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When the English got possession of this country, they found in it near double the number of inhabitants which father Charlevoix had assigned to it between twenty and thirty years before, on ebay. Firstly, it was the spike in mass protest in the Western world around May which provided the ammunition for the growth of a radical sociology of deviance whose key ideas have become central to the understanding of criminology today.
Labelling theory, moral panics, media critique and appreciation of so-called deviant subcultures all emerged out of this atmosphere of protest, as I will explore with particular reference to the UK and the USA. Secondly, the way in which the major concerns for criminology have shifted over subsequent decades tells us a lot about the forms of repression practised by states anxious to maintain social control, and the manner in which many of these pioneering sociologists of devi- ance adapted their interpretations of social reality as the possibility of fundamental social change appeared to recede, accelerating the emphasis on realism and reform rather than idealism and revolution.
I maintain that the return of the crowd to the centre of world events over the last ive years or so highlights the shortcomings of some of the grander claims of realists and post-modernists about the supposed irrelevance of class inequality and the dissension it produces. Criminologists need to appreciate how the concept of the law has evolved over the centuries. Lawyers, after all, earn their living by inter- preting it in the interests of their clients. Of course, for much of history, the law has been a tool in the hands of the state to protect its interests and those of its powerful friends, but that is not where law began.
Originally, law was made by people collectively and justice was the result, that is they enacted judgement, allegedly to protect the weak from the strong, but certainly to ensure the business of everyday life was governed in the interests of the community. People were not rebels, seeking to overthrow authority, but constituted authority themselves—in common. Of course, as societies developed, hierarchies and inequalities emerged.
Often, these would clash with the ways of life and the desires of the mass of the community concerned. In fourteenth-century Europe people often asserted political rights by taking control of city squares. In Florence, companies of citizens assem- bled in the piazza and voted on the recommendations of their leaders. Sometimes, lower ranks of workers, such as the Ciompi or wool-workers guild in , rioted in order to win vot- ing rights and a say in government.
Once again it was unfair taxation, in this case a poll tax, that had sparked the rising. In England, the stat- ute of Winchester institutionalised the idea of the community policing itself against internal and external threats, electing accountable constables and creating the hue and cry call and response that would galvanise all members into active defence of their interests.
Because the common people governed many aspects of everyday life within their own communities it was logical to see law and order as a part of this, so for them any threat to common customs and local democracy was itself a criminal act which should be countered by community action. Cade was himself part of the forces of law and order. Later incarnations of those leaders chosen by the people to represent their cause were known as Captain Poverty, Captain Swing and General Ludd: the labels chosen provided a sense of continuity and customary right rite to acts of protest.
Popular law upheld common customs, especially around the common land which had traditionally been governed collectively rather than in the sectional interests of the new and growing class of property owners. So, according to good, old, customary law the people must be present if one of them is to be rightfully judged according to the law of God. It is the greatest monstrosity on earth that no one wants to defend the plight of the needy.
As well as examples from the ancient world, I intend to examine actions from Europe between the thirteenth century and today, looking for common themes.
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Such was E. Riots did not always occur at times of the greatest food shortages. Moreover, they tended to happen around speciic events, notably the transport of grain out of a locality. And when they occurred, people did not simply run of with produce. As John Walter writes in Crowds and Popular Protests in Early Modern England, the rioters: certainly drew the attention of the authorities to their failings and set in motion the necessary exercise of authority designed to remove grievances which the crowd, by its own actions, could never hope to redress.
In the short term the likely result is often repression and condemnation, such as the trial and execution of Ann Carter after the riots in Maldon, Essex that Walter describes; however, governments have learned to respond to these actions across the centuries. Contemptuous repression and failure to address the causes of distress can often cause their downfall, as Charles I himself was to learn within a few short years of the Essex riots when civil war broke out.
Although in many ways very diferent to these food riots, the English riots of shared a number of features with them. In the long term, soci- ety has responded to earlier anti-racist riots by becoming more accepting of multiculturalism and marginalising some of the more blatant racist practices of local authorities and schools. Rage at this victimisation, at the raw violence of the state, continually directed at black people, exploded in ive days in August Singh ; Briggs Further parallels could be drawn with other historical periods where the forces of law and order punish victims in public with extreme vio- lence.
It takes a truly great psychologist to achieve all three in a single sentence. But perhaps the most fundamental is that it gives a pro- foundly misleading picture of what crowds do. It is simply wrong to sug- gest that crowd action is generically mindless and meaningless. Indeed those who have taken care to look at what people do conclude precisely the opposite. Crowd action is remarkable for just how meaningful its patterns turn out to be. Reicher , By contrast, the last 30 years of psychological research on group processes has been dominated by the notion that the self is not one dimensional but a complex system that encompasses diferent levels of abstraction.
