« 上一頁繼續 »
even greater severity than on the peasants. The peasants, notwithstanding the Statutes of Labourers, could, and did, refuse to work without adequate payment, and, when compulsion was exercised, could, and did, run away.
The priests could not very well do either, and when they demanded that their stipends should be raised to ten or twelve marks, Archbishop Islip prescribed seven marks as a maximum, which Parliament afterwards reduced to six. It is thus not altogether surprising that during the riots of 1381 6 several cases occurred of vicars heading their parishioners'
onslaugbt against those who had appropriated the tithe of • the parish.
It has often been suggested that the clergy had another and important share in the rebellion by their disseminating the revolutionary and communistic theories of Wycliffe. Mr. Trevelyan seems to deny this—to deny a connexion in any form between Wycliffe and the insurgents. His argument is based on the fact that none of these on their trial were accused of Lollardy," which—as Lollardy had scarcely been invented in 1381—is not very surprising. Again, he says, “ the attempt to picture the rising as a communistic
movement ignores the plainest facts; no request to have all things in common was put forward. Surely Mr. Trevelyan is not prepared to maintain that no motive was at work except those that found vent in an explicit demand ; and though he considers that the reports of John Ball's famous speech are untrustworthy, he directly refers to the popularity of the couplet
"When Adam delved and Eve span,
Who was then the gentleman?' That Wycliffe himself did not directly preach revolt and coininunism may be conceded; but some of his theories, committed to writing before 1381, go exceedingly close to maintaining the moral and religious justification of both. Mr. Trevelyan thinks that these had been practically withdrawn, and that in any case the peasants of Essex or Kent, or any other county, did not read tracts written in scholastic Latin. But the evil that men do lives after them; and teaching which appeals to the vulgar imagination reaches it through a thousand channels which it is impossible to dam, and, like the Fama of the poet, vires acquirit eundo. And
* Mr. Trevelyan persistently speaks of Lollardry, a word of modern coinage.
this is the view taken by M. Petit-Dutaillis, who urges that it is impossible to say that Wycliffe had no influence on the rebellion ; that, fully admitting that none of the peasants had read or heard of the Tractatus de Civili Dominio; that Wycliffe did not really desire any change in the civil order of things; that he sought for support among the nobles, was the friend of Lancaster, and to the villeins recommended submission, we cannot forget that he was a vehement, outspoken preacher ; that he had denounced the accumulation of riches by the wicked, and still more by ecclesiastics; that he had preached in London to a turbulent and excitable populace; above all, that he had disciples still bolder, still more outspoken than himself; and thus, though he recommended resignation, he must be reckoned as one of the stirrers up of the rebellion.
But, in addition to the poor priests who preached sedition, and to the parsons of poor parishes who, when the rising came, 'put themselves at the head of their congregations ' and revenged on society the wrongs that they had endured,' there were many laymen who had long been at work through towns and villages, who in London were in touch with the
proletariat of the great city,' and in the country had formed what they called the Great Society, which was an effective and, if need were, an aggressive union of the lower classes. In the spring of 1381 messengers were sent round the counties bidding the labourers be ready. The messages came in such form as 'Jack Milner asketh help to turne his
milne aright,'• Jack Trueman doth you to understand that ' falseness and guile have reigned too long,' or 'John Ball 'greeteth you well all, and doth you to understand that he . hath rungen your bell. The rising was thus not, as has been sometimes said, a sudden and passionate outburst of a wretched and aggrieved people; it had been, on the contrary, carefully prepared beforehand, and it appears from many independent sources that during the preceding ten years wages ruled high and prices low. Says Mr. Trevelyan :
* The labourers who rose in 1281 were men accustomed to very fair conditions of existence, and had, therefore, a very good opinion of themselves and of what was due to them. This status they had won in the teeth of constituted authority, in defiance of Parliaments, landlords, justices of the peace and sheriffs. It was the result in many cases of a nomad life, in others of illegal unions and strikes. Could any stuff be more inflammable material for the agitator than such a class ?'
But just as high wages and low prices, “illegal unions
and strikes,' had brought about this condition favourable to the labourers, had they reduced many of the better classes to comparative or actual poverty. According to Thorold Rogers
Prices of produce during the last twenty years of the fourteenth century are uniformly low; every kind of grain was cheap. Wool was seriously depreciated, and it was upon corn and wool-the former for home consumption, the latter for foreign trade-that the agriculturist mainly depended. On the other hand, labour was dear. A rise of nearly 60 per cent. in the wages of harvest work, with a proportionate increase in the payment of other services absolutely necessary in order that the business of the farm should be carried on, must have been almost ruinous.' But this cause of distress affected others as well as the agriculturists; it affected every employer of labour throughout the country—in town or in village as on the manor; and it is perhaps to this--in part, at any rate-that we are to look for an explanation of the fact that in London some of the aldermen and better sort of citizens' were in the counsels of the organisers of the rebellion; or that in East Anglia several gentlemen were of their own ' free will among the rebels, and some even seem to have been
among the original instigators and leaders. Imagination • alone, continues Mr. Trevelyan, can at this distance of time supply the reasons of their sympathy with the
insurgents. Certain it is that it was the action of London aldermen that gave the city over to the mob. If Alderman Horn, on Blackheath, had not encouraged the rebels with promises of support they might well have quailed before the difficulty of the task to which he invited them; if Alderman Sy byle had not lowered the drawbridge over the gap in London Bridge, they could not possibly have got into London. If the northern gates had been kept shut the Essex rioters could not have forced them. Unquestionably there were in the city great numbers of men who wished well to the insurgents, or who looked to a riot as an opportunity for settling private grudges or for plundering.
