Join the Socialist Party Join us today!

Printable version Printable version

Facebook   Twitter

Link to this page: https://www.socialistparty.org.uk/issue/1027/28588

From The Socialist newspaper, 30 January 2019

Fiction: Tombland "The power of common people fighting for justice in the 16th century"

Mousehold Heath, where Kett's Rebellion was crushed, with Norwich Cathedral in the bakground, photo by Amitchell125/CC

Mousehold Heath, where Kett's Rebellion was crushed, with Norwich Cathedral in the bakground, photo by Amitchell125/CC   (Click to enlarge)

Derek McMillan, Brighton Socialist Party

Tombland is the latest novel in the Shardlake series by CJ Sansom. It is a murder mystery set in the 16th century. There are no spoilers in this review about who the murderer was. The story is set against the real historical background of the Kett rebellion in 1549.

In the reign of Edward VI (when real power resided with his uncle, the Duke of Somerset, who reigned in his name) the gentry and yeoman farmers had taken to enclosing land and giving it over to sheep. They forced small farmers off the land which was also given over to sheep farming.

Not only did people lose the use of common land for their own sheep but agriculture was devastated.

As a result of a disastrous war with Scotland and the debasement of the currency, prices rose out of control while wages stagnated.

One Norfolk yeoman farmer, Robert Kett, was approached by rebellious commoners who demanded he remove the enclosures he had made.

Not only did he do so but he ended up leading the rebellion in Norfolk which became the largest of its kind in the country.

16,000 rebels

An estimated force of 16,000 rebels set up a massive camp on Mousehold Heath to the north of Norwich. Under Kett's leadership, the rebels stormed Norwich and took the city.

The workers in the city sympathised with the rebels and assisted the takeover. The forces of the aristocracy thought the rebels would be a walkover and sent an army against them under the Marquess of Northampton. He was comprehensively defeated.

The rebels, however, had faith that the government genuinely intended to deliver on its promise to end illegal enclosures. That is a bit like expecting the 1% to act in the interests of the 99%. Instead, the king's army under the Earl of Warwick was sent to massacre the rebels with the aid of 1,200 mercenaries.

The story is a useful antidote to books and TV series about the pomp and ceremony of the Tudor court and the intrigues of the aristocracy.

The flip side of that coin was the unimaginable brutality with which aristocrats like Warwick treated the commoners. He only stopped because the gentlemen did not fancy putting their own hands to the plough - so repentant commoners were spared.

The book has a valuable lesson. Not only does it show the power of common people to fight for justice but also the perfidious nature of the upper classes.

Donate to the Socialist Party

Finance appeal

The coronavirus crisis has laid bare the class character of society in numerous ways. It is making clear to many that it is the working class that keeps society running, not the CEOs of major corporations.

The results of austerity have been graphically demonstrated as public services strain to cope with the crisis.

The government has now ripped up its 'austerity' mantra and turned to policies that not long ago were denounced as socialist. But after the corona crisis, it will try to make the working class pay for it, by trying to claw back what has been given.

  • The Socialist Party's material is more vital than ever, so we can continue to report from workers who are fighting for better health and safety measures, against layoffs, for adequate staffing levels, etc.
  • When the health crisis subsides, we must be ready for the stormy events ahead and the need to arm workers' movements with a socialist programme - one which puts the health and needs of humanity before the profits of a few.
Inevitably, during the crisis we have not been able to sell the Socialist and raise funds in the ways we normally would.
We therefore urgently appeal to all our viewers to donate to our Fighting Fund.

Please donate here.

All payments are made through a secure server.

My donation

 

Your message: 

 


In The Socialist 30 January 2019:


What we think

Venezuela: resist the pro-imperialist coup!

Join the fight to defend women's lives


News

Austerity out, Tories out

Tory on homeless: "tear down these tents"

Liverpool Travelodge digger wrecking

Fresh inquest into killer air pollution: nationalise energy and public transport!