But we can equally think of ourselves in terms of what makes us unique, as mem- bers of one social category, compared to other social categories social identity. Moreover, when we act in terms of any given social identity, our behaviour is not dominated by idiosyncratic beliefs and values but rather in terms of the beliefs and values associated with the relevant cat- egory.
Or are these more long- lasting things and do crowds play a part in creating the everyday solidarities which allow social categories to achieve cohesion? Even if the former were true, it would still mean that crowds would have much to contribute to our understanding of the processes by which social solidarity can be produced. Le Bon considers a sover- eign individual self to be the sole basis of reasoned action. Perhaps we need to look at this another way.
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Rick Fantasia writes in Cultures of Solidarity that: My concern was not to treat class consciousness as a fact to be uncovered, but to understand cultures of solidarity as active processes best understood in their oppositional context and their motion, with attention to the dynamics of group fusion and the institutional forms that generate and shape them. We can observe these crowds as prompted by political and moral traditions which legiti- mise and even prescribe their violence.
We may see urban rioters not as miserable, uprooted, unstable masses, but as men and women who often have some stake in their community; who may be craftsmen or of even higher social status; and who, even when poor and unskilled, may appear respectable to their everyday neighbours. Finally, we may see their violence not as random and limitless, but aimed at deined targets and selected from a repertoire of traditional pun- ishments and forms of destruction.
Philosophers and communists have called this dialectics, and the struggle between them is a form of direct democracy or popular power in action. People governing together based upon collective decision-making processes were present in Athens and ancient Rome Millar Examples include US lynch mobs, British race rioters in and , tsarist oicials in the early twentieth century and of course fascist parties ever since. However, Connolly also hailed the mob as the means of changing the world, and themselves, a new all-inclusive process of civilisation. For example, when the class struggle aspect of working-class relations with their employers was to the fore in countries like France, the USA, Italy and Britain, we saw mass strike waves that led to the overthrow of old military dictatorships in Greece, Portugal and Spain Harman For three decades, —, the tide of struggle receded and the power of capitalism was resurgent.
Since struggle has returned in forms that both difer and echo its ancestors. Besides the movements there is also a greater shedding of illusions in the once-supposed beneits of key social institu- tions whose roots can be seen in attempts to control society and fairly distribute goods and services, such as the police and welfare institu- tions, and above all in the whole machinery of contemporary democratic government where it exists.
As people in Europe and the USA turn to anti-capitalist parties out of frustration at the elitist bias of traditional groupings, they are following a trend set in South America. Asia, the Arab world, India and Africa are, of course, also central to global riot, protest and social movements, but they only receive very limited comment in these pages. References Aldrete, G. Erdkamp Ed. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Badiou, A. London: Verso. Barker, J. England arise!
London: Little Brown. Becker, H. Outsiders: Studies in the sociology of deviance. London: Macmillan. Berger, J. New Society. Accessed 23 May Briggs, D. Hampshire: Waterside Press. Bushaway, B. By rite: Custom, ceremony and community — London: Junction Books. Cohn, S. Creating the Florentine state: Peasants and rebellion, — Berkeley: University of California.
Gattrell, V. London: Allen Lane. Manchester: MUP. Harman, C. London: Bookmarks. Hilton, R. Bond men made free. London: Temple Smith. LeFebvre, H. Lenin, V. Linebaugh, P. Stop thief: he commons, enclosure and resistance. Oakland: PM Press. Macaulay, T. History of England volume 1. London: Longmans. Manning, R. Village revolts. Oxford: Oxford University Press. Marx, K. Becoming deviant. Matza, D. Delinquency and drift. New Brunswick: Transaction. Mennell, S. Decivilisng processes: heoretical signiicance and some lines of research.
International Sociology, 5 2 , — Millar, F. Ann Arbor: University of Detroit. Sermon to the princes. Powell, R. Mass action and mundane reality: Crowd analysis and the social sciences. Contemporary Social Science, 6 3 , — Ross, C. Richard III. London: Methuen. Singh, D. London: Duckworth. Past and Present, 50 1 , 76— Virdee, S. Racism, class and the racialized outsider. Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan. Walter, J. Crowds and popular protests in early modern England. Manchester: Manchester University Press.
Wacquant, L. Urban outcasts: he comparative sociology of advanced mar- ginality. Cambridge: Polity. Wiseman, T. Wiseman Ed. Wood, A. Wood , he result of this shift from direct democracy to representative democ- racy not only removes the mass of the people from the control of their afairs, but also limits the areas that democracy is allowed to efect. In a direct democracy the people are the state. Can ordinary people really do the job that modern states employ a corps of experts to carry out? Kurt Raalaub explains how the people exercised their democratic power: By being paid for political functions, they gained the leisure necessary for involvement in politics and running a polis.
