HIST 251 - Lecture 16 - Popular Protest

Lecture 16 - Popular Protest


Professor Wrightson reviews the basic structures and aims of popular protest: notably food riots and agrarian disturbances. He notes that such disturbances were often surprisingly orderly affairs, rather than chaotic expressions of discontent. They aimed to defend traditional rights (rooted in custom) that participants felt were being threatened, either by food shortages or by agrarian changes such as enclosure. The forms taken by such events reveal a coherent moral order. Professor Wrightson reviews the tactics employed by protestors and the ways in which they constituted attempts to negotiate with authority. Official responses were often equally restrained, although the government was capable in some situations of displaying real severity. He concludes by noting that these forms of early modern popular protest were fundamentally political in nature, and that while agrarian resistance gradually subsided, these defenses of popular custom and rights influenced early forms of labor organization from the late seventeenth century onwards.


Wrightson, English Society, pp. 173-82

Reay, Popular Cultures, chapter 6

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