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Joint action against ‘Bad’ lordship: the Peasants' Revolt in Essex and Norfolk

Eiden, H. (1998) Joint action against ‘Bad’ lordship: the Peasants' Revolt in Essex and Norfolk. History, 83 (269). pp. 5-30. ISSN 1468-229X

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To link to this item DOI: 10.1111/1468-229X.00060


The events of the early summer of 1381 confronted the English government with a social and political crisis on a hitherto unknown scale. The countryside witnessed outbursts of concerted violent protest against mismanagement, corruption and maladministration similar to that experienced in London. The article gives a short narrative of events in Essex and Norfolk, which were strongly affected by the rising. It establishes that the rising in these areas did not lack coherence and organization: particularly in the case of the Norfolk revolt, which earlier historians have dismissed as mere piecemeal pillage, a different picture emerges. The discontent of the people was directed against government officials, justices and lords of the manor: the rebels were highly selective in choosing their targets. With the analysis of the social and economic background of the rebels, the high proportion of servants, labourers and craftsmen can be established for the first time. These people felt very strongly the discrepancy between their commercial activities and their seigneurial subordination. Since the men in power were not yet prepared to change their attitude towards their tenantry, authority and lordship were thrown into a crisis which developed into open revolt.

Item Type:Article
Divisions:Henley Business School
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ID Code:90570

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