The geography of food riots, 1585–1649
in Crowds and popular politics in early modern England
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This chapter offers a preliminary indication of the patterning of food riots between 1585 and 1649 in early modern England. Urbanisation, regional specialisation and market integration were the larger changes against which disorder was directed in this period. Since the central government kept an anxious watch on outbreaks of disorder in conditions of scarcity, its records provide a reasonably accurate indication of the chronology and topography of the food riot. These records have been supplemented by, and checked against, a systematic search of central legal and local records. A deadly combination of trade depression and harvest failure (1630) brought a notable increase in disorder in the period 1629-31. In 1629, there was disorder in Somerset and Essex, occasioned by a shared grievance: the export of grain.

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