By Juliet Barker

Written with the fluency readers have come to count on from Juliet Barker, 1381: The 12 months of the Peasants Revolt presents an account of the 1st nice well known rebellion in England and its history, and paints on a wide canvas an image of English lifestyles in medieval occasions. Skeptical of up to date chroniclers bills of occasions, Barker attracts at the judicial assets of the indictments and court docket court cases that the uprising.

This emphasis deals a clean point of view at the so-called Peasants rebel and offers intensity and texture to the ancient narrative. one of the e-book s arguments are that the rebels believed they have been the unswerving matters of the king appearing in his pursuits, and that the boy-king Richard II sympathized with their grievances.

Barker tells how and why a various and not going crew of normal women and men from each nook of britain from servants and employees residing 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 country to call for an intensive political time table. Had it been applied, this schedule could have remodeled English society and expected the French Revolution via 400 years. 1381: The 12 months of the Peasants Revolt is a vital reassessment of the rebellion and a desirable, unique examine of medieval existence in England s cities and countryside."

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John of Gaunt, in one of Shakespeare’s most memorable speeches, would describe the realm as This fortress built by Nature for herself Against infection and the hand of war . . 4 22 1381 The sea did indeed serve as a ‘moat defensive’ but it was also a key factor in England’s economy. In a country ranging over fifty thousand square miles of land nowhere was more than seventy-five miles from the coast and a large network of navigable rivers reduced even that distance significantly. As a consequence both personal travel and bulk transportation of goods were often swifter, easier and cheaper than simply using roads, which had to be maintained to be effective, required both bridges strong enough to withstand heavy traffic and an abundant supply of horses and draught animals to cover any distance, and were frequently made impassable by bad weather or difficult terrain.

Some of these barges were equipped with a sail and seaworthy: hugging the coastline, they brought a regular supply of coals from Newcastle to feed London’s insatiable demand for domestic and industrial fuel. 5 If England was first and foremost a trading nation this was because its temperate climate and fertile soils, particularly in the south and east, allowed it to produce a surplus to sell. Unlike in more arid areas of Europe, there was little subsistence farming in the late fourteenth century.

20 Smith was exceptional but not unique. One of the most striking and unusual features of the great revolt would be its emphasis on the written word. The rebels set out to destroy the records which restricted their freedoms but also to replace them THE STATE OF THE NATION 37 with new documents enshrining in perpetuity their newly won liberties; they communicated by letter and written proclamation; and, perhaps most significant of all, at least six letters, purportedly written by John Balle, were in circulation at the time of the revolt and preserved by contemporary chroniclers as examples of the sort of revolutionary rhetoric which had inflamed the people to rebel.

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