"Men of the sword had overthrown nobles and kings"
Masaniello leading the revolt in 1647 (1929-32)
Public DomainMasaniello leading the revolt in 1647 (1929-32) - Credit: Tancredi Scarpelli

With shifts in social consciousness produced by expansionism and growing conflict between the rulers and the ruled, the early seventeenth century witnessed a volley of military and proletarian revolts. During Russia’s Time of Troubles, the Bolotnikov uprising saw an army of feudal underlings, peasants, runaways and vagabonds attempt to overthrow the ruling classes and establish a new social order. In France, there was the Revolt of Languedoc in 1632, in which the lower classes, enraged by extortionate taxation, joined in Gaston d’Orleans' and Henri II de Montmorency's doomed bid to overthrow Cardinal Richelieu. This was followed in 1636 by the Croquants' revolt, a reaction against the doubling of taxation supposed to fund a war against Spain. In Naples, illiterate fisherman Masaniello led an extraordinary rebellion against King Philip III that led to the brief establishment of the Neapolitan Republic from October 1647 to April 1648.