The Easter Uprising of 1916

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On the 24th of April 1916, the streets of Dublin saw six days of bitter fighting between Irish nationalists and the British Army. The issue around Home Rule in Ireland had been a political topic for many years, particularly leading up to the First World War. Home Rule would provide Ireland with a limited degree of self-government, and was proposed by the British Government for implementation depending on the outcome of WWI.[1] It would see an Irish parliament that would deal with, and be responsible for, Irish domestic issues.  Then, the British parliament in Westminster would retain control over foreign affairs, defence, taxation and overseas trade.[2] This would give Ireland more say over the country and how it was governed, but it would still remain part of the UK. Home Rule sparked the formation of groups such as the Ulster Volunteer Force, who were opposed to it due to the fact that it was believed by many that an Irish parliament would be dominated by Catholics, and groups such as the UVF were mainly protestant in membership.[3] Other groups, such as the Irish Volunteers, were in support. They believed that it was a chance for Ireland to at least gain some control over the country, rather than power being solely in the hands of the British government. Then, with the uprising and the use of violence and force, and all-Irish republic could be achieved.

Three main groups were involved in the Easter Uprising. The Irish Republican Brotherhood (headed by Thomas Clarke and Seán Mac Diarmada), the Irish Volunteers (a military group formed in 1913) and the Irish Citizen Army, (a socialist militia led by James Connolly). 200 women were also involved from the ‘League of Women’.[4] The main purpose and spark of the rising fell into the wider, and more traditional notion within Ireland that ‘England’s difficulty was Ireland’s opportunity’.[5] It was also to combat what many saw as a decline in Irish nationalism, which was reflected by support of the Irish Parliamentary Party and the British war effort.

So, at 11 am on Easter Monday, the Irish Volunteers and the Irish Citizen Army met at pre-arranged points around Dublin. They planned to take key buildings under their control around the city centre. Places such as the General Post Office, Jacob’s Factory and the College of Surgeons were taken with ease, and these buildings were quickly made defensible by the rebels who sought to keep hold of them for as long as possible.[6] The British military onslaught ‘which the rebels had anticipated, did not at first materialise’.[7] The officials only had around 400 troops to deal with around 1,000 insurgents at the start and they therefore quickly began building volunteers and reinforcing areas of the city. The Irish Republican Brotherhood, who formed the major part of the uprising, were supported and armed by guns that had been shipped in to Ireland from Germany in 1914.[8] This German support was, again, likely to add ‘insult to injury’ as it were for the British, who were of course at war with Germany at the time and therefore enemies in every way. This sign of Irish alliance made their position towards Britain clear.

Whilst fighting was harsh, and there were numerous deaths of both British military and Irish rebels (and many innocent civilians), it quickly became clear the officials had been able to deal with the uprising and amass the numbers needed. By Friday 28th of April, 1,600 rebels faced around 18-20,000 soldiers.[9] The rebellion also faced the issue of failing to meet its initial reach and audience. What was intended to be a nationwide event for the Irish cause, quickly became confined to Dublin.[10] Poor planning, communication and British resistance proved to much for the Easter Uprising.

Rebels therefore surrendered on April 29th after a strong British artillery bombardment. Leaders such as Pearse and 14 others were court-martialled and executed by British authorities. Whilst support for the rebellion was not huge at first, the executions actually lead to further support in its aftermath. It made the British look hostile and extreme in their actions and turned the dead leaders into political martyrs for many. The event also signalled the start of the republican revolution in Ireland.[11] The rebellion saw 450 lives lost, saw 2,614 injured and 9 go missing.[12] The event also caused the spiral that was to become further Anglo-Irish conflict in the fight for independence.

Image Retrieved from and credited: https://www.newstatesman.com/politics/2015/07/hundred-years-after-1916-easter-rising-history-wars-ireland-still-rage.


[1] Jones, H. (HistoryExtra). (2019). The Easter Rising: When Ireland went to war. Retrieved from https://www.historyextra.com/period/first-world-war/easter-rising-irish-nationalists-against-british-rule-dublin/.

[2] Jones, H. (HistoryExtra). (2019).

[3] Jones, H. (HistoryExtra). (2019).

[4] BBC. (2016). Easter Rising 1916: Six days of armed struggle that changed Irish and British history. Retrieved from https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-northern-ireland-35873316.

