Problems of interpreting historical events: A case study on an event related to English Society and Churches

Mr Akira Mabuchi (PhD student, Faculty of History, Pembroke College)

Saturday, 29 April, 2000; 7:30-9:30pm

Seminar room, Darwin College

In 1872, to increase wage rates, English agricultural labourers began their first attempt to form a national trade union. As labour movements were previously limited mainly to industrial areas, most religious leaders of the Church of England, Methodist, Baptist, Congregational Churches in rural areas had never experienced the labour movements but now had to show their stance towards them. It was generally argued by previous researchers that Church of England clergymen were villains against the agricultural labourers' union (hostile or indifferent to the union) but Methodists were heroes (sympathetic to the union or the driving force of the development behind the union). However, my presentation points out problems behind the generalisations, showing what had really happened in rural communities in the south of England. It also discusses problems of interpreting historical events, which historians always face.