Today is the day in 1819 when sabre-wielding troops charged 60,000 Mancunians at a rally in St Peter’s Field called to lower the price of bread and demand the vote. More than a dozen people were killed and some 650 injured.
Join Ed Glinert on an expert tour of the entire Peterloo story starting at 2.30pm from Central Library, St Peter’s Square.
The first few decades of the 19th century, enshrined in public imagination as the elegant age of the Regency, were a time of severe political repression in England. The Tory government, led by Lord Liverpool, feared that the kind of revolutionary activity recently witnessed in France would break out in England – probably in Manchester, where social conditions were so desperate – and decided to stamp out all dissent and free speech.
The government had been at war with France, which saw Wellington triumph over Napoleon’s forces at Waterloo in 1815.
But as Paul Foot once wrote, the British government was also waging war against its own people.