[5] BBC. (2016).

[6] BBC. (2014). The Easter Rising. Retrieved from https://www.bbc.co.uk/history/british/easterrising/insurrection/in03.shtml.

[7] BBC. (2014).

[8] Britannica. (2020). Easter Rising: Irish history. Retrieved from https://www.britannica.com/biography/Michael-Collins-Irish-statesman.

[9] BBC. (2014).

[10] Britannica. (2020).

[11] Britannica. (2020).

[12] BBC. (2014).

The Reichstag Fire of 1933: The key to Dictatorship?

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On the 27th of February, 1933, the German parliament building (The Reichstag) was burnt down in an arson attack. The fire caused around $1 million worth of damages to the building before it was able to be dealt with, and a young Dutchman was arrested at the scene.[1] He was Marinus van der Lubbe, a young Dutch labourer believed to have communist sympathies, who reportedly confessed to starting the fire when arrested.[2] This is speculated amongst historians. For some, Marinus acted alone through genuine political motivation and Adolf Hitler decided to capitalise on the event in order to claim a much wider communist plan for a violent revolution.[3] Others believe that the Nazi Party paid van der Lubbe and were directly involved in the event, with the promise of a pardon for Marinus after the event, once their support and political position grew.[4] This need to pin the event on a specific group, in this case the bitterly hated and feared Communists, likely stemmed from the fact Hitler failed to win an overall majority in 1933. He had secured the Chancellorship, but this was not enough for him. If public opinion was turned against communism enough, perhaps these votes would shift to the Nazi Party and provide Hitler with the majority he desired.

Regardless of the political motivations of the attack, those involved, or the Nazi Party involvement, enough had been said to persuade President Paul von Hindenburg that the Communists were planning to overthrow the German establishment and something needed to be done. So, just one day after the fire, The Reichstag Fire Decree (or the Decree for the Protection of the People and State) was passed. This suspended the right to assembly, freedom of speech, freedom of the press and removed restraints on police investigations.[5] It also allowed for the Nazis to arrest and incarcerate political opponents without specific charge, dissolve political organizations and confiscate private property.[6] Whilst these measures were limiting and controlling enough, when considered that they were paired with powers already passed on February 4th to ban political meetings and marches, virtually all areas of German politics were being placed under official control and limitations. These powers were also quickly used, as the same night of it being implemented, the Nazi Party arrested around 4,000 political opponents and many of whom were tortured and imprisoned. Then, by March 23, the Reichstag passed the Enabling Act, which was supposed to mark the union of National Socialism with Hindenburg and the German establishment. In reality, the Nazis tightened their control over Germany and the people. By the end of the year all other political parties had been banned and things like labour unions ceased to exist. When Hindenburg died in 1934, Hitler combined the posts of president and chancellor, cementing his power.[7]

Therefore, the Reichstag Fire must be understood as a catalyst for Hitler’s dictatorship. What started as a single event snowballed into a huge political campaign and aid for the Nazis. One man’s actions (or was he aided?) of burning down the Reichstag building saw Hitler gain immense power in a very short amount of time, place crippling controls over citizens and create an entirely one-sided political climate within Germany that would last until their defeat in 1945. Arguably, without the Reichstag Fire, Hitler would not have reached the position he did, and certainly not as quickly. Not only did the Reichstag Fire hand the Nazis a very visible and plausible political enemy, but it provided Hitler with the chance to exploit German politics to his advantage and ultimately take power for himself. Van der Lubbe’s communist sympathies provided Hitler with the ‘evidence’ he needed that the Communists were the problem, and that he was Germany’s saviour to fight back against them.

Marinus van der Lubbe was tried and charged with treason, and was executed in 1934.

Image retrieved from https://facingtoday.facinghistory.org/the-reichstag-fire-the-shift-from-democracy-to-dictatorship-. (Credit to Granger, NYC).


[1] History.com. (2019). Reichstag Fire. Retrieved from https://www.history.com/topics/germany/reichstag-fire.

[2] History.com. (2019).

[3] Encyclopaedia Britannica. (2020). Reichstag Fire: German history. Retrieved from https://www.britannica.com/event/Reichstag-fire.

[4] Encyclopaedia Britannica. (2020).

