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Peterloo to the Pankhursts: Radicalism and Reform in the 19th Century

Discover the history of protest, parliament and citizens’ rights.

7,761 enrolled on this course

Peterloo to the Pankhursts: Radicalism and Reform in the 19th Century
  • Duration4 weeks
  • Weekly study5 hours
  • LearnFree
  • Extra BenefitsFrom $59Find out more

Discover the history of the struggle for rights and representation

16 August 2019 marked the bicentenary of the Peterloo Massacre, a key milestone in the campaign to reform Parliament in the 19th century, and an important part of Britain’s democratic heritage and history.

On this course, you will understand this event within a wider context of radicalism and reform over the 19th century.

You will start the course charting the charged political climate resulting from the American and French revolutions in the 18th century and conclude the course by examining the campaign for universal men’s and women’s suffrage in the early years of the 20th century.

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Skip to 0 minutes and 6 seconds Peterloo to the Pankhursts is a new online course being developed by Royal Holloway University of London and the People’s History Museum, funded by the National Lottery Heritage Fund. Exploring the history of radicalism and reform, the course aims to put the Peterloo Massacre, which occurred 200 years ago this August, into its broader context of a century long struggle for rights and representation for the people. Supported by the National Archives, the Parliamentary Archives, and the History of Parliament, Peterloo to the Pankhursts will offer learners the chance to examine original artefacts and documents, watch compelling historical testimony and speeches, some dramatised for the first time. And explore our democratic heritage through specially commissioned illustrations and animations.

Skip to 0 minutes and 52 seconds All with expert insights from archivists, curators, and historians. No prior knowledge is required to take the course, which is open to all– free– and starts on Future Learn, on Monday, the 12th of August, 2019. Peterloo to the Pankhursts is part of Royal Holloway Citizens Project, supported by the National Lottery Heritage Fund.

Syllabus

  • Week 1

    Revolution

    • Introduction

      In this activity we will introduce this week's topics, themes and key questions.

    • Revolutions

      British history in the nineteenth century was shaped by three revolutionary moments in the last quarter of the eighteenth century. In this activity we explore the shadows cast by events in America, France and Ireland.

    • Terror

      In this activity we explore the British response to the revolutionary Terror occurring in France and how terror of this occurring in Britain impacted upon politics and political culture.

    • Industry and Agriculture

      While political revolutions overseas convulsed British politics, slower but by no means less revolutionary changes to industry and agriculture were having a profound effect on British society.

    • Rotten Boroughs

      In this activity we examine how well (or not) prepared Parliament was to meet the challenges of political, social, economic and cultural change at the beginning of the nineteenth century.

    • Peterloo

      The Peterloo Massacre was a seminal event in Britain's democratic history. In this step we examine how a peaceful reform meeting turned into a massacre and what its consequences were for the people and Parliament.

    • Conclusion

      In this activity we review and reflect on what we have learnt this week and look ahead to next week’s topics, themes and questions.

  • Week 2

    Reform

    • Introduction

      In this activity we will introduce this week's topics, themes and key questions.

    • Liberal Tories

      Who were the 'Liberal' Tories, is this label accurate and what reform measures was it based upon?

    • The Great Reform Act

      The most significant measure of reform in the first half of the nineteenth century or a cynical alliance of the 'Shopocrats' and 'Whigocrats'? You decide.

    • The Whigs

      What was the Whig attitude to reform and what were some of their most significant achievements?

    • Chartism

      Who were the Chartists, what were their tactics and why did they fail?

    • Corn and the Conservatives

      How did a debate about Corn bring down a government? What was at stake?

    • Conclusion

      In this activity we review and reflect on what we have learnt this week and look ahead to next week’s topics, themes and questions.

  • Week 3

    Workers

    • Introduction

      In this activity we will introduce this week's topics, themes and key questions.

    • A New View of Society

      In this activity we will explore early developments in trade unionism after the repeal of the Combination Acts, focusing especially on Robert Owen and early attempts to form national unions.

    • The 'New Unionism'

      While trade unions had achieved full legal recognition by 1876, most represented skilled workers. In this activity we explore the 'New Unionism' that emerged among and for unskilled workers from the 1880s onward.

    • State Intervention

      How did the State intervene to improve the lives and livelihoods of workers in the nineteenth century? What brought these interventions about and how effective were they?

    • Socialism in Britain

      What forms did Socialist thought and organisation take in Britain?

    • From Litigation to Legislation

      How did a series of court cases convince the labour movement they needed a Labour Party?

    • Conclusion

      In this activity we review and reflect on what we have learnt this week and look ahead to next week’s topics, themes and questions.

  • Week 4

    Voters

    • Introduction

      In this activity we will introduce this week's topics, themes and key questions.

    • Gladstone, Disraeli and the Second Reform Act

      Why brought about the reopening of the electoral question in the 1860s?

    • Tory Democracy and New Liberalism

      How did the two main parties, the Liberals and Conservatives, adapt to appeal to the larger electorate created by the Second Reform Act?

    • Ireland: Province or Nation?

      What to do when voters in one part of the United Kingdom wanted their laws decided somewhere other than Westminster?

    • The Revolt of Women

      How did women confront and challenge their second class status as citizens in the nineteenth century?

    • An Ungovernable Society?

      To what extent was the United Kingdom becoming ungovernable in the years up to the First World War?

    • Conclusion

      In this activity we review and reflect on what we have learnt this week and look ahead to next week’s topics, themes and questions.

When would you like to start?

Start straight away and learn at your own pace. If the course hasn’t started yet you’ll see the future date listed below.

  • Available now

What will you achieve?

By the end of the course, you‘ll be able to...

  • Improve your understanding of key milestones in the extension of citizens' rights and representation in the nineteenth century.
  • Explore the origins and path of the course of Parliamentary reform from the impact of the American and French Revolutions to the First World War.
  • Reflect upon and debate the role of popular protest in effecting political change.
  • Improve your understanding of the development of workers' rights and the emergence of modern trade unionism and the Labour Party.
  • Compare the responses of the Liberal and Conservative parties to calls for universal suffrage and the emergence of mass politics.

Who is the course for?

This course is for anyone with an interest in political and social history, including the history of British Parliament, trade unionism and the labour movement.

Who will you learn with?

Steven Franklin, PhD researcher at Royal Holloway, University of London, and Project Officer for the Citizens project, of which this course is a component.

Medieval ECR Historian, Citizens Project Officer and AHRC Creative Economy Engagement Fellow at Royal Holloway, University of London & The National Archives.

Dr Matthew Smith, Senior Fellow in Public History at Royal Holloway, University of London, is the Director of the Citizens project, of which this course is a component.

Researcher at People's History Museum and Lecturer at Manchester Metropolitan Museum

Who developed the course?

Royal Holloway, University of London

Queen Victoria presided over the grand opening of Royal Holloway in 1886. Since then the College has continued to grow in size and status to become one of the top research-led institutions in the UK.

People's History Museum

The People’s History Museum is the national museum of democracy, telling the story of its development in Britain: past, present, and future.

Supporters

funded by

Heritage Lottery Fund

content provided by

Parliamentary Archives

content provided by

The History of Parliament

content provided by

The National Archives

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