Episode 1 - The Peasants' Revolt
Play • 1 hr 26 min

What caused the people's revolts? What was society really like in this period? And what were the lasting consequences for working people in Britain? 

John McDonnell explores this area of our history with historians Martin Empson, Ted Vallance and Justine Firnhaber-Baker, and a more recent employer of camp tactics in Climate Camp and Occupy, Joe Ryle. 

  • Martin Empson is an author and activist living in Manchester. His book "Kill All the Gentlemen" is a history of class struggle and change in the English countryside. It takes the long view of rural history, tracing the role of rural rebellion and resistance in the development of the modern countryside. Beginning with the 1381 Peasant's Rebellion, it looks at events as wide-ranging as the Pilgrimage of Grace, Robert Kett's Rebellion, Captain Swing, the Tolpuddle Martyrs and the rise and fall of agricultural trade unionism. These are put into the context of the development of capitalism and the end of feudalism. 
  • Ted Vallance is Professor of early modern British political culture at Roehampton University. His areas of interest include political and religious radicalism (including its subsequent influence and public memory), questions of allegiance/obedience/loyalty, the role of the conscience and the use of casuistry in political debates, and the emergence of the public and public opinion. 
  • Justine Firnhaber-Baker is a senior lecturer at the University of St Andrews. Her work focuses on power and politics in both institutional ways (kingship, lordship, communities) and in social relationships and interactions, like wars, revolts, and lawsuits, using archival sources to explore questions about legitimate authority, the conceptual constitution of the community, and the use of violence. 
  • Joe Ryle is Campaign Officer for the 4 Day Week Campaign and a political activist who participated in Climate Camp and Occupy.
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