This illustration depicts the death of Wat Tyler, the leader of the Peasants’ Revolt. In this image he had gone to meet with the young Richard II, but during a heated exchange he was attacked by William Walworth, the Mayor of London, who cut his neck. The most reliable chronicle states that Tyler attempted to escape after the attack, but was unable to ride more than 30 yards, where he was then dragged from his horse and decapitated. The image shows Tyler and Walworth fighting, as well as depicting the King twice, once gesticulating at Tyler and then again addressing his troops. Despite the lack of change achieved by the rebellion, the Peasants’ Revolt and Wat Tyler become embedded in our history and mythology as the first moment when the peasant classes attempted to break away from the shackles of serfdom.
- Article by:
- Alixe Bovey
By exploring illuminations depicting rural life, Dr Alixe Bovey examines the role of the peasant in medieval society, and discusses the changes sparked by the Black Death.