The Many and the Few - A Divided Decade Elegance and Decadence: The Age of the Regency


The Many and the Few - A Divided Decade

Similar Content

Browse content similar to The Many and the Few - A Divided Decade. Check below for episodes and series from the same categories and more!

Transcript


LineFromTo

When the 19th century dawned, Britain was a land of two nations.

0:00:020:00:06

A small wealthy class ruling a large and growing population.

0:00:060:00:10

The Regency was a time between times.

0:00:100:00:14

It was after absolute monarchy, but it was before democracy.

0:00:140:00:17

It was towards the end of an age of agriculture.

0:00:170:00:20

It was the beginning of an age of industry.

0:00:200:00:24

As radical voices confronted an arrogant elite,

0:00:240:00:28

the ways of the old order were no longer tenable.

0:00:280:00:31

It was a time that would set the many against the few.

0:00:310:00:35

What a wonderful sight for the Regency swells

0:00:450:00:48

taking part in the new craze for ballooning.

0:00:480:00:51

This is Bath, queen city of the west. Celebrated for its spa waters.

0:00:510:00:55

Packed full of genteel Jane Austen-type characters.

0:00:550:00:59

But Britain was a troubled land.

0:00:590:01:02

Years of war had wearied and impoverished the masses.

0:01:030:01:07

The country hovered on the brink of revolution,

0:01:070:01:10

as the governing classes chose to use violent repression

0:01:100:01:14

instead of enlightened reform.

0:01:140:01:16

Challenging Parliament and the Cabinet

0:01:170:01:19

were a new generation

0:01:190:01:21

of thinkers

0:01:210:01:22

and poets

0:01:220:01:24

and novelists.

0:01:240:01:26

The power of the word would now take over from the power of the sword

0:01:260:01:30

but not without the shedding of blood.

0:01:300:01:32

In the Regency, people admired a sense of gusto.

0:01:530:01:58

The most dashing people of the age

0:01:580:02:00

were literally dashing across the countryside,

0:02:000:02:02

and the age's favourite vehicle was this monster, the mail coach.

0:02:020:02:07

The mail coach was extraordinary.

0:02:070:02:09

It could go at an average speed of seven miles an hour,

0:02:090:02:12

which seemed utterly amazing to 19th-century Jeremy Clarksons.

0:02:120:02:16

This meant that, instead of taking two days to get to Cambridge,

0:02:160:02:19

you could get there in seven hours.

0:02:190:02:21

Edinburgh was only 60 hours away. Britain was shrinking.

0:02:210:02:25

-Hello, there.

-All right, love? Right. Stand out, please.

0:02:270:02:31

Today, I'm really excited to travel on the Swingletree mail coach.

0:02:350:02:40

We're scorching through the Norfolk countryside.

0:02:400:02:43

This is John Parker holding the reins and Rosie as guard.

0:02:430:02:48

This coach used to earn its keep on the London to Norwich run.

0:02:480:02:53

HORN FANFARE

0:03:020:03:04

Travel by mail coach was expensive,

0:03:080:03:11

but it was also fast and safe.

0:03:110:03:14

Our team of horses would be changed every ten or so miles.

0:03:140:03:18

We'd be travelling with an armed guard on the back.

0:03:180:03:21

And when we got to tollgates they'd open as if by magic.

0:03:210:03:24

We'd toot our horn and the keeper would leap out of the way.

0:03:240:03:27

Because nothing was allowed to hold up the king's mail.

0:03:270:03:31

So what could you signal with the horn?

0:03:320:03:34

Are there things like "I'm coming"? "Get out of the way"?

0:03:340:03:37

For different coaches, there was different tunes.

0:03:370:03:40

-Even for different people. They had their favourite tunes.

-Yeah.

0:03:400:03:44

OK. So this coach was owned by James Selby

0:03:440:03:46

and I think you know his particular coaching call.

0:03:460:03:49

Let's hear it. HORN FANFARE

0:03:490:03:53

If you could afford it, you rode on it.

0:04:060:04:08

If you couldn't afford this, you tried to hook a ride

0:04:080:04:11

on something else. If you couldn't get a ride, you had a choice.

0:04:110:04:15

You either owned a horse and rode it or you walked.

0:04:150:04:18

-There's no other choices.

-Yeah.

0:04:180:04:20

You couldn't jump on the back of carriages, because they had spikes

0:04:200:04:24

to make sure you didn't do it.

0:04:240:04:25

It's the king's mail. If you held it up,

0:04:250:04:28

you died. You were either shot or hung, one of the two.

0:04:280:04:32

-That's a big draconian.

-If you stood in front and said, "Stand and deliver,"

0:04:320:04:36

these teams of horses, they won't stop. They'll flatten you.

0:04:360:04:39

For Regency people, travel by mail coach was

0:04:440:04:47

like taking Concorde.

0:04:470:04:49

Mail coaches helped them to discover their own countryside.

0:04:490:04:52

The Highlands, the Lake District and Spa towns like Bath

0:04:520:04:56

became tourist destinations for the first time

0:04:560:04:59

thanks to coach travel.

0:04:590:05:02

For the rich, the coach was the only way to travel.

0:05:020:05:05

The Prince Regent's dirty weekends in Brighton

0:05:050:05:08

were all horse-drawn affairs.

0:05:080:05:11

But, if George had chosen to notice,

0:05:110:05:12

the countryside he was travelling through was changing fast.

0:05:120:05:17

An agricultural revolution was driving the rural workers

0:05:170:05:22

off the land and into the new industrial cities.

0:05:220:05:26

The Enclosure Acts denied villagers access to the fields

0:05:260:05:29

where generations of peasants had scraped out a living.

0:05:290:05:33

In these troubled times, the labourers of Northamptonshire

0:05:370:05:41

had a voice through John Clare.

0:05:410:05:44

He's often called the Peasant Poet.

0:05:440:05:47

In Helpston, his cottage, or cot, still survives. It's now a museum,

0:05:470:05:51

devoted to a rare Regency imagination.

0:05:510:05:54

And swathy bees about the grass That stops wi' every bloom they pass

0:05:560:06:01

And every minute every hour

0:06:010:06:04

Keep teazing weeds that wear a flower.

0:06:040:06:08

Imagine the scene on a dark winter's night.

0:06:110:06:14

John Clare is sitting on a stool in the corner of the room,

0:06:140:06:18

writing a poem.

0:06:180:06:19

His mother, over there, spinning.

0:06:190:06:21

This was their cottage. It's just two up, two down.

0:06:210:06:25

There was earth on the floor, a ladder instead of stairs,

0:06:250:06:28

and actually ten people were living here. Three generations

0:06:280:06:32

of the Clare family shared it.

0:06:320:06:33

It's not quite our modern idyll of country living by any means,

0:06:330:06:37

but they were glad to have this cottage, it was their home.

0:06:370:06:41

Many of John Clare's poems celebrated all things bright and beautiful.

0:06:430:06:48

But in Helpston he witnessed the single greatest threat

0:06:480:06:51

to rural life for over a thousand years.

0:06:510:06:54

The enclosure of the common lands.

0:06:540:06:57

Each little tyrant with his little sign

0:07:000:07:03

Shows where man claims earth glows no more divine

0:07:030:07:07

But paths to freedom and to childhood dear

0:07:070:07:12

A board sticks up to notice "No road here"

0:07:120:07:15

And birds and trees and flowers without a name

0:07:150:07:19

All sighed when lawless law's enclosure came.

0:07:190:07:24

'I talked to the curator David Dykes about the changes Clare lived through.'

0:07:250:07:30

The Enclosure Act of 1809 in this area

0:07:300:07:33

was the biggest single impact on his life.

0:07:330:07:35

Prior to that he was able to walk the fields, anywhere he wished to go,

0:07:350:07:39

and he rails against that,

0:07:390:07:41

in the fact he's lost his freedom

0:07:410:07:44

and also lost a livelihood,

0:07:440:07:46

because he couldn't get to the common land.

0:07:460:07:50

He couldn't graze the cows.