For this very reason equality could not be limited to occasional elections and votes, nor delegated for extended periods to a small number of representatives. Raalaub , here were major laws in Athenian democracy, not least the fact that women and slaves were not admitted. Slavery is, of course, itself a denial of human rights and democracy, so it was far from a complete or universally inclusive system.
Raalaub , Of course, Athenians had had to ight to win their control of society from the aristocratic rule of the tyrants before they could make democracy. In the course of Roman history they were expropriated. But what happened? Beside them grew up a system of production which was not capitalist, but was based upon slavery. In fact, there was a period of intense class struggle between the plebeians and their rulers over whose interests should prevail as I outline below, but eventually the Roman revolution was defeated and the Emperor Augustus succeeded in establishing imperial rule.
According to mainstream classical schol- ars, the democracy of the forum is a sham operated by powerful men who control their clients so they vote in the interests of that powerful few. Trials were held in public—the jail was beneath the forum. If you controlled the forum—the space where laws were made and voted upon, the res publica—you held the power.
To begin with there were the nobles and the rest—the plebeians, estab- lished as outsiders in terms of political rights. According to legend they moved to a nearby hill — dem- onstrating by their action that Roman society could not function without them. Society became more complex. In this chapter I aim to provide insight into the key events that afected the Roman masses in the last century of the republic. Rome had reached new heights of imperial conquest with its comprehensive defeat of the Carthaginians North-East Africans in BC.
By the s BC an agrarian crisis gripped Italy; with so many men in the legions, aristocrats made rich by their victories could buy up the land and work it with millions of slaves captured in the wars, growing food for the city, and leaving dispossessed farmers little choice but to move to Rome, expanding the urban market still further, or to join the army.
But as dispossession accelerated, fewer men met the property qualiication for military service, starving Rome of soldiers and bringing on a crisis. Here is his speech to the crowds in the forum as described by Plutarch: he wild beasts of Italy have their caves to retire to, but the brave men who spill their blood in her cause have nothing left but air and light.
Without houses, without settled habitations, they wander from place to place with their wives and children; and their generals do but mock them when, at the head of their armies, they exhort their men to ight for their sepulchres and the gods of their hearths, for among such numbers perhaps there is not one Roman who has an altar that has belonged to his ancestors or a sepulchre in which their ashes rest. Despite courting the equestrian business class as allies in his campaign for popular land reform, Gaius too was cut down in the forum by the paid assassins of the senators.
He and his or so sup- porters tried to hold out but were massacred on the order of the nobles, who then erected a Temple of Concord Peace! Fergus Millar, following on from research by Lily Taylor, traces how these men were slotted into the 35 tribes in the tribal assembly, bringing their interests to bear on what was legally the sovereign decision-making power in the state Millar ; Taylor Tribunes of the plebs were representatives of the people, recallable at annual election: they brought laws before the public at the forum, calling for contios public meetings , where they would make addresses from the rostra.
Other tribunes could be put up by opposing factions to debate or even veto the legislation proposed, the crowd subsequently separating into tribes and voting on the amended proposals. Before this, politics and entertainment had occurred in the same place, on the arena sand of the great public square at the heart of the city. Mass gatherings of citizens, freed men and slaves assembled in the forum to hear orators address them in contios, to divide and vote on laws, and to attend public trials of criminals and enemies of the people, as well as being entertained by the banquets and games laid on by competing politicians.
In the case of the freed men they were now classed as citizens, entitled to free grain dole from 58 BCE onwards, and often ganging together in clubs known as collegia—associations of various localities and trades. Brunt , 3 his group clearly had their own interests—their own sense of what they expected their city and society to value. With the massive migra- tion to the city, as Italians were forced of the land and people from other lands seeking work and trade looded in, Rome now numbered almost one million people, and the relatively democratic structure of the republic gave all male citizens the vote, exercised not once every ive years but at regular public assemblies, where all were entitled to vote on policies and make laws.
What this meant in practice was that many cities in Italy, Southern France, Spain and Portugal had their own places of assembly where citi- zens elected magistrates to propose law in Roman fashion: these citizens did not have the vote in Rome, but did exercise some form of democratic participation locally. Sallust Sallust ibid. Re-election of leaders was against the rules of the constitu- tion as maintained by the mostly noble oligarchy, though the strength of the popular movement ensured his victory. For the vast majority of urban citizens—the shopkeepers who eked out a precarious existence alongside the non-voting freed men, women and slaves of the city—this exercise of their interests was vital in a period of increasing lawlessness across the Italian peninsula.
