1381 : the year of the Peasants' Revolt by Juliet Barker

By Juliet Barker

Written with the fluency readers have come to anticipate from Juliet Barker, 1381: The 12 months of the Peasants’ Revolt offers an account of the 1st nice renowned rebellion in England and its history, and paints on a extensive canvas an image of English lifestyles in medieval instances. Skeptical of up to date chroniclers’ bills of occasions, Barker attracts at the judicial resources of the indictments and court docket complaints that the uprising. This emphasis bargains a clean standpoint at the so-called Peasants’ rebel and provides intensity and texture to the old narrative. one of the book’s arguments are that the rebels believed they have been the unswerving matters of the king performing in his pursuits, and that the boy-king Richard II sympathized with their grievances.

Barker tells how and why a various and not going staff of standard women and men from each nook of England―from servants and workers dwelling off wages, during the village elite who served as bailiffs, constables, and stewards, to the ranks of the gentry―united in armed uprising opposed to church and nation to call for a thorough political time table. Had it been applied, this time table could have remodeled English society and expected the French Revolution by way of 400 years. 1381: The 12 months of the Peasants’ Revolt is a crucial reassessment of the rebellion and a desirable, unique research of medieval existence in England’s cities and countryside.

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In 1199 King John had set aside the claims of his elder brother’s twelve-year-old son Arthur of Brittany to take the throne himself. It was a precedent that could easily have been repeated in 1377 – and throughout his nephew’s minority Gaunt would be haunted by persistent rumours that he intended to seize the crown for himself – but Edward III clearly intended that his grandson should succeed him. He had effectively endorsed him as his heir apparent by creating him prince of Wales in November 1376 and, in his last public act, by dubbing him a knight and admitting him to the Order of the Garter on St George’s Day 1377, but he had made no provision for how the boy’s reign would work in practice.

It was not just those in the service of medieval noblemen who could expect to travel. Merchants were also continually on the move, purchasing wool or corn in the English countryside, travelling overseas to bargain for wine, spices or the essential dyes and chemicals needed for the burgeoning English cloth industry, taking up residence in Calais to supervise the Staple. Churchmen too were frequently to be found on the road, going to London to present their petitions to the king, to Rome to seek preferment from the pope or employment in the papal curia, acting as diplomats or envoys on behalf of Church and state.

Significantly too one of the most popular subjects for depiction in manuscripts, wall paintings and stained-glass windows at this time was St Anne teaching her daughter the Virgin Mary to read. 19 Education, as Wykeham’s career demonstrated, was the key to social mobility. Though clerics liked to consider that they had the monopoly on learning, they, and consequently later generations, greatly underestimated the levels of literacy among the laity at this period. The ability to understand, read and write both letters and numbers was a daily necessity for a significant part of the population, from the bailiff producing his records in the manorial court to the merchant putting his signature to a contract or casting his accounts.

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