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Revel, Riot, and Rebellion

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In, Revel, Riot & Rebellion, David Underdown, intends to address two questions: How did the English common people behave during the conflicts of 1640-1660 and how can this behavior be explained? Essentially, Underdown sets out to prove that regional variations of the common people's allegiance can be understood as a result of cultural differences within the various regions, focusing on the region of Somerset, Dorset, and Wiltshire. He does so by examining what variables, ideological, social, and geographical, influenced their alignment with King or Parliament within this region. He chooses this region because due to its various geographies, economies, and settlement types as well as its fluctuating control, one can examine the differing actions of the common people called into question.

Thus Underdown's hypothesis is, "that contrasts in popular allegiance had a regional basis, and were related to local differences in social structure, economic development, and culture." He draws from these local differences two typologies; that of arable farming and woodland/pasture areas. The arable village, with its neighborhood and custom bound structure, was generally Royalist due to its manorial based hierarchy where all members of society had, and accepted, their natural place. The woodland/pasture district, consisting of scattered family farms, was less circumscribed by ancient ideologies and generally Parliamentarian. The examination that Underdown undertakes concerning the common people's geographical distribution of allegiance in the civil war confirms that they were not just pawns doing battle for whichever cause their elite superiors might choose.



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