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Klausimas #1


     The Peasants' Revolt, led by Wat Tyler in 1381, is one of the most remarkable in English history. It was the first rising in England in which most of the people participating fought for the idea that all men are equa.l Among the rebels were some brave and exceptional men. There was the craftsman Wat Tyler, a tiler by trade, then there was the priest John Bull, and there were many others who remain nameless for this was the rising of the most downtrodden, the common people, the Commons of England, as they called themselves, against those who were holding them down with an iron hand — the nobility.
     At that time most of the common people worked on the land, and the majority were serfs, the word comes from Latin "servus" — a slave. Though they were not actually slaves, they were tied to the land which belonged to the landlord — their lord. From him they rented small strips of land and to pay their rent they worked the land of the lord free of charge three or four days a week.
     The serf could not leave his village without the permission of the lord and if he did, he became an outlaw roaming the great forests. Despite his hard labour, he had little to eat for most of his produce, like his labour, went to the lord. The lords land had to be ploughed first, and when the crops were ripe, it was the lord's crops which had to be harvested before their own. And although the immediate cause of the rising was due to the harsh action of the tax collecttors, the people had been preparing for some tune by then. John Bulk the preacher, and Wat Tyler, as well as others, were going around the country, speaking, preaching and rousing people, telling them to hold themselves in readiness. As time went on and the taxes grew heavier and heavier, they became more and more determined to take the law into their hands.
      After the first fighting broke out in Brentwood, Essex, the rising spread like a heath fire. Essex and Kent rose first and as the news spread to the other counties, people rose in its wake. At a Great Council held on June 7th, 1381 they elected Wat Tyler as their leader and declared that they were the True Commons of England. Whenever the rebels stormed the houses and castles of lords, they destroyed Rent Rolls — important documents which were in fact written evidence of serfdom. Apart from storming and burning the houses of nobility, little damage was done and few people were killed. Lawyers, however, were captured and killed, because they were regarded as enemies of the peasantry. They represented the nobility against the peasantry, and the lawyers had to be destroyed together with Rent Rolls.
     The Peasants' Army with Wat Tyler as their leader marched towards London. As they advanced, they stormed the prisons and set all the prisoners free.

"Episodes from English History" are passages from "The Unsheathed Sword"
by H. Fagan.

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