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By Juliet Barker

Written with the fluency readers have come to count on from Juliet Barker, 1381: The 12 months of the Peasants’ Revolt offers an account of the 1st nice well known rebellion in England and its heritage, and paints on a vast canvas an image of English lifestyles in medieval instances. Skeptical of up to date chroniclers’ debts of occasions, Barker attracts at the judicial resources of the indictments and courtroom court cases that the uprising. This emphasis deals a clean standpoint at the so-called Peasants’ rebellion and offers intensity and texture to the ancient narrative. one of the book’s arguments are that the rebels believed they have been the dependable matters of the king performing in his pursuits, and that the boy-king Richard II sympathized with their grievances.

Barker tells how and why a various and not likely team of normal women and men from each nook of England―from servants and employees dwelling off wages, in the course of the village elite who served as bailiffs, constables, and stewards, to the ranks of the gentry―united in armed uprising opposed to church and kingdom to call for a thorough political time table. Had it been applied, this schedule could have reworked English society and expected the French Revolution via 400 years. 1381: The 12 months of the Peasants’ Revolt is a crucial reassessment of the rebellion and a desirable, unique research of medieval existence in England’s cities and countryside.

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19 Gaunt had no doubt expected that he would be appointed regent for Richard when Edward III died in 1377 but, surprisingly, no plans had been drawn up to anticipate the delicate but inevitable situation of a child inheriting the throne. In the last months of his life Edward had indeed drafted letters patent20 which entailed the crown on his male heirs and set out the order of succession on his demise: his grandson Richard was first in line but, in the absence of heirs of his body, the crown was to go to John of Gaunt.

The prince died just a week before his forty-sixth birthday, leaving as heir to the throne his nine-year-old son, Richard. Almost immediately the House of Commons petitioned Edward III that the boy should be recognised as prince of Wales and brought before the parliament then sitting ‘so that the lords and commons of the realm could see and honour the said Richard as the true heir apparent of the realm’. The unseemly haste of this intervention, not to mention the pointed reference to the ‘true’ heir apparent, seems to have been fuelled by fears that Richard’s uncle, John of Gaunt, might seize the throne for himself.

A child-king was a prospect dreaded by all medieval societies since it created a vacuum at the heart of government which laid the realm open to faction and abuse of power: a powerful, experienced adult, particularly one of the royal blood, might therefore be an attractive alternative. And there was no one in the entire kingdom more powerful than John of Gaunt. The deaths of his three older brothers had now made him the eldest of Edward 14 1381 III’s legitimate sons but, since the age of twenty-two, he had also been the richest nobleman in the country having inherited, through his wife, the dukedom of Lancaster and earldoms of Derby, Leicester and Lincoln.

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