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· It is in this case, as with what is called the
British constitution. It has been taken for granted to be good, and encomiums have supplied the place of proof. But when the nation comes to examine into its principles, and the abuses it admits, it will be found to have more defects, than I have pointed out in this work, and the former."
C HA P. XVI. :
OF THE ATTEMPTS AND EFFECTS OF LE
VELLERS IN THESE, KINGDOMS.
Religion often made the pretext for rebellion.
*« T HAT all rebellions did ever be
1 gin with the faireft pretences for reforming of somewhat amiss in the government, is a truth so clear, that there needs no manifestation thereof from example ; nor, were they ever observed to have greater success, than when the colours for religion did openly appear in the van of their armed forces ; ' most men being desirous to have it really thought (how bad and vile foever their practices are) that zeal to God's glory is no small part of their aim; which gilded bait hath been usually held forth to allure the vulgar by those, whose end and designs were nothing else, than to get into power, and so to possess themselves of the estate and fortune of their more opulent neighbours.”
I do not undertake to write a full history of all the disturbances and insurrections, which
* Dugdale's Preface to his Short View of the late Troubles in England.
produced in the
have been raised against the government of this realm, but only to submit to the reflection of my countrymen some of the convuls: fions in the state, which have been here- Convulsions are tofore produced by the adoption and propa- Hate by levels gation of such levelling principles, as are now so frequently and so boldly attempted to be maintained and circulated, in order that a premonitory review of past scenes may prevent the necessity of corrective severity in future.
. The first person, who appears in our chro- Wat Tyler the
protomartyr of nicles to have acted openly upon this level- levellers in" ling principle, was Walter Tyler; who having been sain in the most emphatical act of his calling, viz. that of levelling himself with his sovereign, may be properly called the protomartyr of levellers in England. In the fifth year of king Richard II. A. D. 1381, a collector of the poll tax, which was payable by every one above the age of sixteen years, took a very unwarrantable and indecent method of ascertaining whether the daughter of this Tyler were liable to the tax. The father upon his return homé, undertook Cause of Wat
Tyler's rebel to execute summary justice upon the col- lion. lector for the indignity offered to his daughter, and murthered him with his lathing hammer. He was applauded and supported
at the poll tax.
by some malcontents of the day; and from thence broke out the open rebellion, of whích Speed gives the following account.
* “ Not long after the time of that Earles imployment into Spaine, there fell out accidents, which doe plainely conuince their error to be great, who thinke that any madnesse is like that of an armed and ungouerned multitude, whereof these times (by a kind of fate
proper to childrens raigne) gaue a most danDiscontent at gerous document. The extreame hatred borne the Duke of Laneafter, and by the people to John Duke of Lancaster,
calling himselfe king of Castile and Leon, and the discontentment taken at an extraordinary taxe, leuied per pol upon all sorts of people, who were aboue fixteene yeers of age, which (as all other the euils of the time) they im. puted to the duke (the manner being to count them the authors of evils, who are supposed to haue the greatest power of doing them) mooued the enraged multitudes upon flight and small beginnings to runne together in so fearefull a torrent, that it seemed the king and kingdome were fodainely falne under their most wicked fury. There were in this most rebellious insurrection, the commons and bond-men (who aspiring by force to a • Speed's Chronicle, c. xiii. Mon. 50. P. 733, & feq.
free free manumission) principally those of Kent and Essex, whose example was followed in the neighbourshires of Surrey, Suffolke, Nor. folke, Cambridge, and other places, by incredible heards and droues of like qualified people, who (specially in Norfolke) forced fundry principall gentlemen to attend them in their madding.
* They of Kent embattelled themselues The rebels malunder two banners of St. George, and about threescore and ţenne persons upon Blackheath by Greenwich, and from thence came to London, where the generality of people inclining to them, they are masters. The priory of St. John's without Smithfield they kept burning for about seauen daies, and the goodly palace of the Sauoy belonging to the duke, with all the riches therein they consumed by fire in a kinde of holy outrage, for they threw one of their fellowes into the flame, who had thrust a piece of stolne plate into his bosome. The rebels of Essex came The archbishop to Lambeth, burnt all the archbishop's goods, records, andy and defaced all the writings, rowles, records, and monuments of the Chancerie, as hauing a speciall hatred to the lawyers, little to their disgrace, for that they shared herein with good men also, whom they hated. But their desperate wickednesse extended itselfe beyond
those of Chan