Peasants' Revolt

During the Peasants' Revolt of 1381, rebels from Kent stormed London in rebellion against King Richard II. This illustration (from British Library Royal MS 18, dated c. 1385-1400) depicts 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.

Richard meets the rebels

This is another artist's rendition of Richard II meeting the rebels; the illustration is from a fifteenth-century manuscript of Jean Froissart's Chronicles (Bib. Nat. Fr. 2644, fol. 154v).

Death of Wat Tyler

This illustration shows the murder of Wat Tyler; it is also from Jean Froissart's Chronicles (Bib. Nat. Fr. 2644, fol. 159v).

Eve and Adam

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).