OTD, August 1845, UK Parliament passed an enclosure act, taking away common land, & appointing enclosure commissioners who could enclose more land without submitting a request to Parliament. From the 17th to 20th centuries, the British government passed over 5,000 enclosure acts, enclosing 6.8 million acres of common land, which the public previously had rights to use. Often military force was used to crush anyone who resisted. The enclosures were a vital part of the development of capitalism, as they created a whole class of landless people who had no way of surviving other than selling their labour power – the working class.

“The law locks up the man or woman Who steals the goose off the common But leaves the greater villain … More

OTD in 1381, The Peasant’s Revolt began in Blackheath. The revolt had various causes, including the socio-economic and political tensions generated by the Black Death pandemic in the 1340s, the high taxes resulting from the conflict with France during the Hundred Years’ War, and instability within the local leadership of London.

In this majestic tour de force, celebrated historian Peter Linebaugh takes aim at the thieves of land, the polluters of … More

OTD in 1381, The Peasants’ Revolt, also named Wat Tyler’s Rebellion began. The revolt had various causes, including the socio-economic & political tensions generated by the Black Death in the 1340s, the high taxes resulting from the conflict with France during the Hundred Years’ War. A wide spectrum of rural society, including many local artisans & village officials, rose up in protest, burning court records & opening the local gaols. The rebels sought a reduction in taxation, an end to the system of unfree labour known as serfdom, & the removal of the King’s senior officials & law courts.

“The Peasants’ Revolt had figured in Cockney tradition from at Elizabethan times. It was frequently depicted in the outdoors theatre … More

In 18th-century London the spectacle of a hanging was not simply a form of punishing transgressors. Rather is evidently served the more sinister purpose – for privileged ruling class – of forcing the poor population of London to accept the criminalization of customary rights & new forms of private property.

Peter Linebaugh’s groundbreaking history has become an inescapable part of any understanding of the rise of capitalism. In eighteenth-century London … More