EIHS Lecture: Evil May Day, 1517: Xenophobia, Labour, and Politics in Early Tudor London (Shannon McSheffrey, Concordia University)
On the eve of May 1, 1517, later known as Evil May Day, an anti-immigrant riot broke out in London. From about nine o’clock in the evening on April 30, a crowd made up primarily of young male servants and apprentices of craftsmen ran through the streets of the city, targeting enclaves of strangers, the contemporary English term for immigrants. This riot tells us a good deal about the internal political economy of early sixteenth-century London. The riot had its genesis in an incendiary combination of labour grievance of young craft workers on the one hand and, on the other, implicit encouragement of violence from parts of the city’s merchant oligarchy. The riot was not only an expression of young London artisans’ resentment of “job-stealing immigrants” but an attempt to goad their masters and the governors of their city to be more protective of their interests.
Shannon McSheffrey is professor of history at Concordia University. Professor McSheffrey's research interests centre around law, mitigation, gender roles, civic culture, marriage, literacy, heresy, and popular religion in late medieval and early Tudor England. She has published five books exploring these issues, including Gender and Heresy: Women and Men in Lollard Communities, 1420-1530 (University of Pennsylvania Press, 1995); Marriage, Sex, and Civic Culture in Late Medieval London (University of Pennsylvania Press, 2006); and Seeking Sanctuary: Law, Mitigation, and Politics in English Courts, 1400-1550 (Oxford University Press, 2017). She is currently writing a book about the Evil May Day riot in London in 1517.
This event is free and open to the public.
This event is part of the Thursday Series of the Eisenberg Institute for Historical Studies. It is made possible by a generous contribution from Kenneth and Frances Aftel Eisenberg.