Battle of Sevenoaks
Jack Cade’s Rebellion is one of the most intriguing revolts against authority in our history, even if short-lived. Such was the corruption and ineffectiveness of Henry VI ’s government of England at this time that some sort of rising was surely inevitable: taxes were hiked to pay for the seemingly endless war in France; injustice was rife; the Kent and Sussex coasts were regularly raided by French ships and even English soldiers taking advantage of easy pickings.
Rallies in the spring of 1450 to protest at the situation coalesced into an armed force determined to do something about it. Jack Cade, an outspoken critic of authority, became its leader. Little is known about him, but it is believed he had military experience given his rapid success in organising peasants into an army. It is also conjectured that he had Yorkist support, as one of Cade’s demands was for the return of the Duke of York.
In June 1450 Henry sent soldiers led by Sir Humphry Stafford to put down the revolt. On June 18 the armies of Stafford and Cade clashed at Solefields in Sevenoaks. The government side was routed, and Stafford was killed in the battle. Henry, possibly the worst king in English history (a hotly disputed title) fled to Warwickshire and safety; Cade and his Kentish army advanced to London and roamed the city with enough time to behead the Treasurer and other corrupt officials before withdrawing.
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