• Melvyn Bragg and the Gettysburg Address

    As I was listening to Melvyn Bragg talking about the Gettysburg Address the other morning on R4 I was reminded of Richard II at Smithfield in 1381.  What’s the connection you might ask?  Well, the opposition to the freeing of slaves in the southern states of America was based essentially on the cotton producers not wanting to lose their source of free labour.  Pay your workers?  Lose your profit.  Similarly in England six hundred years earlier the bonded labourers who surged into London on that June day during Corpus Christ week in what was later named The Peasants’ Revolt were also a valuable free labour force to the landed nobility of  medieval England.  Pay the serfs to till your land, loose your profit.  Extraordinary, isn’t it, how greed can make people treat others as less than human, as mere commercial units with no human rights.  When the monastics claimed that the love of money is the root of all evil they were right in the fourteenth century and they were right in the nineteenth.  And what about today?  Are things so different?