Monday, February 06, 2017


Resentment Against Immigrants, Five Hundred Years Ago

Excerpts from Raphael Holinshed (1529-1580), Chronicles, Vol. III: England (London: Printed for J. Johnson et al., 1808), pp. 617-620 (anno 1518, but actually 1517):
About this season there grew a great hartburning and malicious grudge amongst the Englishmen of the citie of London against strangers; and namelie the artificers found themselues sore grieued, for that such numbers of strangers were permitted to resort hither with their wares and to exercise handie crafts to the great hinderance and impouerishing of the kings liege people.


This abuse was much noted, so that the same and manie other oppressions doone by them, increased such a malice in the Englishmens harts, that at the last it burst out. For amongst other that sore grudged at these matters, there was a broker in London called Iohn Lincolne...


Wherfore (said Lincolne) maister doctor, sith you were borne in London, and see the oppression of the strangers, and the great miserie of your owne natiue countrie, exhort all the citizens to ioine in one against these strangers, raueners, and destroiers of your countrie.


The tenor of the bill of complaint which doctor Bele read in open audience at the Spitle.

To all you the worshipfull lords & maisters of this citie, that will take compassion ouer the poore people your neighbours, and also of the great importable hurts, losses, and hinderances, whereof proceedeth the extreame pouertie to all the kings subiects, that inhabit within this citie and suburbs of the same. For so it is, that the aliens & strangers eat the bread from the fatherlesse children, and take the liuing from all the artificers, and the intercourse from all merchants, whereby pouertie is so much increased, that euerie man bewaileth the miserie of other; for craftsmen be brought to beggerie, and merchants to needinesse. Wherefore the premisses considered, the redresse must be of the commons, knit and vnited to one part. And as the hurt and damage greeueth all men, so must all men set to their willing power for remedie, & not to suffer the said aliens so highlie in their wealth; & the naturall borne men of this region to come to confusion.


[H]e intreated, how this land was giuen to Englishmen. And as birds defend their nests, so ought Englishmen to cherish and mainteine themselues, and to hurt and grieue aliens for respect of their common-wealth. And vpon this text Pugna pro patria, he brought in, how by Gods law it was lawfull to fight for their countrie. And thus he subtilie mooued or rather vndiscreetlie prouoked the people to rebell against strangers.

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