Skip to main content Skip to navigation

Riot and Popular Protest

For discussion:

1. ‘No good end can be obtained by rioting’. Discuss.

2. Would you agree that ‘the insubordination of the common people was an inconvenience rather than a menace’ in early modern England?

3. Why were there apparently more enclosure riots than food riots before 1650, and more food riots than enclosure riots in the hundred years thereafter?

4. Would you agree that early modern English riots were ‘a form of petitioning in strength and in deed’?

Introductory Surveys:

Reay, Barry. Popular Cultures in England, 1550-1750 (London, 1998), pp.168-97.

Thompson, Edward. ‘The Moral Economy of the English Crowd in the Eighteenth Century’, Past & Present 50 (1971), 76-136, reprinted as Thompson, Customs in Common (London, 1991), ch.4.

Wrightson, K.E. English Society, 1580-1680 (London, 1982), pp.149-82.

Detailed Studies:

Thompson, Edward. Customs in Common (London, 1991), chs.1-5.

Walter, John, & Wrightson, Keith. ‘Dearth and the Social Order in Early Modern England’, Past & Present 71 (May 1976), 22-42.

Clark, Peter. ‘Popular Protest and Disturbance in Kent, 1558-1640’, Economic History Review 29:4 (1976), 365-81.

Sharp, Buchanan. In Contempt of All Authority: Rural Artisans and Riot in the West of England, 1586-1660 (Los Angeles, 1980).

Walter, John. ‘Grain Riots and Popular Attitudes to the Law: Maldon and the Crisis of 1629’, in John Brewer & John Styles (eds.), An Ungovernable People: The English and their Law in the Seventeenth and Eighteenth Centuries (London, 1980), pp.47-84.

Lindley, Keith. Fenland Riots and the English Revolution (London, 1982).

Charlesworth, Andrew (ed.). An Atlas of Rural Protest in Britain, 1548-1900 (Liverpool, 1983).

Stevenson, John. ‘The “Moral Economy” of the English Crowd: Myth and Reality’, in A.J. Fletcher & J. Stevenson (eds.), Order and Disorder in Early Modern England (Cambridge, 1985), pp.218-38.

Sharp, Buchanan. ‘Popular Protest in Seventeenth-Century England’, in Barry Reay (ed.), Popular Culture in Seventeenth-Century England (London, 1985), pp.271-308.

Davies, C.S.L. ‘Popular Disorder’, in Peter Clark (ed.), The European Crisis of the 1590s (London, 1985), pp.244-60.

Outhwaite, R.B. ‘Dearth, the English Crown and the “Crisis of the 1590s”’, in Peter Clark (ed.), The European Crisis of the 1590s (London, 1985), pp.23-43.

Underdown, David. Revel, Riot and Rebellion: Popular Politics and Culture in England, 1603-1660 (Oxford, 1985), chs.1-5.

Walter, John. ‘A “Rising of the People”? The Oxfordshire Rising of 1596’, Past & Present 107 (May 1985), 90-143.

Sharp, Buchanan. ‘Common Rights, Charities and the Disorderly Poor’, in Geoff Eley & William Hunt (eds.), Reviving the English Revolution (London, 1988), pp.107-38.

Manning, Roger B. Village Revolts: Social Protest and Popular Disturbances in England 1509-1640 (Oxford, 1988).

Walter, John. ‘The Social Economy of Dearth in Early Modern England’, in John Walter & Roger Schofield (eds.), Famine, Disease and the Social Order in Early Modern Society (Cambridge, 1989), pp.75-128.

Stevenson, John. Popular Disturbances in England, 1700-1832 (2nd edn, London, 1992), chs.1,3 & 5.

Sharp, Buchanan. ‘Rural Discontents and the English Revolution’, in R.C. Richardson (ed.), Town and Countryside in the English Revolution (Manchester, 1992), pp.251-72.

Wood, Andy. ‘Social Conflict and Change in the Mining Communities of North-West Derbyshire, c.1600-1700’, International Review of Social History 38 (1993), 31-58.

McLain, Molly. ‘The Wentwood Forest Riot: Property Rights and Political Culture in Restoration England’, in Susan Amussen & Mark Kishlansky (eds.), Political Culture and Cultural Politics in Early Modern England (Manchester, 1995), pp.112-32.

Hindle, Steve. ‘Custom, Festival and Protest in Early Modern England: The Little Budworth Wakes, St Peter’s Day, 1596’, Rural History 6:2 (1995), 155-78.

Wood, Andy. ‘The Place of Custom in Plebeian Political Culture: England, 1550-1800’, Social History 22:1 (January 1997), 46-60.

Hindle, Steve. ‘Persuasion and Protest in the Caddington Common Enclosure Dispute, 1635-39’, Past & Present no.158 (February 1998), 37-78.

Walter, John. Understanding Popular Violence in the English Revolution: The Colchester Plunderers (Cambridge, 1999).

Wood, Andy. The Politics of Social Conflict: The Peak Country, 1520-1770 (Cambridge, 1999), pp.203-66.

Hipkin, Stephen. ‘”Sitting on his Penny Rent’: Conflict and Right of Common in Faversham Blean, 1595-1610’, Rural History 11:1 (2000), 1-35.

Wood, Andy. ‘“Poor Men Woll Speke One Day”: Plebeian Languages of Deference and Defiance in England, c.1520-1640’, in Tim Harris (ed.), The Politics of the Excluded, 1500-1850 (Basingstoke, 2001), pp.67-98.

Walter, John. ‘Public Transcripts, Popular Agency and the Politics of Subsistence in Early Modern England’, in Michael Braddick and John Walter (eds), Negotiating Power in Early Modern Society: Order, Hierarchy and Subordination in Britain and Ireland (Cambridge, 2001), pp.123-48.

Wood, Andy. Riot, Rebellion and Popular Politics in Early Modern England (Basingstoke, 2001).

Falvey, Heather. ‘Crown Policy and Local Economic Context in the Berkhamsted Common Enclosure Dispute, 1618-42’, Rural History 12:2 (October 2001), 123-58.

Wood, Andy. ‘Fear, Hatred and the Hidden Injuries of Class in Early Modern England’, Journal of Social History 39:3 (Spring 2006), 803-826.

Wood, Andy. ‘Subordination, Solidarity and the Limits of Popular Agency in a Yorkshire Valley, c.1596-1615’, Past & Present 193 (November 2006), 41-72.

Walter, John. Crowds and Popular Politics in Early Modern England (Manchester, 2006)

Walter, John. ‘Faces in the Crowd: Gender, Youth and Age in Early Modern Protest’, in Helen Berry and Elizabeth Foyster (eds), The Family in Early Modern England (Cambridge, 2007), pp.96-125.

Hindle, Steve. ‘Dearth and the English Revolution: The Harvest Crisis of 1647-50’, Economic History Review 61:S1 (August 2008: Special Issue ‘Feeding the Masses’), 64-98.

Walter, John. ‘“The Poor Man’s Joy and the Gentleman’s Plague”: A Lincolnshire Libel and the Politics of Sedition in Early Modern England’, Past & Present 203 (May 2009), 29-67.


1. On the profile of participation: Sharp (1980), Lindley (1982), Hindle (1998), Hipkin (2000)

2. On the moral economy: Walter & Wrightson (1976), Walter (1980, 1989, 2009); Hindle (2007)