Lust for Liberty: The Politics of Social Revolt in Medieval Europe, 1200-1425: Italy, France, and Flanders

Lust for Liberty: The Politics of Social Revolt in Medieval Europe, 1200-1425: Italy, France, and Flanders

Lust for Liberty: The Politics of Social Revolt in Medieval Europe, 1200-1425: Italy, France, and Flanders

Lust for Liberty: The Politics of Social Revolt in Medieval Europe, 1200-1425: Italy, France, and Flanders

Synopsis

This text aims to challenge long-standing views of popular medieval revolts. Comparing rebellions in northern and southern Europe over two centuries, it analyses their causes and forms, their leadership, the role of women, and the suppression or success of these revolts.

Excerpt

In the 1960s, works by Barrington Moore, Jr., Eric Hobsbawm, George Rude, E. P. Thompson, and others, coupled with the student movements of that decade, stimulated a new vogue for the study of comparative revolts in early modern, modern, and contemporary Europe and elsewhere. Curiously, the trend did not extend to medieval Europe, despite its periodic large-scale revolts beginning in the thirteenth century and especially in the wake of the Black Death. Individual revolts—the Jacquerie (1358), the Florentine Ciompi (1378), the English Uprising of 1381, the Hussite rebellions of the first half of the fifteenth century, and the remensas in Spain —continue to receive detailed archival research and interpretation. But medievalists have been reluctant to venture beyond local settings and compare these movements across time or especially across linguistic and (later) national boundaries. Furthermore, few attempts have been made to study revolts other than this handful of famous late medieval ones, all of which were repressed. Thus the literature has tended to stress that preindustrial revolts were rare and invariably smashed.

Not only have revolts well known to nineteenth- and twentieth-century historians, such as the Harelle of Rouen and the Hammer men of Paris, failed to draw new research since Leon Mirot's study of a hundred years ago, but also little attention has been paid to a plethora of other revolts now largely unknown to scholars. Examples include "the people without underpants" who brought down the government of Bologna in 1289; a successful tax revolt of weavers, fullers, and other artisans in Tournai in 1 307; a revolt claimed to have involved 40,000 serfs (certainly exaggerated) from over twenty-two named villages around 1 338, who refused their dues to the dean and canons of Notre-Dame of Laon, resulting in nine men being executed and "many . . ."

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