Jack Straw: Not Just History

Did you know Jack Straw isn’t just a figure in history? He’s left his mark on English culture as well.  He’s mentioned in a book, in a play, and in a few other places.

You’ve probably heard of the book The Canterbury Tales, but in case you haven’t, it’s a collection of stories written in Middle English (older than our English, but more recent than Old English) by Geoffrey Chaucer.  Due to Straw and his followers supposedly murdering several Flemish residents in Bury, one of the stories in The Canterbury Tales mentions straw as being the leader of a mob targeting foreign workers.

Straw was also the main character to an old play by the name of The Life and Death of Jack Straw. Written in 1593, this play dramatized the events of the Peasant Revolt and was one of many plays at the time set in England. In more recent years (1930), the book 1066 And All That satirized the confusion caused by contrary reports of events, stating that the peasants revolted “in several reigns under such memorable leaders as Black Kat, Straw Hat, John Bull, and What Tyler?” Finally, you can look for the pub Jack Straw’s Castle in London that took its name from a story that Straw spoke to rebel groups on the Heath from a hay wagon which became known as “Jack Straw’s Castle”.

It just goes to show you that history doesn’t just stay in the past. See if you can find any references to Jack Straw in your travels, and join us next week as we talk about one of the other important figures of the Revolt, John Ball.

Published in: on July 27, 2011 at 10:56 am  Leave a Comment  

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