The Revolt of Ghent

By William Morris

Morris's history of the revolt of Ghent is mainly a retelling of the story as originally recounted by the mediæval historian Froissart; Morris even repeated large sections from Froissart verbatim. But the framework and the episodes selected are chosen to emphasize one of Morris's particular interests: the development of the conflict between the craft guilds on the one hand and the merchant guilds and aristocracy on the other. The story is the urban, contintental counterpart to the English Peasant's Revolt and the Dream of John Ball.

Morris presented the story as a talk to the Hammersmith Branch of the Socialist League on 29 January 1888 and to the Clerkenwell Branch on 20th June 1888 before publishing it as a serial in seven parts in Commonweal through July and August. He gave the talk only once afterwards, as an afternoon talk to the Ancoats recreation Committee in Manchester in December 1889.

The story was not published as a whole until 15 years after Morris's death, when it was edited by James Leatham and published by “The Worker” in Huddersfield, Twentieth Century Press in London, and the National Labour Press in Manchester. This edition has minor changes in spelling and punctuation from the original, and some contemporary references have been dropped. The original section 4 (which introduces Philip van Artevelde and his scheming with Peter du Bois, essential to the plot) was accidentally omitted. Leatham's publication was reviewed by Tom Quelch for Justice in October 1910.

The versions here presented are the first publication in any format since the 1910 editions and the first complete version since appearance in the Commonweal. There are three versions:

1. The individual articles in Commonweal scanned from the original by Ted Crawford and proofread and converted to HTML by Graham Seaman:

2. A single piece based on the 1910 edition. Section 4 has been restored, a few missed phrases re-inserted in [square brackets], and a small number of typographical errors silently corrected:

3. An eBook, in epub format, based on the Commonweal version. The current version is #1, last updated on 2011-02-02.


References to `The Revolt of Ghent' in the Chronology: