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 Wat 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.
On this day, June 14, 1381, while Wat 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.
June 14, 1381