Indeed this was why the poor districts of the city were swollen with the new pro- letariat forced of their smallholdings turned into vast latifundia—plan- tations run by slave labour. In the end, after compromising with senators and giving them the head of popular guerrilla leader Saturninus who led an urban uprising against the nobles, Marius himself was defeated by his own former lieu- tenant Sulla—a pro-noble general who marched on Rome in 88 BC and massacred thousands of the populares supporters at the Colline Gate. Millar , 7 he parallels with twenty-irst-century mass demonstrations in Tahrir Square or in the streets of Madrid are interesting.
It is those active citizens who wield the power to make decisions, change laws and elect represen- tatives. Of course, this ability to shape their world was contested by the rich and powerful. Because Roman citizens abhorred the state of slavery many classical historians have chosen to believe they would rather side with their noble masters than revolting slaves. In 70 BC the power of the tribunes of the people was restored, by order of the two consuls, Pompey and Crassus.
You can imag- ine the noisy roar of it. By dawn there was nowhere left to stand that ofered any shade. By the second hour, there was nowhere left at all. In the porticoes and on the steps of the Temple of Castor, in the forum itself and in the colonnades surrounding it, on the rooftops and the balconies of the houses, on the sides of the hills—anywhere that human beings could squeeze themselves into, or hang of, or perch on—there you would ind the people of Rome. Harris , It is interesting to observe how Cicero reported this conlict in his account of his prosecution speech.
He sees the many senators and knights who can bear witness to his misdeeds. Grant , 55—56 Verres was found guilty in what appeared to be a manifestation of the will of the people. Seven years later, Cicero would make the same mistake when he was Consul leading minister and pay the price by being exiled and having his mansion above the Forum burnt down and a Temple to Liberty erected in its place. Emboldened by the crowd, he now widened the range of his attack on the Senate with a bill restating the old principle that the individual should be exempted from the operation of the law except by a popular vote … he people assembled to vote, the crier began to read out the terms of the bill [another tribune] … Globulus for- bade both crier and clerk to speak.
Cornelius himself then read the text. He had to choose sides, and he chose to back the oligarchs, the senators who he wished to join by winning oice as a Consul. Millar , Reformers had to use force, or at least create conditions in which the senate had to fear its use. From 65 until 62 their regime was seriously under threat by the attempt of the popular leader, Catiline, to win the consulship. Many historians have argued that there were no political parties in the late republic, pointing out that there was not a named organisation with oicial members and a deined programme.
An exact parallel is to be found in our own revolution with Pym and Hampden. Beesly , 8 1 he public laws, the res publica, was the central concept for Roman society at the time. Patiently and diligently, Catiline renewed his candidature in 64 and 63 as the senate manouevred to keep him out of oice.
He aimed to raise a moral panic over Catiline, wore a breastplate in the forum whilst declaring he feared he would be assassinated, and then demanded his exile. Although the people felt they had a right to assemble and elect their own leaders, elections were in practice a much dirtier business. Brunt describes how: Candidates for oice seldom stood on programmes and organized parties did not exist. Men were returned to oice … by reason of their muniicence and lavish bribes, in general because of their family and connections … hey used their power to grow richer from the proits of war and empire, and to oppose every measure to relieve the poor [which] could be rejected on the ground that they were more than the treasury could bear, the trea- sury from which the senators drew handsome allowances for themselves.
However, the Senate whipped up a storm of scandal as they sought to liquidate the increasingly popular opposition forces. Panicked, Caesar—who was allied with the populares, but feared for his safety after his life had been threatened when he spoke up against the execution of the Catiline conspirators the previous year—temporarily retreated by divorcing his wife, signalling his fear of further oligarchic reaction cap- turing him in its web. But he had calculated wrongly: the optimates had overreached themselves.
Freedom was a necessary incentive to good work … granted … or bought by the slave from the wage or share of the proits he was allowed. Now their control of the state machinery was under- mined, they sought their own dictator to champion the optimate cause, namely Pompey, whose cooperation Caesar also required. Taylor , 31 Many historians have underestimated the social signiicance of the experience of popular power in the late republic. Richard Evans addresses these themes in his conclusion to his review of the period Questioning Reputations: namely that what we feel about Saturninus, Glaucia, Drusus, Sulpicius, Clodius and Milo is heavily inluenced by the bias and propaganda in the source material.
