The Peterloo Massacre
Q&A: What was the Peterloo massacre and why is it important?
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What was the Peterloo Massacre? | The Week UK
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These workers, who feared for their jobs and standard of living, made up a large component of the protestors. Preparing for the protest The industrial towns surrounding Manchester put huge efforts into the preparations in the weeks beforehand and contingents from each area had different creative responses. These words would be used by the magistrates after the massacre to justify their actions.
The banner, the magistrates argued, was a clear sign of revolutionary intent. How a peaceful protest met with violence The protestors were peaceful and unarmed.
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In an overlooking building, staring down on the scene, were the magistrates. After two hours of observing, they gave the orders to the enforcers of law surrounding the crowd that the protesters must be dispersed, while the radical reform leaders were to be arrested. On hearing these orders, the recently formed, Manchester and Salford Yeomanry pulled out their sabres and charged the crowd on horseback.
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Women at Peterloo Historians have noted that women were disproportionately targeted at Peterloo; their presence shocked the establishment, challenging the prevalent ideas of women as subservient and domesticated wives. On the day of the massacre she stood on the stage as a key figure next to Henry Hunt.
When the yeomanry attacked, she was slashed across her body and seriously wounded. Mary Fildes would go on to have a role in the emerging Chartist movement, yet so many other women who also took a leading role in the reform movement of this period are little discussed in our history. Legacy of the Massacre The British government was keen to cover up the massacre, imprisoning the reform leaders and clamping down on those who spoke out against the government.
Within days the massacre was being reported upon both nationally and internationally. However, with the implementation of the new Six Acts legislation, it became extremely dangerous to even publish words that discussed the Peterloo Massacre, and taxes on newspapers were increased so that working class people would be less likely to read them. When Percy Bysshe Shelley heard of the massacre, he penned the poem The Masque of Anarchy , powerfully indicting those who were responsible.
see Yet Shelley could not find a publisher brave enough to print his words, with the genuine threat of imprisonment hanging over radicals in this period. A moment when ordinary people stepped up to protest in a way that has made its mark in history and with a legacy that lives on to today. PHM is open seven days a week from Keep up to date with happenings at the museum, with e-newsletters sent out approximately every two months.
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