Popular Protest 
Popular Protest
by Yale / Keith Wrightson
Video Lecture 16 of 25
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Date Added: June 15, 2011

Lecture Description

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.

Reading assignment:
Wrightson, English Society, pp. 173-82
Reay, Popular Cultures, chapter 6

Course Index

Course Description

This course is intended to provide an up-to-date introduction to the development of English society between the late fifteenth and the early eighteenth centuries. Particular issues addressed in the lectures will include: the changing social structure; households; local communities; gender roles; economic development; urbanization; religious change from the Reformation to the Act of Toleration; the Tudor and Stuart monarchies; rebellion, popular protest and civil war; witchcraft; education, literacy and print culture; crime and the law; poverty and social welfare; the changing structures and dynamics of political participation and the emergence of parliamentary government.

Course Structure:
This Yale College course, taught on campus twice per week for 50 minutes, was recorded for Open Yale Courses in Fall 2009.

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