Summer of Blood: The Peasants’ Revolt of 1381 by Dan Jones

Published: December 4, 2009

Re-Published: November 15, 2016

I had to read this book because I missed it. I have read all of Dan Jones’s other histories except this one which really was just poor form on my part. Anyway, I love listening to the audio books of Jones’s works but this one did not have an audio version (that I could find) so I will say it took me a while to finish it. I love histories but sometimes they are dry and the events that lead up to the peasant revolt are rather dry.

In this nonfiction Jones tackles the first peasant revolt that England had seen. Taking place in the late 14th century, England was trying to keep the French and Spanish from raiding their shores while fighting on the content for the English King to wear the French crown. This put a lot of strain on the royal coffers and caused taxation of the commoners to become rampant. Eventually the taxation was written to include every non-pure woman in the household only this was obviously just for creepy old men to molest girls. Which in the 1300s was even more rampant than today. This part of the taxation law was the last straw for many so a revolt was put forth in Kent and Essex.

They went after anyone they perceived to have power over them and/or were directing their king wrong. The lords in their manors weren’t safe and the clergy wasn’t safe either. However, the irony is that when the tables were turned the rebels could not go to the church for a safe haven. This caused them to panic and get sloppy when the king finally grabbed onto his power over the commoners.

This book is filled with blood, gore, and historical facts about a rebellion that has long since been ignored. Richard II was a weak ruler who grabbed onto his power when the country was crumbling. This created him to be vengeful and cruel ruler that ultimately led to the downfall of the Plantagenet royal line. This book is definitely a must read for any Dan Jones fan and for me, it explained the pinnacle event that led to the Wars of the Roses.

—“But faced by the rebels’ demands for physical proofs of their mystic traditions, he was as helpless as if they had asked him to saddle them a unicorn.”—

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