Peterloo: The English Uprising

ISBN : 9780198783466

Robert Poole
480 Pages
153 x 234 mm
Pub date
Jul 2019
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  • The definitive account of the Peterloo Massacre of 1819 in Manchester, where the English pro-democracy movement met its Waterloo.
  • Based on over 400 eye-witness accounts, many of them newly discovered, and on the full range of Home Office archives, including the Private and Secret papers.
  • A radical revision of E. P. Thompsons classic Making of the English Working Class, emphasizing radical populism, English constitutionalism, the role of female reformers, and the effects of the Napoleonic wars.
  • An unforgettable portrait of Regency Manchester its corruption, its riots, its strikes, and its attempted uprisings.

On 16 August, 1819, at St Peter's Field, Manchester, armed cavalry attacked a peaceful rally of some 50,000 pro-democracy reformers. Under the eyes of the national press, 18 people were killed and some 700 injured, many of them by sabres, many of them women, some of them children.
The 'Peterloo massacre', the subject of a recent feature film and a major commemoration in 2019, is famous as the central episode in Edward Thompsons Making of the English Working Class. It also marked the rise of a new English radical populism as the British state, recently victorious at Waterloo, was challenged by a pro-democracy movement centred on the industrial north.
Why did the cavalry attack? Who ordered them in? What was the radical strategy? Why were there women on the platform, and why were they so ferociously attacked? Using an immense range of sources, and many new maps and illustrations, Robert Poole tells for the first time the full extraordinary story of Peterloo: the English Uprising.


1: England in 1819
2: Regency Manchester
3: Manchester at war
4: Reformers
5: Petitioners
6: Rebels
7: Conspirators
8: Strikers
9: Hunt in Manchester
10: Mass platform
11: Order, order
12: March
13: Massacre
14: Aftermath
15: Reckoning

About the author: 

Robert Poole, Guild Research Fellow, University of Central Lancashire
Robert Poole is a Manchester-based historian and writer and historical consultant to the Peterloo bicentenary commemoration programme. He is co-author of the graphic novel Peterloo: Witnesses to a Massacre (2019) and author of several historical books and articles in journals ranging from Past and Present to Technology and Culture.

"Robert Poole was immensely helpful to us with our preparation of our film 'Peterloo'. Now his encyclopaedic knowledge and depp understanding appears in what will become the definitive book on the subject." - Mike Leigh, Director Peterloo

"In this gripping and moving book Robert Poole gives us what will surely come to be seen as the definitive account of this never to be forgotten turning point in British political history." - Michael Wood, Professor of Public History, University of Manchester

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