He gave the citizens free grain. If the state proceedings were merely the act of puppets manipulated by politi- cally ambitious masters then why the popular fury when Clodius, in 52, and eight years later Caesar himself, were assassinated? On both occasions the Senate House was burnt down. All this took place in the 50s while Caesar was away campaigning in Gaul. Mommsen is emphatic about the popular character of political life at the time: he rabble never had a merrier time.
Demagoguery became quite a trade … the tried tricks of the theatre were much in demand. Greeks and Jews, freedmen and slaves, were the most regular attenders and the loudest shouters in the public assemblies where frequently only a minority of those voting consisted of citizens con- stitutionally entitled to do so.
Following Machiavelli he is convinced that the accountabil- ity exercised by a cross-section of the population, including women and slaves, in the mass meetings, demonstrations and public ballots in the huge public squares of the city gave a strength and dynamism to this city state as it expanded across the Italian peninsula. Without the lifeblood of accountability that lowed through the act of democratic assembly, the people lost their sovereignty.
His successor as dictator, Octavian, named himself Augustus so he could symbolically follow Julius Caesar in the calendar his uncle had instituted. Who wanted to go to Alexandria? A crescendo of anger. We charged: the gangsters led. A year later Clodius was murdered by Milo and popular resistance looked to Caesar and his soldiers rather than the Roman proletariat to rule in their interests.
More for the many meant less for the few. On the other hand, the mob saw Caesar as a leader who had championed their interests and defeated the noble leaders to prevent them extending slavery and tyranny still further. Canfora , hus the tradition of rioters targeting the property of their oppressors goes back thousands of years in human history.
References Beard, M. Why ancient Rome matters to the modern world. Beesly, E. Tiberius, Catiline and Clodius. London: Kessenger Reprint. Bottomore, T. Karl Marx selected writings on sociology and social philosophy. Harmondsworth: Pelican. Brunt, P. Past and Present, 35, 3— Canfora, L. In defence of the proposed Manilian law. In Cicero Ed. Clement, M.
Manufacturing austerity in the Eurozone. Human Figurations, 2 1. ISSN: Questioning reputations essays on nine Roman republican poli- ticians. Pretoria: University of South Africa. Grant, M. Cicero selected works. Harmondsworth: Penguin. Harris, R. London: Arrow. Lewis, R. Asconius: Commentaries on speeches by Cicero. Ann Arbor: University of Michigan. Rome, the Greek world and the East. Hanover: University Press of New England.
Mommsen, T. A history of Rome. Morris, I. Swedberg Eds. London: Sage. Ober, J. Hedrick Eds. Demokratia: A conversation on democracies ancient and modern. Princeton: Princeton University Press. Parenti, M. Tiberius Gracchus. Raalaub, K. Equalities and inequalities in Athenian democracy.
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London: Heinemann. Schaumburg, H. Socialist Review, , 20— Sherwin-White, A. Ste Croix, G. Taylor, L. Voting districts of the Roman Republic. Roman voting assemblies. Wilkinson, L. Letters of Cicero. Oxford: British Academy. Wood, E. English society in the Middle Ages was normally paciic. A rebellion in which the commons are mobilised in a disciplined fashion on the instructions of their social superiors, with authority concentrated within a small elite group, is obviously a relatively simple matter provided the rank and ile are compliant with their instruc- tions.
A rising launched by activists drawn from outside the local elites is more complicated. It allows for the possibility of disputes amongst the activists over objectives; but it also has implicit the possibility of conlict between the activist cadre and the displaced elite as the latter try and claw back their grip over society Hoyle , If we want to understand what motivates people to gather together in acts of mass protest, often labelled as riots by those whose authority they are contest- ing, we need to see them in this context.
In this chapter I will look back at historical riots, principally in England, between and years ago, in order to illustrate some of the key themes and concerns of those protesting and those in authority. One key focus here will be through the lens of justice and the law. For both groups, or igurations, their interpretations about property, community rights and customs have upheld their sense of entitlement to act as fermenters or repressors of riot and protest. Even today, people continue to believe they are entitled to freedom of movement—the right to cross the barriers erected at the frontiers of states.
An Ethiopian woman, interviewed during the attempt by hun- dreds of migrants to cross the French border in Calais in August , was adamant that her human rights included that of seeking a means to live wherever she could, in this case by entering the UK. As a lawyer, she demanded to know what entitled the authorities to prevent her access. It is impossible to understand history without including migration as a key factor in how states developed.
We are used to the idea of America as a nation built on migration, but it is also true for Europe. So the new Norman law was grafted upon the old forms of social organ- isation which contained strong elements of local control over the agenda and practice of keeping the peace. We should not romanticise the Anglo-Saxon past: their rulers fought continuously and often made slaves of those they defeated. But the Norman yoke was real. A string of fortresses provided bases for armies to repress local communities.
