John Walter
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Crown and crowd
Popular culture and popular protest in early modern England
in Crowds and popular politics in early modern England
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In early modern England, the authority was always the first historian of popular protest. At the best, authority's reaction to disorder might show an awareness of at least the immediate causes of discontent, though, such reports would continue to talk of such actions as disorder, denying legitimation to the protest. This is best represented in the reports of provincial authorities. Any reading of the texts produced by authority needs to take into account both the context of socio-economic and political structures and the political culture which informed them. The English Crown went to considerable lengths to publicise to the people, its policies for regulating the pace and process of economic change. In the early modern period, the moral economy was as much that of the Crown as the crowd. Reading crowds thus helps to restore agency to the people in the past.

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