First published in 1938 and updated and rewritten in 1946, G D H Cole and Raymond Postgate’s ‘The Common People. 1746-1946’ is a classic study of British working class history from the defeat of the Jacobite cause at Culloden in 1746 through to the end of WWII in 1946. Its 714 pages provide a comprehensive overview of British working class life from a libertarian socialist perspective from the end of the Jacobite rebellion to 1946: eighteenth century social and political movements; the Industrial Revolution and the French War; the post-Napoleonic Peace (including Peterloo and the rise of the trade union movement); England under the Reform Act; working class life during the so-called ‘Great Victorian Age’; Imperialism and Socialism; everyday life in the run-up to the First World War; the First World War itself; the inter-war period; Britain in 1939; the Second World War; plus a list of recommended books and a useful chronology of important dates
FEUDALISM — which was essentially a political and military system — was above all a personal set of mutual obligations between lord and vassal. At its heart was the oath of loyalty. Before witnesses, a vassal placed his clasped hands between those of the lord and pledged to become “his man,” a relationship usually sealed by a kiss between the two men. The vassal then took an oath of faithfulness. For his part, the lord also promised to “do justice” for the vassal and his family. If he failed to ensure such justice, the vassal might rightfully conclude that the bonds of the relationship had been broken, and that the lord was no longer owed his loyalty. Under the manorial system, the primary economic system that supported feudalism, the lord allowed the peasants to work the land on his estate(s)—or manor(s)—in return for a fixed payment.