Long Reads: Class Struggle in Medieval England w/ Dominic Alexander

For centuries, the English Peasants’ Revolt in 1381 only appeared in the historical record through bitterly hostile sources. Medieval chroniclers like Froissart presented it as a terrifying eruption of savagery from the lower classes. But the rise of modern social movements organizing workers and farmers encouraged historians to take a fresh look at this early challenge to aristocratic power.

Dominic Alexander, historian and the author of Saints and Animals in the Middle Ages, joins Long Reads to discuss this revolt and a much earlier one, in the twelfth century, led by a man called William Longbeard. While Longbeard was defeated, he has a strong claim to be recognized as England’s first social revolutionary.

Find Dominic's articles, "William Longbeard Was England’s First Revolutionary Leader" and "The English Peasants’ Revolt Gave Birth to a Revolutionary Tradition," on the Jacobin website.

Long Reads is a Jacobin podcast looking in-depth at political topics and thinkers, both contemporary and historical, with the magazine’s longform writers. Hosted by features editor Daniel Finn. Produced by Conor Gillies, music by Knxwledge.

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