12 June

Baldrick: Well, I was wondering if I might have the afternoon off? _ Blackadder: Of course not. Who do you think you are, Wat Tyler? You can have the afternoon off when you die, not before. _ _ Blackadder II, episode three, 'Potato'

June 12, 2009 · 1 min read

Today in 1381, rebels from Kent arrived at Blackheath on the outskirts of London and Essex rebels led by Wat Tyler camped at Mile End. The Peasants’ Revolt or Great Rising of 1381 had begun; soon they would be joined in London by peasants from all over the sough of England, while similar rebellions were taking place all over England.

It was some 35 years after the Black Death had left a shortage of people to work the land but the government was determined to counter the peasants’ demands for higher wages and better working conditions. It also needed to raise money to finance its Hundred Years War with France and imposed a punitive poll tax on everyone.

The catalyst for Wat Tyler’s rebellion was when a tax collector seeking to determine if Tyler’s daughter was of taxable age stripped her naked and sexually assaulted her. Tyler killed him. John Ball and Jack Straw, two secular priests, also joined the rebellion as did an estimated 50,000 peasants who converged on London. Later on the night of 12 June, Londoners sympathetic to their cause opened the gates of the city.


The Socialist Olympics of 1936

Radical workers’ sporting organisations and the 1936 People’s Olympiad illustrate the role of sport in fighting oppression, writes Uma Arruga i López.

Review – You’re History: The Twelve Strangest Women in Music

Lesley Chow argues for a new kind of music criticism that re-evaluates women musicians and "meaningless" music, writes Rhian E Jones

Lying through their legacy-speak

Olympic ‘legacy’ has greased the path for enormous, upward transfer of wealth to the global propertied classes, writes Jules Boykoff


SWexit: What are exit schemes for sex workers missing?

If earning money is a fundamental reason for entering the sex industry, it is also essential to leaving it, writes Marin Scarlett.

Failure to deliver

Major financial institutions have cited Deliveroo’s employment practices for its disastrous public share launch. Alice Martin and Tom Powdrill look at what went wrong and what it might mean for workers’ rights

Power on the picket line: remembering the Burnsall Strike

Almost 30 years on, Sarbjit Johal recalls supporting the strike, which consisted of mostly Punjabi women workers

Want to try Red Pepper before you take out a subscription? Sign up to our newsletter and read Issue 231 for free.