The outbreak of the Peasants' Revolt in the summer of 1381 was arguably the most serious threat ever posed to the stability of English government in the course of the Middle Ages. All historians are agreed that government policy was in large part responsible for the rising. The failure of the crown to maintain its hold over territory in France and to defend the coasts of England, the tendency to bow to pressure from the landed classes and restrict the economic and legal rights of the peasantry, and the outrageous and inequitable taxes of the 1370s, culminating in the commissions to enforce the poll tax in the spring of 1381, all these factors combined to provoke a widespread and perhaps coordinated outbreak of rebellion in southeast England, as well as many more spontaneous and isolated revolts in the West, the Midlands, and the North. Not surprisingly, in most areas the rebellion was directed principally against the agents of the crown. The young Richard II may have been immune from attack, but this only served to increase criticism of his ministers and agents, who were believed to have usurped royal authority and abused the trust placed in them by king and community.
Considering the dramatic events surrounding this assault on royal government and the wealth of material available in the chronicles and the official records, it is surprising that so few historians have examined the specific question of how administration was affected during and after the events of 1381.