England : Kett's Rebellion 1549

A.) Prehistory

A number of noble landowners had switched from growinbg wheat on their estates to more profitable sheep farming, and in the process, usurped common land by fencing it in (= enclosure). In 1549 villagers took up arms and complained to estate owner Robert Kett (Ket), who not only admitted his wrong action, but agreed to lead them.

B.) The Rebellion

Kett and his poorly armed peasant rebel force marched on Norwich, swelling to 16,000 (according to some sources even 20,000) on the way. The city was closed to them, but they scaled the walls and established a provisional administration, issuing their demands - an end to enclosure, and the abolition of serfdom - to the king. An army was sent against them, commanded by John Dudley, Earl of Northumberland, which easily defeated the peasant force; about 3,000 rebels were killed. Robert Kett was captured and, later that year, executed.

C.) The Legacy

The matter which caused the rebellion, the practise of enclosure, was not addressed, and would continue to cause unrest.

Kett's Rebellion, from Spartacus Schoolnet
Robert Kett, from Spartacus Schoolnet
Kett, from Virtual Norfolk
History of the City of Norwich, Pt.2 from 1297 to 1565, from Norwich Information
DOCUMENTS Kett, from Virtual Norfolk; has numerous documents on Kett's Rebellion
A Tale of Two Ketts, from BBC Legacies

This page is part of World History at KMLA
First posted on February 20th 2004, last revised on November 17th 2004

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