Rumour, sedition and popular protest in the reign of Henry IV
in Political culture in later medieval England
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All over the country during the early years of Henry IV's reign, groups and individuals freely expressed their dissatisfaction with the rule of the new king. Such conversations were part of the 'infrapolitics' of later medieval England, the broad area of discussion, complaint and dissent that fell somewhere between wholehearted consent and open rebellion. Anxiety at the scope and effect of such seditious comments led to a relaxation, sanctioned by Henry IV and his judges, in the definition of what was legally admissible as evidence in certain cases directly affecting the person and security of the king: the evolution of the doctrine of 'treason by words'. The full extent of the Ricardian rumour has never been documented, while its place within the broader context of the abundant evidence for popular protest and discontent in the early years of Henry IV's reign remains to be considered.

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