[5] United States Holocaust Memorial Museum. (2020). The Reichstag Fire. Retrieved from https://encyclopedia.ushmm.org/content/en/article/the-reichstag-fire.

[6] United States Holocaust Memorial Museum. (2020).

[7] History.com. (2019).

The British General Strike of 1926

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The General strike of 1926, lasting from the 4th – 12th of May, was the largest industrial dispute in Britain’s history.[1] The mass strike movement occurred during a time of economic hardship within Britain, as they tried to recover from the First World War. The war is also particularly relevant to the General Strike, as arguably its end sparked the tensions that were central to the event. The government had taken direct control of the mines during WWI in order to ensure efficient production and consumption to help fuel the war effort. However, after the war, the mines were handed back to private owners.[2] These private owners demanded longer hours but less money from their miners, and those that refused lost their jobs and were locked out of the mines should they cause trouble.

This maltreatment of British miners prompted the Trade Union Congress (TUC) to call a sympathetic strike, beginning at a minute to midnight on the 3rd of May 1926. The strike saw workers from industries including bus, rail, dock, printing, gas, electricity, building, iron, steel and chemical related jobs.[3] All shared one goal. Stop the government and private owners from enforcing a 13% wage reduction for miners, as well as a working day that would increase from 7 hours to 8.[4] Even by the very first day, between 1.5-1.75 million workers were on strike in Britain, and the transport, printing and food industries collapsed.[5] Rioting and police confrontations occurred across the country, and support for the strike was nationwide. PM Stanley Baldwin also attempted to return the country to peace and stability through a number of radio broadcasts and articles in the Winston Churchill-edited British Gazette, promising that should the country place their faith in him, normality would be reinstated.

The strike, despite mass support, was ultimately unsuccessful. The government had been preparing for around 9 months for the strikes, as well as paying the mine owners subsidies to deal with the lack of workers.[6] This preparation time allowed for an army of volunteers to be organised and then called upon to return stability to the country, through driving buses and making food deliveries etc. Furthermore, the army was also deployed in order to protect these volunteers doing their job.[7]

The lasting impact of the General Strike is also seen in the establishment of the 1927 Trades Dispute Act, which banned sympathetic striking. Although repealed in 1946, Margaret Thatcher brought it back in the 1980s and it remained in place.[8]

Image Retrieved from https://www.marxist.com/britain-1926-general-strike-revolution.htm (Socialist Appeal).


[1] The National Archives (The Cabinet Papers). (n.d.). The General Strike. Retrieved from https://www.nationalarchives.gov.uk/cabinetpapers/alevelstudies/the-general-strike.htm.

[2] Working Class Movement Library. (n.d.). General Strike of 1926. Retrieved from https://www.wcml.org.uk/our-collections/protest-politics-and-campaigning-for-change/general-strikes/general-strike-of-1926/.

[3] BBC News. (2011). What was the General Strike of 1926? Retrieved from https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-13828537.

[4] BBC News. (2011).

[5] BBC News. (2011).

[6] Working Class Movement Library. (n.d.).

[7] BBC News. (2011).

[8] BBC News. (2011).

The 1945 British General Election

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The 1945 general election saw a shock result in the history of British politics. Winston Churchill, wartime hero and assumed winner, was defeated by a landslide victory for Clement Atlee’s Labour Party. Why, then, did Churchill’s seemingly easy victory not occur?

The scale of the defeat for the Conservatives is seen in the figures. Clement Atlee’s Labour secured 11,995,152 votes to the Conservative’s 9,988,306,[1] with these votes coming from a British electorate of 33,240,30.[2] Labour had won 393 seats with a majority of 183 within the House of Commons.[3] The 1945 election was the first since November of 1935, and although it was held in July, the results were announced three weeks later in order to count the votes of those serving abroad.[4]

