A Plague of Insurrection: Popular Politics and Peasant Revolt in Flanders, 1323-1328

A Plague of Insurrection: Popular Politics and Peasant Revolt in Flanders, 1323-1328

A Plague of Insurrection: Popular Politics and Peasant Revolt in Flanders, 1323-1328

A Plague of Insurrection: Popular Politics and Peasant Revolt in Flanders, 1323-1328

Synopsis

Beginning as a series of scattered rural riots in late 1323, peasant insurrection escalated into a full-scale rebellion that dominated public affairs in Flanders for nearly five years. Following their own leaders, peasants defied the authority of the count of Flanders by driving his officials and their aristocratic allies from the countryside. In A Plague of Insurrection, William H. TeBrake has written the first full-length account of the rebellion.

Excerpt

This work is the result of nearly two decades of frequently interrupted effort. I first became interested in the fourteenth-century peasant revolt of Flanders during the spring semester of 1974, while auditing Professor Michael Baylor's seminar on Medieval Peasant Revolts at the University of Texas at Austin. Because my dissertation demanded most of my attention, however, I conducted only a preliminary investigation at that time, enough for a short oral presentation to the seminar. Since then, other research projects and the demands of teaching, including three years in temporary positions with an almost constant need to develop new courses, prevented full-time attention to the topic. Though I continued to maintain an interest by collecting relevant sources and developing a working bibliography, I was unable to give the topic the attention it deserved until the late 1980s.

The eventual completion of this study illustrates how teaching and research can influence each other. While it is fairly commonplace for the results of research to inform and improve teaching, in this case it was my experience in teaching that induced me to make the Flemish project a higher research and writing priority. I have tried to teach about the Flemish peasant revolt in every medieval history course I have offered at the University of Maine. Such efforts were considerably reinforced, however, when I joined a former colleague in offering a seminar on Peasants in History at the University of Maine in 1981 and 1983. While I was responsible for the medieval sections, Professor Allan Greer, a Canadianist with a strong competence in early modern European history as well, covered later Europe and especially a comparative section involving early modern Quebec. in order to give the seminar greater cohesion in its second rendition, we focused specifically on peasant revolts, and this time I expended considerable effort reconstructing the events in Flanders during the 1320s -- I offered a shortened version of this material at the annual medieval conference at Western Michigan University, Kalamazoo, in May 1983. But it was my solo attempt to offer a seminar on Peasants in European History during the spring term of 1986 that finally convinced me of the need to give the revolt more attention, particularly because of the continuing impossibility of assigning relevant reading material.

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