on the block

Fiesty monks. Fighting monks and battling friars. Jerusalem had been lost for good in 1244 and in 1291, Acre, the chief remaining fortress of the Crusaders and their last seat of government, fell to the enemy after a siege of five weeks. The survivors were evacuated and behind them, Acre was razed to the ground, and within a few months, nothing remained of the Crusader kingdom. The human remnants of a lost cause gathered on the island of Cyprus, where Grand Master De Villiers proceeded to rally what was left of the order of Saint Jean. But they were not without internal corruption, similar to the Knights Templar; yielding to temptation and somewhat exceeding their sacred duty in the pursuit of unholy piracy. Strife and upheaval were not only confined to the Levant, the Order willy-nilly played its part in many a conflict less clear cut than an outpost against Islam, such as in England in the 14th-16 centuries.

Read More:http://www.historynotes.info/place-to-visit-malta-804/ ---Remarkably Valletta has hardly been altered since the Order left and is now one of the world’s best-conserved cities. UNESCO recognised it as such in 1980, granting World Heritage Status. For centuries tourists have marvelled at the city. When Benjamin Disraeli visited in 1830, he wrote: “Valleta equals in its noble architecture, if it does not excel, any capital in Europe”.---

The Black Death which depleted the populations of Europe about the middle of the fourteenth-century had caused a veritable revolution of social conditions in England, which went unrecognized by the legislators. Where previously serfs had abounded in quantity, there was now a laborer’s market. Peasants and artisans, technically still bound to the soil, cut adrift and lent their services to the highest bidder. Wages soared; failing to appreciate an inexorable progression of cause and effect, the government passed the Statute of Laborers, which fixed wages at pre-plague levels, and followed this up with a poll tax, a measure creating fresh hardships and making popular resistance inevitable.

Read More:http://www.digital-images.net/Gallery/Scenic/Siena/Cathdrl_Int/cathdrl_int.html ---Above the entrance to the Piccolomini Library is this fresco of the Papal Coronation of Pius III by Bernardino di Betto (Pinturicchio). Painted in 1504, it was commissioned by the Pope’s heirs after he had died in 1503 after only 26 days in office. Pinturicchio painted a series of frescoes in the Piccolomini Library in two phases, from 1502-03 (interrupted by the death of the client, Pius III), then from 1505-07. In the period between (1504-05) he painted a fresco series in Siena Cathedral’s Chapel of Saint John the Baptist.---

When the revolt broke out in earnest, one of the first places to be sacked and burned by the rebels in London was the Priory of Saint John at Clerkenwell. Robert Hales was beheaded on Tower Hill together with the Archbishop of Canterbury, who as chancellor of the realm was held responsible for the government. Their heads were stuck on pikes, paraded through the city, and impaled over the gateway of London Bridge.

The rebellion was short-lived, and it was put down with sufficient effect to give feudalism a few hundred more years of grace. But Robert Hales did not remain the only Hospitaller in England to accept the Treasurer’s post and die on the block. During the War of the Roses, John Langstrother, another Grand Prior, suffered the same fate. And at the time of King Henry VIII’s conflict with Rome, a number of Knights of Saint John also met their end by execution, although in their case the political cause merged once again entirely with the religious, and they died for Faith and conscience, like many more of their contemporaries then.

Read More:http://www.medievalists.net/2011/05/18/the-eclipsed-scourge-the-pestilence-of-1361-and-the-origins-of-the-english-peasants’-revolt-of-1381/ ---The doors of the chapel burst open and the rebels flooded inside. Sudbury, at peace, displayed no sense of fear and replied to the shouts of hatred directed towards him: “It’s good that you have come, my sons. Here I am, the archbishop you are looking for, though no traitor or plunderer.” Paying no heed to the Archbishop’s words, the rebels dragged him out of the chapel and up to Tower Hill along with Robert Hales (master of the Hospital of St. John and treasurer of England), John Legg (a royal sergeant-at-arms and prominent tax collector) and a Franciscan monk. The four victims questioned the rebel’s motives and threatened that the wrath of God would come down upon their assailants. The rebels beheaded the Archbishop, taking eight blows to finish the job. The other three victims met with the same fate.---


The first great popular rebellion in English history. Its immediate cause was the imposition of the unpopular poll tax of 1381, which brought to a head the economic discontent that had been growing since the middle of the century. The rebellion drew support from several sources and included well-to-do artisans and villeins as well as the destitute. Probably the main grievance of the agricultural labourers and urban working classes was the Statute of Labourers (1351), which attempted to fix maximum wages during the labour shortage following the Black Death.

The uprising was centred in the southeastern counties and East Anglia, with minor disturbances in other areas. It began in Essex in May, taking the government of the young king Richard II by surprise. In June rebels from Essex and Kent marched toward London. On the 13th the Kentish men, under Wat Tyler, entered London, where they massacred some Flemish merchants and razed the palace of the king’s uncle, the unpopular John of Gaunt, Duke of Lancaster. The government was compelled to negotiate. On the 14th Richard met the men of Essex outside London at Mile End, where he promised cheap land, free trade, and the abolition of serfdom and forced labour. During the king’s absence, the Kentish rebels in the city forced the surrender of the Tower of London; the chancellor, Archbishop Simon of Sudbury, and the treasurer, Sir Robert Hales, both of whom were held responsible for the poll tax, were beheaded.

The king met Tyler and the Kentishmen at Smithfield on the following day. Tyler was treacherously cut do

n Richard’s presence by the enraged mayor of London. The king, with great presence of mind, appealed to the rebels as their sovereign and, after promising reforms, persuaded them to disperse. The crisis in London was over, but in the provinces the rebellion reached its climax in the following weeks. It was finally ended when the rebels in East Anglia under John Litster were crushed by the militant bishop of Norwich, Henry le Despenser, on about June 25.

The rebellion lasted less than a month and failed completely as a social revolution. King Richard’s promises at Mile End and Smithfield were promptly forgotten, and manorial discontent continued to find expression in local riots. The rebellion succeeded, however, as a protest against the taxation of poorer classes insofar as it prevented further levying of the poll tax.Read More:http://www.wga.hu/tours/gothic/history/wattyler.html

Read More:http://www.easyart.com/canvas-prints/Gustave-Wappers/The-Defence-of-Rhodes-by-Foulques-de-Villaret-and-the-Knights-of-St.-John-of-Jerusalem-304949.html ---The Defence of Rhodes by Foulques de Villaret and the Knights of St. John of Jerusalem Artist: Gustave Wappers---



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