Peasants have confused us. We have in our discussions of them, imposed a structure on their lives, defined their behavior and denied their consciousness. We believe their actions to be predictable, but their irruptions and the extent of their violence inexplicable. Bound by tradition, tied to their village, loyal to their lords, they seem to us simultaneously irreverent, rude, ribald and lacking in respect. We find them shrewd in their economic judgments, but incapable of knowing their own real interests. Though they appear responsive to social and economic change, they also seem bound by symbols and ideologies that tie them to the past. They are never at home no matter where they move. Committed to their own interests, they are nevertheless tricked and cheated by city slickers, seigneurs and nobles.

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