Only the ability to use violence kept those at the top in power, continually in fear of their bloody rivals. To stay in power you had to look after one group whose loyalty could help defend you in this dog-eat-dog society. Rufus had created a class of knights who had power but also the privilege of paying no taxes. Inheritance secured property rights and led the knights or equites—towards greater appreciation of its value— the status to be gained in the greater exploitation of people and resources under their control, as part of the process of civilisation.
Limiting the abso- lute power of the monarch in this fashion meant sharing power with those classes ruling and rising towards governing England. In , London citizen William Fitzosbert, known as Longbeard, launched a protest movement against the unfair distribution of taxation. According to the chroniclers his aims were unworthy, as: he plotted great wickedness in the name of justice, a conspiracy of the poor against the rich.
At public meetings he proclaimed himself the king of the poor and their saviour … he kept a list of 52, supporters, claimed sanctuary in St Mary Le Bow. Danziger and Gillingham , 63—64 Although we cannot take all these accounts by the chroniclers to be accurate—for example, London had a population of considerably less than 52, at this time, so there is clearly some exaggeration—they are another relection of the reality of riot and protest in medieval Britain. A new status of people who were essentially controlled by their masters was created post Magna Carta in Not surprisingly, given all this exploitation and inequality, the major- ity of the population sought to win freedom and justice for themselves.
Monarchs and nobles recognised the beneits of trade and sought to cre- ate towns where market exchange could take place. One way to encour- age urban migration was to promise that any serf who lived in a town for a year and a day as a burgess trader could win their freedom. To no one will we sell, to no one will we deny or delay right or justice.
If serfs or tenants wanted to have rights they needed to escape the judicial power of their lord by migrating to the towns and cities, where they gained important civil rights. Magna Carta had institutionalised a certain character to this process of civilisation: a solution was held in check—the absolute power of the monarch degraded, and in turn the noble monopoly on riches, compromised by their need to form commer- cial relations with the rising iguration of the gentry.
Only by employing forces to threaten and enact violent repression to ensure the people respected their rule. Medieval knights had been recruited by lords; and for both these groups power was gloriied by the church. In secular terms the aristocrats became the magistrates, setting up groups of men as their constables. To police was their policy. Although there is not a word in it about the right to protest, there is a sense in which Magna Carta in its entirety represents protest.
It was in origin the product of direct political action, of negotiation after rebellion. As a symbol of the struggle against tyranny it will always retain its value. Under the statute, communities were mandated to elect their own consta- bles, turn out whenever a hue and cry was raised against criminals, and assemble on the village green when summoned, ready to ight— whether in time of war for the king or nobility, or for themselves and to right injustice.
Despite the ine words of the Statute, the King still relied upon the nobles to govern locally, allowing them to maintain the disciplinary power in their hands as justices of the peace. But if those nobles in power were themselves committing crimes, they could face protest and rebellion. One legendary English outlaw was Robin Hood, and tales of his deeds can be traced back to the s. Apparently they ignore its violence, such as when Hood beheaded the Sherif of Nottingham.
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One is towards rebellion: not rebellion against authority for the outlaws are at one in their veneration of the king, but against the local exercise of that authority by the Sherif. Holt , 11 his twists the sense of the legendary outlaw. Robin Hood demands jus- tice and will ight the unjust forces that repress him and his community. In the modern age of nation states ruled by a governing bureau- cracy, with a president or monarch as its symbolic head, rebellion would naturally be anti-royal.
Holt misses the point that pirates and bandits will always be able to jus- tify robbing the rich, because this echoes the organised violence that past generations of nobles, kings and empires have employed in the process of acquiring their positions and possessions. However, if they go on to serve the monarch, like Drake and Raleigh, they will become national heroes! Harding , he case of late medieval England in the fourteenth and ifteenth cen- turies illustrates this well. A further turn of the screw occurred in , when the state legislated to prevent people from raising their wages. It also mandated that all able-bodied men and women work, and imposed harsh penalties for those who remained idle.
Harding , Being forced to take the wages paid ive years ago was felt to be a form of wage slavery. It was a crime not to work as directed by the propertied, who were your masters. Across the continent in the area we now know as Italy, then split into many city-states and regions, the popolo people showed amazing organ- isation in resisting the domination of the powerful local lords, known as the magnates.
No debt under 50 ducats would have to be settled, and banks should only take back what was owed—no interest was to be paid. De Lando now went back on his earlier agreements to represent the lower trades, just as Richard II and his advisers abandoned their promise to grant char- ters of rights to the peasants and artisans. Before the Black Death the industry was believed to have supported as many as 30, people. Hibbert , 33 It was a mini industrial revolution. Many of the poor were more like workers in a trade than peasants tied to a smallholding. But, as we have already armed and many ofences have been committed, it seems to me that we have to consider how to lay them aside, and secure ourselves from the consequences of what is already done.
