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The Plebeian ExperienceA Discontinuous History of Political Freedom$
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Martin Breaugh

Print publication date: 2013

Print ISBN-13: 9780231156189

Published to Columbia Scholarship Online: November 2015

DOI: 10.7312/columbia/9780231156189.001.0001

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Historical Genesis of the Plebeian Principle

Historical Genesis of the Plebeian Principle

(p.3) 1 Historical Genesis of the Plebeian Principle
The Plebeian Experience

Martin Breaugh

, Lazer Lederhendler
Columbia University Press

This chapter examines four plebeian political experiences in order to situate the establishment of a plebeian principle in Western history. The necessary point of departure is ancient Rome, more exactly the Roman Republic (509–27 bce). It then discusses the Ciompi revolt in Florence (1378) and the revolt of the carnival—the plebeian festival par excellence—in Romans, France (1580). Finally, it considers Masaniello's Neapolitan rebellion (1647). The aim is not to circumscribe and exhaustively investigate every plebeian political experience; it is, rather, to analyze the historical construction of the plebeian principle. The selected experiences illustrate how a plebeian political practice was instituted through the rejection of domination and the attempt to set up, by means of concerted action, an alternative power.

Keywords:   plebeian, political history, plebs, political experience, ancient Rome, Ciompi revolt, carnival, Masaniello, Neapolitan rebellion, Western history

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