Outside of the South East
As stated at the outset, the Great Revolt was not confined to Essex, Kent, and London. In fact, Tyler’s ludicrous demands moments before his death were inspired in part by news of the rebellion taking hold elsewhere. As far away as the city of York, over 200 miles north of London, aggrieved townsfolk were tearing down the city walls and destroying religious houses. Indeed, when John Ball fled from Smithfield, he was aiming for York, where he knew he could be sure of a sympathetic crowd. He was captured in Coventry, and hanged, drawn, and quartered in St Albans.
Across East Anglia and Cambridgeshire, the most feared rebel was John Wrawe. A former chaplain from Essex, instead of heading to London he moved north to stir up support for the revolt. Guilty of arson, blackmail, theft, and murder, Wrawe and his followers were especially brutal in their methods, and did not seem as ideologically driven as Ball and Tyler. They plundered the Priory of St Edmunds at Bury, stealing priceless treasures then quaffing wine with the proceeds, and murdering the prior, John of Cambridge. They also murdered Sir John Cavendish, Chief Justice of the King’s Bench, for good measure.
Wrawe’s rebellion was decimated by another churchman, Henry Despenser, Bishop of Norwich. Despenser (above) had been an accomplished knight before taking orders. He had fled Norwich after learning of the Norfolk rebels’ intention to murder him, but when his safe-place at Burleigh was threatened by Wrawe, he acted decisively. With only eight lances and a few archers, Despenser found some of Wrawe’s men at Peterborough, sacking the abbey, and personally slaughtered many of the sorry group, even those pleading sanctuary at the altar. He cut and stabbed his way back to Norwich, liberating Cambridge, Ely, and Huntingdon in the process.
Approaching Norwich, Despenser encountered envoys from John Litster, the rebel-leader in Norwich, weighed-down with booty. They were beheaded, and Despenser had their heads nailed up at Newmarket. When Despenser finally reached Norwich on June 24th, a full nine days after the death of Wat Tyler, the revolt was still raging. Though outnumbered by Litster’s men, Despenser expertly led his small force to a resounding victory. Despenser ordered Litster to be partially hanged, disemboweled, his sundered bowels burnt, and finally beheaded. Peace was restored in East Anglia, though what God thought of the bishop’s bloodthirsty actions is not recorded.