Almost all western societies hold in reverence two “anonymous” figures: the worker and “the unknown soldier.” Ernst Jünger would have us venerate a third figure: The Forest Rebel. The Forest Rebel has been present in nearly every society and is a symbol of resistance to tyranny.
Poetry: The Rebellion of Wat Tyler and Jack Straw (c.1612)
Unlike that other medieval hero and man of the people, Robin Hood, Wat Tyler does not enjoy an extensive ballad “afterlife.”
This song, first published in The Garland of Delight (1612), is perhaps the first proper ballad which features the famous rebel. It was subsequently published by Thomas Evans in “Old Ballads, Historical and Narrative” (1777) during the “age of ballad scholarship.” Presented here is a transcription of the song.
Poking Fun at Rebels | Stephen Basdeo
In 1714 George I of Hanover ascended to the throne of the United Kingdom. Many were unhappy with their new German king and the Earl of Mar, in 1715, raised the standard of the royal house of Stuart to win back the throne for the “true” king in exile, the son of James II. A leading journalist decided to mock the rebels.
How Victorians Fell in Love with American Rebels
The British people and the American people did not always like each other. The Americans had broken away from the empire in 1783 and relations remained frosty for over a century. But in the late Victorian era, British writers’ feelings about Americans began to change.
Robin Hood the Angry Letter Writer
If Twitter was around in 1819, this angry letter writer named Robin Hood–who railed against corrupt and tyrannical MPs–would probably have had an account.
The Flemish Revolt: Pierce Egan’s “Quintin Matsys” (1838)
Pierce Egan’s “Quintin Matsys” is like the Belgian “Les Miserables”; the people of Antwerp rise up and take to the barricades to overthrow the evil aristocrats who oppress them.
Sedition | Stephen Basdeo
“The distance is never great between contempt of the laws and open resistance to them.” – Justice Fitzgerald.
Mike Leigh’s “Peterloo” (2018)
Mike Leigh has produced a visually impressive movie, but the characters are a bit flat.
“Lenin Lives!” (2017) by Philip Cunliffe
Philip Cunliffe has written a fascinating book which gives an account of how history might have turned out had the goals of early twentieth-century socialists been realised.
The Last Dying Speech and Confession of Jack Straw
“We would have killed the king and driven out of the land all possessioners, bishops, monks, canons, and rectors of churches. We would have created kings, Walter Tyler in Kent and one each in other counties, and appointed them and we would have set fire to four parts of the city and burnt it down and divided all the precious goods found there amongst ourselves.”
Martina Chapanay (1800-1887): An Argentinian Female Robin Hood
Martina Chapanay, a woman who led a gang of bandits in Argentina for upwards of 20 years.
Oleksa Dovbush (1700-1745): Robin Hood of the Ukraine
Oleksa Dovbush was an outlaw/freedom fighter who robbed from the rich to give to the poor.
My Forthcoming Book: “The Mob Reformer: The Life and Legend of Wat Tyler” (2018)
I have recently been contracted by a commercial publisher to write a popular history book entitled “The Mob Reformer: The Life and Legend of Wat Tyler” which is due for publication in 2018.
The Chartist Robin Hood: Thomas Miller’s “Royston Gower, or, The Days of King John” (1838)
In Thomas Miller’s novel ‘Royston Gower’ (1838), Robin Hood is portrayed as a medieval Chartist activist.
Historic Yorkshire Criminals: William Knipe’s “Criminal Chronology” (1867)
In 1867 William Knipe authored “The Criminal Chronology of York Castle” – the most comprehensive survey of crime in Yorkshire from the medieval period to the Victorian era.
Wat Tyler: 18th- & 19th-Century Literary Afterlives
A brief look at Georgian and Victorian representations of Wat Tyler, the leader of the Peasants’ Revolt of 1381.