Why should he accept a pardon? He had done nothing to be pardoned for, committed no act of treason against the King. All he and his followers wanted was the repeal of enclosure laws which denied common men access to the common land. He wasn’t entirely sure how he had ended up leading this raggle-taggle army, more than fifteen thousand strong; he was a land-owner himself, and he would no doubt benefit from the new legislation. However, he knew in his heart that the law was wrong, that it was nothing more than a blatant land-grab, and redistribution of wealth from the poorest in the country to the rich. Does all this sound familiar?
Robert Kett was an old man – he was in is late fifties – and no great military commander. The movement had gained momentum throughout the area, but here, on this patch of high ground on the edge of Mousehold Heath, was where they had ended up. From his headquarters near the ruins of St. Michael’s Chapel, Kett looks down and sees the city spread before him, the cathedral and the castle, and the spires of all the churches, one for every Sunday of the year. It is the evening of 21st July 1549, and his rebel artillery are bombarding the city. They are running out of food. Tomorrow, they will attack. He knows deep down that there’s no going back. Even if they take control of Norwich, it will only be a matter of time before the German and Spanish mercenaries arrive, and his men will be no match for them.
As he stands by the chapel ruins, he sees the future. He sees his torture and trial in the Tower of London, and his execution by hanging from the city walls of Norwich, his corpse providing a feast for the crows. And he sees that nothing will change, and that those with wealth and power will always grind the poor into the ground.