Sunday, November 23, 2014

Juliet Barker - England Arise! The People, the King & the Great Revolt of 1381

Juliet Barkers' book on the 1381 Great Revolt is a meticulously researched, well written and important new contribution to our understanding of the event. While I don't agree with all of her conclusions, and particularly have problems seeing Richard II as a naive ruler, sympathetic to the serfs who has to be persuaded to undo the concessions he made with Wat Tyler and the rebels at Mile End, this isn't a key criticism of the book. A bigger problem is that Barker fails to see the uprising as a more general class struggle which is why she rejects the term "Peasants' Revolt". That said, the wealth of material here, Barkers' excellently clear style, and the background material make this a book that will enormously contribute to discussions about peasant struggles in the medieval era.

I wrote a longer review of this excellent book for Socialist Review magazine in December 2014. This can be read here.

Related Reviews

O'Brien - When Adam Delved and Eve Span
Dunn - The Peasant's Revolt: England's Failed Revolution of 1381

Lindsay & Groves - The Peasants' Revolt 1381
Hilton - Bond Men Made Free
Basdeo - The Life and Legend of a Rebel Leader: Wat Tyler

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