0:07:500:07:51

His friends where losing their jobs and he was seeing an acceleration

0:07:510:07:55

of people leaving the countryside.

0:07:550:07:58

One of his benefactors, the Fitzwilliams,

0:07:580:08:00

were the big landowners here.

0:08:000:08:03

And indeed they supported Clare during his poetry

0:08:030:08:06

and also were getting land off him at the same time

0:08:060:08:09

during the enclosure process.

0:08:090:08:10

Clare, through his education, became a curiosity in his native village.

0:08:130:08:18

The strains of his life and his heavy drinking possibly explained

0:08:180:08:22

his drift into insanity.

0:08:220:08:26

And here is a very melancholy letter indeed.

0:08:260:08:29

Somebody wrote to him at the asylum, saying, "Why no more poems?"

0:08:290:08:33

and this answer is heart-breaking. He writes, "Dear Sir.

0:08:330:08:36

"I am in a madhouse. I quite forget your name."

0:08:360:08:41

He says, "You must excuse me, for I have nothing to communicate.

0:08:410:08:45

"I have nothing to say."

0:08:450:08:46

It's a very sad end for a poet, isn't it?

0:08:460:08:49

John Clare now lies in the village churchyard.

0:08:540:08:58

He had asked to be buried round the other side of the church

0:09:000:09:04

where there was most sun in the morning and the evening.

0:09:040:09:07

This is a man who knew about the weather, don't forget.

0:09:070:09:10

But in the event they put him here, near to his parents.

0:09:100:09:14

In the Regency, when all transport was still horse-drawn,

0:09:260:09:30

the advantages of the canal for carrying goods were overwhelming.

0:09:300:09:34

A single horse could pull 50 times more weight

0:09:370:09:40

on the water than it could on a road.

0:09:400:09:42

Canals carried coal, iron and grain to the new cities

0:09:420:09:46

and then transported manufactured goods

0:09:460:09:49

from the factories to the ports.

0:09:490:09:52

Canals reached their peak with the building

0:09:520:09:54

of the brilliant Kennet and Avon Canal.

0:09:540:09:57

This waterway was the supreme civil engineering achievement of the 1810s.

0:09:570:10:01

The Regency is often described

0:10:030:10:06

in terms of fashion and, most of all, architecture.

0:10:060:10:09

But the decade should really be remembered as the point

0:10:090:10:11

when Britain entered the modern machine age.

0:10:110:10:15

If you ask people to think of Regency architecture,

0:10:150:10:19

they're probably going to come up with Cheltenham, or Brighton,

0:10:190:10:22

or parts of London. But one of the most important buildings

0:10:220:10:26

from the period is here, in the middle of the Wiltshire countryside.

0:10:260:10:30

You'll work out what it is when you notice the chimney.

0:10:300:10:33

Steam power would make Britain the most advanced nation on earth.

0:10:380:10:41

It drove a technological revolution that would change

0:10:410:10:44

the face of the country

0:10:440:10:46

and create social tensions

0:10:460:10:48

that would threaten to sweep the monarchy away.

0:10:480:10:51

The Crofton steam engine is still doing its original work

0:10:530:10:57

of keeping the Kennet and Avon topped up with water.

0:10:570:11:00

And its engineer today is Harry Willis.

0:11:000:11:03

-So, Harry. What have we got here?

-We've got the oldest working steam engine in the world.

0:11:050:11:09

-Is it yours?

-Well, it's not mine, but I'm certainly responsible for managing it.

0:11:090:11:14

-What do you need to do to it?

-These levers control the passage of steam through the engine.

0:11:140:11:18

You need to use them when you're starting or stopping it

0:11:180:11:21

and also during the running of it.

0:11:210:11:24

-So this is the nerve centre?

-This is the nerve centre.

0:11:240:11:26

This is the driving platform.

0:11:260:11:29

-Can I drive?

-You certainly can,

0:11:290:11:30

but you'll need to put a boiler suit on first.

0:11:300:11:33

OK, I'm going to get kitted up like you.

0:11:330:11:35

-Here I am, ready to drive.

-Right.

0:11:420:11:46

What need's doing? Shall we slow it down?

0:11:460:11:48

You can close that a little bit. Move it to the left a little bit.

0:11:480:11:53

-I'm reducing the...

-Reducing the steam, that's right.

0:11:530:11:57

It's hard to imagine how impressive this must have been to someone

0:11:570:12:01

who hadn't seen machinery before.

0:12:010:12:03

Exactly, and the impact on the local inhabitants as well,

0:12:030:12:07

who'd have only seen horse-drawn transport.

0:12:070:12:09

Then this thing came and began to belch smoke

0:12:090:12:11

-and make noises.

-You can hear it from some distance away, can't you?

0:12:110:12:15

-Going, "Throb! Throb! Throb!"

-Yeah.

0:12:150:12:18

-In fact, a heart is quite a good analogy.

-That's right.

0:12:180:12:21

-It was keeping the blood of Britain, the canal, flowing.

-Exactly.

0:12:210:12:24

Give it a bit more to the right.

0:12:240:12:26

A bit more steam to the right or else it will stop.

0:12:260:12:28

Come on, give it some welly.

0:12:280:12:31

That's it, it's OK.

0:12:310:12:33

-There is a tremendous amount of power here in your hands.

-Yeah.

0:12:330:12:36

I just want to go faster and faster.

0:12:380:12:41

The Crofton beam engine lifts 11 tons of water

0:12:480:12:51

up to the canal every minute

0:12:510:12:53

There had been waterwheels and windmills before, but in the Regency

0:12:530:12:57

super-efficient steam engines produced power unimaginable

0:12:570:13:00

to previous ages.

0:13:000:13:03

For the first time, you could generate power

0:13:050:13:07

wherever you had coal for the furnace and water for the boiler.

0:13:070:13:11

The steam engine liberated and multiplied all that was possible.

0:13:140:13:18

In the 1810s, this Boulton & Watt beam engine

0:13:180:13:21

was at the forefront of technological achievement.

0:13:210:13:24

The first wonder of the new industrial age.

0:13:240:13:28

Steam power is one of history's great leaps forward.

0:13:290:13:34

Manufacturing is taken out of people's houses

0:13:340:13:38

and put into factories.

0:13:380:13:39

So we get a concentration of machinery, of manpower,

0:13:390:13:44

of the population itself.

0:13:440:13:46

We get the birth of our industrial cities.

0:13:460:13:49

The Industrial Revolution of the Regent's time

0:13:530:13:56

was one of the great discontinuities of history,

0:13:560:13:59

where everything after was so little like what had gone before.

0:13:590:14:02

'I spoke to the industrial historian Neil Cossons

0:14:020:14:06

'on how it affected those who witnessed these changes.'

0:14:060:14:10

What do you think it felt like to live through this period?

0:14:100:14:13

There is no question in my mind that people through the Regency period

0:14:130:14:18

knew that they were living in tempestuous times.

0:14:180:14:20

You only have to dig a little below the surface, I think,

0:14:200:14:24

and go into these new industrial communities

0:14:240:14:27

to see both sides of the coin. Immense prosperity

0:14:270:14:30

and huge social deprivation.

0:14:300:14:34

On the other hand, it's worth remembering that the numbers of jobs

0:14:340:14:37

that were created as a result of industrialisation were huge.

0:14:370:14:40

So whereas small numbers of cottage-based industries

0:14:400:14:47

went into decline, they were replaced by huge numbers of jobs

0:14:470:14:51

and mass migrations from the countryside

0:14:510:14:54

into the new industrial communities.

0:14:540:14:57

Let's have a look at your favourite picture.

0:14:570:15:00

This is certainly one of my favourites,

0:15:000:15:02

largely because I lived perhaps 200 yards

0:15:020:15:06

-from where the artist stood when he painted it.

-Yeah.

0:15:060:15:09

That's a view looking down the valley

0:15:090:15:11

of the River Severn, with bedlam furnaces

0:15:110:15:14

and the silhouette of the dwellings

0:15:140:15:17

and associated buildings in front of it.

0:15:170:15:20

This is a scene painter's, a theatre painter's view.