Machiavelli , his is a crucial question for protestors. How to continue with the strug- gle—to retreat or to advance? We must, therefore, I think, in order to be pardoned for our old faults, commit new ones; redoubling the mischief, and multiplying ires and robberies; and in doing this, endeavour to have as many companions as we can; for when many are at fault, few are punished; small crimes are chastised, but great and serious ones rewarded.
When many sufer, few seek vengeance; for general evils are endured more patiently than private ones. Machiavelli , his inspiring speech contains some important home truths about crime in general. Either only the poor commit crime, or the rich go unpunished and—indeed, as the wool worker claims—are rewarded with further wealth. Be not deceived about that antiquity of blood by which they exalt themselves above us; for all men having had one common origin, are all equally ancient, and nature has made us all after one fashion. Strip us naked, and we shall all be found alike.
Dress us in their clothing, and they in ours, we shall appear noble, they ignoble—for poverty and riches make all the dif- ference. Recent research by Sam Cohn has revealed the vast extent of social revolt in medieval Europe. Anyone who resisted paying was to be arrested and imprisoned Barker , Oman , It is remarkable just how radical were the events of Bury St Edmunds in Sufolk was one town where people felt sorely oppressed by the monopoly on trade and privileges held by their abbey.
A major uprising had occurred there earlier in the s Cohn , and by it was in the vanguard of the uprising: the time of insurrection seemed favourable for the humbling of the mon- archy and the winning of the charter … the rebels appeared in great force, and were welcomed with open glee by the poorer classes, many of whom joined them. Now the rebels symbolically righted the wrongs done to them half a century earlier; they: Took up from the loor of the parlour doorway the millstones which had been put there in the time of Abbot Richard … and handed them over to the commons, breaking them into little pieces and giving a piece to each person, just as the consecrated bread is customarily broken and distributed in the parish churches on Sundays, so that the people, seeing these pieces, would know themselves to be avenged against the abbey in that cause.
In England, two years before the rising erupted, John Wyclife demanded reform of a corrupt church: he clergy, he asserted, must be made to live, like the Levites of old, on their tithes and whatever the faithful were moved to ofer them by the way of alms, surrendering all else to the laity [secular society] as having been acquired without scriptural authority. Aston , 9 His warnings probably struck a chord with the authorities who had been shaken by the scale and depth of the rising which had targeted prominent state and church oicials for punishment and organised many actions designed to gain new rights and freedom.
In a score of villages there were bonires of charters. A last stand at Billericay in Essex saw slaughtered and routed, the rebels leeing to Sufolk. What was to happen to these men and their families, often used to soldiering themselves and therefore habituated to making a living through the exercise of arms? Some of the soldiers of both France and England, made unemployed by the Truce of Tours in , quit their barracks and banded together to commit crimes in order to seize the means by which to live.
Ending wars without securing a sustainable living for the soldiers who fought them is always dangerous, and has been throughout history. In the case of Iraq, the West has ended up supplying its enemy, Islamic State, with an arsenal of military hardware as its proxy, the Iraqi army, led from the the battleield.
In both the cases cited above, the end of a war posed the question of the direction that society would now take. With her murder and the eventual defeat of the German revolution of —23 Harman , the road was clear for Nazism and the Holocaust. In neither case was counter-revolution inevitable. Mass protest can win concessions from the powers that be, especially when the example set by the initial revolt threatens to generalise into wider struggles with the power to overthrow rulers, making them realise how narrow is the base of their support.
Riots have been caused by hunger, war and regime change as well as in response to crimes that go unpunished: the justiication for protest in all of these cases can be summed up as the demand for justice. Evidence of the crimes of the powerful is well illustrated by the case of the gang of nobles authorised by King Henry VI to control the county of Kent. A political poem survives that describes how he was viewed: he lorde Say biddeth holde them downe hat worthy dastarde of renowne He techithe a fals loore.
It is easy to see why the legend of Robin Hood ighting for justice against the evil sher- if of Nottingham was so popular in the centuries that followed.
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According to the court records this was not the irst time. Another man on the raid with Slegge was Robert Est. He also was accused of manufacturing faked warrants to seize and ransom some of the tenants of the Archbishop of Canterbury. Everyone saw justice in a hundred guises from the streets to the palace. Both the royal-licenced robbery of the Poll Tax, and the legally sanctioned crimes of the local ruling class in the s described above, were clearly criminal and immoral acts in the eyes of the bulk of the population on whom they were inlicted.
