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distinction of Flemings, they put them to pronounce, bread and cheese ; and if they spake it like brot and cawse, off went their heads, as a sure sign that they were Flemings.
The King coming according as he was required, to Mile-end, was much astonished at the madness of the people, who with frowning countenances made the following demands which they presented in writing, and would have them confirmed by the King's Letters Patent. 1. That all men should be free from servitude or bondage, so that
from thenceforth there should be bondmen. 2. That he should pardon all men of what estate soever all manner
of actions, and insurrections committed, and all treasons, felonies, transgressions, and extortions by any of them done, and to
grant thein peace. 3. That all men henceforth might be infranchised, or made free, to
buy and sell in every county, city, borough, town, fair, market
and other places within the realm of England. 4. That no acres of land holden in bondage or service, should be
holden but for four-pence, and if it had been held for less in former time, it should not now be inhanced.
These arid many other things they required, telling the King, that he had been ill governed to that day, but for the time forward, he must be otherwise governed. The King finding himself in danger, yeilded thereto, and so desiring a truce, the Essex men returned home Next day the King went to Westminster, to visit St. Edward's shrine, and coming back by West-smithfield,' he found the place full of Kentish men, to whom he sent word, that their fellows the Essex men were gone home, and that if they desired it he would grant them the same conditions of peace; but their chief captain named John, or others say, Walter Hilliard alias, Tyler, being a cunning fellow; answered, he desired peace, but upon his own conditions ; intending by fair words to have delayed the business till the next day; for he designed that night to have killed the King and the nobility about him, and then to have plundered the city, and burnt it.
But he was wonderfully disappointed in his pride, having refused conditions of peace which were sent him in three several charters three times. Upon which the King at last sent Sir John Newton, not to command, but to intreat him to come and discourse with bim concerning what he demanded; among which one particular was, that Wat Tyler desired a commission to behead all lawyers, escheators, and others whatsoever that were learned in the law, conceiving that afterward all would be managed according to the humour of the common people;
and it is reported that the day before, putting his hand to his lips he said, that before four days came to an end, all the laws of England should proceed from his mouth.
When Sir John Newton desired Tyler to dispatch him, he scornfully answered; if thou art so hasty thou mayst go to thy master, for I will come when I please. However Sir John Newton followed him slowly on horse-back, and by the way a doublet-maker brought three score doublets to the Commons, and demanded thirty marks for them, but could have no money; upon which, Wat Tyler told him, friend be quiet, thou shalt be well paid before this day be ended, keep nigh me and I will be thy creditor.
Wat Tyler then set spurs to his horse and rid up toward the King, coming so near that his horse touched the crouper of the King's, to whom he said, Sir King, seest thou all yonder people? yes truly (said tbe King) but why dost thou ask? because, (said Tyler) they are all at my command, and have sworn their truth and faith to me, to do wbatever I bid them. In good time, (replied the King) I believe it well. Then, (said Tyler) believest thou King, that these people, and as many more that are in London, will depart from thee thus without having thy letters? No, (said the King) you shall have them, they are ready and shall be delivered to them all.
Wat Tyler, observing Sir John Newton to be near him, bearing the King's sword, was offended, saying, that it became him better to be on foot in his presence; the Knight answered stoutly, that surely there was no hurt in it, since he himself was on horse back. This so enraged Wat, that he drew his dagger, and offered to strike the Knight, calling him traitor, Sir John told him he lied, and drew bis dagger likewise; Wat Tyler seeming much disturbed at this indignity, attempted before his rustic companions to have run upon the Knight, whom the King to preserve from danger commanded to alight from his horse, and deliver his dagger to Wat Tyler; but his haughty mind would not be so pacified, for he demanded his sword also, to which Sir John Newton answered, it is the King's sword, and thou art not worthy to have it, neither durșt thou ask it of me, if there were no more here but thou and I. By my faith, (said Wat Tyler) I will never eat till I have thy head; and would thereupon have fallen upon him.
But at that very instant, William Walworth Lord Mayor of London, (a stout courageous person) accompanied with divers knights and esquires came to assist the King, to whom he said, my liege, it were a great shame, and such as had never before been heard of,,
if in such a presence, they should permit a noble knight to be shamefully murdered, and that before the face of their sovereign, therefore he ought to be rescued, and Tyler the rebel to be arrested.
The Lord Mayor had no sooner spoke thus, but the King tho' he was very young, yet began to take courage, and commanded him to lay hands upon him; Walworth being a man of an income parable spirit and courage, immediately arrested Tyler with his mace upon his head, and that in such a manner as he fell down at the feet of his horse, and those who attended the King presently encompassed him round, that his companions could not see him; and John Cavendish, an esquire of the King's, alighting from his horse, thrust his sword into Tyler's belly; although some write
that the Mayor did it with his dagger, many others followed and I wounded him in divers places to death, and then drew his body from among the people into St. Bartholomew's Hospital.
