Sarasota's Medieval Fair compares Peasants Revolt of 1381 with Occupy movement
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11/08/11 Doug Driscoll
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Common Peasants protesting in Sarasota.


photo by Doug Driscoll

The Occupy movement is spreading across the globe because people are tired of the 1%'s greed forcing the 99% further into poverty and wage slavery. But a theatrical rendition in Sarasota Sunday reminded people this isn't the first time in history the rich have been targeted by angry crowds of common folk tired of being stepped on.

About 25 Common people from the Peasant Revolt of 1381 are preparing to storm London Tower, intent on murder. Fourteen year old King Richard II raised poll taxes for the third time in six years, ostensibly to pay for military campaigns overseas. One Common is a scruffy young man covered in dirt. He seemed to be in a bit of a quandary on precisely why he was protesting.

As they could barely put food on the table, the peasants rose up in protest against the King’s advisers and the Nobles, hoping Richard would hear their combined voices as one. But how does Filth find enough food to subsist, and why the disdain for the young King’s advisers, who were largely responsible for the protestor’s occupation of London?

This peasant uprising could be considered the beginning of the end for serfdom in Medieval England. Though it would take centuries, the upper class Nobles were made to understand that they could not treat Commons as so much chattel without risk to life, limb and their stash of gold. A tall slender young woman was dressed in fine white linen. Joan looked suspiciously like a noble trying to hide her true identity. She had reason to fear, as many of the Nobles were put to death, particularly the King’s advisers.

Like her father Belinda Smyth is a blacksmith. Struck by family tragedy, she was part of the Peasant’s Movement to voice her anger and make a better life for herself.

After the peasants killed a few Nobles, King Richard agreed to everything the protestors demanded if they would just return to their homes. Richard then promptly murdered the leaders of the uprising. While the Revolt of 1381 didn’t achieve its goals, it set the stage for a more equal form of wages and taxation over the coming years, stretching well into the 17th century. These peasants are actors with Sarasota’s Medieval Fair and they’ll be staging the Revolt of 1381 again the next two weekends.

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