Thursday, 7 July 2016

Robert Kett led an army of 20,000 Norfolk farm labourers in early July 1549

Robert Kett (1492 -1549) led an army of 20,000 Norfolk farm labourers against the fencing off of common man by large landowners in the summer of 1549. 

Many small holders depended on this land to graze their animals. 

After drinking plentifully at the annual fair in Wymondham (where Kett lived) on July 7 many of the locals pulled down the fences around common land in nearby Morley and the following day at Hethersett. Here the landlord pointed out that Kett had also fenced  around land in Wymondham and they should pull that down as well. 

Kett (a tanner by trade who had bought some local church land in 1540 that had been seized during the dissolution of the monasteries) surprised everyone by offering to pull it down himself and lead the protest further afield. 

The following day he addressed a crowd under an oak Wymondham (where Kett’s Oak now stands) and demanded "that all bond men may be made free, for God made all free with his precious bloodshedding"  - echoing the words of John Ball in the 1381 peasants revolt. 

They then marched towards Norwich and set up camp outside the city at Mousehold. It  took 2 military attacks before Kent and his men were defeated. He was imprisoned in  Guildhall, Norwich and executed at Norwich Castle on December 7. 

In 1949 a plaque was placed at the castle entrance honouring Kett as “a noble and courageous leader.” 

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