Following the Second World War, Winston Churchill was immensely popular. This is unsurprising as he was viewed as the guardian that had ensured wartime victory and the safety of the British people. His popularity meant that his approval rating did not fall below 78% between 1940-45, and in some cases rising to 83%.[5] The Conservatives were therefore confident that this would result in his re-election in the 1945 election as people would surely want the winner of the war to guide them through the years that followed. However, this turned out not to be the case, and the Conservative Party essentially did not campaign enough as they rested to greatly on Churchill. Many people in Britain felt as though Churchill’s qualities and politics would not fit peacetime as his pre-occupation had been almost entirely on war victory, and party politics would often fall to a secondary position.[6] The end of war deprived Churchill of his key motivation and drive, and this was not viewed favourably in a country healing from war and craving positive momentum moving forward to recovery. Furthermore, Churchill had also used his spotlight during the election campaign to promise to finish the war in Japan, which was once again bringing the focus to conflict in a country craving peace. This is even more evident when viewed in contrast to Labour’s campaign, which was based heavily around ensuring their policies and intentions were known. They made clear that the unemployment and bleakness of the 1930s was down to the Conservatives, as was the failure to re-arm Britain quickly enough, appeasing Hitler and failing to implement necessary and essential social reforms.[7]

This reference to social reform is essential to note. Labour made the promise of employment, housing, medical services for all and social reform central to their campaign. This was popular amongst voters, as it mirrored the manifesto of the same nature written in the 1942 Beveridge Report. Beveridge set out conditions he felt required change and reform in Britain in order to ensue social reform in a wide manner of sectors, and was well received amongst the electorate. Labour, for the most part, embraced the report, whilst the Conservatives did not. This was a point remembered by the voters. Churchill could have used the Beveridge report for his own popularity and success, but instead chose to highlight the unrealistic nature of Labour’s reforms and insisted should change happen, this was to be achieved privately and not by government.[8]

Essentially, the 1945 election can be understood to have been a huge win for the Labour Party. Not only had they ran their own successful campaign, but were also able to capitalise on the failings and inadequacies of the Conservatives relying greatly on Winston Churchill.

Image retrieved from https://www.newstatesman.com/culture/books/2019/12/attlee-and-churchill-leaders-united-through-war. (PA Archive).


[1] UK Political Info. (2020). 1945 General Election Results Summary. Retrieved from http://www.ukpolitical.info/1945.htm.

[2] UK Political Info. (2020).

[3] BBC (Dr Paul Addison). (2011). Why Churchill Lost in 1945. Retrieved from http://www.bbc.co.uk/history/worldwars/wwtwo/election_01.shtml.

[4] Imperial War Museums (Rebecca Harding). (2018). How Winston Churchill and the Conservative Party Lost the 1945 Election. Retrieved from https://www.iwm.org.uk/history/how-winston-churchill-and-the-conservative-party-lost-the-1945-election.

[5] BBC (Dr Paul Addison). (2011).

[6] BBC (Dr Paul Addison). (2011).

[7] BBC (Dr Paul Addison). (2011).

[8] Imperial War Museums (Rebecca Harding). (2018).

The Abdication Crisis of 1936

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The abdication of Edward VIII was a monumental moment in the history of Britain and the Royal Family. It was the first time that an English monarch voluntarily gave up their position of power, as well as providing a key example of the power the government hold in shaping the actions of royalty.[1] Furthermore, the Church of England and the British public also did not support Edward in his actions, and were key to the events that unfolded.[2] In general terms, the Abdication Crisis of 1936 saw King Edward VIII faced with a key decision to make. Should he remain British monarch, or marry the woman he loved, Wallis Simpson? The reason Edward could not have both of these things at the same time was due to the fact that Mrs Simpson was a twice-divorced American woman, who in the eyes of tradition was a commoner in comparison to Edward.[3] The pairing was not supported by Edward’s father George V, nor was it supported by Prime Minister Stanley Baldwin. Stanley Baldwin made clear to Edward that should marriage take place, himself and his cabinet would be forced to remove governmental support of the king and his duties. Baldwin made this lack of support clear to Edward when hearing the plan of marriage on the 16th November at Buckingham Palace.[4] Edward had consistently been accused of lacking respect for royal protocol, with little regard for government tradition also. His relationship with Wallis Simpson was no different. It was not simply Simpson’s position that was seen as unsuitable for marriage to Edward, but also the conflict the marriage would cause within the Church of England. As king, Edward was also head of the Church of England, who did not support remarriage when a previous spouse was still alive, which happened to be the case with Wallis Simpson.[5] So on the 10th of December 1936, Edward VIII officially abdicated from his position as king in order to marry Wallis Simpson. His brother, George VI as he would be known, became king. Edward VIII is one of the shortest-reigning British monarchs, holding his position for just 326 days.[6] Edward and Wallis married in 1937, and remained married until Edward’s death in 1972.

