Jack Cade

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Jack Cade, d. 1450, English rebel. Of his life very little is known. He may have been of Irish birth; some of his followers called him John Mortimer and claimed he was a cousin of Richard, duke of York. In 1450 he appeared as the leader of a well-organized uprising in the S of England, principally in Kent, usually known as Jack Cade's Rebellion. The protests were mainly political, not social, although the 14th-century Statute of Labourers (which attempted to freeze wages and prices) was among the grievances. Others were the loss of royal lands in France, the extravagance of the court, the corruption of the royal favorites, and the breakdown of the administration of justice. The rebels defeated the royal army at Sevenoaks, entered London, executed Lord Saye and Sele (who was blamed for the losses in France), and sacked several houses. The government then offered pardon to Cade's men and so dispersed them. Cade himself was mortally wounded while resisting arrest.

See E. N. Simons, Lord of London (1963).

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Cade, Jack (d. 1450). Leader of Kentish rebellion. Cade's identity remains a mystery. Military experience is suggested by his capacity to organize, lead, and attempt to discipline the thousands of men from Kent and adjoining counties who began to rise late in May 1450. He adopted the name of John Mortimer, apparently for propaganda purposes: there is no proof that he had any connection with that family or its head, Richard of York. Cade harnessed a seemingly spontaneous movement of protest against the incompetence and corruption of Henry VI's government which, divided and demoralized, could not prevent the rebels entering London on 3 July. Here Cade's control of his followers crumbled, the citizens united to expel them, and the rebels were persuaded to accept pardons and disperse. Although himself pardoned (as ‘Mortimer’), Cade remained belligerent and was fatally wounded when resisting arrest on 12 July.

R. L. Storey