• The stalwart prentices,' says Mr. Trevelyan, 'trained in many a street fight, were attracted by the prospect of a riot on a gigantic scale. The sacred right of insurrection was well known to them; it had become almost a light thing in their eyes. This would be a rare opportunity to pay off old scores against John of Gaunt, against the Flemings of the riverside and the lawyers of the Temple. Besides the
* History of Agriculture and Prices, vol. i. p. 271. VOL, CXCI. NO. OCCXCI.
apprentices, there was a vast floating population of labourers in and out of employment, of men of all sorts who had come to make their fortunes in London, of runaway villeins, and plotters who had come there on purpose to be at hand at this critical moment.' As long as the insurgents were kept outside the rabble inside could not move; when the insurgents were admitted, all that was turbulent, all that was vile, made common cause with them. It is unnecessary to repeat the familiar story, excellently told by Mr. Trevelyan, of how the rebels sacked, burnt, and utterly destroyed the Savoy and the Hospital of St. John at Clerkenwell; how the prisons were broken open; how the Inns of Court were levelled with the ground; how all the rolls and records found in the Temple were burnt, and a proclamation issued that all lawyers were to be beheaded ;' or of how, while the Essex serfs met the King at Mile End —the fourteenth-century equivalent of Hampstead Heath or Raynes Park—and obtained a promise of freedom and the abolition of feudal dues, the Kentish politicians stayed in the city, obtained admission to the Tower, and brutally murdered Sudbury, the Archbishop of Canterbury, 'not so much because he was archbishop as because he was the Chancellor who had misgoverned the country and introduced the poll* tax,' Sir Robert Hales, the Prior of St. John's and Lord Treasurer, and some others, including John Leg, the farmer of the poll-tax.
The point of interest which Mr. Trevelyan has passed over with very scant notice is the admission of the mob to the Tower. He rightly says, 'It is certain that no resist
ance was made by the very formidable body of well-armed • soldiers, who might have defended such a stronghold for . many days even against a picked army;' but when he continues, " These troops were ordered, or at least permitted, • by the King to let in the mob. It appears that part of the agreement with the rebels was that the Tower and the refugees it contained were to be delivered over to their wrath,' he is making a very serious charge against the memory of Richard, one which ought not to have been made without much stronger evidence than Mr. Trevelyan adduces-Walsingham and the 'anominalle chronicle be• longing to the abbey of St. Maries in Yorke,' which he had printed in the English Historical Review.' Mr. Trevelyan must have known that on such a point this testimony is worthless. He assuredly did not gain a history fellowship at Trinity without learning the historical canon that on delicate or doubtful questions a witness is not satisfactory unless it can be shown that he was in a position to have first-hand information. But of the anonymous chronicler we know nothing, except that most probably he was in Yorkshire at the time; we have not even a contemporary MS. of his work, and his statement in the lines referred to is confused and doubtful.* Nor does it need much consideration to show that, however correct his general narrative of patent events may be, the monk of St. Albans could not have any particular knowledge of such a transaction as this. M. Petit-Dutaillis says, "les rebelles '. . . pénétrèrent sans difficulté dans la Tour;' and though he accuses the King of neglecting to take any measure for • the safety of his unfortunate Ministers,' he adds that Walsingham's statement, que le roi autorisa formelle'ment l'entrée des rebelles,' is 'peu croyable.' But he does not suggest what better measure could have been taken than leaving the Ministers in the Tower, guarded by a sufficient garrison. All that we really have before us, then, is that the mob was allowed, without resistance, to enter the fortress which might have defied their most angry efforts. It may have been treason, such as lowered the drawbridge; but, if so, it would probably have been recorded. If not, the fact, taken by itself appears inexplicable. But it is not necessary to take it by itself. We have something that looks very similar in the surrender of Rochester Castle at the first outbreak of the rebellion-on June 7. Mr. Trevelyan thus describes the incident:
* After defending it for half a day, the garrison was frightened into surrender, and the governor, Sir John Newton, became a hostage in the hands of the insurgents. It was an important success, not so much strategically as morally. It showed that panic had seized the authorities, and that the half-armed mob was for the present irresistible. Rochester Castle fell like the Bastille at the shout
* The words are: “Le roy' (being at Mile End) 'fist arrayer les comens en denx ranges et fist crier devant eux ...
· · que ils poient aller par toute la realme dengleterre et prendre toutz les traytores et les amener a luy saluement et il feroit execucione de eux come le ley demanda, et par celle grant le dit Wat Tighler et les comons pristeront lour voy a le toure ; ur prendre lercheuesque et les autres ... The point of which is that Wat Tyler and his party were at Mile End. But this is at least doubtful. Mr. Trevelyan's own words are: 'The rebels broke into the Tower. Authorities differ as to the exact moment; some place it during and some after the conference at Mile End. But if during, Wat Tyler could not be in the two places at the same time. M. Petit-Dutaillis decides that he was in London.