This is a critical re-evaluation of one of the best known episodes of crowd action in the English Revolution, in which crowds in their thousands invaded and plundered the houses of the landed classes. The so-called Stour Valley riots have become accepted as the paradigm of class hostility, determining plebeian behaviour within the Revolution. An excercise in micro-history, the book questions this dominant reading by trying to understand the inter-related contexts of local responses to the political and religious counter-revolution of the 1630s and the confessional politics of the early 1640s. It explains both the outbreak of popular 'violence' and its ultimate containment in terms of a popular (and parliamentary) political culture that legitimised attacks on the political, but not the social, order. The book also advances a series of general arguments for reading crowd actions, and questions how the history of the English Revolution has been written.