V. The Modern Period, 1789–1914 > B. The French Revolution and Europe, 1789–1914 > 4. Western and Central Europe, 1815–1848 > c. The British Isles
  The Encyclopedia of World History.  2001.
(See 1811, Feb. 5)
c. The British Isles
Monarchs: George III (r. 1760–1820); George IV (r. 1820–30), who served as prince regent from Feb. 5, 1811; William IV (r. 1830–37); and Victoria (r. 1837–1901).  1
Prime ministers: Tories: Lord Liverpool (1812–27), Canning (1827), Lord Goderich (1827–28), and the duke of Wellington (1828–30); Whigs: Earl Grey (1830–34), Lord Melbourne (1834); Tories: Sir Robert Peel, a liberal Tory, laid out a liberal Tory course in the Tamworth Manifesto (1834–35); Melbourne (1835–41); and Peel (1841–46).  2
1. England, Scotland, and Wales
Romanticism developed in England during and after the French Revolution and included authors such as Wordsworth (1770–1850), Coleridge (1772–1834), Percy Bysshe (1792–1822) and Mary (1797–1851) Shelley; and painters such as Joseph Turner (1778–1851) and John Constable (1776–1837). Leading novelists included Walter Scott (1771–1832) and Jane Austen (1775–1817).  3
Economic depression followed the Napoleonic Wars. Government demands for merchandise fell without a compensatory expansion of continental markets. Prices fell and unemployment rose. Military demobilization and industrialization aggravated the latter.  4
Corn Laws outlawed the import of grain until domestic grain reached the “famine price” of 80 shillings per quarter. This law resulted in higher food prices for the working classes.  5
1816, March
Abolition of the 10 percent income tax was countered by raising duties on many articles and thus raising prices. Deflation of currency (May 1821) may have helped counter these increases to a limited extent.  6
David Ricardo published his Principles of Political Economy and Taxation. Drawing on Malthus's Essay on the Principle of Population (1789), which argued that population would increase geometrically while food would only increase arithmetically, Ricardo argued that such population growth could only result in a large supply of labor and keep wages at a subsistence level.  7
Luddism. Northern England was wracked by numerous incidents of machine breakings perpetrated by the apparently fictional Captain Ludd and the Luddites (1812–20). The Luddites drew their strength from traditional crafts, particularly cropping and framework knitting. Participants disguised themselves and called one another by code names to avoid identification. The government mobilized troops and planted spies within the movement.  8
The unsatisfactory nature of economic reforms and continuing economic hardship led to radical activity on two fronts. Master artisans such as Francis Place and reformers such as the factory owner Robert Owen sought parliamentary reform and advanced their ideas in radical journals and tracts such as his New View of Society (1817), which called upon factory owners to provide for the well-being of workers through moral and practical education in regulated factory towns. Radicals also appealed to workers in mass meetings, with speakers such as Henry Hunt and William Cobbett.  9
1816, Dec. 2
At Spa Fields one such mass meeting turned into a riot.  10
1819, Aug. 16
Peterloo Massacre. Local magistrates ordered the cavalry to arrest Hunt as he addressed a crowd at St. Peter's Fields. The cavalry charged the crowd, killing 11. The Tories, under Lord Liverpool, extended the act of 1798 against seditious meetings and temporarily suspended the writ of habeas corpus.  11
The Six Acts following Peterloo ensured speedy trials for misdemeanors, imposed a newspaper stamp tax (and thus required all newspapers to be registered with the government), extended the right of search and seizure, forbade training in the use of arms, and curtailed the right of public meeting. These acts gained passing acceptance after the discovery of the Cato Street conspiracy.  12
The Encyclopedia of World History, Sixth edition. Peter N. Stearns, general editor. Copyright © 2001 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Maps by Mary Reilly, copyright 2001 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company. All rights reserved.