The rural war

Captain Swing and the politics of protest

By Carl J. Griffin

The rural war


  • Hardcover

Book Information

  • Format: Paperback
  • ISBN: 978-0-7190-9727-0
  • Pages: 344
  • Publisher: Manchester University Press
  • Price: £23.99
  • Published Date: March 2015
  • BIC Category: Revolutions, uprisings, rebellions, European history, BUSINESS & ECONOMICS / Economic History, HISTORY / Europe / Great Britain, Economics, finance, business & management / Economic history, Humanities / Revolutions, uprisings, rebellions, History, United Kingdom, Great Britain


Beginning in Kent in the summer of 1830 before spreading throughout the country, the Swing Riots were the most dramatic and widespread rising of the English rural poor. Seeking an end to their immiseration, the protestors destroyed machines, demanded higher wages and more generous poor relief, and even frequently resorted to incendiarism to enforce their modest demands. Occurring against a backdrop of revolutions in continental Europe and a political crisis, Swing to many represented a genuine challenge to the existing ruling order, provoking a bitter and bloody repression.

Now available in paperback for the first time, this study offers a vivid account of this defining moment in British history. It is shown that the protests were more organised, intensive and politically motivated than has hitherto been thought, representing complex statements about the nature of authority, gender and the politics of rural life. This book will become essential reading for anyone with an interest in the history of the English countryside: specialists, students and general readers alike.


Meticulously researched'
Mark Metcalf,Tribune, December 2012

'Griffin has provided a compelling reappraisal of Swing which is a major contribution to geographies of rural protest. It also offers a vision for a post-Thompsonian way of thinking about the forms of subaltern political activity in English countryside.'
Dave Featherstone, Antipode: A Radical Journal of Geography


Part I
1 Rough men, pleasant histories
2 Life and labour on and off the parish
3 Something before Swing or Swing itself?
Part II
4 Movement dynamics and diffusion
5 Movement mechanisms
Part III
6 The politics of the parish
7 Radical participatory politics
8 The gender politics of Swing
Part IV
9 Suppressing Swing
10 Swing and social policy
11 Something after Swing?


Carl J. Griffin is Senior Lecturer in Human Geography at University of Sussex

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