Debating England's Aristocracy in the 1790s

Debating England's Aristocracy in the 1790s

Pamphlets, Polemics and Political Ideas

Amanda Goodrich

Survey of the representation of England's aristocracy in a turbulent time, as its role and function were bitterly debated between radicals and loyalists.
The 1790s saw a lively "French Revolution Debate" in England, with much space and intellectual energy, in classic texts by men such as Burke and Paine, and ensuing pamphlet literature, devoted characterisations and representations of the aristocracy; yet this is the first full-scale survey of the subject. Dr Goodrich takes a fresh approach to the topic, illustrating the complexities of the bitter battle fought out in such texts between radicals and loyalists, and highlighting the persistent viciousness and vitriol of a radical anti-aristocratic rhetoric. However, she demonstrates that the loyalist response contained the more innovative campaign, bringing out in particular the development of a commercial loyalism which promoted a new model of society with a modern aristocracy and an open elite; what emerges are English defences of aristocracy which are not simply reducible to ideas of an ancien régime or a Gothic institution.

Amanda Goodrich is a lecturer in the history department of the Open University.


An important starting point for further explorations of new vocabularies of conservative political legitimacy that emerged during the 1790s. H-ALBION, July 2007

There is much that can be praised here, and a number of valuable correctives are offered. [...] An impressive and scholarly study. ENLIGHTENMENT & DISSENT
A very good examination of the debates that defined what it meant to be a loyal subject. [...] This study offers perceptions of aristocracy that shape our understanding of not only the critical decade of the French Revolution, but throughout the decades of reform measures and into the twentieth century. THE HISTORIAN
A welcome contribution to the literature. AMERICAN HISTORICAL REVIEW
An interesting book, which undoubtedly adds a new dimension to our understanding of the French Revolution debate of the 1790s. SEHEPUNKTE
An auspicious and encouraging debut. ENGLISH HISTORICAL REVIEW

Author Bio

Amanda Goodrich is Associate Lecturer with the Open University.

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