The commons perceiving their captain to be slain, cried out, their captain was traitorously inurdered, and incouraged one another to fight, and revenge his death, and bent their bows; upon which the King rid to them, and said, what work is this my men? what do you mean to do? will you shoot your king, be not mutinous nor concerned for the death of a traitor and ribbald, I am your king, I will be your captain and leader, follow me into the field, and there you shall have whatsoever you desire. This the King said, for fear in their fury they should fire the houses in Smithfield, where their captain was slain; they thereupon followed him into the open field, though the soldiers that were with him were uncertain whether they would kill the King, or whether they would be quiet, and depart peaceably home with the King's charter.
In the mean time, William Walworth, the ever-renowned Lord Mayor, to prosecute his first worthy act, which had succeeded so happily, went only with one man, with all speed into the City, and there began to cry out, you good citizens, come to help your King, who is in danger to be murdered, and succour me your mayor who am in the same danger; or if you will not help me, yet leave not your King destitute.
The citizens who had a great esteem and affection for the King, no sooner heard this, but with a noble and loyal forwardness they immediately raised a thousand men, who being completely armed, stayed in the streets for some commander, who with the Lord Mayor might lead them to the assistance of the King in this his great distress, when by chance Sir Robert Knowls a freeman of the city
came in at that instant, whom they all desired to be their leader, which he very willingly accepted, and so with the Lord Mayor and some other knights, they were led to the King, who with all his company rejoiced very much at this unexpected assistance from these brave armed citizens, who all on a sudden encompassed the whole body of the commons.
And here in an instant was a very strange and remarkable alteration, for the commons presently threw down their arms, and falling on their knees begged pardon, and they who just before had boasted that they had the king's life in their power, were now glad to hide themselves in caves, ditches, and corn fields; the knights being desirous of revenge, intreated the King, that they might be permitted to take off the heads of a hundred or two of them; but the King would not grant it, but coinmanded the charter which they demanded, written and sealed, to be delivered to them at that time, for preventing further mischief, as doubting if they were not satisfied, the commons of Essex and Kent might rise again. Having got their charter they departed home.
The commons being thus dispersed and gone, the king called for the worthy Lord Mayor, and with great honour deservedly knighted him in the field, and gave him a hundred pound a year in fee, he also knighted five aldermen his brethren, girding them about the waist with the girdle of knighthood, as the manner was in those days; but Stow saith, it was thus, to cause the person to put a basenet on his head, and then the King with a sword in both his hands to strike him strongly on the neck. And for an eternal remembrance of this bappy day, the King for the honour of the City granted that a dagger should be added to the arms of the City, in the right quarter of the shield, they before this time bearing only a cross without a dagger.
Å fler this the king marched into the City with great joy, and went to his mother, who lodged in the Tower Royal, called then the Queen's Wardrobe, where she had continued two days and nights in great fear and trouble; but when she saw the King she was extremely comforted, saying, ab! fair son, what great sorrow have I suffered for you this day; to which the King answered, certainly madam, I know it well, but now rejoice and thank God, for I have this day recovered mine inheritance, and the realm of England, which I had almost lost. Then the Arch-bishop's head was taken off London Bridge, and Wat Tyler's set up in the place.
Now since some writers have reported that the rebel so valiantly struck down by Sir William Walworth was named Jack Straw, and not Wat Tyler, it may be necessary to give an account of the principal leaders and captains of the commons; of whom Wat Tyler was the chief, as being the first man who judged himself offendel, there were likewise_Jack Straw, John Kirby, Allen Thredder, Thomas Scot, and Ralph Rugg; these and divers others were commanders of the Kentish and Essex men.
And at the same time there were gathered together to the number of fifty thousand in Suffolk, by the incitement of John Wraw a lewd priest, who made one Robert Westbrome take upon him the name of king: these fell to destroying houses, but especially those of lawyers, and seizing Sir John Cavendish Lord Chief Justice of England, they beheaded him and set his head upon the pillory in St. Edmundsbury. The like commotion of the commons was at the same time also in Cambridgeshire, the Isle of Ely and Norfolk, conducted by John Litester a dyer; and to countenance their proceedings the more, they designed to have brought William Ufford Earl of Suffolk into their fellowship, but he having notice of their intent, suddenly rose from supper and got away.
Yet they compelled many other lords and knights to be sworn to them, and to ride with them, as the Lord Scales, the Lord Morley, Sir John Brewis, Sir Stephen Hales, and Sir Robert Salle, the last of whom not enduring their insolences, had his brains dashed out by a countryman that was his bondman; the rest terrified by his example were glad to carry themselves submissively to their commander, John Litester, who named himself King of the Commons, and counted it a preferment for any to serve him at his table, in taking assay of his meats and drinks, with kneeling humbly before him as he sat at meat.
And now these fellows upon consultation send two choice men, namely, the Lord Morley and Sir John Brewis, with three of their chief commons, to the King, for their charter of manumission, and freedom from bondage; who being on their way, they were met near Newmarket by Henry Spenser Bishop of Norwich, who examining if there were any of the rebels in their company, and finding three of the chief present, he instantly caused their heads to be struck off, and then pursued on toward Northwalsham in Norfolk, where the commons stayed for an answer from the King, and though he had at first but eight lances, and small number of archers in his company, yet they so increased, as to become a complete army,