0:15:200:15:24

Philip de Loutherbourg's picture of Coalbrookdale By Night.

0:15:240:15:29

He's made it look awe-inspiring and wonderful and sort of magical.

0:15:290:15:33

-Hasn't he?

-A sort of Dante's Inferno view, too.

0:15:330:15:35

So he's saying, "Isn't it great?

0:15:350:15:37

-"Look at this power, strength, magnificence." Do you think?

-Absolutely.

0:15:370:15:41

That's one of the archetypal images

0:15:410:15:44

of the middle industrial revolution.

0:15:440:15:47

But there is also, I think, a statement of an entirely new world.

0:15:470:15:51

-Mm-hm.

-And Turner, similarly, and his view of Leeds.

-Yeah.

0:15:510:15:54

Now, that painting shows an urban scene

0:15:540:15:59

which would have been impossible

0:15:590:16:02

20 years earlier.

0:16:020:16:04

Because you see large factories and chimneys,

0:16:040:16:07

which would be the chimneys of the steam engines

0:16:070:16:10

that powered the machines in those factories.

0:16:100:16:12

And that would have been an entirely new vision.

0:16:120:16:16

And uniquely English, or shall we say British, at that period.

0:16:160:16:20

I like the way you've got the contrast

0:16:200:16:23

of the dark satanic mills in the background,

0:16:230:16:25

and then you've got almost a rural scene here.

0:16:250:16:28

You've got people going about their business, building a wall,

0:16:280:16:32

going on a journey on donkeys.

0:16:320:16:33

They're doing something to do with the textile industry.

0:16:330:16:36

Are they drying, bleaching, colouring cloths?

0:16:360:16:39

-They might be doing any of those things.

-OK!

0:16:400:16:42

But the interesting aspect of that is you have, in parallel,

0:16:420:16:47

-the pre-industrial world.

-Still going on.

0:16:470:16:49

-And the new industrial world.

-And that's a paradox?

0:16:490:16:52

So there were rural scenes and rural communities

0:16:520:16:55

that were hardly touched by the impact of industrialisation.

0:16:550:16:58

One of the things that we need to remember

0:16:580:17:01

is that we've been taught more about the evils of industrialisation

0:17:010:17:05

than the good bits of it, for generations.

0:17:050:17:09

And what the industrial revolution has hidden, in a sense,

0:17:090:17:12

partly because it was so all-embracing,

0:17:120:17:15

is the appalling working and living conditions

0:17:150:17:18

-of the pre-industrial rural poor.

-Mm-hm.

0:17:180:17:21

And the squalor and extraordinary deprivation

0:17:210:17:25

and grindingness of the poverty

0:17:250:17:28

of the rural labourer

0:17:280:17:31

was at least as bad and possibly much worse

0:17:310:17:35

than the mill worker of a generation

0:17:350:17:38

or two generations later.

0:17:380:17:40

Textile mills gave many jobs to the men, women and children

0:17:430:17:47

driven off the countryside in ever greater numbers during the decade.

0:17:470:17:52

But mechanisation came at a high human cost, when each fresh invention

0:17:540:17:58

or new machine could wipe out a family's livelihood at a stroke.

0:17:580:18:03

In the Prince Regent's lifetime,

0:18:060:18:09

spinning was revolutionised.

0:18:090:18:11

It went from being a case of one person operating one spinning wheel

0:18:110:18:16

and producing just one spindle of thread, to machines like this.

0:18:160:18:21

This one's got 714 spindles.

0:18:210:18:23

Still operated by just one worker,

0:18:230:18:26

but it means that 713 spinners

0:18:260:18:29

have lost their jobs.

0:18:290:18:32

Many people reacted with fear, and then with anger.

0:18:330:18:36

In the 1810s, gangs started to roam about the Midlands and the North

0:18:360:18:40

smashing up the new machines, much to the fury of the Tory government.

0:18:400:18:45

These men were called frame-breakers or, more commonly, Luddites.

0:18:450:18:49

Although Luddism was a grassroots movement,

0:18:510:18:55

it had an aristocratic supporter in the person of Lord Byron.

0:18:550:19:00

In 1812, Lord Byron got really upset

0:19:000:19:02

by the plight of the Nottinghamshire weavers.

0:19:020:19:05

Some of them were Luddites and they fell foul of this new bill

0:19:050:19:09

being introduced by the Tories called The Frame-Breaking Bill.

0:19:090:19:13

Anybody caught breaking or damaging machinery

0:19:130:19:16

would now face the death penalty.

0:19:160:19:17

Byron thought this was outrageously repressive

0:19:170:19:21

and he travelled south to London by coach

0:19:210:19:23

to plead the cause of the weavers in his maiden speech

0:19:230:19:27

in the House of Lords.

0:19:270:19:29

Byron arrived and launched into this passionate speech,

0:19:330:19:37

defending the Luddites. Perhaps even went a bit over the top.

0:19:370:19:41

He was arguing against the death penalty for breaking machines.

0:19:410:19:45

He said, yes, the Luddites had committed outrages,

0:19:450:19:48

but that this had arisen from circumstances

0:19:480:19:51

of the most unparalleled distress.

0:19:510:19:53

He was shaking and trembling with emotion.

0:19:530:19:56

He said that the Luddites had not been ashamed to beg,

0:19:560:19:59

but there had been no-one to relieve them.

0:19:590:20:01

He said that their excesses, however to be deplored and condemned,

0:20:010:20:06

could hardly be subject to surprise.

0:20:060:20:09

Now, did Byron get what he wanted?

0:20:090:20:12

No, he didn't. This pouting and posturing had slightly annoyed the other lords.

0:20:120:20:17

As soon as Byron sat down, they passed their bill anyway.

0:20:170:20:22

But Byron was suddenly to become a literary superstar,

0:20:220:20:26

when his narrative poem called Childe Harold's Pilgrimage

0:20:260:20:29

was published the following month.

0:20:290:20:32

The first edition sold out in three days and London was intoxicated.

0:20:320:20:37

There was traffic chaos as carriages queued up to drop off

0:20:370:20:40

dinner invitations at his rooms in St James's.

0:20:400:20:43

It was a real overnight success.

0:20:430:20:46

In Byron's own words, I awoke one morning and found myself famous.

0:20:460:20:53

Childe Harold's Pilgrimage gave a war-locked nation

0:20:530:20:56

a tantalising glimpse of Mediterranean Europe.

0:20:560:21:00

It also marked an early stage

0:21:000:21:02

in Byron's management of his own mysterious, exotic, rakish image.

0:21:020:21:07

An image that consciously played up his theatrical, seductive character.

0:21:070:21:12

One not bound by social conventions,

0:21:120:21:15

one who flirted with the dangerous frontiers of the acceptable.

0:21:150:21:19

In a very modern way Byron maintained strict picture approval.

0:21:190:21:24

He rejected one innocent boyish portrait but authorised

0:21:240:21:29

another very camp canvas of himself in full Albanian costume.

0:21:290:21:32

But Byron's image didn't always match with Byron in the flesh.

0:21:390:21:44

I went to the London wine merchants, Berry Brothers,

0:21:440:21:47

to see some documentary evidence

0:21:470:21:48

that Lord Byron was not always the snake-hipped seducer of legend.

0:21:480:21:53

Now in here I think we've got

0:21:560:21:59

Lord Byron, there he is, he was first weighed in 1806,

0:21:590:22:03

he was 18 years old and he was only 5'8'' tall.

0:22:030:22:09

He comes in at a pretty hefty 13 stone 12.

0:22:090:22:13

That was wearing his boots, but not his hat.

0:22:130:22:15

That's borderline obese for a teenager.

0:22:150:22:18

He wasn't always the irresistible Adonis of legend

0:22:180:22:21

and we know he took a lot of trouble to try to reduce his weight.

0:22:210:22:25

We hear about him playing cricket,

0:22:250:22:27

wearing seven waistcoats and a great coat in an attempt to sweat it off

0:22:270:22:31

and sometimes at dinner he would refuse all food

0:22:310:22:34

except for soda water and biscuits.

