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Debating England's Aristocracy in the 1790s: Pamphlets, Polemics and Political Ideas

The Boydell Press
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  • History


The 1790s saw a lively 'French Revolution Debate' which has engendered considerable controversy amongst historians. Within the debate, classic texts, most notably those by Burke and Paine, and ensuing pamphlet literature devoted much space and intellectual energy to characterisations and ideological representations of the aristocracy. Yet this is the first full scale survey of the subject. Dr Goodrich takes a fresh approach to the controversy, illustrating the complexities of the bitter battle fought out in such pamphlets between radicals and loyalists, and highlighting the persistent viciousness of radical anti-aristocratic rhetoric. The book argues that the loyalist response contained the more innovative arguments, bringing out 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 regime or a Gothic institution.

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