The Death of Wat Tyler

The Anonimalle Chronicle provides the most detailed account of what happened during the Peasants' Revolt. Historians believe that the author was an eyewitness of most of the episodes he describes. Research suggests it was based on an interview with William de Pakington, one of Richard ll's clerks. Pakington was with the king during the Peasants' Revolt and would have been in a good position to observe what happened.

Wat Tyler of Maidstone approached the king mounted on a small horse... He dismounted, holding in his hand a dagger... he half bent his knee and took the king by the hand, shaking his arm forcefully and roughly, saying to him. "Brother, be joyful, for you shall have in a fortnight, 40,000 more than you have at present."

The king said to Tyler, "Why will you not go back home?". He replied that neither he nor his fellows would leave until they had got their charter as they wished to have it. The king asked him what were these points which he wished considered.

Wat Tyler asked that no lord shall have lordship in future, but that land should be divided among all men. He also asked that the goods of the Holy Church should not remain in the hands of the parsons and vicars and other churchmen... that their goods should be divided among the people of the parish. And he demanded that there should be only one bishop in England and that all the lands and possessions should be taken from the Church and divided among the commons. And he demanded that there should be no more serfs in England and that all men should be free.

The king said that Wat Tyler should have all that he could fairly grant. And then he ordered him to go back to his own home, without causing further delay. Wat Tyler sent for a jug of water to rinse out his mouth in a very rude manner before the king. At that time a valet from Kent, who was with the king, said aloud that Wat Tyler was the greatest thief and robber in Kent.

Wat Tyler heard these words... and ordered one of his followers, who was mounted on horseback, to dismount and behead the valet... The valet said that whoever struck him would be struck in return. For these words Wat Tyler wanted to strike the valet with his dagger... The mayor of London, William of Walworth, tried to arrest him. Wat stabbed the mayor with his dagger in great anger. But as it pleased God, the mayor was wearing armour. The mayor struck back at Wat Tyler, giving him a deep cut in the neck, and then a great blow on the head. And during this scuffle a member of the king's household drew his sword, and ran Wat Tyler two or three times through the body. He fell to the ground half dead.

When the commons saw him fall they did not know for certain how it happened. The commons began to bend their bows. The king rode out to them, commanding them that they should all come to him at the field of St. John of Clerkenwell.

Meanwhile the mayor of London rode as hastily as he could back to the city, and commanded those who were in charge to spread the news that every man should arm himself and come to the king's aid in St. John's Fields, where the commons were, for he was in great trouble.

When the king reached St. John's Fields he was joined by a fine company of well-armed men. And they kept the commons like sheep within a pen. Meanwhile, the mayor went to kill Wat Tyler. When he came to Smithfield he asked what had become of the traitor. He was told that Wat Tyler had been carried by a group of the commons to the hospital for the poor near St. Bartholomew's and put to bed. The mayor went there and found him, and had him carried out to the middle of Smithfield and had him beheaded. The mayor had his head on a pole and carried before him to the king at St. John's Fields.

When the commons saw their chieftain, Wat Tyler, was dead, they fell to the ground like beaten men, imploring the king for mercy for their misdeeds. The king kindly granted them mercy, and then they went home. The king knighted William Walworth. The same day he made three other citizens of London knights for the same reason. These are their names - John Philipot, Nicholas Brymber and Robert Launde. The king gave Sir William Walworth £100 in land, and each of the others £40 in land.