The London Chronicles of the Fifteenth Century: A Revolution in English Writing

By Mary-Rose McLaren | Go to book overview

Appendix 6: Significant Events Recorded in the
London Chronicles

The Rising of 1381

This is the earliest entry in any of the London chronicles which we can be fairly confident has sections which were originally written close to or contemporaneously with the events it records. It appears in Letter Book F (and is the only substantial entry in this list) and in B 42 and Harley 3775 in detail. It is made up of a mixture of eyewitness, pamphlet and court sources.


Other Accounts

Knighton's Chronicle

in G. H. Martin, ed. and trans., The Chronicle of Henry Knighton, 1337―1396 (Oxford, 1995).

Parallel Latin and English translation.

[The king] was approached by their leader, Wat Tyler, who had now changed his name to Jack Straw. He stood close to the king, speaking for the others, and carrying an unsheathed knife, of the kind people call a dagger, which he tossed from hand to hand as a child might play with it, and looked as though he might suddenly seize the opportunity to stab the king if he should refuse their requests, and those accompanying the king therefore greatly feared what might come to pass.... Jack Straw drew closer to him, with menacing words, and though I know not how he dared, took the reigns of the king's horse in his hand. Seeing that, Walworth, a citizen of London, fearing that he was about to kill the king, drew his basilard and ran Jack Straw through the neck. Thereupon another esquire, called Ralph Standish, stabbed him in the side with his basilard. And he fell to the ground on his back, and after rising to his hands and knees, he died.


The Chronicle of Adam Usk

in C. Given-Wilson, ed. and trans., The Chronicle of Adam Usk, 1377―1421 (Oxford, 1997).

Parallel Latin and English translation.

At length however, once their leader ― because he would not doff his cap to the king, or show any kind of respect for his majesty ― had, through God's intervention, been summarily beheaded by Sir William Walworth, knight and citizen of London, at Smithfield near London, in the very midst of his kites, and his head promptly held aloft at the point of a sword and shown to them, the common people, now terror-struck, sought refuge

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