The commons will revolt
Woodstock after the Peasants’ Revolt
in Shakespeare’s histories and counter-histories
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This chapter argues, focusing on Woodstock, that mindfulness of the traditions of commons political action offers a new way of understanding popular historical consciousness, and the mentalities of early modern audiences and writers. There was a practical 'insurrectionary tradition' between the commons risings of the 1381 Peasants' Revolt and the mid-sixteenth-century 'camps' of Kett's rising, as well as a 'moral economy' governing smaller-scale actions until much later, is in itself uncontroversial. Reading Woodstock through the radical tradition offers an opportunity to close Margot Heinemann's separation between 'rational' and 'Utopian' commons politics. Richard's links with disguise and treachery were historical facts, cleverly woven into Woodstock and gesturing at his eventual downfall. The Mirror's early editions begin, as Hall's Chronicle does, with the reign of Richard II, who 'was for his evyll governaunce deposed from his seat and miserably murdred in prison'.

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