Grain riots and popular attitudes to the law
Maldon and the crisis of 1629
in Crowds and popular politics in early modern England
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The complex relationship between the poor and their governors, with the food riot as its epicentre, forms the subject of this chapter. Using legal records as a point of entry into the mental world of the seventeenth-century poor, the chapter covers, in the evidence of the food riot, popular attitudes to the law and the proper exercise of authority in early modern England. It does so within the specific context of a detailed reconstruction of events centring on grain riots in the Essex port of Maldon in the crisis of 1629. The disorder at Maldon has acquired a certain notoriety. The example of Maldon enables us to penetrate the rhetoric of authority and to examine the nature of the magisterial response to popular disorder.

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