Sir Robert Hales

Born: c. 1325

High Halden, Kent, England

Died: June 14, 1381

Tower Hamlets, London, England (Age c. 56)

Hales in History

Information about Robert Hales is fairly sparse, but he was certainly heavily involved as an administrator, diplomat and occasional soldier during the later reign of Edward III and the early reign of Richard II. He became prior of England and was a regular at Parliament by the early 1370s. It would be under Richard II that Hales would reach the zenith of his power; he was  a royal counselor to the young king and was named royal treasurer (February 1381). Just four short months later, as a result of several inflated poll taxes that were passed, the peasant's revolt broke out in Kent and Essex, and Hales, as treasurer, absorbed a large portion of the blame. Despite the fact that the taxes had been passed shortly before Hales became treasurer, he was personally targeted by Wat Tyler and the rebels as one of the evil counselors misleading the king. After an unsuccessful meeting with the king, the rebels stormed London, and Hales and several other wanted men, including Archbishop Simon Sudbury of Canterbury, were forced to take refuge in the tower. However, while the king was distracted by the rebel leaders, another group of rebels penetrated the tower and dragged Hales and Sudbury out into the streets where they were subsequently beheaded like common criminals. After all the loyal service Hales performed for the crown, and especially considering he was not responsible for the poll taxes, it is safe to say that he did not deserve such a violent death.

Hales in Jack Straw

Robert Hales appears in Jack Straw as a supporter of the king and a man who is avidly opposed to the peasant's revolt, thinking the rebels ungrateful and traitorous. Both he and Archbishop Sudbury simply disappear from the play, and no mention is made of the executions they suffered historically.


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