A magisterial work that will be recognized as the standard treatment of the subject. Samuel Cohn effectively demolishes the argument that peasant rebellions in late medieval Europe were infrequent and invariably unsuccessful. His prose is consistently lucid and his argument logical and coherent. Only a handful of medievalists in his field can match the range, depth, and originality of his contribution.
--Gene A. Brucker, author of Living on the Edge in Leonardo's Florence
The overall thrust of Cohn's argument is not difficult to summarize. Popular uprisings, he believes, were much more common in the late Middle Ages than has generally been assumed, and most of them ('over 90 per cent') took place in towns; peasant revolts, by contrast, were rare, as were revolts with primarily economic aims...Few historians of either the current generation of past generations have consistently presented such a progressive view of the later Middle Ages as Cohn does, despite working on such apparently unpromising topics as plague and mob violence. Some misgivings will surely remain about the precision of his methodology, but even so, Lust for Liberty
is a highly original piece of work, a breath of fresh air on a fascinating subject, and a book that challenges historical orthodoxy.
--Chris Given-Wilson (Times Literary Supplement
Samuel Cohn has long had an enviable talent for setting the terms of discussion in the field of social history. He has posed penetrating questions, offered original answers, and championed a comparative methodology against more standard approaches that derive conclusions from the evidence of single cities and states. Lust for Liberty
, follows the same tradition...The book is magisterial in scope, highly original, well-argued, and sure to set the terms of future discourse on the subject. Its effectiveness is enhanced by the author's lucid writing style and ability to stay on point despite changes of geographic setting and historiographical tradition. Cohn deserves especial credit for integrating analysis with narrative, such that, in addition to his challenging interpretations, the reader is left with indelible images of the revolts themselves. Who can forget the uprising spurred by the cardinal's pretty dog or the revolt of the people without underpants?
--William Caferro (Renaissance Quarterly
This is a book of the greatest importance and interest. The most far-reaching study of revolts in the late middle ages undertaken so far, it has opened a number of doors leading to yet further study.
--Christopher Allmand (History
In Lust for Liberty
Samuel Cohn sets out to examine revolts in medieval Europe between 1200 and 1425...This book goes far beyond any individual revolt, however, by problematizing the nature and processes of revolt all across Europe in this period, and thus forcing us to re-consider the broader context of each one. It is a stimulating and insightful book, with an argument as relevant to the teacher of the medieval survey as to the specialist.
--Margaret McGlynn (Left History