0:22:340:22:36

This worked - five years later, by 1811 he's lost four stone,

0:22:360:22:41

he's gone right down to nine stone 11, pretty svelte.

0:22:410:22:46

I think I'll give it a go myself.

0:22:510:22:53

That just about balances,

0:22:570:22:59

but I'm not telling you how much weight there is on the other side.

0:22:590:23:03

Being a dissolute poet was scandalous enough, but the behaviour

0:23:050:23:09

of the bloated Prince Regent was truly shocking to his subjects.

0:23:090:23:13

His affairs with his mistresses

0:23:130:23:15

outraged the God-fearing, respectable, populace.

0:23:150:23:19

George was a serial adulterer

0:23:200:23:22

in a way that opened up to enormous ridicule.

0:23:220:23:26

Ironically, the one woman

0:23:260:23:27

who was free from his sexual attentions was his wife.

0:23:270:23:31

Caroline of Brunswick was his German mail-order bride

0:23:310:23:35

and when she arrived in London George famously said on seeing her,

0:23:350:23:39

"Harris, I am not well, pray bring the brandy."

0:23:390:23:43

And she said, "He wasn't that fat in his portrait!"

0:23:430:23:48

Their wedding was a disaster.

0:23:480:23:50

He'd only agreed to it to help clear his debts, he complained

0:23:500:23:54

about her offensive smell and he was drunk at the ceremony.

0:23:540:23:58

They did manage to produce an heir,

0:23:580:24:00

but after the honeymoon they were never intimate again.

0:24:000:24:03

George was largely indifferent to his only child and heir, Charlotte,

0:24:050:24:09

and chose not see her very often,

0:24:090:24:11

much preferring the company of one of his many mistresses.

0:24:110:24:15

His selfish and extravagant lifestyle had become a national disgrace.

0:24:150:24:21

Maybe George's debauched behaviour

0:24:250:24:28

annoyed the gods, provoking them to send destruction.

0:24:280:24:32

In April 1815, a volcano erupted far away in Indonesia.

0:24:320:24:38

It had a dramatic effect on the world's weather

0:24:380:24:43

and the political climate.

0:24:430:24:44

Tongues of flame leaped high into the sky.

0:24:440:24:47

Explosions ripped the air

0:24:470:24:49

and smoke and ash swirled high above the Java sea.

0:24:490:24:52

Beneath the volcano over 70,000 perished.

0:24:520:24:57

It seemed like the end of the world.

0:24:570:25:01

Mount Tambora's eruption was the largest in recorded history.

0:25:010:25:06

The explosion was heard over 1200 miles away.

0:25:060:25:10

160 cubic kilometres of debris were thrown into the atmosphere

0:25:100:25:16

creating a volcanic winter which lasted the whole of the next year.

0:25:160:25:21

In Europe crops would fail,

0:25:210:25:24

livestock die, and people starve.

0:25:240:25:29

But the fires and shadows of Tambora

0:25:330:25:35

had the most surprising effect on the imagination of one young woman.

0:25:350:25:42

One of the greatest literary creations of the regency period

0:25:420:25:46

was Frankenstein, by Mary Godwin, she was first the mistress

0:25:460:25:50

and later the wife of the notorious Percy Shelley.

0:25:500:25:54

The original manuscript is here at the Bodleian,

0:25:540:25:57

normally only scholars get to see it.

0:25:570:26:00

This priceless manuscript is kept safe in Oxford,

0:26:040:26:06

high up in the tower of the Bodliean library.

0:26:060:26:08

There I am going to meet writer Daisy Hay, an expert on Mary Shelley.

0:26:080:26:14

And she can tell me about Mary's curious Swiss holiday.

0:26:140:26:16

A holiday that gave form to one of fiction's enduring creations.

0:26:160:26:21

Daisy, Hello, thanks for having me.

0:26:210:26:25

-Pleasure.

-What have we got?

0:26:250:26:27

We've got the manuscript of Frankenstein

0:26:270:26:29

and some pictures of Mary and Byron and Shelley.

0:26:290:26:33

OK. So tell me about this holiday on the banks of Lake Geneva.

0:26:330:26:38

In the spring of 1816 Byron leaves England for good

0:26:380:26:43

and heads down the Rhine Valley to Geneva, London has become too hot.

0:26:430:26:49

He is joined there kind of by accident by Shelley and by

0:26:490:26:54

Shelley's mistress, Mary Godwin, and Mary's stepsister Claire Claremont.

0:26:540:26:58

This is a really complicated situation.

0:26:580:27:01

So we've got the two Romantic poets and we've got the two sisters

0:27:010:27:05

and the second sister is kind of stalking Byron.

0:27:050:27:08

The second one has decided she wants a radical poet of her own

0:27:080:27:13

and she writes to Byron and offers herself to him.

0:27:130:27:16

An offer which he accepts, and this results in a very brief affair

0:27:160:27:20

just before Byron leaves London.

0:27:200:27:22

Thereafter Claire persuades Shelley and Mary

0:27:220:27:25

that they should follow Byron to Geneva.

0:27:250:27:27

So they all meet on the shores of Lake Geneva in the summer of 1816,

0:27:270:27:31

having arrived by different ways.

0:27:310:27:33

And Byron takes a large villa,

0:27:330:27:36

a grand house on the shores of Lake Geneva called the Villa Diodati.

0:27:360:27:40

And it rains a lot.

0:27:400:27:41

The weather was an important part of distorted, isn't it?

0:27:410:27:45

Yes, the weather turns.

0:27:450:27:46

Thunder echoes round the lake.

0:27:460:27:48

There are huge lightning storms

0:27:480:27:51

and the group retreat inside to tell ghost stories and to read Coleridge.

0:27:510:27:56

The weather is bad all over the world, isn't it?

0:27:560:27:59

Because of the volcano.

0:27:590:28:00

Yes, so right across the northern hemisphere

0:28:000:28:04

crops fail and the sun disappears.

0:28:040:28:07

There was terrible distress

0:28:070:28:09

which they all come back to in England in 1816.

0:28:090:28:13

So what they are experiencing is part of a much wider phenomenon.

0:28:130:28:16

So they're all cooped up together telling ghost stories and

0:28:160:28:20

Mary's turns out be the best of the lot, doesn't it?

0:28:200:28:23

It does but initially it doesn't happen easily for her.

0:28:230:28:25

Everybody us get on with their ghost story quite quickly

0:28:250:28:28

and she can't think of one.

0:28:280:28:29

Until one night she has a nightmare,

0:28:290:28:32

she called it a waking dream, and this vision

0:28:320:28:34

of the moment in which her monster Frankenstein is created comes to her

0:28:340:28:39

and then she's able to say,

0:28:390:28:40

"I have thought of a story", the following morning.

0:28:400:28:43

And here's the actual moment in her own handwriting. This is great.

0:28:430:28:47

This is the moment the monster

0:28:470:28:50

comes to life and the narrator says in the glimmer of the half

0:28:500:28:55

extinguished light I saw the dull yellow eye of the creature open.

0:28:550:29:00

And then down here

0:29:000:29:03

Shelley, her future husband, he's annotated it,

0:29:030:29:05

he's improve the writing.

0:29:050:29:07

Do you think he's improved it?

0:29:070:29:09

Throughout you can see Shelley's annotations in the margin.

0:29:090:29:13

You can see the difference between Shelley's handwriting and Mary's.

0:29:130:29:16

He edited the manuscript as

0:29:160:29:18

she went along so you can see that he's changed,

0:29:180:29:20

for example, handsome for beautiful

0:29:200:29:24

and has added a description of the hair here as lustrous black.

0:29:240:29:28

What's the significance of Shelley changing it?

0:29:280:29:32

What do you think he's added to the story?

0:29:320:29:35

There's something about lustrous black,

0:29:350:29:37

he's sharpened the contrast, I think.

0:29:370:29:39

We've got this creature described in terms of colour, yellow,

0:29:390:29:42

but now there's something almost unearthly

0:29:420:29:46

about the vividness of this, I think.

0:29:460:29:48

The change to beautiful rather than handsome,

0:29:480:29:51

there's somehow something more inhuman about it, I think.

