Saturday, March 18, 2017

Resistance - 14th Century Style

When The People as a whole feel sufficiently oppressed, reach that mystical thing called the "tipping point" they act. Famous examples of this phenomenon leap out from pages of history books - here's an early example:

Backtracking a century or six:
The Peasants' Revolt in England.

Without the aid of Twitter, Facebook, the Royal Mail, telephone or cellphone, tens of thousands of peasants in England managed to achieve solidarity sufficient to rebel against their noblemen masters, march on England's capital city and cause chaos.

The Black Death, a devastating pandemic, had ravaged England and Europe in 1348/9 greatly reducing the labour force available to the Lords of the Manors and other noblemen of feudal England. Labourers, who were little more than slaves, began to demand improved terms and conditions: higher wages, fewer hours. Some even asked for their freedom from serfdom. The government attempted to curb this by pegging wages and restricting the mobility of labour. Additional cause of resentment was the poll tax ("poll" in this context meant "head") every person was subject to this taxation. The then monarch King Richard II, only 14 years old, was largely "under the thumb" of a corrupt group of officials, possibly the crux of the problem - or maybe not, we have no way of knowing.

Uprisings began in the south and east of England. In early summer of 1381 leaders emerged: Wat Tyler, John Ball and Jack Straw. They led a march of tens of thousands on London arriving on 12 June.

The rebels stormed the Tower of London and executed the Lord Chancellor, Archbishop Simon Sudbury, and the Lord Treasurer. Peasants looted the city and set fire to numerous buildings. Wat Tyler was stabbed to death by the Lord Mayor William Walworth in a confrontation at Smithfield, thus ending the revolt. Nobles quickly re-established their control with the help of a hastily organised militia of 7000. Most other leaders were captured and executed, including John Ball and Jack Straw, who was beheaded.

The Peasants' Revolt did not succeed in its aims, but it did show the nobles that the peasants were dissatisfied and quite capable of wreaking havoc. The Revolt was, eventually, instrumental in bringing an end to serfdom, and in the even longer term, helped to form a radical tradition in British politics.

Wondering about the astrology of it all - a snip from the ephemeris for June 1381:

It's interesting that on 12 June 1381 Moon (representing The People) was in late Aquarius - sign of rebellion; Mars (anger, aggression)was in communicative Gemini, and in harmony with Aquarius Moon.

Final thought from Carl Sandburg's "The People, Yes" (Chapter 75)

Hunger and only hunger changes worlds?
The dictate of the belly
that gnawing under the navel,
this alone is the builder and the pathfinder
sending man into danger and fire
and death by struggle?

Yes and no, no and yes.
The strong win against the weak,
The strong lose against the stronger.

And across the bitter years and the howling winters
the deathless dream will be the stronger,
the dream of equity will win.
There are shadows and bones shot with lights
too strong to be lost.......


R J Adams said...

I wonder how bad matters might become before Americans rose up en masse against their leaders. My guess is a lot, lot, worse than it is now. It's more likely they'd start fighting among themselves. 'Divida et Impera' works as well today as it did for Julius. Rebellion is ultimately bloody and if successful rarely produces much improvement in the lives of ordinary folk. At one time it was possible to express one's displeasure at the ballot box, but not any more, I think. (I know, Bernie's still out there!) ;-)

Twilight said...

RJ Adams ~ Agreed - it's not nearly bad enough yet - it is for some, but not for enough numbers of people to cause pitched battle in the streets. If there's to be any kind of "coup" I think it'll come from the inside - and will do the rest of us no good at all.

If "they" had any sense at all they'd help the worst off - just a little bit. But no.....undiluted sadism must run tin their veins.