June 1497 Thomas Flamank from Bodmin, the son of Royal tax collector Sir Richard Flamank, was among the leaders of the Cornish rebellion against Henry VII’s taxes to fund his war against the Scots. Michael Joseph An Gof, a blacksmith from St Keverne was another.
Both men spoke against the taxes, claiming a war with Scotland was nothing to do with Cornwall. An Gof marched a crowd to Bodmin, where they joined Flamank’s men to march on London to ask the King not to levy the tax.
They picked up more followers on the way and fought a small battle in Guildford before arriving at Blackheath, south-east London on Friday 16 June 1497. At first 15,000 camped there but many sneaked away during the night.
In the morning, the King – who thought Saturdays his lucky day – sent about 10,000 troops, led by Lord Daubeney, to attack the ill-armed rebels. At the Battle of Deptford Bridge, the king’s army easily beat the rebels, capturing Flamank and another key rebel, Lord Audley. An Gof fled and hid in a church but was soon caught.
The two leaders were hanged, drawn and quartered and their heads stuck on posts on London Bridge. Lord Audley, as a peer, was only beheaded.