Maybe this was the sense in which hompson saw the law and its enactment closely bound up with the English people and their causes, that is, as popular struggles. As far as constables saw their cause as serving the community and felt a sense of solidarity with their neighbours then the law could be seen as a potential ally against royal tyranny. When the capital of the English Kingdom of France, Rouen, fell in October the government desperately contracted an army to ship across the channel and stop the French advance. One reason they had not acted sooner was the national debt.
Another disgraced politician, Adam Moleyns, also Bishop of Chichester, was notorious for leading a large gang of several hundred men in another attack on a Sufolk manor house. In January , he attempted to deliver the back-pay to the troops waiting to embark for France at Portsmouth. At Bishops Waltham, a village on the road between Portsmouth and Winchester, an ex-soldier marshalled a small group of troops, appointing captains and oicers, to threaten war and an uprising against the monarch.
As far as the constables were concerned, they saw their cause as serving the community and felt a sense of solidarity with their neighbours: for them the law could be seen as a potential ally against royal tyranny. While Cade and his main force entered London via the south bank of the river at Southwark, Essex men were joining the rebellion in the east at Mile End—where Richard II had diverted the ris- ing less than 70 years previously. Cade threatened to set ire to London Bridge, thereby winning the freedom of the city for his men—taking the keys to the gate beyond the bridge and cutting the ropes at the southern end so it could not be drawn up again Harvey , Following a pitched battle at the Tower of London between London citizens and Cade and his rioters, whose numbers had been strengthened by opening up the Marshalsea Prison in Southwark and enlisting the prisoners to the cause of the rising, negotiations were held in a nearby church between Cade and the Archbishops of York and Canterbury and the Bishop of Winchester.
On 7 July a general pardon was ofered to Cade and his followers, guaran- teeing that all crimes and participants would go unpunished by the king or his oicials Harvey , Britain can add hundreds more for the same period Cohn , ; Cohn If it appears that peasants, artisans, tradesmen, labourers and soldiers often went to war with authority, this was because their very existence was continually threatened by the violent actions of the noble class. References Aston, M. Lollardy and sedition, — Past and Present, 17, 1— Conquest: he English kingdom of France.
England arise: he people, the king and the great revolt of Chicago: Haymarket. Clanchy, M. England and its rulers 2nd ed. Oxford: Blackwell. Lust for libery: he poliics of social revolt in medieval Europe — Cambridge, MA: Harvard. Popular protest in late medieval English towns. Danziger, D. Faith, R. Samuel Ed. London: Routledge and Kegan Paul. Aston Eds. Fernandez, L. Briken Eds. Ottowa: Red Quill. Green, P. State crime: Governments, violence and corruption. London: Pluto. States and rulers in later medieval Europe.
Harding, A. Harvey, D. Hibbert, C. London: Penguin. Hobsbawm, E. Primitive rebels. Holt, J. Robin Hood.
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London: hames and Hudson. Hoyle R. Machiavelli, N. History of Florence and of the afairs of Italy. McFarlane, K. John Wyclife and the beginnings of nonconformity. London: English Universities Press. McKelvie, G. Bastard Feudalism: A new perspective. Oman, C. London: Green Hill. Patel, R. A political economy of the food riot. Pakes Eds. Vale, M. Holmes Ed. Oxford: Oxford University. People made their laws together, locally, acting in their collective interest. Many events labelled as riots came about as a result of the systematic attack on these communal rights by property owners.
Often, these attacks were seen as unlawful in the eyes of those working and living on the land. Even today, around one and a half million acres of common land survive in England and Wales for the use of all. Nowadays it is buildings and land used for public purposes such as social housing, school playing ields and hospitals that are being engrossed by the powerful.
Working-class Londoners face being made outcasts in their own city. It involves not only a struggle for houses, but also competition for school and recreational facilities … Race prejudice becomes aggravated by class antagonisms, and class feeling is often expressed in racial terms. Manning , 23 he excesses of capital in the twenty-irst century are at their sharpest in contemporary London where the oligarchs burrow under their streets to create underground carparks and networks of service tunnels to keep them apart from the rest of the city.
In January , Elizabeth I was riding through Islington when she found her carriage surrounded by hundreds of beggars. Immediately she ordered William Fleetwood, the recorder of London, to organise a sweep of masterless men. In , sev- eral soldiers were pulled from a crowd of menacing the royal palace in Westminster—and hanged Manning , , Enclosures, ancient and modern, are about the dispossession of the common people.
In the grain riot of Provins in , the artisans seized grain that had been sold at a high price to non-residents of the city because the civic authori- ties had failed to provision the town at an honest price Davis ,