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date: 17 June 2021

Abstract and Keywords

Divisions between Marxist and non-Marxist historians have fuelled debate of late medieval and early modern popular protest over the past fifty years. Yet, an underlying consensus has arisen with two broad forms of popular revolt, a ‘pre-modern’ (encompassing the Middle Ages to as late as the mid-nineteenth century) and a ‘modern’ one. Supposedly, high bread prices sparked the former, women filled their ranks, the leaders came from the elites and not the rank-and-file of peasants or artisans, their ideologies were primitive and backward looking, and these revolts ended in repression, not revolution. With modernity the characteristics changed. This chapter challenges this ‘pre-modern’/’modern’ divide, arguing that late medieval popular revolts differed profoundly from those of the early modern period across all of these characteristics. The changes depended on a growing gap in power between rulers and the ruled that had begun in places by the closing decades of the fourteenth century.

Keywords: Popular revolt, women, repression, weapons, sacks of cities, leadership

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