Image Retrieved From https://www.gethistory.co.uk/historical-period/20th-century/interwar/edward-viii-and-the-abdication-crisis.


[1] History.com. (2009). Edward VIII Abdicates. Retrieved from https://www.history.com/this-day-in-history/edward-viii-abdicates.

[2] History.com. (2009).

[3] The International Churchill Society. (2020). The Abdication Crisis. Retrieved from https://winstonchurchill.org/the-life-of-churchill/wilderness-years/1935-1939/the-abdication-crisis/.

[4] The Gazette: Official Public Record. (2019). This Month in History: Edward VIII Abdication Crisis. Retrieved from https://www.thegazette.co.uk/awards-and-accreditation/content/103449.

[5] The Gazette: Official Public Record. (2019).

[6] The Gazette: Official Public Record. (2019).

Board Games

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Board games are an important pastime for many people across the world. Especially in the current pandemic, they are likely to become increasingly important to many families. This is not a trend of recent years, but one that has existed throughout history. Whilst often beginning as purely folk creations, board games are increasingly integrated into a much wider and commercial market. They are represented even in hieroglyphs, and simply put, ‘wherever there has been civilization, strange to say, there have been games played on boards’.[1] The first board game can be traced back to as early as 5000 BC, with dice (or painted flat sticks as they began) being of central importance to them. ’49 small carved painted stones were found… in southeast Turkey. These are the earliest gaming pieces ever found’. Similar pieces also found in Syria and Iraq. So safe to assume that board games originated in the Fertile Crescent.[2] By around 3000 BC board games became ‘popular among pharaohs in Ancient Egypt’ and were an official royal pastime, with the main game being Senet. The game became somewhat a talisman for the journey of the dead.[3] The luck involved in games linked to the Egyptians obsession with fate, also becoming increasingly associated with religion and belief. One such game was Mehen with focus on the deity of the same name.[4] Trends in board games are also dependent on their time, and the groups living at that time, with many adopting their own preferred games. For example Rich Saxons played games resembling chess. (chess is likely to have been invented in India in the 6th or 7th century AD or possibly earlier. At any rate, by the 10th century, it was being played in Europe).[5] The Vikings, for a further example, played a board game called hnefatafl. In some versions, one player used 8 pieces to protect the king while the other player used 16 pieces. In other versions, the players had 12 pieces and 24 pieces and the size of the board varied.[6] The Tudors played board games like chess and backgammon (with a backgammon set being found on the wreck of the Mary Rose). Poor people often played nine men’s morris. The Tudors also played draughts and fox and geese.[7] These types of games remained traditional and popular to the 18th Century, including chess, draughts, backgammon and dominoes.[8] Themes are also increasingly important to games.

By 400 AD Tafl boards were popular and were a family of different games of ancient Germanic and Celtic strategy and played on a checked board. Tafl spread with the Vikings to places like Britain, Iceland, Ireland and much of Northern Europe. These games are essentially the building blocks of chess.[9]Then, Mancala came around about 700 AD to describe a genre of games as ‘sowing’ or ‘count-and-capture’ games. Mancala comes from the Arabic word naqala to mean ‘to move’. These games would originally use things like seeds and place them in the pits of the board and moved around in the game. The main aim is to capture more than your opponent.[10] Monopoly, arguably one of the most well-known and popular modern board games, found its origins in ‘The Landlord’s Game’ (1903), created by the American Lizzie Magie.[11] It had a similar board, instructions, aim and made to demonstrate land grabbing and its consequences. Lizzie sold the patent for the game in 1935 to Parker Brothers for just $500, who then made it monopoly as we know it today.[12] Modern board games, as of 2009, have become increasingly diverse and extensive, allowing for indefinite amounts of audiences to be targeted. This is due to Kickstarter, a company that helps to raise funding and support for people to design and sell their own games to the public.[13]

Image retrieved from: https://www.theguardian.com/lifeandstyle/2015/apr/11/secret-history-monopoly-capitalist-game-leftwing-origins (United States Patent and Trademark Office).