0:29:510:29:55

What was the atmosphere like at the villa?

0:29:550:29:59

Because Byron was definitely the most successful of them so far.

0:29:590:30:02

Was it like a rock star with his groupies?

0:30:020:30:05

Well, I think, as you say, he was the most famous, he's older,

0:30:060:30:08

he's richer, an established poet, but I think that perhaps

0:30:080:30:12

what the atmosphere was like, it always seems to me

0:30:120:30:14

to be quite like those conversations

0:30:140:30:16

you have late into the night when you're a student.

0:30:160:30:18

They are all very young.

0:30:180:30:20

Did you practise free love late in the night when you were a student?

0:30:200:30:23

Ah, no! But you know when you argue about things and stay up to 3am

0:30:230:30:27

and that seems to me to be quite familiar,

0:30:270:30:29

the way they are to each other, that very intense way you are

0:30:290:30:34

when you're young and working out what you think about the world.

0:30:340:30:37

Here's another bit of Shelley inserting his views.

0:30:370:30:40

What does that one say?

0:30:400:30:42

This is a section with quite a long bit of Shelley annotation,

0:30:420:30:45

it starts here and goes over the page.

0:30:450:30:48

This is where he's talking about the virtues of a republican system

0:30:480:30:52

rather than a system with monarchies,

0:30:520:30:55

and talking about this in terms of how you treat those

0:30:550:30:57

who are more vulnerable than you, particularly about servant classes

0:30:570:31:01

and how the system of having servants in Switzerland,

0:31:010:31:04

which is a republican country, is preferable to that in England.

0:31:040:31:08

He's saying, "The republican institutions of our country

0:31:080:31:11

"have produced simpler and happier manners than those

0:31:110:31:14

"which prevail in the great monarchies that surround it."

0:31:140:31:18

So, this is a Shelleyian manifesto, I suppose,

0:31:180:31:21

sneaking its way into Frankenstein.

0:31:210:31:23

And Shelley isn't alone, is he, in this decade, the 1810's?

0:31:230:31:27

There's a lot of respectable people talking up against absolute monarchy.

0:31:270:31:32

There really is,

0:31:320:31:33

and for people like Shelley and those around him,

0:31:330:31:36

the way in which power is concentrated in the hands

0:31:360:31:39

of a tiny minority seems to become untenable,

0:31:390:31:42

so Shelley writes a proposal for putting reform to the vote,

0:31:420:31:46

he wants there to be a referendum on universal manhood suffrage,

0:31:460:31:51

so there is a feeling that

0:31:510:31:53

the way in which British society is structured cannot go on.

0:31:530:31:57

In 1816, Britain's small ruling elite were facing their own nightmare -

0:32:010:32:07

a population suffering unemployment and starvation demanded reform.

0:32:070:32:11

The pressure from the new urban masses

0:32:110:32:14

was every bit as terrifying to the government

0:32:140:32:16

as Frankenstein's monster.

0:32:160:32:18

The vote in Regency England

0:32:180:32:21

was limited to a ridiculously small number.

0:32:210:32:24

Lots of MPs were returned by so-called pocket or rotten boroughs.

0:32:240:32:28

Dunwich had all but disappeared into the North Sea,

0:32:280:32:31

and the medieval settlement of Old Sarum had only 15 voters,

0:32:310:32:35

yet both returned two MPs,

0:32:350:32:38

while the bustling cities

0:32:380:32:39

of Birmingham, Liverpool and Manchester had no MPs at all.

0:32:390:32:43

The clamour for fairer parliamentary representation

0:32:430:32:48

was becoming louder and more insistent.

0:32:480:32:51

The Prime Minister, Lord Liverpool, and his cabinet,

0:32:540:32:58

seemed deaf to the demands of the growing urban population.

0:32:580:33:02

In 1816, the tension between the two boiled over,

0:33:020:33:06

when a gathering of leading radicals addressed a mass meeting

0:33:060:33:09

at Spa Fields in north London.

0:33:090:33:12

Here are the two perpetrators or ringleaders -

0:33:140:33:17

one of them is Henry Hunt, Henry 'Orator' Hunt, as he's called.

0:33:170:33:20

He's quite a classy individual, he's 43 years old,

0:33:200:33:24

he's a prosperous farmer, and what he wants his universal suffrage.

0:33:240:33:28

He wants an annual election to Parliament,

0:33:280:33:31

he wants quite a gentle version of reform, I suppose.

0:33:310:33:34

The great advantage he has as a radical leader is his voice -

0:33:340:33:38

he has a great pair of lungs, he can address an enormous crowd,

0:33:380:33:41

and in 1816 he'd been all over Britain

0:33:410:33:44

addressing these huge gatherings of reformers.

0:33:440:33:47

He'd spoken to 80,000 people in Birmingham,

0:33:470:33:50

in Blackburn, 40,000 had turned up to hear him.

0:33:500:33:53

In Nottingham, it was 20,000,

0:33:530:33:55

in Stockport it was 20,000 again,

0:33:550:33:57

and in Macclesfield, 10,000 people,

0:33:570:34:00

so he was a very, very popular speaker.

0:34:000:34:03

The other ringleader was Arthur Thistlewood,

0:34:030:34:06

he's a very different cup of tea.

0:34:060:34:08

He's a little bit older, he's 46, he's not a farmer,

0:34:080:34:11

but is the illegitimate son of one,

0:34:110:34:13

and this should set off alarm bells with the authorities -

0:34:130:34:16

he spent time in revolutionary France.

0:34:160:34:19

Maybe he's taken in some Jacobean ideas.

0:34:190:34:21

In fact, he has. He's from a group called the Spencean Philanthropists

0:34:210:34:26

and what he wants is violent revolution

0:34:260:34:28

followed by the total redistribution of property.

0:34:280:34:32

So, in November 1816, a great crowd gathers at Spa Fields

0:34:320:34:37

and they demand reform.

0:34:370:34:39

They draw up a list of things they want -

0:34:390:34:41

universal suffrage and annual elections.

0:34:410:34:43

This is sent to the Prince Regent, but there is no reply,

0:34:430:34:48

he completely ignores them.

0:34:480:34:51

So, a month later, in December,

0:34:510:34:53

the crowd gathers again at Spa Fields,

0:34:530:34:57

and this time there's fighting, it's a riot.

0:34:570:34:59

Arthur Thistlewood is arrested, but he escapes imprisonment,

0:34:590:35:03

he gets off on a technicality.

0:35:030:35:05

After Spa Fields, the roads of these two men diverge,

0:35:050:35:10

one peaceful, the other increasingly violent.

0:35:100:35:13

Thistlewood was now even more determined

0:35:150:35:17

to incite the London mob into bloody revolution.

0:35:170:35:21

The Regent, who'd loftily ignored the petitions of his people,

0:35:210:35:26

was now to feel their wrath at first hand.

0:35:260:35:29

By 1817, those voices of discontent were growing louder.

0:35:290:35:34

In January of that year, the Prince Regent in his coach

0:35:340:35:37

on the way home from Parliament, where he'd been making an address,

0:35:370:35:41

when he got surrounded by an angry mob.

0:35:410:35:44

They were shouting, "Seize him! Seize him!"

0:35:440:35:47

and, "Throw things! Throw things!"

0:35:470:35:49

And they called him names too rude to be printed in the Times.

0:35:490:35:52

Suddenly, there was a loud crack...

0:35:520:35:54

HORSE WHINNIES ..the glass of the windows got broken,

0:35:540:35:57

George thought that this was an assassination attempt.

0:35:570:36:01

He offered a £1,000 reward for the catching of the criminal.

0:36:010:36:04

But then people started asking questions -

0:36:040:36:07

nobody had actually seen a gun, and nobody had smelt any smoke,

0:36:070:36:11

maybe it was all in his imagination.

0:36:110:36:14

This turned out to be the case.

0:36:140:36:16

The thing that probed the window wasn't a bullet at all.

0:36:160:36:19

It was just an ordinary little pebble.

0:36:190:36:22

The Regent, at 55, was under-employed,

0:36:220:36:26

overdrawn and overweight.

