A serious consequence of the Black Death was the peasants’ rising or the Peasants’ Revolt. Because of the dreadful mortality in that serious pestilence, there were a dearth of labourers and a rise in wages. But the situation proved inconvenient for the landowners. They were unwilling to pay more wages. At the same time, they could not allow their land to remain uncultivated. Naturally, they had to do something to tide over the situation. The land-owners were strong in parliament and could enact some law in their favour. Their policy resulted in injustice and wrong to a large number of peasants. Naturally, resentment among the latter started. They demanded that, as the prices did not fall, there could be no reduction in wages.
A situation for the Peasants’ Revolt was prepared. Discontented men clamoured and complained loudly against the injustice done. The imposition of a tax, known as the poll tax, fomented further the situation to lead the discontent to burst into flames, under the leadership of John Ball, Wat Taylor, Jack Straw and many more.
The peasants’ rising took place in East Angelia and the countries in the neighbourhood in 1381. Violent acts followed with the burning of manor houses and big palaces. The rioters pillaged and burned even the palace of John of Gaunt. They forced their way into the Tower and murdered the Archbishop of Canterbury and the treasurer.
The situation worsened and need stern action. Fortunately, the king was alive to the impending calamity. Force was employed to put down the Peasants’ Revolt with great severity.
The Peasant’s Revolt had a lesson for the rulers and the community as a whole. Injustice often leads to violence and neither party gains anything out of it. Mutual understanding and conciliatory attitude alone can end the mess of discontent and bring amity in society and prosperity for the nation.
The consequences of the revolt were, therefore, limited, but the poll tax was abandoned, restrictions on labour wages were not strictly enforced, and peasants continued the trend of buying their freedom from serfdom and becoming independent farmers.