12 July, 2006

This Day in History: Kett's Rebellion (July and August, 1549)

Another popular uprising in England for today's post, this time with a particularly tragic finale.

Robert Kett's Rebellion took place in Norfolk in July and August, 1549, in the reign of the young Edward VI. By the time it was finally crushed over 4,000 lay dead.

It was essentially a protest against the enclosure by "robber barons" of the common land, where landless peasants could graze their animals and gather wood, etc.

Robert Kett (pictured above, seated) led a successful assault on the city of Norwich, which was captured after fierce fighting (twice). John Dudley Earl of Warwick eventually arrived with an army of 8,000-14,000 , but a possible deal involving a pardon for the rebels was scuppered when a boy mooned at Dudley's messenger and is shot dead (whether he uttered the words "kiss my arse!" is unknown) ....see painting above.

Grisly details: 3,000 rebels killed in the subsequent battle on open ground, Kett and several hundred others executed (Kett hung from battlements of Norwich Castle).

The issue of enclosure of common land was to return...

Learnhistory.org has a great Robert Kett site with many useful links if you want to find out more.

More posts on popular uprisings:
The Essex Peasants' Revolt, 1381
Jack Cade's Rebellion, 1451

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