The Network of the Urban Revolts in Northern France

The Network of the Urban Revolts in Northern France

By Yong-Jin Park

Paper given at The Communications and Networks of Medieval Cities in the West: The Sixth Japanese-Korean Symposium on Medieval History of Europe – held at Keio Gijyuku University (2007)

Introduction: “The popular rebellions in the Middle ages, as the strikes in the present day, were frequent,” said Marc Bloch. Especially it occurred frequently in the 14th and 15th century. Among them, the urban revolts in Northern France such as the Revolt of Etienne Marcel, Maillotins, and Cabochiens, are noteworthy. Etienne Marcel tried to control the monarchy through the Estate General, Maillotins protest the tax, and Cabochiens demand the reform of monarchy.

These revolts examined separately, and were considered as a series of revolts whose character was essentially similar. But considering that the revolts revealed the conflict among the social groups, and they triggered other urban revolts in Northern France, it is very meaningful to approach them from the social point of view. There were leaders, or leading groups, and followers in the revolts, and the revolts caused others. Did they feel solidarity before the revolts? Did they have any kind of the urban networks before? This study aims at elucidating the urban solidarity, internal and external, occurred on the process of the revolts. In the city the various forms of association, as guilds, confréries, and marriages, reinforced the solidarity among the members. Out of the city there existed the inter-urban networks of commerce.

The leading groups and followers of the three above-mentioned revolts were the merchants and the craftsmen. So they already had the professional solidarity by way of the guilds. The hanse des marchands de l’eau played an important role in the revolts of Etienne Marcel in 1358. The hanse was the association of merchants who shared the commercial interests on the river Seine. On the conflict against Rouen, they elaborated more systematic organization in the 12th and 13th century. In the mid 13th century, Saint-Louis created the royal office, Prévot de Paris, responsible for the administration of Paris, and the bourgeois of Paris named their leader prévot des marchands responsible for the commerce. In the late 13th and early 14th century, two prévots contested for controlling over the tax on merchandise, and prévot des marchands, supported by the merchants, obtained the right to collect the tax. Then he became one of the authentic leaders in Paris.

Click here to read this paper from the Korean Society for Western Medieval History

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