented at Mile End and Smithfield were not necessarily representative of the views of the bulk of
insurgents. It appears that many of the rebels were more
interested in short term personal gain than thoroughgoing
reform of the social and political order.