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The phrase did not, for the most part, evoke a positive image among the educated elite of the eighteenth century.
Sensory words that designate agitation or impending revolt highlighted the volatile, unpredictable nature of the rural population: By implying that the disturbance is the result not of calculated and reasoned action but of an impulsive, reactive, and essentially instinctive response to a base stimulus such as hunger, the expression strips protesters of their intelligence, dignity, and clarity of purpose.
Indeed, although popular protest was virtually the only action available to the peasantry to contest important issues such as grain transport policies or increased taxation, its categorization as a popular "emotion" reinforced the peasantry's exclusion from the realm of legitimate political expression.
"We have always made charcoal here," he said, "and we will continue to do so - myself first in line - no matter what orders or prohibitions you might throw at us!
" Marrot was arrested for "seditious speech" soon after his outburst; his sentence included a prison term and a fine as well as a formal apology to the owner of the forest.
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On a chilly day in late November, a peasant named Jean Marrot, who lived in the village of Brassac in the Pyrenees mountains south of Foix, went for a walk in the woods near his home.
They were also childlike, easily led astray, and a target for politically savvy, ill-intentioned individuals.
They could be volatile, unpredictable, hot-headed - even violent.
There he encountered a group of village notables who were assisting in a formal inspection of the nearby forest by state officials.
Marrot listened as the local authorities described how bandits had been known to take refuge in the woods and how difficult it was to keep the inhabitants of nearby communities - particularly those of Ganac, a rival village - from gathering wood in forest considered to be within Brassac's domain.