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Cross-Border Representations of Revolt in the Later Middle Ages: France and England During the Hundred Years’ War (1337-1453)
By Helmut Hinck and Bettina Bommersbach
From Mutual Observation to Propaganda War Premodern Revolts in Their Transnational Representations, ed. Malte Griesse (transcript, 2014)
Introduction: Pointing to the Hundred Years’ War and its manifold political, social and cultural consequences, one could easily argue for an albeit hostile but nonetheless strong connection between the kingdoms of England and France in the later Middle Ages. Since 1337 English kings were trying to take hold of the French crown and to secure their possessions on the continent, which led to more than a century of interrupted warfare and deeply affected the societies on both sides of the channel. As the war more than once lay at the roots of popular unrest in these countries, there should have been a good deal of cross-border reporting of insurgency in England and France, making the period an ideal field of research for the transnational representation of pre-modern revolts.
The findings, however, are surprisingly few in number. They are almost exclusively restricted to chronicle sources and even there cannot be said to abound.
Combing through more than eighty chronicles from the late fourteenth and early fifteenth century, we have only been able to find some fifteen examples of popular revolt in England and France being reported by authors from the other side of the channel. English accounts have survived for the Jacquerie of 1358, the urban tax revolts of the early 1380s and the risings in Normandy fifty years later; French texts include the Peasants’ Revolt of 1381, the risings against the Ricardian Earls in 1400 and the disturbances surrounding the Kentish rebellion of 1450. As none of these movements has been recorded by more than three chroniclers from the other country, we can speak of a fairly even distribution of transnational coverage in our period.