“Over the next few days the rebels were to bring the most powerful figures in England’s ruling class to their knees. Several of them, like the hated Arch Bishop of Canterbury Simon Sudbury and the King’s treasurer Sir Robert Hales were executed. Even as the rebellion was defeated in London, it was still spreading across England and it was only after months of repression, torture and execution that the ruling class regained control.”
Well wallop my fibers! Historian, socialist & environmental activist Martin Empson dumps the goody-bag squarely in the communal cooking-pot in this utterly brilliant & revealing document on Britain’s numerous peasant uprisings, rural rioting & anti-enclosure unrest. With our withering, wracked & ravaged civilization bleeding-out under sustained Tory sadism, such autarchic conditions & direness (feudalism & serfdom) are fast materializing once more.“
But the greatest single cause for revolt was the very nature of feudal society – the exploitation of the peasantry by a ruling class that tried to squeeze as much as possible from those at the bottom society that created all the wealth.”
This perverse unilateral submission was initially founded when peasant communities were being terrorized & rived by Viking raiding parties & other marauding plunderers & threats. They sought protection from militarized “lords” who were initially a fighting class (far from the etiolated, ultra-ponce shit-pouches that waddle around the grouse moors, Etonian cricket-grounds & gentlemen’s clubs these days) as Chris Byrant’s excellent ‘Entitled’ book covered in great detail. But around the 14th century, these threats significantly diminished. The hitherto guardians became not just extraneous, but more & more corrupt, parasitic, decadent & deleterious. Excessive authority, privilege & a pantheon of one-sided, specially facilitating laws & edicts rendered the exploitation absolute; an extractive practice operating under the moniker of “coercive sanction”. Tithes, taxes & tyranny without any reciprocal advantage became standard sting to the already grievous wounding (sounding familiar?). it was of course from this exact class of useless, wealth-sucking, slaving, callous, self-serving, libertine lay-abouts that the true heart of Tory squalor was egested unto our midst.
”The lord’s ability to extract surplus from the peasantry rested on the threat of violence, backed up by a system of laws that restricted the peasants ability to escape their lord or challenge him.
”The church was one of the most powerful forces in medieval society. – The church also justified the societal status quo, a world where the population was divided into three groups: “those who work, those who fight and those who pray”. – The churches huge network of parish churches, monasteries and cathedrals brought in vast amounts of wealth in rent, tithes and donations. By the 12th century the church was the “greatest landlord in Europe”. Which meant it was one of the largest owners of serfs, who produced vast amounts of wealth from their labour and rent. – “An earthly kingdom can not exist without inequality of persons. Some must be free, others serfs, some rulers, others subjects. (Martin Luther 1952)” – the church played a contradictory role. On one hand it offered solace and an explanation of the world; on the other it was central to the oppression and exploitation of the mass of the population and its hierarchy grew rich on the proceeds.”
The church (not the religion itself but the establishment & its members) was bitterly execrated by the peasantry. As is today, the church is a shit-ball of lies, hyper-hypocrisy, pomp, pap, profit & male child rape. Many a prelate is murdered by oppressed mobs of agrestic revolutionaries in the throes of rebellion…I think the Peter Balls, George Pells, Philippe Babarins, Bernard Preynats, Vincent Nichols, Edward Adams, Pope Francis et-al could use a dose of the same necessary justice. The church is a gigantic network of organized evil.
WOW! Some serious history here. The revolt of 1381 (Jack Cades revolt), Captain Poverty, the Prayer Book Rebellion/Western Rising, Kett’s Rebellion of 1549, the Midland Uprising the Diggers & Levellers & many smaller eruptions. Two such ebullitions were astonishingly successful, but instead of actually laying siege to London & slaughtering/convicting the aristocracy, the peasants, most tragically (albeit extraordinarily noble & naive) agreed on a sort of amnesty/reform with the Kings promise. Alas, they were essentially double-crossed & then brutally punished for their clemency & ill-placed fidelity in the “fooling arse”. The book suggests that the peasants saw the King as distinctive & separate from the lords localized corruption & despotism, rather than central to it (of which there appears to be a few grains of truth of sorts). this act of trust cost the British isle immeasurably….frankly, it’s never ever recovered, hence the current turmoil & those responsible for its infliction. Double deja-vu & prime time to right this terrible wrong.
One of the best chapters in the whole book is the sixteen page “From Feudalism to Capitalism”, occurring about halfway through. It’s worth noting that there was never any formal abolishment of serfdom in England! a sublimated subjugation that seems to cling steady to this day (just look at the sheer obscenity of what is currently being tolerated).It is followed by “Enclosure and the English Countryside Transformed” which paved the path for the current divorce, division, appropriation & mismanagement that suffocated agrarian independence & excluded the people from the land outside of the carefully constructed system of capitalist dependency (& of course the birth of the monstrosity –the corporation). It was fought & substantially contested but –
“Such opposition was widespread and often violent, but it was eventually defeated. In some areas the battles were successful, though these were often in urban areas. It is notable that almost all of the green areas that exist in London today for public enjoyment are the result of battles to defend the commons in the 18th and 19th centuries”.
The forced, brutal subordination & vassaldom of the British populace was an archetype for the overseas pillage & ruin that would follow through the curse of the British Empire – ‘in 1803, Sir John Sinclair, President of the Board of Agriculture, made this explicit when he said: ”Let us not be satisfied with the liberation of Egypt, or the subjugation of Malta, but let us subdue Finchley Common; let us conquer Hounslow Heath, let us compel Epping Forest to submit to the yoke of improvement.’
Kill all the Gentlemen is stuffed to rupture with brilliant, & currently crucial history. The very same enemy.
Martin Empson-2018-Book Marks Publications-293 pages