0:36:260:36:29

He was a laughing stock.

0:36:290:36:30

In a society jaded by George's excesses,

0:36:300:36:34

his subjects wished to see in his daughter, Charlotte,

0:36:340:36:38

a purer image of royalty.

0:36:380:36:40

A princess untainted by the gluttony

0:36:400:36:42

and sexual incontinence of the Regent.

0:36:420:36:45

Aged 20, with great celebration, she married a German prince,

0:36:450:36:50

Leopold of Saxe-Coburg,

0:36:500:36:52

and settled here at Claremont House in Surrey.

0:36:520:36:57

As a child, Princess Charlotte was neglected by her father.

0:37:000:37:04

But here, she found contentment and happiness,

0:37:040:37:07

and, in 1817, Britain was delighted with the news

0:37:070:37:10

that she'd got pregnant.

0:37:100:37:12

Perhaps an heir would provide a brighter future

0:37:120:37:15

for the Hanoverian dynasty which her father brought into such disrepute.

0:37:150:37:19

But, it wasn't going to end happily.

0:37:190:37:22

After a 48 hour labour up there,

0:37:220:37:25

poor Charlotte's son was born dead

0:37:250:37:28

and she died a few hours later.

0:37:280:37:30

In this one dreadful night,

0:37:300:37:32

the whole royal line of the Prince Regent ended.

0:37:320:37:36

People said it was as though every household had lost a favourite child.

0:37:430:37:48

The whole country mourned, and drapers sold out of black cloth.

0:37:480:37:52

On hearing the news, her mother,

0:37:520:37:54

Princess Caroline, fainted with shock.

0:37:540:37:56

George, who'd always been a dreadful father,

0:38:000:38:03

was crippled with grief, and unable to face his own daughter's funeral.

0:38:030:38:08

She was buried, her son at her feet, in St George's Chapel at Windsor.

0:38:080:38:13

After Charlotte's death,

0:38:150:38:17

a public subscription was launched to build a monument to honour her.

0:38:170:38:22

The response was phenomenal -

0:38:220:38:24

in two years, over £12,000 had been raised,

0:38:240:38:27

and the sculptor Matthew Cotes Wyatt

0:38:270:38:29

was commissioned to make this Cenotaph.

0:38:290:38:32

It must be one of the most spectacular works of art

0:38:320:38:35

of the Regency.

0:38:350:38:36

Down below Charlotte's body the mourners are heavily,

0:38:360:38:40

realistically draped with cloth,

0:38:400:38:42

And up above, the angels

0:38:440:38:46

are carrying Charlotte and her baby up to heaven.

0:38:460:38:49

There's no sense of British reserve or stiff upper lip here,

0:38:550:38:59

and rightly so, because the monument was paid for by thousands of ordinary people

0:38:590:39:05

who wanted a record of their grief.

0:39:050:39:07

To them, Charlotte had been the future of the monarchy,

0:39:100:39:13

the future of Britain, and here she is,

0:39:130:39:16

tragically young, being carried away by angels.

0:39:160:39:20

Although there was a genuine public outpouring of emotion,

0:39:270:39:31

the bitter conflicts of the years following Waterloo

0:39:310:39:34

hadn't been forgotten by one Republican.

0:39:340:39:37

On a November day here in Marlowe,

0:39:430:39:45

Shelley heard about the death at Claremont.

0:39:450:39:48

It inspired him to write a political pamphlet.

0:39:480:39:51

He called it, An Address To The Nation On The Death Of Princess Charlotte.

0:39:510:39:56

But this wasn't to be a simple eulogy.

0:39:580:40:02

The pamphlet also mourned the death of three men who were executed

0:40:020:40:06

on the day following Princess Charlotte's death.

0:40:060:40:09

These three were workers from Derbyshire.

0:40:090:40:12

They'd been involved in a protest march calling for reform,

0:40:120:40:15

but they'd been set up to it by a government spy.

0:40:150:40:19

Shelley was one of the few radicals to risk open publication of his views.

0:40:220:40:27

"Liberty is dead," he wrote.

0:40:270:40:29

"Fetters heavier than iron weigh upon us,

0:40:290:40:32

because they bind our souls."

0:40:320:40:35

The government seemed to have no answer

0:40:350:40:38

to the pressure for democratic change that was coming from below.

0:40:380:40:42

The morning of the 19th August, 1819, was hot and cloudless.

0:40:430:40:49

On that morning, a cloth worker called John Lees left his home in Oldham.

0:40:490:40:53

He wanted to go into Manchester to attend a big rally

0:40:530:40:57

for parliamentary reform that was being held in St Peter's Fields.

0:40:570:41:00

He and 60,000 other people wanted to hear the famous orator, Henry Hunt.

0:41:000:41:06

Orator Hunt, the champion of Spa Fields,

0:41:070:41:11

was perhaps the best man in Britain to inspire

0:41:110:41:13

and lead large crowds in the call for greater freedom.

0:41:130:41:17

At half-past one, Henry 'Orator' Hunt arrived at this spot

0:41:170:41:22

and he climbed up on to a cart to address the crowd.

0:41:220:41:26

He would have seen 60,000 people watching him,

0:41:260:41:30

all crammed into this area about the size of two football pitches.

0:41:300:41:34

But it was quiet, these people were unarmed,

0:41:340:41:37

they were sober, they were behaving very well

0:41:370:41:39

and they'd come dressed in their Sunday best.

0:41:390:41:42

So, Orator Hunt is all ready to go with his speech,

0:41:440:41:47

but the local magistrates are watching from a house just over there,

0:41:470:41:51

and they just can't believe that his speech is going to go off peacefully,

0:41:510:41:54

and they panic.

0:41:540:41:56

They send in the special constables and the local militia,

0:41:560:41:59

called the Yeomanry, to arrest Orator Hunt.

0:41:590:42:02

The crowd tried to protect him by linking their arms,

0:42:020:42:05

but the Yeomanry are only volunteers,

0:42:050:42:08

they start waving their sabres around.

0:42:080:42:10

They're clearly out of their depth, so the proper soldiers are called in.

0:42:100:42:14

Two bands of Hussars are summoned and ordered to clear the square.

0:42:140:42:19

This is Chetham's Library in Manchester.

0:42:290:42:33

It was founded in 1653 and it's the oldest public library in Britain.

0:42:330:42:38

It was well known to the radicals of Regency Manchester,

0:42:380:42:41

and lots of their original documents still survive here.

0:42:410:42:44

I've come to look at the contemporary evidence

0:42:490:42:52

with the historian Robert Poole

0:42:520:42:54

to find out how a peaceful protest turned into a bloody massacre.

0:42:540:42:58

So, what kind of a man was he, Henry Hunt?

0:42:590:43:03

He was called Orator Hunt as well, wasn't he, because he had enormous lungs?

0:43:030:43:06

Yes, Hunt was also a powerful personality.

0:43:060:43:10

He said, "I'm a gentleman farmer with a small fortune

0:43:100:43:13

"and a friend of the people," and he contrasted himself

0:43:130:43:16

to the wealthy parasites who ran government and finance at the time,

0:43:160:43:20

the equivalent of the fat-cat bankers of our own age.

0:43:200:43:22

He saw himself as one of the wealth producers, but also as a kind of

0:43:220:43:26

aristocratic leader of the people, but he'd become outraged at the way people were treated

0:43:260:43:30

and had fallen in with the radical Whigs.

0:43:300:43:33

So he wasn't of the people, he wasn't a weaver,

0:43:330:43:36

but he'd set himself up as their leader,

0:43:360:43:39

and on one level he's giving them good advice here.

0:43:390:43:42

He's saying, behave well, don't get drunk,

0:43:420:43:44

behave in an orderly fashion and we'll be fine,

0:43:440:43:47

but at the same time he's hinting that there could be trouble.

0:43:470:43:51

He's talking about "our enemies" and, "there might be bloodshed,"

0:43:510:43:55

and he calls the authorities "malignant and contemptible."

