A TIME OF COM­MO­TION

EDP Norfolk - - What’s On -

Life in Tu­dor Eng­land was tough for peas­ants who re­lied on the land. En­clo­sure of com­mon land by the landown­ers who wanted more ground to graze their sheep meant that peas­ants had nowhere to keep their own an­i­mals. This be­came a cat­a­lyst for protest among the poor who were also strug­gling with unem­ploy­ment and low wages.

In July 1549 ten­sions were run­ning high at an an­nual fair at Wymondham. An an­gry group de­cided to pull down landown­ers’ fences at nearby Mor­ley and Hether­sett, and were di­rected to the land of yeo­man farmer Robert Kett. How­ever, Kett spoke with the group and de­cided not only to join their cause but to lead them as they marched the 10 miles into Nor­wich, gath­er­ing on Mouse­hold Heath where they gained more lo­cal sup­port.

Some 12,000 even­tu­ally gath­ered on the heath over­look­ing the city, when a her­ald was sent to pro­claim their camp a rebellion and of­fer­ing a par­don if they dis­persed peace­fully. But Kett’s men re­jected the of­fer and the city gates where closed against them. A few days later the rebels stormed the walls and took con­trol of the city.

An army of up to 14,000 men, com­manded by the Earl of War­wick, marched on the city and fought bat­tles in the streets, forc­ing Kett and his fol­low­ers to re­treat to their camp at Mouse­hold. Even­tu­ally the rebels left their camp to head to Dussin­dale, where they met the army again. Dur­ing this fi­nal bat­tle the rebels were heav­ily de­feated and it is thought up to 3,000 of them were killed.

Kett was found, cap­tured and taken to Lon­don to be tried for trea­son. He was found guilty, im­pris­oned in The Guild­hall in Nor­wich and on De­cem­ber 7, 1549 was hung from the walls of Nor­wich Castle.

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