Cade's Rebellion 1450 during Henry VI's first reign

Textbooks used to create this:

  • Ian Dawson's The Wars of the Roses, Hodder Education 

May 1450 - The Duke of Suffolk

  • The Common voice was that the Duke of Suffolk and others had sold Normandy and other English lands to France.
  • At Parliament, the commons accused the Duke of treason and he was arrested and put in the tower of London.
  • Before this, Suffolk had an astrologer tell him how he would die, 'a most shameful death', advising him to 'beware of the tower' 
  • The Duke was freed and exiled for 5 years but when he set sail from Ipswich, another ship lay in wait. They captured him and beheaded him, throwing his body on Dover beach.
  • The Kentishmen rose in rebellion and choose themselves a captain, Jack Cade.
  • He was an effective leader and gathered several thousand followers, using the government's own system for raising soldiers against French attack. 
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June 1450

  • The rebels camped at Blackheath, south of London
  • The King and his nobles fled to the Midlands, frightened of their soldiers supporting the rebels
  • As protest spread, another one of the King's advisors, Bishop William Ascough, was murdered in Salisbury.
  • There were Negotiations 
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July 1450

  • Cade entered London in early July 
  • Cade now punished men whom the rebels believed were corrupt traitors 
  • Lord Saye, the royal treasurer, was dragged from the Tower of London, his head cut off, and his naked body was dragged around London behind a horse.
  • A handful of others were executed and their homes looted.
  • This violence led Londoners to turn against Cade, attacking his men in a nighttime battle that raged along London Bridge until the Londoners slammed the city gates locking out the rebels. 
  • There were more negotiations 
  • The rebels were pardoned and perhaps promised their demands would be met. Most went home, leaving Cade and his closest supporters isolated.
  • Cade fled but was later caught by the Sheriff of Kent and Killed.
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What triggered Cade's Rebellion?

  • The people of Kent believed that their homes and farms would be destroyed in revenge of Suffolk's murder. Rumors said that this threat was made by Lord Saye and William Crowmer, the Sheriff of Kent, both close supporters of Suffolk. They made this threat after Suffolk's body was found on the beach in Kent. Saye and Crowmer were extremely powerful, owning a great deal of land in Kent. 
  • Therefore, it was the fear of destruction that triggered the rebellion

Major Cause: Suffolk and corrupt advisors

National complaints: Loss of English lands in France

Local Complaints: Fear of destruction for revenge of Suffolk's death

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Which other local events created anger?

  • The rebels' aim wasn't to sweep away the nobility or dispose of the King, they simply wanted the existing system of government to work properly and fairly, instead of rewarding a few corrupt nobles and penalizing ordinary people. 
  • They accused Saye and Crowmer of being at the center of corruption among landowners and officials of Kent by:

Fixing elections to parliament in favour of men they wanted to be elected

Reducing taxes paid by lords which had to be made up by ordinary taxpayers

extorting money from local by making them pay fines when falsely accused of crimes

Another reason why so many people joined the protest was the fear of hunger and poverty. Farmers and clothmakers made up the majority of the population in the southeast and their incomes had fallen. Food prices were low so farmers were earning less for their crops. Cloth sales had slumped so sheep farmers had less income and clothworkers less work and less pay. Lower incomes meant hunger and poverty which increases the likelihood of rebellion. 

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Which national problems made the rebels angry?

  • As the rebellion continued, the rebels rewrote their petition, focusing on less on local complaints and more on national complaints.
  • Continually stressed that they wanted the king to rule like a 'King Royal' and declared that they would live and die his loyal subjects
  • Their target was the punishment of the supporters of the dead Suffolk
  • Their main claims of these supporters led by Suffolk were that they had:

Robbed the King and enriched themselves by taking advantage of his youth and generosity to take royal lands and income for themselves while leaving King impoverished. 

Hijacked the law courts for their own benefits, intimidating or bribing judges and juries to make judgments in  the favour of them and their supporters

Prevented nobles closely related to the King from acting as his councilors and were responsible for the death of the King's uncle, the Duke of Gloucester.

Betrayed England by losing the English lands in France so that all of Henry V's conquests were back in French hands.

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The loss of French lands

  • Normandy was the very core of English possession
  • Rouen was surrendered in October 1449
  • An English relief army landed in Normandy only to be beaten in the battle of Formigny in April 1450
  • Caen was surrendered in June 1450
  • This was caused by the treachery of Suffolk selling the lands for bribes
  • The loss of France lands shattered national pride
  • It led to:

Soldiers were quartered near the coast while walking to the cross the Channel. Food, Drink, and Lodgings were taken without payment and so many men crammed together led to disturbances and petty crime.

A slump in the cloth trade as they could no longer trade easily with towns in  Northern France

Increase in Frech attacks on the coast. Rye, Winchelsea in Sussex and Queenborough Castle in Kent were attacked

Refugee problem as people who had settled in Normandy were now homeless

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Why was London so full of rebels in 1450?

They clearly blamed the kings 'false councilors' but there was no blame placed on the King and they declared their loyalty to the King as they didn't want to be tried for treason.  As a result, there is no evidence that the rebels blamed the King but Londoners may have privately complained that his desertion had allowed them into the city. 

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The puzzle of Henry VI

  • He was overly religious
  • From portraits, he doesn't seem like the man who is cut out to be KIng like his father Henry V.
  • wasn't a military leader
  • made bad decisions
  • ignored important parts of the government
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How involved was Henry VI in governing England?

  • He became king in 1422 at only 9 months old and became King of France aged 10 but didn't rule one of them effectively
  • There isn't much evidence of people criticising the king
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Was Henry to blame for Cade's Rebellion in 1450

  • the problem with a hereditary monarchy is that it goes to the oldest son who may not always be the best King.
  • To a large extent, he was as he was unable to provide leadership in war or impose justice and was describes as being very young and inexperienced, but he was 29, a year older than what he father was when he won the battle of Agincourt and he was unable to take decisions and unite nobles. If he'd have been a successful King then there would be no need for rebellion which is why that even after Cade's rebellion, these problems and rebellions continued.
  • Suffolk is also partly to blame as he sold the French lands which caused many complaints
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