Jack Cade's Rebellion
Jack Cade, also known as John Mortimer, took charge of an uprising of Kentish peasants and landowners in May 1450. Whipped up into a fury over unfair taxes, indiscriminate land seizure and forced labour, the group marched on London after beating the King's forces at Sevenoaks. Cade's rebels were reasonably well received by the London authorities but the mood changed when they insisted on executing both the sheriff of Kent and the Lord Chamberlain. Anxious to prevent further bloodshed, Henry VI managed to disperse most of the rebels by offering them pardons and concessions. This moment was later dramatised by Shakespeare in his history, Henry VI Part ii. The playwright has a desperate Cade pleading:
'Will ye needs be hanged with your pardons around your necks? Hath my sword therefore broke through London gates, that you should leave me at the White Hart in Southwark?' (Act iv Sc.8.)
Copyright © Jan Collie 2002
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