Following the murder of the Duke of Suffolk
, reprisals were feared against the people of Kent
. Coupled with general disaffection for Henry VI
's regime, high taxes and the military disasters in France
, a popularist uprising was staged by Jack Cade
The rebels' demands, listed in 'Complaint of the Commons of Kent' were for greater political equity among the aristocracy, the bringing to justice of Humphry Duke of Gloucester's murderers, an official inquiry into the losses in France, and that the king should live of his own. At this time the government was in a huge amount of debt and it was on the rise. Despite all this, the rebels never directly aimed to despose the King.
Cade's army was substantial (one estimate is 46,000) and it included many gentry, including two members of parliament. Henry VI, convinced it was an uprising being staged by the Duke of York from his post in Dublin, marched a substantial army out from Leicester towards London to meet the rebels. Half of the King's army was routed after a short but bloody fight in Kent.
As mutiny began to spread through his army and support for Cade grew, Henry VI made a crucial mistake. He withdrew to his castle in Warwickshire, leaving the Archbishop and most of his council sheltering in the Tower of London. London fell into rebel hands.
It didn't stay in them for long. Cade could not control his undisciplined army and the Londoners resented him. After the execution of several of the King's courtiers, and a bloody fight with the retinue in the Tower of London, Cade was forced to disperse his army and flee.
Though promised a free pardon, Cade was pursued into Sussex and killed by the sheriff of Kent on the 12th of July. His skull was placed on a spike in London.
Although the rebellion effectively achieved nothing, it highlighted a major weakness of Henry VI. He had fled to his castle when the conflict begun, and it had been very easy for the rebels to occupy London. The King had shown that he and his council could not cope with a crisis - the government had collapsed during this period. Richard Duke of York took note.