Ribbon Weaving Riots of the 19th Century

If you were to travel back in time to 19th century England, you’d encounter a very angry group of weavers…and you’d probably be a bit frightened. Thousands of residents in Nuneaton and Bedworth depended on weaving ribbon for steady income, but once a tax on foreign imports was removed, those weavers were suddenly out of work. And they weren’t too happy about it, so they started rioting in a most unusual fashion: by dragging their oppressors out of their homes and forcing them to sit on donkeys while being publicly humiliated (a practice that’s aptly known as “being donkied”).

Unfortunately, the weavers’ rioting and protests (the biggest protest was comprised of roughly 6,000 weavers) didn’t get them very far, as the ribbon weaving trade ended up declining. Many weavers sought to find work overseas in Canada and Australia, hoping to leave poverty behind and begin anew. Let’s hope they left those poor donkeys alone!

 


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