Simon Sudbury: The Archbishop

We’ve already talked about the main royal player in the Peasants’ Revolt, Richard II. Don’t forget though, there were others in positions of power, and some of them met a much more grisly end. One such person was Simon Sudbury, the Archbishop of Canterbury.

Sudbury worked hard to make it to the spot of archbishop. He started out as the Bishop of London in 1362, and soon after, he served King Edward III (Richard II’s grandfather) as an ambassador. After 13 years of being a bishop, he was finally appointed archbishop of Canterbury. However, his rise to fame was not yet complete.

In 1377, just after Sudbury became a bishop, King Edward III died. Sudbury then crowned Richard II as the new king of England (if you’ve been keeping up, remember that Richard’s father, Edward I, died in 1376, so Edward III’s grandson Richard II would then have been closest to the throne), and then became Lord Chancellor of England in 1380.

Unfortunately for him, Sudbury was a supporter of John of Gaunt, the regent of England and one of the most reviled men by the peasants. Additionally, his position as Lord Chancellor caused the peasants to regard him as the main source for their woes. Sudbury’s life ended in blood shed when Kentish rebels attacked his property in Canterbury and Lambeth, rushed into the Tower of London, and seized Sudbury himself. He was dragged to Tower Hill, and on June 14th, 1381; was brutally beheaded by the peasants.

We all know life isn’t a popularity contest, but in some cases, it pays to be popular! If the peasants had liked Sudbury a little bit more, he might have survived the revolt. Fortunately (or unfortunately, depending on the type of person you are), there will be no real beheading at the Sarasota Medieval Fair.

Published in: on September 14, 2011 at 5:05 pm  Leave a Comment  

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