0:43:550:43:59

Yes, and accuses the authorities of seeking to excite a riot

0:43:590:44:02

in order of a pretence for spilling blood.

0:44:020:44:04

Hunt was extremely good at almost riding two horses at once.

0:44:040:44:07

He needed to rouse the people

0:44:070:44:09

and demonstrate the tremendous force of popular resentment,

0:44:090:44:12

but at the same time demonstrate only he could control crowds.

0:44:120:44:15

What did he want, exactly,

0:44:150:44:17

in calling all of his associates to this meeting?

0:44:170:44:20

What did they hope to achieve together?

0:44:200:44:22

They wanted a radical reform of Parliament,

0:44:220:44:24

that is universal suffrage, by which they meant manhood suffrage,

0:44:240:44:28

annual parliaments, so that MPs regularly had to account for themselves,

0:44:280:44:32

and a secret ballot,

0:44:320:44:33

to make sure people couldn't be influenced by landlords or employers.

0:44:330:44:36

And part of the problem was that Manchester,

0:44:360:44:39

this great industrial city, wasn't really represented, was it?

0:44:390:44:43

Because the old distribution of MPs didn't take it into account?

0:44:430:44:47

No, Manchester was a modern industrial city in many ways,

0:44:470:44:50

but it just kind of had parish pump politics,

0:44:500:44:52

it was governed by its parish vestry and its court leets,

0:44:520:44:55

and a lot of constables and dog whippers and so forth,

0:44:550:44:57

and it wasn't a modern town at all.

0:44:570:44:59

This is a plan of the set-up at St Peter's Field.

0:44:590:45:03

On print, you can see the density of people,

0:45:030:45:06

all the flags, the banners, around the hustings.

0:45:060:45:08

But also towards the edges, quite a large number of spectators.

0:45:080:45:12

It wasn't just a rally of reformers. It was a bit of a day out.

0:45:120:45:16

There were a lot of people watching, which makes what happened all the more shocking.

0:45:160:45:20

They sent in the Deputy Constable to arrest Henry Hunt simply because they feared

0:45:200:45:24

that anybody making a rousing speech to a large crowd of ordinary people

0:45:240:45:31

gathered without the legitimate authority to keep them in order,

0:45:310:45:34

that was like applying a match to a dry field.

0:45:340:45:37

They just felt there had to be some kind of explosion.

0:45:370:45:39

So the Yeomanry panicked? They came in and started slashing people.

0:45:390:45:45

It was said they were drunk, is that true?

0:45:450:45:47

If they hadn't been drinking, it would've been out of character for the Yeomanry.

0:45:470:45:51

A lot were publicans and small tradesmen. That's what people did at lunchtime.

0:45:510:45:55

There are reports of that and the fact that they had their swords sharpened in the weeks before.

0:45:550:46:01

When they got stuck, they were untrained. They were volunteers.

0:46:010:46:04

They'd only been formed a couple of years before.

0:46:040:46:07

They started slashing around them with sabres, which caused a crush and a panic

0:46:070:46:11

and sparked what became the Peterloo Massacre.

0:46:110:46:13

This book here is a list of many of the people who did get hurt.

0:46:130:46:18

We've got Judith Kilner, "a pregnant woman was much bruised"

0:46:180:46:24

and we've got a lady thrown into a cellar with a woman who was killed, "was pregnant at the time."

0:46:240:46:29

We've got somebody cut under the ear by a sabre.

0:46:290:46:32

We've got people being sabred and crushed,

0:46:320:46:35

being hit on head with truncheons, being crushed by the horses.

0:46:350:46:40

It's just horrible. How many people actually got killed?

0:46:400:46:44

There were 15 killed on the day.

0:46:440:46:46

But there were over 650 injured in only 20 minutes,

0:46:460:46:50

which is why it deserves the title, I think, of a massacre.

0:46:500:46:54

Over 200 of those were sabre wounds.

0:46:540:46:56

Many of those were women, and some of them were children.

0:46:560:47:00

There's some research been done on the injuries to women at Peterloo.

0:47:000:47:05

It's fairly reliably reckoned they were more likely to be sabred than the men.

0:47:050:47:12

The Yeomanry went for the women, because they were the people the authorities hated and resented most.

0:47:120:47:17

That's because it was felt it was improper for women to be taking part in politics?

0:47:170:47:21

Yes. Female reformers dressed in virginal white, in that patriotic way,

0:47:210:47:26

seemed to the authorities like Marianne, the symbol of the French Revolution.

0:47:260:47:30

It was claimed they were deaf to every feminine virtue.

0:47:300:47:34

You can see this in this satirical picture from a loyalist newspaper.

0:47:340:47:39

You've got an imaginary scene at one of the meetings of female reformers in Manchester.

0:47:390:47:44

Meetings of this kind did happen.

0:47:440:47:47

The female reformers had no idea how to conduct a meeting.

0:47:470:47:50

One is standing on the table, many are drinking gin.

0:47:500:47:53

None of them are listening. There is one here snogging. They're all chatting.

0:47:530:47:57

They don't know anything about politics.

0:47:570:47:59

It's reminiscent of 17th century pictures of a fox addressing the silly geese

0:47:590:48:03

who think they know about politics, but really don't.

0:48:030:48:06

And just like a proper battle, there were souvenirs and medals made.

0:48:060:48:11

Planned with satirical intent.

0:48:110:48:14

There's an example here modelled on the famous Josiah Wedgwood anti-slavery medal.

0:48:140:48:20

The black slave kneeling, and the slogan,

0:48:200:48:23

"Am I not a man and brother"?

0:48:230:48:25

Here, the kneeling figure is a ragged weaver and he's saying,

0:48:250:48:29

"Am I not a man and brother?"

0:48:290:48:31

And he's speaking to a member of the Yeomanry,

0:48:310:48:33

who has a bloodied axed raised.

0:48:330:48:35

-His reply is, "No, you're a poor weaver."

-"Off with your head."

-Mmm.

0:48:350:48:39

It's surrounded by skulls and crossbones.

0:48:390:48:42

It's very... It's bitter, isn't it?

0:48:420:48:46

It's making the point that Britain has abolished slavery abroad.

0:48:460:48:50

-But still doing it at home.

-Yes.

0:48:500:48:53

How quickly was that connection made? Waterloo.

0:48:530:48:56

This became known as Peterloo in sort of parody.

0:48:560:49:00

Very quickly. In a way, the authorities made the connection first

0:49:000:49:03

because one volunteer special constable said to some of the crowd, "This is Waterloo for you."

0:49:030:49:08

Meaning like Napoleon. "You reformers have now met your Waterloo."

0:49:080:49:12

The constables and the Yeomanry were proud of what they were doing

0:49:120:49:15

in averting revolution, as they saw it.

0:49:150:49:19

Within a week, the local radical newspaper,

0:49:190:49:21

the Manchester Observer, announced it was going to publish

0:49:210:49:24

the evidence under the title "Peterloo Massacre"

0:49:240:49:27

with ironic reference to Waterloo.

0:49:270:49:29

This was the time when the troops, who were supposed to be guarding the people,

0:49:290:49:33

had turned on them and there were more Waterloo veterans amongst the crowd

0:49:330:49:37

than there were amongst troops and none among the volunteer Yeomanry.

0:49:370:49:41

Peterloo frightens the Government to the core.

0:49:420:49:46

Feeling that the growing disturbances were threatening violent revolution,

0:49:460:49:50

they banned all public meetings and imposed imprisonment without trial for some of those arrested.

0:49:500:49:55

This only served further to inflame the crowds.

0:49:550:49:59

With the death of George III in 1820,

0:50:010:50:04

and the accession of the detested Prince Regent to the throne,

0:50:040:50:07

the other radical from Spa Fields, Arthur Thistlewood, decided to act.

0:50:070:50:12

He plotted to murder the Cabinet and remove the King.

0:50:150:50:20

One evening, he and his small band of conspirators met in a hayloft

0:50:200:50:24

on a narrow lane just off London's Edgware Road.

0:50:240:50:27

But, unfortunately for the conspirators, the government got wind of what was going on

0:50:290:50:34

at the point when the conspirators gathered here.

