Reassessing Peterloo

Peaceful protest or planned provocation? Philip Lawson re-examines 19th-century England's most famous law-and-order massacre with the aid of a key eyewitness account.

 A painting of the Peterloo Massacre published by Richard CarlileThe events at St Peter’s Field in Manchester August 16th, 1819, are so thoroughly documented it would seem that little more could be said on the matter. Indeed, in the highly charged historical debate covering Peterloo, as it is now known, the events of August 16th themselves occasionally appear irrelevant to broader ideological analyses being undertaken. There is a mythology surrounding the name Peterloo which has attracted and repelled students of the period in equal number. The simple fact of interchangeable terms, like incident, massacre, demonstration or riot, frequently used as a suffix to Peterloo merely underlines the contention surrounding the issue.

To read this article in full you need to be either a print + archive subscriber, or else have purchased access to the online archive.

If you are already a subscriber, please ensure you are logged in. 

Buy Subscription | Buy Online Access | Log In

If you are logged in and still cannot read the article, please email digital@historytoday.com.

Get Miscellanies, our free weekly long read, in your inbox every week
X