The Theory and Practice of Revolt in Medieval England
Medieval Englishmen were treacherous, rebellious and killed their kings, as their French contemporaries repeatedly noted. In the 13th through 15th centuries, ten kings faced serious rebellion, in which eight were captured, deposed, and/or murdered. The author takes a comparative look at these crises, seeking to understand medieval ideas of proper kingship and government, the role of political violence and the changing nature of reform initiatives and the rebellions to which they led.
This study attempts to understand medieval beliefs on their own terms rather than with regard to modern assumptions. It argues that rebellion was an accepted and to a certain extent legitimate means to restore good kingship throughout the period, but that over time it became increasingly divorced from reform aims, which were satisfied by other means, and transformed by growing lordly dominance, arrogance, and selfishness. Eventually the tradition of legitimate revolt disappeared, to be replaced by both parliament and dynastic civil war.
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