French Revolution or Peasants' Revolt? Petitioners and Rebels in England from the Blanketeers to the Chartists

  • Robert Poole
  • Labour History Review, April 2009, Liverpool University Press
  • DOI: 10.1179/174581809x408375

The march of the Blanketeers

What is it about?

The march of the 'Blanketeers' from Manchester to London in 1817 has usually been seen as an early 'hunger march', or an eruption of industrial distress. This article show how it was in fact a march to remonstrate with the monarch as part of a national campaign for parliamentary reform originally directed from London but now centred on Manchester. It also sheds light on the mysterious Manchester rising which followed.

Why is it important?

If you want to understand about the Peterloo massacre two years later, you need to know what happened in 1817. The authorities successfully used force to block an attempted mass protest in 1817, and subsequently foiled an attempted armed rising. The protestors of 1819 learned the lesson of the need for open, constitutional mass action rather than conspiracy. But when they put this into practice in 1819, the authorities assumed the worst and attacked more violently: the result was Peterloo.

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