De sociale en politieke reacties van de Brugse volksmassa op het einde van het Ancien Régime (1770-1794).

Social And Political Reactions Of The Bruges Popular Mass At The End Of The Ancien Regime (1770-1794): Generally speaking the conditions of life of the lower social classes at Bruges were the same as in all other West European cities. The popular mass had to contend with continuous price increases whereas wages remained stationary or even decreased. Without support the Bruges working-class families could not possibly make both ends meet. A t Bruges, this support was remarkably well organized, but eventually proved insufficient. From 1760 on the wage-situation and the labour-conditions of a number of journeymen worsened. Journeymen's associations, such as those of bricklayers and carpenters successfully opposed unlawful wage-deductions by appealing to the central administration in Brussels. The unorganized textile-workers who lacked the feeling of solidarity were quity defenceless. The popular mass showed this solidarity as consumers rather than as employees. High corn-prices always provoked reactions. Invariably these prices were imputed to hoarding-practices, to allowing corn-exports and to the laxity of the city-authorities. In the period studied by us we note two important hunger-riots which, however, interfere with political events. On October 19-20, 1771 the mass rebels against high corn-prices, but they were soon swept off their feet by the advocates of municipal particularism. A popular rising against the patriots, provoked by the royalists, results in the pillage of an alleged hoarder's home (July 30-31 and August 1, 1787). The popular mass without political awareness is easily taken in tow. Out of hatred against the haughty traditionalistic aldermen they took side with Joseph II (1787-1789). Naturally there was no enthusiasm for the Brabantine Revolution (1789-1790). Within the popular mass a reaction could even be found against the antisocial conduct of the traditionalists. When the Bruges Jacobinic club showed up during the first French Domination (1792-1793) and advocated a progressive social program the popular mass was enthralled by it, but soon lost interest, when it grew obvious that the club could not verify its promises. A few conclusions with regard to the mentality of the popular mass : they were not class-conscious in the present marxist meaning : in their outlook on life poor and rich people are clearly necessary. With the municipal authorities the popular mass had an unwritten covenant : they reserved the right to protest when the corn-prices ran too high or when the charitable institutions defaulted. True, here and there an isolated voice could be heard denouncing the exploitation of the poor by the rich. Among the mass there was also a vague idea of equalization.