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French Rev Popular Disorder Notes

History Notes > History of the British Isles V: 1685–1830 Notes

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1. What was the impact of the French Revolution on Britain?
- Brits recognised the threat of French principles to their Const and opposed them.
- Combined loyalist beliefs with patriotism due to anti-gallicanism. "breathed fresh vigour into the loyalist movement" (Emma VincentMacLeod). "One of the most significant impacts of the French Rev on Brit was the enormous boost it gave to pop conservatism" (Dickinson). Developed by propagandists: emotive. E.g. John Bull v French cartoons.
- Visual atrocities of FR pushed Brits ? cons as they opposed the beliefs of the rev'nries. France seen as almost anarchistic. William Paley, Samuel Horsley used relig arguments. CA: N Rogers argues that "the public... applauded... the storming of the Bastille" - not really reflective of pop feeling - scary.
- Helped to cause relig revival in contrast with French: "a veritable holy crusade against French principles" (Dickinson). The ensuing war was seen "in terms of a crusade" (EVM). E.g. the Sun, 2 Nov 1793: 'a war of Virtue, Order and Religion'.
- "The effect of the 1790s might have been to retard the process of political and institutional reform in Brit" (Eastwood).
- Boost to trade unionism (J Stevenson). Organisation ^. Fluctuations in trade: 1781-1800 40 more trade disputes than 1761-80. 1791-2: 40 disputes e.g. ship's carpenters at L'pool. It is likely that the French Rev's most signif impact on Brit pol was to polarize it and increase popular involvement:
- E P Thompson.
- LT development.
- "It is generally recognised that the French Rev polarised political opinion within Brit" (H T Dickinson).
- "triggered a war of ideas in Britain" (D Eastwood).
- "Loyalists breached the traditional boundaries of the political nation and thereby advanced a process of mass participation" (M Philip).
- In Ireland, "French Rev'nry doctrine began to democratise polit culture" (J Smyth). E.g. 'Every illiterate bumpkin considered himself a consummate politician' Samuel McSkimmin.
- "the crucible out of which a new 'working-class consciousness' was formed" (J Stevenson).
- Organisation of riots etc. useful for future, rise of trade unionism etc (Hobsbawm). Founding of first polit orgs for WC men early 1790s.
- CA: 'The tracts were designed to replace political awareness with racism, religion (of a kind), nationalism, sexual chauvinism,

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