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The meeting between King Richard II and Wat Tyler at Smithfield

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A historic event in Smithfield

On a day like today, 643 years ago, in Smithfield (a town north of London and currently a district of the English capital), a historic event took place that marked a turning point in English history. At this meeting, King Richard II met with Wat Tyler, leader of the English Peasant Revolution, to seek a negotiated way out of the crisis that was shaking England at the time.

The decisive meeting

Both the king and Tyler were introduced with their respective armies, reflecting the tension and importance of the moment. Richard II, despite being a boy of fourteen at the time, arrived at Smithfield accompanied by his uncles and regents, as well as an 8,000-strong army, mainly made up of the forces of the kingdom’s leading feudal barons. On the other hand, Tyler arrived at the meeting with 12,000 armed peasants, representing the demands of the peasant class that demanded the end of the feudal regime.

The context of the peasant revolt

England was in a deep crisis, caused by the effects of the Black Death and the successive outbreaks, while the peasant class, which constituted the majority of the population, demanded the end of the oppressive feudal regime. Unfortunately, instead of negotiating these claims, the crown and nobility had become embroiled in various wars on the continent, leading to increased social tension.

The tragic outcome

The meeting between Richard II and Tyler ended tragically. At one point in the meeting, William Walworth, a supporter of the king, stabbed Tyler, ending the revolutionary leader’s life. This action condemned the revolutionary movement to defeat, with Tyler unable to fill the place left by his death. A month later, the revolutionaries were defeated in Coventry, with their new leaders captured and executed, ending a revolt that had gripped England.

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