During the Peasants' Revolt of 1381, rebels from Kent
in rebellion against King Richard II
This illustration (from British Library Royal MS 18, dated c.
two events at once. In the right half of the illustration, the young
Richard rides out to meet the rebels at Smithfield; in the left half of
the illustration, the Mayor of London kills Wat Tyler, the leader of
the rebels, while Richard watches on.
This is another artist's rendition of Richard II meeting the rebels;
the illustration is from a fifteenth-century manuscript of Jean
(Bib. Nat. Fr. 2644, fol. 154v).
This illustration shows the murder of Wat Tyler; it is also from Jean
(Bib. Nat. Fr. 2644, fol. 159v).
Some accounts of the event attribute the following rhyming chant to the
rebels: "When Adam delved and Eva span,/Who was then the gentleman?" We
may not have any accounts of the uprising written from the rebels'
perspective, but this manuscript illustration (depicting Eve spinning
and Adam digging) evokes the sort of pre-hierarchical existence they
may have imagined. This image comes from a manuscript at Corpus Christi
College (University of Cambridge).