Reformed Churchmen

We are Confessional Calvinists and a Prayer Book Church-people. In 2012, we remembered the 350th anniversary of the 1662 Book of Common Prayer; also, we remembered the 450th anniversary of John Jewel's sober, scholarly, and Reformed "An Apology of the Church of England." In 2013, we remembered the publication of the "Heidelberg Catechism" and the influence of Reformed theologians in England, including Heinrich Bullinger's Decades. For 2014: Tyndale's NT translation. For 2015, John Roger, Rowland Taylor and Bishop John Hooper's martyrdom, burned at the stakes. Books of the month. December 2014: Alan Jacob's "Book of Common Prayer" at: January 2015: A.F. Pollard's "Thomas Cranmer and the English Reformation: 1489-1556" at: February 2015: Jaspar Ridley's "Thomas Cranmer" at:

Saturday, June 14, 2014

14 June 1381 A.D. Rebels Killed 57th Archbishop of Canterbury, Mr. Sudbury

14 June 1381 A.D.  Rebels Killed 57th Archbishop of Canterbury, Mr. Sudbury.

Graves, Dan. “Rebels Killed Archbishop Sudbury.”  Jul 2007. Accessed 3 May 2014.

In 1380, the Archbishop of Canterbury, Simon of Sudbury became Lord Chancellor of England. It was an honor that cost him his life.

Outraged by a corrupt church, a failing war with France, and the hardship of special taxes, England's peasants revolted. Under the leadership of men like Watt Tyler, Jack Straw, and John Ball, they petitioned for the abolition of serfdom, and the reform of tithes, game laws and use of the forests. Above all they wanted the hated poll (head) tax abolished. Archbishop Sudbury had approved this crushing burden. The Roman Church was at a low ebb of respect at the time, particularly because of the great schism which had rival popes warring with one another.

John Ball, a priest who was already in hot water with the church for his teachings, preached that Christ's second coming was not far off. He incited the peasants with a bit of doggerel (inferior) poetry: "When Adam dug and Eve span (spun) where was then a gentleman?"

The peasant army swept through the shire of Kent, smashing the fine houses of unpopular rich landlords and burning court documents. They captured Rochester Castle with hardly a fight. Bursting into Canterbury Cathedral during a religious service, they swore to kill Sudbury for his part in the war with France and the taxes that accompanied it.

Sudbury was away in London, visiting King Richard II. The army of common people headed there, destroying the mayor's home, a prison, and Lambeth Palace, home of the archbishops, which were outside the city walls. Someone opened London's gates to them and in rushed the mob, unopposed. They attacked Fleet Prison and the Temple, a gathering place of lawyers, burning up all the legal records and law books that they could get their hands on. They also burned down Savoy Palace, home of King Richard's Uncle. They had not come to loot, but to punish and to destroy.

The fourteen-year-old king met the peasants and agreed to their demands. He handed out charters promising them what they asked for. However, he must have known he could not keep his word; most of the changes that the people demanded could only be passed if Parliament approved--something it was not likely to do.

On this day, June 14, 1381, while Watt Tyler negotiated with the king, the mob broke into the Tower of London, shouting, "Where is the traitor to the kingdom? Where is the spoiler of the commons?" When they found Archbishop Sudbury, he was at prayer before an altar with some of his associates. The rebels dragged all of them outside and down some steps to Tower Hill where they hacked off their heads as traitors. Lifting the heads on pikes, they carried them in triumph through the city.

Satisfied with their worthless pieces of parchment, many of the peasants left. Richard soon amassed forces and hunted down the rebels, showing them little mercy.


1.      Clayton, Joseph. "Simon of Sudbury." The Catholic Encyclopedia. New York: Robert Appleton, 1912.

2.      Conner, John. "John Ball--Primitivist."

3.      Hook, Walter Farquhar, 1798-1875. Lives of the Archbishops of Canterbury. London, R. Bentley, 1865-1884.

4.      McKilliam, Annie E. A Chronicle of the Archbishops of Canterbury. London: J. Clarke, 1913.

5.      "Simon of Sudbury." Encyclopedia Britannica. Encyclopedia Britannica, 1911.

6.      Various encyclopedia and internet articles.

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