The Gordon Riots

The Gordon Riots : Politics, Culture and Insurrection in Late Eighteenth-century Britain

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The Gordon riots of June 1780 were the most devastating outbreak of urban violence in British history. For almost a week large parts of central London were ablaze, prisons were destroyed and the Bank of England attacked. Hundreds of rioters were shot dead by troops and for many observers it seemed that England was on the verge of a revolution. The first scholarly study in a generation, this book brings together leading scholars from historical and literary studies to provide new perspectives on these momentous events. The essays include new archival work on the religious, political and international contexts of the riots and new interpretations of contemporary literary and artistic sources. For too long the significance of the Gordon riots has been overshadowed by the impact of the French revolution on British society and culture: this book restores the riots to their central position in late eighteenth-century Britain.

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Product details

  • Hardback | 288 pages
  • 158 x 228 x 20mm | 580.6g
  • Cambridge, United Kingdom
  • English
  • 17 b/w illus.
  • 052119542X
  • 9780521195423
  • 1,483,184

Review quote

'These essays offer historians of the eighteenth-century a valuable re-examination of these events which have long been seen through too narrow a lens. Contemporary Review

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Table of contents

Introduction Ian Haywood and John Seed; Part I. The Political Moment of 1780: 1. The Gordon riots and the politics of war Nicholas Rogers; 2. The 1780 Protestant petitions and the culture of petitioning Mark Knights; 3. 'The fall of Romish Babylon anticipated': plebeian Dissenters and anti-popery in the Gordon riots John Seed; 4. Imperial disruptions: city, nation, and empire in the Gordon riots Dana Rabin; Part II. Representing the Unrepresentable: 5. 'A metropolis in flames and a nation in ruins': the Gordon riots as sublime spectacle Ian Haywood; 6. 'The worse than Negro barbarity of the populace': Ignatius Sancho witnesses the Gordon riots Brycchan Carey; 7. Thomas Holcroft and the Gordon riots: Romantic revisionings Miriam L. Wallace; Part III. The Aftermath: Politics, Social Order and Cultural Memory: 8. Re-negotiating the bloody code: the Gordon riots and the transformation of popular attitudes to the criminal justice system Tim Hitchcock; 9. 'For the safety of the city': the geography and social politics of public execution after the Gordon riots Matthew White; 10. 'Mad misrule': the Gordon riots and conservative memory Susan Matthews; Afterword; 11. George Gordon: a biographical reassessment Dominic Green; Select bibliography; Index.

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About Ian Haywood

Ian Haywood is Professor of English at Roehampton University, London. John Seed is Honorary Research Fellow at Roehampton University, London.

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