Sunday, October 30, 2011

Everything Old Is New Again

Does any of this sound familiar?

"Many, envious of the rich and noble, said among themselves that the country was badly governed, and that the nobility had seized all the gold and silver. [They] therefore began to assemble in parties, and to show signs of rebellion; they also invited all those who held like opinions in the adjoining counties to come to London, telling them that they would find the town open to them and the commonality of the same way of thinking as themselves, and that they would so press the King.... When these people first began their disturbances, all London, with the exception of those who favored them, was much alarmed. Mayor and rich citizens assembled in council and debated whether they should shut the gate and refuse to admit them; however, upon mature reflection they determined not to do so... The rebels fixed their quarters in a square, called St. Catherine's, before the Tower, declaring they would not depart until they had obtained from the King everything they wanted -- until the Chancellor of England had accounted to them, and shown how the great sums which were raised had been expended."

That was written in 1381, by sir John Froissart, about the Peasant's Revolt in response to the Statute of Labourers (1351), which fixed maximum wages during the labor shortage following the Black death. The peasants could not earn enough to live decently, while the rich flourished.

The 1381 revolt, which had 60,000 people doing Occupy London, ended in looting, rioting, heads on pikes, the slaying of stray Flemings -- and some reforms that helped the poor. Let's hope that this time we can do it with less violence.

1 comment:

Gloria said...

Great and valuable thought as what fashion we have know will be repeated again as history repeat itself...
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