Picture credit: Scene of Jack Cade’s rebellion in 1450 showing Jack Cade declaring himself Lord of the City of London at London Stone, Cannon Street. Engraving, c1770
These be the points, cause and mischiefs of gathering and assembling of us, the king's liege men of Kent, the 4th day of June the year of our Lord 1450, the reign of our sovereign lord the king 29th, which we trust to Almighty God to remedy, with the help and the grace of God and of our sovereign lord the king, and the poor commons of England, and else we shall die therefore: We, considering that the king our sovereign lord, by the insatiable, covetous, malicious persons that daily and nightly are about his highness, and daily inform him that good is evil and evil is good:
Item. They say that our sovereign is above his laws to his pleasure, and he may make it and break it as he pleases, without any distinction. The contrary is true, or else he should not have sworn to keep it.
Item. They say that the commons of England would first destroy the king's friends and afterward himself, and then bring the Duke of York to be king so that by their false means and lies they may make him to hate and destroy his friends, and cherish his false traitors. They call themselves his friends, and if there were no more reason in the world to know, he may know they be not his friends by their covetousness.
Item. They say that it were great reproof to the king to take again what he has given, so that they will not suffer him to have his own good, nor land, nor forfeiture, nor any other good but they ask it from him, or else they take bribes of others to get it for him.
Item. It is to be remedied that the false traitors will suffer no man to come into the king's presence for no cause without bribes where none ought to be had. Any man might have his coming to him to ask him grace or judgment in such case as the king may give.
Item. They say that whom the king wills shall be traitor, and whom he wills shall be not, and that appears hitherto, for if any of the traitors about him would malign against any person, high or low, they would find false many that should die a traitor for to have his lands and his goods, but they will suffer the king neither to pay his debts withal, nor pay for his victuals nor be the richer of one penny.
Item. The law serves of nought else in these days but for to do wrong, for nothing is spread almost but false matters by color of the law for reward, dread and favor and so no remedy is had in the Court of Equity in any way.
Item. We say our sovereign lord may understand that his false council has lost his law, his merchandise is lost, his common people is destroyed, the sea is lost, France is lost, the king himself is so set that he may not pay for his meat nor drink, and he owes more than ever any King of England ought, for daily his traitors about him where anything should come to him by his laws, anon they take it from him.
Item. They ask gentlemen's goods and lands in Kent and call them rioters, and traitors and the king's enemies, but they shall be found the king's true liege men and best friends with the help of Jesus, to whom we cry day and night with many thousand more that God of His grace and righteousness shall take vengeance and destroy the false governors of his realm that has brought us to naught and into much sorrow and misery.
Item. We will that all men know we blame not all the lords, nor all those that are about the king's person, nor all gentlemen nor yeomen, nor all men of law, nor all bishops, nor all priests, but all such as may be found guilty by just and true inquiry and by the law.
Item. We will that it be known we will not rob, nor plunder, nor steal, but that these defaults be amended, and then we will go home; wherefore we exhort all the king's true liege men to help us, to support us, for whatsoever he be that will not that these defaults be amended, he his falser than a Jew or Saracen.
Item. His true commons desire that he will remove from him all the false progeny and affinity of the Duke of Suffolk and to take about his noble person his true blood of his royal realm, that is to say, the high and mighty prince the Duke of York, exiled from our sovereign lord's person by the noising of the false traitor, the Duke of Suffolk, and his affinity. Also to take about his person the mighty prince, the Duke of Exeter, the Duke of Buckingham, the Duke of Norfolk, and his true earls and barons of his land, and he shall be the richest king Christian.
Item. Where we move and pray that some true justice with certain true lords and knights may be sent into Kent for to inquire of all such traitors and bribers, and that the justice may do upon our sovereign lord direct his letters patent to all the people there universal openly to be read and cried, that it is our sovereign lord's will and prayer of all his people truly to inquire of every man's government and of defaults that reign, neither for love, favor, dread, nor hate, and that due judgment shall be forthwith and thereupon.
From: James Gairdner, Three Fifteenth-century Chronicles, with Historical Memoranda by John Stowe, Camden Society, New Series, Vol. 28 (London: Royal Historical Society, 1880), pp. 94-98.
Scanned by Jerome S. Arkenberg, Cal. State Fullerton. The text has been modernized by Prof. Arkenberg.
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© Paul Halsall, January 1999