The Luddites



advance generate backlash
resist strongly innovation
goods upset (2) way of life
cottage workshop cottage industry
require by hand previously
wage textile standard of living
frame perform unemployment
lace band (3) sentiment
spread saboteur movement
mass arrest nonetheless
try (2) country sentence (2)
flare disappear depression (2)
result trade (2) improve
crafts term (2) redundant
disrupt threaten traditional
oppose livelihood fizzle out



Technological advances, even if it’s for the better, often generate a backlash. Many people strongly resist new innovations mainly because it can upset their way of life.

Such sentiments are nothing new.

Cottage Industries

During the 1700’s and early 1800’s most goods in England were produced in small workshops or by cottage industries. Workers used basic tools and equipment to produce cloth, clothing, shoes and other goods.


Advances in industrialization began in the mid-1700s. More factories housing large machinery were being built. These could perform tasks that had previously required a large number of people working by hand.

By the early 1800’s, many textile workers believed that the growing use of new textile machines was causing unemployment and lowered their wages and standard of living.

The Luddites

In 1811, bands of masked workers attacked factories in Nottingham and wrecked lace and stocking frames.

Soon the movement spread to other counties including Derbyshire, Greater Manchester, Nottinghamshire, and Yorkshire.

The saboteurs became known as Luddites, after one of their leaders, Ned Ludd.

The Crackdown

The government responded with repressive measures. After mass arrests in York in 1813, many Luddites were tried and sentenced to death or transport labor.

Nonetheless, machine breaking flared up again in 1816, during a depression that followed the Napoleonic Wars.

Fade Away

The Luddite movement fizzled out only when improved trade resulted in increased wages and employment for more workers, including traditional craftspeople who had been made redundant.

Today the term Luddite refers to a person who strongly opposes new technology, especially when it threatens their livelihood or disrupts their normal way of doing things.


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1. Everyone embraces new technology. Is this true or false?

2. Where were things produced hundreds of years ago? How were they made?

3. What is industrialization? Describe or characterize industrialization.

4. Everyone was happy with industrialization. Is this correct or wrong? Why were many people against industrialization?

5. What happened? What did some or many (former) textile workers do?

6. The Luddites “succeeded”. Yes or no? Did they achieve their goals?

7. What happened to the Luddites?
A. I have felt like a Luddite. Yes or no?

B. Do you know anyone who is a Luddite? Give examples of modern-day Luddites.

C. Who are more likely to be Luddites, younger or older people?

D. Do you sympathize with Luddites? What should Luddites do?

E. Will Luddites fade away, or will there always be Luddites? Will there be more, less or the same amount of Luddites in the future?

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