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The Picket Line — 23 October 2010

Now available thanks to David Gross at Anarchoblogs in English:

23 October 2010

Wat Tyler is another name that frequently comes up when mention is made of English tax resisters of yore. From what I’ve been able to find out about the Tyler case, it seems to be more complicated than a case of tax resistance, though tax resistance seemed to play a part.

Here is chapter 38 from the Reverend John Adams’s 1813 textbook The Flowers of Modern History, telling one version of the Wat Tyler story:

Of the Insurrection occasioned by a Poll Tax, A.D. 1379.

In the reign of Richard, II. a poll tax was passed at twelve pence per head, on all above the age of sixteen. This being levied with severity, caused an insurrection in Kent and Essex.

A Blacksmith, well known by the name of Wat Tyler, was the first who excited the people to arms. The tax-gatherers coming to this man’s house, while he was at work, demanded payment for his daughter, which he refused, alledging that she was in the age mentioned in the act. One of the brutal collectors insisted on her being a full grown woman; and immediately attempted giving a very indecent proof of his assertion. This provoked the father to such a degree, that he instantly struck him dead with a blow of his hammer. The standers by applauded his spirit; and, one and all, resolved to defend his conduct. He was considered as a champion in the cause, and appointed the leader and spokesman of the people.

It is easy to imagine the disorders committed by this tumultuous rabble. The whole neighborhood rose in arms. They burnt and plundered wherever they came, and revenged upon their former masters, all those insults which they had long sustained with impunity.

As the discontent was general, the insurgents ...

Read the whole thing at Anarchoblogs in English.

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