Until fairly recently, grain riots were viewed as spontaneous reactions of the poor to hunger, not worthy of detailed analysis. Over the past twenty years, partially as a result of pioneering studies by George Rudé and Edward Thompson with reference to France and Britain, a considerable body of scholarly writing about these disturbances has appeared. Consistent cross-cultural patterns have emerged from this research. Grain riots were not necessarily a product of hunger, although they were a facet of struggles over the control of food. They have normally taken one of two forms. One was the market riot, where the crowd protested against the price or lack of availability of grain. Such disturbances often commenced with the offer to buy grain at a “just” or “customary” price. If this demand was not met, more drastic action was taken. Sometimes rioters seized grain and sold it to the crowd for a just price, and then turned the receipts over to the owners of the grain. More often grain was strewn about, destroyed, or stolen. The second main form of grain riot was the blockade. In times of shortage, people prevented the export of grain from a town or district because they believed that merchants and landlords should not benefit from scarcity and that such exports would drive up the price locally. Sometimes retributive action accompanied or followed both types of protest, meting out punishment to traders, landlords, or others who were perceived as wrongly profiting from food shortages. Such action usually took the form of wholesale looting. In general, grain rioters avoided serious violence.