Published online by Cambridge University Press: 06 April 2022
Unemployment, hunger, and declining craft status were more significant than the formal ideas most historians have attended to in radicalising London’s poor. Few of the poor wanted outright revolution. Rather, their mental worlds were packed by a melange of myths, slogans, and ‘intellectual bric-a-brac’, and naïve fantasies and wishful thoughts about the prospects of change. Myths about a golden past, the ‘free-born Englishman’, and the oppressions of the Norman Yoke were spread in songs and slogans of considerable antiquity, and provided the primary languages of radical dissent.