Popular revolts in late-medieval Europe  

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"According to Jules Michelet in Satanism and Witchcraft (1862), medieval witchcraft was an act of popular rebellion against the oppression of feudalism and the Roman Catholic Church. This rebellion took the form of a secret religion inspired by paganism and fairy beliefs, organized by a woman who became its leader. The participants in the secret religion met regularly at the Witches' Sabbath and the Black Mass. Michelet's account is openly sympathetic to the sufferings of peasants and women in the Middle Ages."--Sholem Stein

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Popular revolts in late medieval Europe were uprisings and rebellions by (typically) peasants in the countryside, or the bourgeois in towns, against nobles, abbots and kings during the upheavals of the 14th through early 16th centuries, part of a larger "Crisis of the Late Middle Ages". Although sometimes known as Peasant Revolts, the phenomenon of popular uprisings was of broad scope and not just restricted to peasants.

Notable rural revolts

  • The Ivaylo rebellion in Bulgaria 1277-1280. In the wake of some disastrous Mongol incursions into the Bulgarian Empire the swineherd Ivaylo led a popular revolt against the Bulgarian tsar Constantine I who was proving inadequate when it came to dealing with the threat. He gained notable popularity among his fellow peasants and managed to overthrow the tsar (reportedly killing him personally), ascending to the throne in 1278. For a certain period of time, he was successful against the Mongols and managed to decisively defeat a larger Byzantine army in the battle of Devina. His success was short-lived however and eventually he lost support.
  • The Peasant revolt in Flanders 1323-1328. Beginning as a series of scattered rural riots in late 1323, peasant insurrection escalated into a full-scale rebellion that dominated public affairs in Flanders for nearly five years.
  • The St. George's Night Uprising of 1343-1345 in Estonia.
  • The Jacquerie was a peasant revolt that took place in northern France in 1356-1358, during the Hundred Years' War.
  • The English peasants' revolt of 1381 or Great Rising of 1381 is a major event in the history of England. It is the best documented and best known of all the revolts of this period.

See also




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