0:50:340:50:37

This is the scene of the crime. It's a hayloft in Cato Street.

0:50:370:50:41

Here we've got exactly how it was laid out.

0:50:410:50:44

On the table here, the conspirators had gathered their weapons,

0:50:440:50:47

their swords, their grenades, their guns.

0:50:470:50:50

But this is the ladder up which the police officers came barging in.

0:50:500:50:54

There was a big fight, a confrontation.

0:50:540:50:57

And Arthur Thistlewood himself ran through one of the police officers with a sword.

0:50:570:51:02

This is the spot here where the body fell.

0:51:020:51:05

In the darkness and confusion, the conspirators ran away.

0:51:050:51:09

They are climbing out through holes in the building, some, it's said, went down the hay chutes.

0:51:090:51:13

But, the next morning, the ringleaders were rounded up and captured.

0:51:130:51:18

They included the Thistlewood, a couple of shoemakers,

0:51:180:51:23

a coffee-house owner, a failed law student from Jamaica

0:51:230:51:28

and this rather mysterious character, George Edwards,

0:51:280:51:31

who was probably a government agent inciting the whole thing.

0:51:310:51:35

Now this caused problems when it came to the trial.

0:51:350:51:38

Would the case collapse because of the presence of the government agent?

0:51:380:51:41

Well, it didn't because this conspirator, John Monument,

0:51:410:51:46

he turned evidence against his colleagues.

0:51:460:51:49

So they were condemned. John Monument was let off for being a snitch.

0:51:490:51:53

George Edwards was let off for being a government agent.

0:51:530:51:56

But the rest were all executed.

0:51:560:51:59

Just at the point that the Prince Regent was about to become King George IV,

0:51:590:52:04

it looks like Britain was just on the brink of revolution.

0:52:040:52:08

George continued his life of idleness and excess.

0:52:090:52:13

Yet he and his government would next face an opponent far more destructive

0:52:130:52:17

than either Hunt of Thistlewood.

0:52:170:52:19

The opposition would come now in the form of his estranged and reviled wife,

0:52:190:52:23

the now Queen Caroline.

0:52:230:52:25

In the country, Caroline was seen as the wronged and abused wife.

0:52:280:52:33

All the more so when George tried, unsuccessfully,

0:52:330:52:35

to divorce her by act of Parliament.

0:52:350:52:38

His pretext was her rumoured scandalous behaviour.

0:52:380:52:42

Caroline had got a bit too close to her Italian servant, Bartolomeo Pergami.

0:52:420:52:47

They'd been seen kissing, they'd even been seen undressed together

0:52:470:52:50

and there was talk about an illegitimate child.

0:52:500:52:52

The Bill got through the House of Lords,

0:52:520:52:55

but Caroline was so amazingly popular in the country,

0:52:550:52:58

it seemed unlikely it would get through the House of Commons.

0:52:580:53:00

So George had to give up. He could not stop her from becoming Queen.

0:53:000:53:04

All he could hope was that she wouldn't show up at his coronation.

0:53:040:53:08

Despite the distraction of a wild and unwanted Queen, George started to plan

0:53:110:53:16

the most extravagant and expensive coronation of all time.

0:53:160:53:21

At Kensington Palace, where I work as a curator,

0:53:210:53:24

we look after the enormous coronation robe

0:53:240:53:27

that George chose for the moment he truly became King.

0:53:270:53:31

On three, OK? One, two, three.

0:53:310:53:35

He may have been King of a divided nation,

0:53:350:53:37

but George always knew how to put on a good show.

0:53:370:53:42

You lift first off the table and then one, two, three, up.

0:53:420:53:47

Slowly, slowly.

0:53:490:53:50

Well done. It's gone through.

0:53:520:53:54

OK, let's go. Nearly there.

0:53:560:53:58

-Here it is, come on, let's open it up.

-OK.

0:53:580:54:02

Because of its fragile condition, this robe rarely sees the light of day

0:54:020:54:06

and this is my first full chance to see it unwrapped.

0:54:060:54:10

OK. One, two, three.

0:54:120:54:15

This is George IV's coronation robe from his coronation in 1821.

0:54:260:54:31

The whole event got delayed a year because they needed extra planning time

0:54:310:54:35

to make it into this huge extravaganza.

0:54:350:54:38

Look how richly it's embroidered with all this gold and all these sequins.

0:54:380:54:43

And this was purple, imperial velvet. He's trying to out-Napoleon Napoleon here.

0:54:430:54:50

This is the one he wore to come out at the end.

0:54:500:54:54

When he arrived at the coronation, he was wearing a red velvet robe, very similar.

0:54:540:54:59

He spent £24,000 on these robes.

0:54:590:55:01

It needed nine people to carry it for him.

0:55:010:55:04

He turned up in this huge, magnificent procession that seemed to go on for miles.

0:55:040:55:09

It was led by the herb women, strewing herbs for the King to walk over.

0:55:090:55:14

He appeared with his robe bearers and then all the peerage turned up

0:55:140:55:19

and George had insisted the Peers, many of whom were elderly men,

0:55:190:55:22

dress up in Tudor outfits, wearing tights.

0:55:220:55:25

The peers were dubious about this.

0:55:250:55:27

It is true there were sniggers from their wives when they arrived in the Abbey.

0:55:270:55:31

But this was the greatest show on Earth.

0:55:310:55:34

George commissioned a special new crown for himself.

0:55:340:55:37

He hired 12,000 diamonds.

0:55:370:55:40

It was a five-hour ceremony

0:55:400:55:41

and at several points he was seen to be sweating,

0:55:410:55:44

he almost fainted and had to be revived with smelling salts.

0:55:440:55:47

But he kept up his spirits. Everybody also noticed he was nodding and winking to his mistress,

0:55:470:55:52

who was in the audience.

0:55:520:55:53

But it definitely left an indelible mark

0:55:530:55:56

on the memories of everybody who was there.

0:55:560:55:59

So five hours later, this is the robe

0:55:590:56:02

in which he made his first appearance as the crowned anointed King.

0:56:020:56:07

MUSIC: "Zadok The Priest" by Handel

0:56:070:56:10

But however meticulously George had planned his own anointing as King,

0:56:180:56:23

there was still one unresolved problem -

0:56:230:56:26

Caroline, and she wasn't a woman to take no for an answer.

0:56:260:56:30

This is pretty much the only view of the coronation enjoyed by George's wife Caroline.

0:56:350:56:41

She had been exiled from court at the start of the Regency

0:56:410:56:44

and she'd gone overseas.

0:56:440:56:46

But when he became King, she turned back up again, wanting to be crowned.

0:56:460:56:50

This is despite the fact she had been offered £50,000 to stay away.

0:56:500:56:55

So, on Coronation Day, she arrived at Westminster Abbey

0:56:550:56:59

and she flew at the doors shouting, "I am the Queen, open!"

0:56:590:57:04

"I am the Queen of Britain, let me pass!"

0:57:040:57:07

But the doors remained closed.

0:57:070:57:09

The coronation was the Prince Regent's final bow.

0:57:360:57:40

Now the Regency was officially over.

0:57:400:57:42

It had been a splendid ten years for architecture, for poetry,

0:57:420:57:47

for painting and for prose.

0:57:470:57:50

But it had also been ten years of waste and profligacy

0:57:500:57:55

and Royal immorality.

0:57:550:57:57

Britain may have won the Battle of Waterloo,

0:57:570:57:59

but it looked like the country was at war with itself.

0:57:590:58:04

Was there ever a decade of greater contrasts? I don't think so.

0:58:040:58:08

And what about and George IV as King, how would he be remembered?

0:58:080:58:13

Well, 200 years later, English Heritage ran a poll

0:58:130:58:16

and he was voted Britain's worst monarch ever.

0:58:160:58:20

So the Regency, for me, is two things -

0:58:200:58:24

untold elegance combined with squalid decadence.

0:58:240:58:28

Subtitling by Red Bee Media Ltd

0:58:320:58:34

E-mail [email protected]

0:58:340:58:37

Download Subtitles

SRT

ASS