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Alvar Blomgren, ‘‘The cause of loyalty and love’: Political mobilisation and emotional practices in Nottingham during the 1790s’
21 March @ 1:00 pm - 2:00 pm
This paper examines royalist responses to the challenge of radicalism following the French revolution. In Nottingham, the Tory establishment saw themselves as threatened by the inflamed passions of the town’s working population, which – the Tories believed – caused them to turn away from the existing political order. In order to restore this lost social unity, I argue, the Tories used a range of emotional practices designed to modulate these troublesome emotions. Through a combination of charivari rituals, electoral practices, and civic and military celebrations, these inhabitants were called to supress their passions and instead forefront feelings of joy, loyalty and love – towards each other, their fellow townsmen, and their King. During this popular mobilisation, moreover, the press evolved into an actor that actively sought to shape these practices, thereby attempting to control and augment desirable emotions among the population. This project, however, was ultimately unsuccessful. Nottingham’s Tories soon began to promote feelings of hatred, as well as acts of violence, towards those who refused to join their political community. This eventually caused series of deadly riots directed towards supporters of Parliamentary reform. As a result, Nottingham became increasingly polarised, and the experience of this repression, contrary to the Tories’ intentions, furthered the politicisation of the working population.
Alvar Blomgren is a PhD-candidate at the University of Stockholm and is currently working on his thesis ‘Emotional practices in in English parliamentary election c. 1790-1812’. The project aims to expand our knowledge on the role of emotion in political mobilisation. Alvar is an early modernist whose previous research has concentrated on gender and citizenship in controverted election cases from around 1770 to 1800.
This session is organised by the Early Modern Discussion Group. All welcome!