Jack Cade, rebel against Henry VI’s taxes and corruption

1450 Jack Cade’s rebels disliked many of King Henry VI’s policies, including a tax to fund the 100 Year War with France and the corrupt collection of the tax.

plaque reads: Near this spot was slain the notorious rebel Jack Cade by Alexander Iden, Sheriff of Kent. A.D. 1450. His body was carried to London and his head fixed upon London Bridge. This is the success of all rebels, and this fortune chanceth ever to traitors.

Plaque marking capture of Jack Cade. Creative Commons: Anthony McIntosh

A mix of clergymen and landowners, plus by some peasants, marched on London from Kent. They fought and won a battle with the king’s troops at Sevenoaks and went on to storm the Tower of London, but were just held back.

They killed the Archbishop of Canterbury and the king’s treasurer, Sir James Fiennes, and stuck their heads on poles so they kissed each other. They also killed the Sheriff of Kent.

Promised pardons

Cade handed over demands to royal troops and was assured they would be met. He then handed over a list of his men so they could receive royal pardons. But neither the king nor parliament accepted the demands and Henry VI ordered Cade’s arrest.

The new Sheriff of Kent, Alexander Iden, hunted Cade, catching and wounding him near Heathfield, Sussex, (now called Cade Street). Cade died on the way to London. His corpse was hung, drawn and quartered and his head placed on a pole on London Bridge.

Many of the ringleaders were captured and killed but many rebels received pardons. None of the rebels’ demands were met.

Kill all lawyers

In Shakespeare’s Henry VI, Part II, Act 4, Scene 2, one of Jack Cade’s men, Dick, famously says: “The first thing we do, let’s kill all the lawyers.”


Peasants’ revolt | Cornish rebellion | Boston tea party | Community Charge |


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