Time and Place:1780 The Gordon Riots: Blood Community and Retribution - London 1780
Module code: V1426
15 credits in spring teaching
Teaching method: Seminar, Lecture
Assessment modes: Coursework
In six days of bloody insurrection, London tore itself to pieces in the second week of June 1780. After the violence had stopped, almost 300 people were dead, the prisons destroyed and hundreds of thousands of pounds of damage wrought on the fabric of the capital.
The Gordon Riots were the most violent popular uprising in modern British history. Framed by the American Revolution and War, but apparently arising from the relatively insignificant issue of limited Catholic toleration, the riots redefined the roles of the mob, the state, of religion and the army in the negotiated settlement that was late 18th-century society. In the process, the riots marked a sharp transition from an older system of local popltics – in which the mob collaborated in elite politics – to a new politics of class.
The ready availability of trial accounts, state papers, newspapers and pamphlets (online and in digital form) allows you to engage with the day-by-day development of the riots. You're also enabled to write about them differently (online, with maps, images and supporting primary sources).
Through the lens of this single tranformative event, you'll also explore larger themes, including:
- London as the pivot for the development of the Atlantic world
- the roles of popular protest in pre-modern and modern politics
- the 18th-century system of criminal justice and policing
- the roles of religion and the parish community in popular politics
- the uses of micro-history
- the 'gender crisis' of the 1780s.
Module learning outcomes
- Critically evaluate the historiography around a particular moment.
- Critically evaluate the applicability of historical concepts to particular cases.
- Supply evidence of these skills in extended essay form.
- Demonstrate ability to use limited amounts of primary source material in extended historical argument.