[1] Andriesse, A. (2019). Progress in Play: Board Games and the Meaning of History. Retrieved from https://publicdomainreview.org/essay/progress-in-play-board-games-and-the-meaning-of-history#fn1.

[2] Attia, P. (2016). The Full History of Board Games. Retrieved from https://medium.com/swlh/the-full-history-of-board-games-5e622811ce89.

[3] Attia, P. (2016).

[4] Attia, P. (2016).

[5] Lambert, T. (2019). A Brief History of Board Games. Retrieved from http://www.localhistories.org/board.html.

[6] Lambert, T. (2019).

[7] Lambert, T. (2019).

[8] Lambert, T. (2019).

[9] Attia, P. (2016).

[10] Attia, P. (2016).

[11] Attia, P. (2016).

[12] Attia, P. (2016).

[13] Attia, P. (2016).

The Cuban Missile Crisis of 1962

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The Cuban Missile Crisis of 1962, lasting 13 days throughout October, saw the world essentially waiting to see if the Cold War would develop into international nuclear warfare. The complexity of the event is widely noted, and even those involved struggled to make sense of it. They had ‘different degrees of knowledge, ignorance, and misinformation about what was happening, but all were surprised by how it unfolded’.[1] The USA and Soviet Union, with leaders John F. Kennedy and Nikita Khrushchev, were at conflict due to the Cold War, resulting in high political and military tensions. The Crisis came from America’s knowledge of the existence of Soviet missiles in Cuba through the use of American spy planes (U-2), which was seen as a direct threat to both America but also represented a way in which the Soviet Union could bring offensive measures directly to the western hemisphere.[2] Concerns also rose from this alliance between Fidel Castro, Cuban leader, and Khrushchev as this presented a stronger and unified force against America. The presence of Soviet missiles in Cuba was a further threat, as it demonstrated the end of America’s advantage when it came to long-range missiles. No longer were they superior, which is of importance when considered in the context of the Cold War. America and the Soviet Union were in a constant battle of not just military efforts, but also wanted to be better than the other in areas such as weapon advancement, travel, science etc. Soviet ambassador Anatoly Dobrynin attempted to convince America that Soviet missiles in Cuba were purely defensive at the request of Fidel Castro, and that they would not be used for offensive means.[3] This was not believed by Kennedy, who chose to increase Navy and Marine training, surveillance flights of Cuba and also built up a U.S. Army reserve in the event of emergency.[4] During this time, the Soviet Union continued with their secret missile program in Cuba, but America were uncertain as to whether or not they were also in possession of warheads for this missiles, and how imminent of a threat they were facing. By October 22nd, Kennedy made a publicised speech to the American people stating the severity of the situation and demanded that not only the Soviets dismantle the missile stores but that he was also implementing a Navy blockade around Cuba to try and curb their arrival and reduce the threat.[5] Letters and communications had been kept up between Kennedy and Khrushchev throughout the event, and on the 26th of October the end was within sight.[6] Khrushchev promised to remove Soviet missiles from Cuba as long as America removed theirs from Turkey, as well as promising not to invade Cuba.[7] Both terms were eventually met, and the 28th of October marked the end of the Cuban Missile Crisis. Attempts were also made to ensure hostilities and uncertainties could not occur again, and a direct communication line was established from Washington to the Kremlin in Moscow.[8]

(Image retrieved from https://owlcation.com/humanities/The-Cuban-Missile-Crisis-On-the-Brink-of-Nuclear-War)


[1] Jervis, R. (2015). The Cuban missile crisis: what can we know, why did it start, and how did it end?. In L. Scott, & R . G. Hughes (Eds.) The Cuban Missile Crisis: A Critical Reappraisal. (pp. 1-39) . Abingdon: Routledge, p. 1.

[2] Hillstrom, L. C. (2015). The Cuban Missile Crisis. Detroit, Michigan: Omnigraphics, p. 37.

[3] Hillstrom, L. C. (2015), p. 38.

[4] Hillstrom, L. C. (2015), p. 39.

[5] Hillstrom, L. C. (2015), p. 46.

[6] History.com Editors. (2010). Cuban Missile Crisis. Retrieved from https://www.history.com/topics/cold-war/cuban-missile-crisis.

[7] History.com Editors. (2010).

[8] History.com Editors. (2010).

