Tales from Froissart

edited by Steve Muhlberger, Nipissing University

King Richard punishes the rebels in Kent.

King Richard, having dispersed the rebels in part by promises of pardon, begins to punish them.

Book II, ch. 78. After the executions of Tyler, Jack Straw, John Ball, William Lister, Walker and several others at London, the people being appeased, the king resolved to visit his bailiwicks, castlewicks, and stewardships, in order to punish the wicked and to recover the letters of pardon which had been forced from him, as well as to place the realm in its proper situation. The king issued a secret summons for a certain number of men at arms to assemble at a fixed place, on a particular day, which was done. They amounted to five hundred spears and as many archers. When they were thus assembled, the king set out from London, attended only by his household, and took the road to Kent, for in that quarter the rebellion had first broken out.

These men at arms followed the king, but did not accompany him. The king entered the county of Kent, and came to a village called Comprinke, when he had the mayor and all the men of the village called before him. On their being assembled in an open space, the king ordered one of his council to remonstrate with them, how much they had erred against him, and that they had nearly thrown England into desolation and ruin; and because this mischief must have had some advisers who had encouraged them in their wickedness, and it must be supposed that all were not equally guilty, it was better that the ringleaders should suffer than the whole; his majesty demanded that those should be pointed out who had been so culpable, under pain of incurring his indignation for ever, and being considered as traitors.

When those present heard this harangue, and saw that the innocent might escape by pointing out the guilty, they looked at each other, and then said: "My lord, here is one by whom this town was first put into confusion and excited to rise." He was immediately seized and hanged; as were seven others. The letters patent which had been granted were demanded back: when they were given up, the king's officers tore them in pieces before their eyes, and cast them away, and then said, -- "We command all ye who are here assembled, in the kings' name, and under pain of death, to depart, every one peaceably to his own home; and that you never rebel more against the king, nor against his ministers. By the punishment that has been inflicted, your former evil deeds are pardoned." The people cried out with one voice, "God bless the king and his good council."

They acted in the same manner ...in the different part of England where the people had rebelled; so that upwards of fifteen hundred were beheaded or hanged.

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