Jack Cade is a Kentishman who has served the Duke of York and is set by him to rise a rebellion against King Henry under the name of John Mortimer.
Cade takes his instructions a bit too seriously, and soon develops excessive delusions of grandeur. He is a good leader, though, or at least an excellent rabble-rouser, able to convince his men to follow him in a plan that is the establishment’s worst nightmare of a lower-class rebellion: all to be equal, property (including wives) to be communal, and books to be burnt. Resolutely anti-intellectual, Cade kills anyone who can read, burns all the records, and uses evidence of education as a good excuse to die. While preaching equality, he insists on being treated as a king, soon having those who don’t killed. Though he occasionally gets a sense of how insane his actions are, he soon gets past that. His idea of power is to be able to eat and drink as much as he likes and the right to sleep with any woman he wishes to. Despite the fact that he is almost mad, he is sensible enough to flee when things go against him. On the verge of starving to death while in hiding, he tries to rob a garden and is killed by a man who does not even know who he is.