In Contempt of All Authority

Rural Artisans and Riot in the West of England, 1586-1660

By Buchanan Sharp
In Contempt of All Authority: Rural Artisans and Riot in the West of England, 1586-1660
Two of the most common types of popular disorders in late Tudor and early Stuart England were the food riots and the anti-enclosure riots in royal forests. Of particular interest are the forest riots known collectively as the Western Rising of 1626-1632, and the lesser known disorders in the Western forests which took place during the English Civil War. The central aims of this volume are to establish the social status of the people who engaged in those riots and to determine the social and […]

The Last Rising of the Agricultural Labourers

Rural Life and Protest in Nineteenth-Century England

By Barry Reay
The Last Rising of the Agricultural Labourers
The Hernhill Rising of 1838 was the last battle fought on English soil, the last revolt against the New Poor Law, and England’s last millenarian rising. The bloody ‘Battle of Bosenden Wood’, fought in a corner of rural Kent, was the culmination of a revolt led by the self-styled ‘Sir William Courtenay’. It was also, despite the greater fame of the 1830 Swing Riots, the last rising of the agricultural labourers. Barry Reay provides us with the first comprehensive and scholarly analysis of the […]

‘By a Flash and a Scare’

Arson, Animal Maiming, and Poaching in East Anglia 1815-1870

By John E. Archer
By A Flash
‘By a Flash and a Scare’ illuminates the darker side of rural life in the nineteenth century. Flashpoints such as the Swing riots, Tolpuddle, and the New Poor Law riots have long attracted the attention of historians, but here John E. Archer focuses on the persistent war waged in the countryside during the 1800s, analysing the prevailing climate of unrest, discontent, and desperation. In this detailed and scholarly study, based on intensive research among the local records of Norfolk and […]

The People’s Farm

English Radical Agrarianism 1775-1840

By Malcolm Chase
The People’s Farm: English Radical Agrarianism 1775-1840
This book traces the development of agrarian ideas from the 1770s through to Chartism, and seeks to explain why, in an era of industrialization and urban growth, land remained one of the major issues in popular politics. Malcolm Chase considers the relationship between ‘land consciousness’ and early socialism; attempts to create alternative communities; and contemporary perceptions of nature and the environment. He concludes that, far from being an anachronistic, utopian, and reactionary […]

Time, Work Discipline and Industrial Capitalism

By Edward Thompson
Available as a PDF file here. Another famous, readable and ground-breaking paper by Thompson, this time looking at the imposition of work discipline in the transition to industrial capitalism. He charts the change from the task orientated work of the craftsman/labourer to the division of labour in the '(manu)factory' and the consequent resistance. The use of supervision, fines, wage incentive, preaching, schooling, the suppression of fairs and sports and of course, bells and clocks to form and […]

The Many Headed Hydra

Sailors, Slaves, Commoners and the Hidden History of the Revolutionary Atlantic

By Marcus Rediker and Peter Linebaugh
The Many Headed Hydra: Sailors, Slaves, Commoners and the Hidden History of the Revolutionary Atlantic
Brilliant work charting the misunderstood and misrepresented history of the Atlantic proletariat during the rise of mercantile capitalism. Breaks out of the limits of the nation state set by previous social history and examines the struggles of slaves, sailors and commoners across the Atlantic from the old world to the new. (BRHG)

Albion’s Fatal Tree

Crime and Society in 18th Century England

By Hay, Linebaugh, Rule, Thompson, Winslow
Albion's Fatal Tree : Crime and Society in 18th Century England
Classic set of essays shattering the illusion of a tranquil 18th Century full of happy peasants and deferential workers promoted by establishment historians. From poaching wars to smugglers, wreckers and rioters these essays provide the hard evidence for the raging class war of the period. E.P.Thompson's study on the 'incendiary letter' is absolute quality and will still send shivers up the spine of the wealthy…(BRHG)

Liberty Against the Law

Some 17th Century Controversies

By Christopher Hill
Liberty Against the Law : Some 17th Century Controversies
Christopher Hill was getting on a bit when he wrote this but he clearly still had lots of stuff to get out there. What a source book he has produced. Hill shows that barely a fifth of the population were content with a legal system which was enclosing the commons, crushing customary rights and creating a class of landless labourers. Highwaymen, pirates, gypsies, vagabonds, levellers and religious radicals (amongst others) fight these changes creating their own culture of resistance in the […]

The World Turned Upside Down

Radical Ideas During the English Revolution

By Christopher Hill
Find out about why it was the English Revolution and not just the English Civil War. Discover the 'third force' of the period, Levellers, Diggers, Ranters, Religious Radicals and the rebellious New Model Army that frightened the Royalists and Parlimentarians alike with their 'communist' ideas. Absolute classic, to be read aloud to your mates on stormy nights (with a few beers). (BRHG)

The London Hanged

Crime and Civil Society in the 18th Century

By Peter Linebaugh
This book takes you right into the everyday life of the 18th century British working class and how their existing customary rights came directly into conflict with the new needs of emerging capitalism. Sounds boring, but Linebaugh is excellent at blending both the experiences of the individual labourer with the overall thrust of the history. This book is extremely important if you want to understand the transition from feudal to capitalist work relations. Also excellent chapters on public […]

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