This book is intended as both a history of judicial developments in the
thirteenth and fourteenth centuries and as a contribution to the intellectual
history of the period. The dates 1215 and 1381 mark significant turning points
in English history. The product of legal culture and experiences, 'legal
consciousness' can be seen both as an active element shaping people's
values, beliefs and aspirations and also as a passive agent providing a reserve
of knowledge, memory and reflective thought, influencing not simply the
development of the law and legal system, but also political attitudes. Focusing
on the different contexts of law and legal relations, the book aims to shift the
traditional conceptual boundaries of 'law', portraying both the
law's inherent diversity and its multi-dimensional character. By offering a
re-conceptualisation of the role of the law in medieval England, the book aims
to engage the reader in new ways of thinking about the political events
occurring during these centuries. It considers the long-term effects of civil
lawyer, Master John Appleby's encounter with forces questioning royal
government and provides a new explanation for the dangerous state of affairs
faced by the boy-king during the Peasants' Revolt over a century and a half
later. The book puts forward the view that the years subsequent to the signing
of Magna Carta yielded a new (and shifting) perspective, both in terms of
prevailing concepts of 'law' and 'justice' and with regard
to political life in general.
. Political discourse took many forms in various places, from
the ‘orderly’ parliamentary forum, to the preaching and
sermonising of the clergy, the domain of satire and polemic in literary
works and oral ballads, through to the ‘disorderly’
activities of the rebels in thePeasants’ Revolt.
This chapter maintains that the key concerns and political
debates during the period 1215–1381 invariably rested on issues
, from thePeasantsRevolt of
Propaganda in the Age of Gunpowder and Printing
1525 to the excesses of the Inquisition in Spain and the French
king’s ruthless persecutions in France.
One commentator wrote from Paris in 1520 of Luther’s publications: ‘No books are more eagerly bought up… One bookshop
has sold 1,400 copies… Everywhere people speak highly of Luther.
But the chain of the monks is long…’ Despite measures to stem the
tide, even in this most Catholic of countries Lutheran works
continued to be smuggled in
It is easy to see why the figure of Piers Plowman was so widely understood as a critic of a complacent social order; why so many subsequent poems copied and adapted the figure to articulate their critique of society so that a plowman tradition of literature developed, especially among writers attracted to the radical religious tradition of Lollardy; and why Piers Plowman played a role in major rebellions such as thePeasantsRevolt of 1381, by which time a version must have been circulating in manuscript and have been well known.
lines, uniting numerous villages in struggles against multiple lords’.
A society weakened and made vulnerable by disease, population decline and dearth with intermittent bouts of famine was always likely to be destabilized by a specific crisis of real and imagined events, with class antagonisms foregrounded.
ThePeasants’ Revolt and the economic situation of the late fourteenth century serve as the backdrop to such literary
-scale wool exports through Southampton would have seriously damaged their interests, and thus gave them the perfect motive to eliminate the ambassador. Yet the involvement of Brembre, Philipot and Walworth in the murder was never investigated. 77
Six months after Kirkby’s conviction, the English capital was the scene of an attack on resident immigrants of significantly larger dimensions. On 14 June 1381, as thePeasants’ Revolt raged in the capital, thirty-five to forty Flemings were dragged out of churches and houses in Vintry ward and were
This book explores the intimate relationship between literature and class in England (and later Britain) from the Peasants’ Revolt at the end of the fourteenth century to the impact of the French Revolution at the end of the eighteenth century and beginning of the nineteenth. It demonstrates how literary texts are determined by class relations and how they represent the interaction of classes in profound and apparently trivial ways. The book argues throughout that class cannot be seen as a modern phenomenon that occurred after the Industrial Revolution but that class divisions and relations have always structured societies and that it makes sense to assume a historical continuity. The book explores a number of themes relating to class: class consciousness; class conflict; commercialization; servitude; the relationship between agrarian and urban society; rebellion; gender relations; and colonization. After outlining the history of class relations in England and, after the union of 1707, Scotland, five chapters explore the ways in which social class consciously and unconsciously influenced a series of writers including Geoffrey Chaucer, William Langland, Edmund Spenser, William Shakespeare, John Taylor, Robert Herrick, Aphra Behn, John Wilmot, earl of Rochester, Daniel Defoe, Stephen Duck, Mary Collier, Frances Burney, Robert Burns, William Blake and William Wordsworth. The book concludes with Percy Bysshe Shelley’s An Address to the Irish People (1812), pointing to the need to explore class relations in the context of the British Isles and Ireland, as well as the British Empire, which a future work will analyse.
was the pressures of labour service imposed by lords, who sought further and better opportunities, that occasioned resistance from the tenantry; he, in fact, goes further and suggests that it was in these areas of strong and demanding lordship that the seeds of resentment sown in the thirteenth century were reaped in thePeasants’ Revolt in the later fourteenth century. 14 In what is, in many respects, a subtle and informed discussion, Kosminsky offers the first important attempt at employing evidence for the economic experience of the medieval English countryside
Since the time of Wyclif, the lollards had been associated with the subversion of the natural order of the commonwealth. Wyclif’s teachings that lords might take away the church’s temporal possessions and that the laity could lawfully rebuke their ecclesiastical ministers, including the pope, were sufficient for contemporary chroniclers of thePeasants’ Revolt of 1381 to attribute the rebellion to Wyclif’s instigation. 1 A further link to civil disorder was more direct: Oldcastle’s rebellion in 1414, which saw
important as a measure of the instrumental nature of popular xenophobia, however, are discernible examples of scaled-up, premeditated attacks on targeted groups of immigrants. As chapter 10 made clear, thePeasants’ Revolt is virtually the only occasion on which we find evidence of such organised violence taking place outside London over the entire period covered by this book – and even then, the instances beyond the capital were confined to a small number of places in East Anglia. In particular, our analysis has highlighted the way that generalised contempt of