Things were unpleasantly lively in 1381 when Jack Straw and 20,000 Essex men arrived at Highbury Manor. They proceeded to burn and loot this rich house of the Knights Hospitallers.
Its master, Robert Hales, was Lord Treasurer, and thus responsible for the Poll Tax. This exacted the same levy on rich and poor alike – one reason he had becomeone of the most hated men in the country.
Hales paid the price. Although he had taken refuge in the Tower of London, the guards allowed the peasants in, who dragged him out and beheaded him on Tower Hill.
Was Jack Straw a real historical character or a useful Essex alter ego of the main leader of the revolt, the Kentish Wat Tyler? Either way, both soon ended up as dead as Hales.