International socialist news and analysis

International solidarity with the struggle of the Sudanese people

Brazil: Hundreds die in avoidable dam collapse

Belgium: Movement against climate change grows

Germany: School student walkouts reject Coal Commission proposals


Workplace news

Tesco changes threaten thousands of jobs

PCS Left Unity chooses Chris Baugh - unite behind the left AGS and NEC slate

Leicester college staff strike against low pay

Teachers vote 83% for strikes

Unison union campaigns for school support staff action

Trade unions protect rail workers' picket line in Hull


Campaigns and party news

Councils can fight cuts!

Coxford ward byelection: No to cuts - defend our vital services

Keep profiteering developers out!

A strategy to fight the far right

Want to oust the Tories and change the world? ...Then give us the resources to do it!

Socialist Party Wales conference

East Midlands conference


Opinion

Exhibition: Anglo-Saxon Kingdoms: Art, Word, War

Fiction: Tombland "The power of common people fighting for justice in the 16th century"

The Socialist Inbox


 

Home   |   The Socialist 30 January 2019   |   Join the Socialist Party

Subscribe   |   Donate   |   Audio  |   PDF  |   ebook






Related links:

Review:

triangleTV Review: Stateless blames mismanagement rather than system

triangleTV Review: GB News

triangleBook review: Shuggie Bain

triangleSchools need resources to tackle 'routine' sexual harassment

triangleTV review: Mrs Thatcher vs the miners

Norwich:

triangleNorwich City Council workers vote for strike action over broken promises on pay and conditions

Aristocracy:

triangleAristocrats are rich after all... and getting richer

triangleThe Socialist inbox

triangleRobert Burns, insurrectionary poet

Farmers:

triangleBradford Socialist Party: Farmers revolt in India

triangleWest London Socialist Party: Has Modi finally met his match in India's farmers?

Army:

triangleEconomic collapse leads to renewed protests across Lebanon

Reviews and comments

Reviews and comments

28/7/21

Review

TV Review: Stateless blames mismanagement rather than system

14/7/21

Football

England football team

14/7/21

Covid

Readers' comments

7/7/21

Socialist Party

Book: The struggle for world socialism

7/7/21

TV

TV - Statue wars: one summer in Bristol

7/7/21

Black

The story of Joe Clough - Britain's first black bus driver

7/7/21

Socialist Party

Why did I choose the Socialist Party?

30/6/21

Review

TV Review: GB News

30/6/21

US

Readers' comments

23/6/21

Review

Book review: Shuggie Bain

23/6/21

Women

Women and the criminal 'injustice' system

16/6/21

Robert Tressell

Books that inspired me: The Ragged-Trousered Philanthropists

16/6/21

Capitalist

Readers' comments

15/6/21

China

Response to Observer article on China

9/6/21

Review

TV review: Mrs Thatcher vs the miners

triangleMore Reviews and comments articles...


Join the Socialist Party
Subscribe to Socialist Party publications
Donate to the Socialist Party
Socialist Party Facebook page
Socialist Party on Twitter
Visit us on Youtube

LATEST POSTS

CONTACT US

Phone our national office on 020 8988 8777

Email: [email protected]

Locate your nearest Socialist Party branch Text your name and postcode to 07761 818 206

Regional Socialist Party organisers:

Eastern: 079 8202 1969

East Mids: 077 3797 8057

London: 075 4018 9052

North East: 078 4114 4890

North West 079 5437 6096

South West: 077 5979 6478

Southern: 078 3368 1910

Wales: 077 7221 5281

West Mids: 024 7655 5620

Yorkshire: 078 0983 9793

ABOUT US

ARCHIVE

Alphabetical listing


July 2021

June 2021

May 2021

April 2021

March 2021

February 2021

January 2021

2020

2019

2018

2017

2016

2015

2014

2013

2012

2011

2010

2009

2008

2007

2006

2005

2004

2003

2002

2001

2000

1999