Read after Covid…18

Survive and Thrive.

After The Black Death came a relatively revolutionary time for the rights of serfs. Instead of being tied to the land of their masters, given subsidiary wages (in kind), and being treated as no better than cattle, the surviving poor were now newly empowered. If The Black Death was a dealer of death, it had dealt the poor a much better hand than it had had before. Indeed, the serfs could enjoy an upper hand as labour was in very short supply.

But the privileged don’t enjoy having their privileges taken away from them so, when things started to get better they thought that it was time to revert to the old ways, those decreed by God and his church. The strange thing was that the serfs had gotten accustomed to their newly-found lives and were, quite understanably reluctant to return to the days of slavery. So followed revolt and upheaval.

As landowners and churches sought to seize back control Resentment among workers was rose. Between 1377 and 1381, after a number of punitive taxes were levied against the surviving serf population, ther was revolt. In June 1381, known as the Peasants’ Revolt, a large group of commoners rode on London, stormed the Tower of London and demanded reforms from the young King Richard II. Although ultimately ending in failure, the message was clear, ‘Shit can happen to you just as easily as it can happen to us’. It would appear that every now and again the tables are turned. They don’t remain turned for very long as people, themselves, get in the way.

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