Event: History Today at Hatchards, Socrates

Methodism and the Threat of Revolution in Britain

Historians have held that religious Revivalism in the late eighteenth century distracted the minds of the English from thoughts of Revolution. Eric Hobsbawm expresses a completely different view.

Did Methodism prevent revolution, or the development of a revolutionary movement, in Britain ? The question has long interested historians. The period 1789-1848 is full of revolutions in all parts of Western Europe, but not in Britain, and it also happens to be the period when Methodism grew most rapidly in this country. That Methodism kept Britain immune from revolution is, indeed, widely believed. The late Elie Halevy's History of the English People supports this view very strongly. It may therefore be useful to elucidate the relations between Methodism and the threat of revolution in this period.

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