Mass action by the London populace posed a threat to the patriciate, risking a breakdown of law and order and the intervention of royal authorities to restore it (which often entailed seizure of the liberties and suspension of local self-government). An aroused mob was particularly dangerous when used in a relatively directed fashion, by radicals seeking to gain power. No wonder then, that the London rulers sought to sideline the folkmoot and acquiesced in its eventual suppression, and that they aimed at restricting popular participation in assemblies and elections.
A late thirteenth century chronicler based in London perhaps
himself an alderman included in his compilation several
colourful and coloured accounts of occasions when the lesser citizenry
was stirred to action. One may be found on this Web site under the
title "A disputed election". Another describes events in the aftermath
of the battle of Evesham; the party in London that had supported
de Montfort, led by mayor Thomas fitz Thomas and a few other patricians
and basing its power on support by the populace, threw itself on the
king's mercy and was sent off to prison. After a period of indulging
retribution, the king gave permission (1266) for the citizens to elect
one officer to act as the king's warden and see to the duties of
the shrievalty, so long as the person chosen had not been a Montfortian.
Following a week of popular demonstrations in protest of this restriction,
William fitz Richard was elected to the post, but
Another riot was described as having taken place in November the
following year, in the context of a revival of the remnants of the
Montfortian party, under the earl of Gloucester, whose entry into
the city was the signal for a popular uprising that briefly overthrew
the government of the loyalist patricians. But this gave scope to
older rivalries within the community, for:
The royal justice tried to discourage further disturbances by making an example, hanging thirteen of the accused, and imprisoning three dozen others.