Historically Thinking

Historically Thinking

Episode 227: The First French Revolution

October 11, 2021

In the last days of 1358, thousands of French villagers across northern France revolted against a faltering regime, from Normandy in the west, to Picardy and Champagne in the east. Castles and manor houses were burned and looted, noblemen and the families were assaulted, murdered, and possibly raped. Enraged nobles counterattacked, executing rebels, or those they believed to be rebels, and burning whole villages.

This was the Jacquerie, taking its name from “Jacques Bonhomme”, the sobriquet given to its participants. It was one of the many calamitous events of that decade, which had begun with the Black Death in 1348. But what is its story? Why did the Jacquerie arise? Who were they? Why did this revolt so quickly end? And were there any lasting effects?

With me to describe the story of the Jacquerie is Justine Firnhaber-Baker, Senior Lecturer at the University of St. Andrew’s, and author of The Jacquerie of 1358: A French Peasant’s Revolt. A former fellow of All Souls Oxford, she is also a general editor of The Medieval Journal, and editor in chief of St. Andrew’s Studies in French History and Culture.