What do you think?

Question

To what extent has protest remained the same over time?

Looking back at the evidence, how much do you think has changed in terms of popular protests over the course of history? The context is certainly different now to how it was five hundred years ago. Then, protest was the only way that the people could have any say at all, whereas now people get to vote. However, does that mean that protest is now less important? Was the Miners’ Strike as important as the Peasants’ Revolt for example?

Often, in the Middle Ages and Stuart period, information was shared at public gatherings. For example, people would meet at St. Paul’s Cross in the churchyard of St. Paul’s Cathedral to find out about news. This was because there were no televisions or radios and, even when there were newspapers, many people could not read or buy them. Because so many people met together to gather this news, there were often strong reactions there and then and so a form of protest could occur on the spot. Nowadays, this is less likely to happen as people may read something in a newspaper and get angry but they will then calm down because they are not surrounded by others feeling the same way. It is also easier nowadays for people to visit their MP or write a letter of complaint if they are not happy about something. Then, protest was the only real way to do it for the masses.

Question

Why do people protest?

It would seem that most protests have something in common. A large group of people feel that their rights and interests are not being looked after properly. This has been seen through the peasants revolting over their poverty and the Roman Catholics over the ban on them practising their religion. Are there any other reasons you can find from the evidence?

Where next?

You might wish to compare popular protest in Britain to the French Revolution.

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