The Peterloo Massacre of 1819

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The Peterloo Massacre took place on the 16th of August 1819, in St Peter’s Fields in Manchester. The occurrence demonstrated official reaction, oppression and killing of innocent people, with its influence leading to the event ultimately being coined ‘one of the most radical events of British history’.[1] It is a widely contested and discussed event, however the causation of the event is fairly unanimous in the event’s historiography. A mass group of around 60,000 people gathered, from various areas of the North of England but mainly Manchester, in order to demand representation within Parliament.[2] This stemmed from the fact that although Manchester was large city, and of central importance to the industrial revolution, they did not have a single MP to represent the area.[3] Although the gathering was large, it is widely noted that they were peaceful in nature, and had simply gathered in St Peter’s Fields in order to listen to the radical politician Henry Hunt.[4] Frustration, particularly amongst workers, was not solely political in nature. Economic and social changes within Britain had overshadowing impacts on many aspects of life, and with the industrial revolution occurring, wages and conditions were on the decline.[5] ‘Massive economic downturn’ was of central significance in the north, made worse still in the aftermath of the Napoleonic Wars.[6] It is also worth noting that the Napoleonic Wars have further association with the Peterloo Massacre, as it was a contemporary journalist to the event who named it ‘Peterloo’, to mirror the Battle of Waterloo.[7] The ‘massacre’ element of the event came from the reaction to what had meant to be a peaceful demonstration against Government. In order to deal with the mass of people they were facing, the British sent in forces to deal with those they saw as troublesome. As a result, ‘yeomanry and horseguards hewed down and trampled to death eighteen people’.[8] Overall, the Peterloo Massacre held great significance in its own time, as well as our own. Contemporary reaction to the killings were that of outrage and frustration. The narrative has differed little, with many still pointing out the fact that those who were killed were innocent and killed purely because of the fears of the elite. Peterloo encapsulates not only the impact the masses are able to achieve when a common grievance and cause is identified, but also the destructive nature that those in a position of authority are able to exercise over those beneath them when they feel threatened. Destructive authority, willing to kill innocent people to return to order, is unfortunately not a unique phenomenon to the Peterloo Massacre, and will likely continue for decades to come.

(Image credit Bettmann Archive) 


[1] Geisinger, G. (2018, Oct 23). Peterloo Movie: Is Peterloo Based on a True Story? What is the Peterloo Massacre? Express (Online) Retrieved from https://search-proquest-com.libaccess.hud.ac.uk/docview/2124334630?accountid=11526.

[2] The Peterloo Massacre. (2019, Aug 17). The Week, 13. Retrieved from https://search-proquest-com.libaccess.hud.ac.uk/docview/2292898366?accountid=11526.

[3] The Peterloo Massacre. (2019, Aug 17).

[4] ‘Peterloo massacre (16 August 1819)’ (2015). In Kerr, A., & Wright, E. (Eds.), A Dictionary of World History. Oxford University Press. Retrieved 2 Mar, 2020, from https://www-oxfordreference-com.libaccess.hud.ac.uk/view/10.1093/acref/9780199685691.001.0001/acref-9780199685691-e-2857.

[5] Remembering The Peterloo Massacre, 200 Years on: Letters. (2019, Aug 14). Irish Independent, 21. Retrieved from https://search-proquest-com.libaccess.hud.ac.uk/docview/2272618854?accountid=11526.

[6] Remembering The Peterloo Massacre, 200 Years on: Letters. (2019, Aug 14).

[7] Remembering The Peterloo Massacre, 200 Years on: Letters. (2019, Aug 14).

[8] Fairclough, M. (2019). Peterloo at 200: The Radical Press, Simultaneous Meetings and the Mask of Anarchy. The Keats-Shelley Review, 33(2), 159-174. doi:10.1080/09524142.2019.1659016.

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Thanks for visiting my blog!

I am currently a second year History BA(Hons) student, with a real passion for the subject. I decided to start this blog as a way to talk about the topics I am interested in, that I may not necessarily explore during my studies. I usually focus on modern history, with my main topics of interest being Hitler’s Germany, The First and Second World Wars and 20th Century Britain. However, I have varied interests in topics such as the Vikings, The Peasants’ Revolt, The Black Death and The Crusades etc..

I hope to write a blog weekly (should my degree permit).