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"Fighting Napoleon at Home" Topic

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Lilian11 Nov 2022 3:57 p.m. PST

one of the three forthcoming Paul Lindsay Dawson's books concerning the British "Home Front" for 2023

From the sun-baked sierras of Spain, through the stormy waters off Cape Trafalgar to the muddy and bloody fields of Waterloo, Britain's soldiers and sailors were notching up victories which set the country on the path to becoming the greatest power on the planet. We like to imagine the country was unified against a common enemy, France, and the Tyrant of Europe – Napoleon. Yet if we scratch the surface, we find a nation not just at war with France but with itself. The great successes of Wellington and Nelson, and the glamour of Regency London, cover over the cracks of a divided society, of riots across the industrial north and widespread political opposition. Huge swathes of the country hated the war, booed and hissed at soldiers and ‘lobbed Bleeped texts' at the Scots Greys in Halifax. There were repeated ‘Peace Petitions' which sought to stop the war – and even to prevent the British Army fighting at Waterloo. Armed Associations of gentlemen volunteers and Local Militias led the call to close down the debate on social and democratic reform, while on the other hand thousands of English reformers heeded the call from France and hundreds actually headed to France, with many thousands more believing that the time had come, when its young men were needed to fight for King and Country, for reform. The burgeoning middle class had no vote in parliament; rapidly expanding industrial towns and cities had no MPs, yet small villages – pocket boroughs – often had two. The burden of taxation fell on those least able to afford it; enclosure of common land; corn laws; restrictions on the freedom of expression; the endless killing, all fed into an undercurrent of political dissent that was ideologically opposed to the loyalist cause. It was a battle for the very sole of Britain. For the first time, the shocking reality of life in Britain, during what is often portrayed as being its greatest era, is told through diaries, letters, and newspaper comments. Fighting Napoleon at Home is a startling portrayal of the society from which the soldiers and sailors were drawn and exactly what it was they were fighting to defend. It will become essential reading for anyone attempting to understand why Britain's aristocracy had to stop Napoleon at any cost and suppress the dangerous ideals of liberté, égalité, fraternité.

Coming during 2023, three books that explore the British 'Home Front' during the Napoleonic Wars: the Governments of William Pitt, Henry Addington and Spencer Percival were faced with an unprecedented series of of threats from the working and middle class, fuelled by opposition to the Governments hard line clamp down on free speech, censorship of the press, lack of religious freedom and tolerance, the desire for the working man and middle class to have the vote and a say in how their country was run. Social stresses begun exaserbated by the American Revolution -which divided an already troubled nation- exploded from 1791 in a series of invasion attempts organised by ex-patriot Irish, Scots and English, and distrubances on a scale never seen before, to bring about wide ranging social, economic, political and religious reform. The hope and desires of a generation of men and women who desired a more equal and liberal state were brutally crushed by the British Crown which objected to freedom of religion, and polticial reform.. The Tory oligarchs refused to loosen their grip on power. My forthcoming books expose the almost civil-war like conditions which gripped England and Ireland for 25years from 1789, and pitted fathers against sons in a war of ideals.

Paul Lindsay Dawson

robert piepenbrink Supporting Member of TMP11 Nov 2022 6:24 p.m. PST

"the sole of Britain"? "ex-patriots"? "exaserbated"? "distrubances"? One hopes Mr. Dawson's research and reasoning exhibit more care than his writing. But if he sees the rule of His Imperial Majesty the Emperor of France and King of Italy as the model of liberty and equality, perhaps not. (Does making monarchs out of three brothers and a brother in law count as "fraternity"?)

I think I'll stick to my copy of Kevin Phillips' The Cousins' Wars, thanks.

Lilian12 Nov 2022 8:14 a.m. PST

rather my fault I didn't pay attention, the text I added was written like that only to explain the planned book in facebook, not something written for the book

my forthcoming book charts the relatively unknown story of the British Home Front of the time culminating in the Despard conspiracy which sought to establish a French style republic in England. We have forgotten how close Britain came to revolution and the strength of feeling against the government of Pitt. This book is a springboard to further studies from myself of the British Home front: one book will be an indepth review of the various attempts to invade England, Scotland and Ireland 1792-1815: centre stage in our study is Talleyrand, the United Irishmen figureheaded by Wolfe Tone, as well as his colleagues and collaborators from England, Scotland, Wales, Canada and America. Our second book will review of the volunteer forces exploring how they were more of a hinderance than a help in keeping peace at home. Being followed by the invasion text. I have to chase down some loose ends on the 1811/1812 invasion attempt which feeds over into my forthcoming book on Luddism as both events were in essence the same thing. The French participation and also Irish element in Luddism of course being written out of history of Luddism. British history does not like to mention French soliders were on the streets of the West Riding directing the Luddites who were recruited from the Local Militia.
The first wave of Luddism in 1799/1800 seems to be have been backed by the French, as France was very well informed of the social unease in Britain at the time and sought to exploit it. The United Irishmen and United Welsh were certainly heavily involved in 1799/1800 and again in 1811/1812, so too the French who provided arms and money, as well as men on the ground.

Korvessa13 Nov 2022 12:34 p.m. PST

Robert said:
(Does making monarchs out of three brothers and a brother in law count as "fraternity"?)

Good one. One wonders how history would have been different had Napoleon not had so many useless relatives he had to placate.

Brechtel198 Supporting Member of TMP13 Nov 2022 12:39 p.m. PST

I believe it was more a case of keeping them out of trouble and to keep his eye on them in an attempt to prevent them doing something against the best interests of the Empire.

42flanker14 Nov 2022 9:34 a.m. PST

I'm afraid the second excerpt is hardly more coherent than the first.

But, French officers fomenting dissent on the streets of t'West Riding- I am shocked! Shocked and outraged.

Lilian17 Mar 2023 6:02 p.m. PST

What was life like in England during the start of the Napoleonic Wars? What was the redcoat fighting for? My book, released today, explores the social history of the 'Home Front' during the Revolutionary War and early part of the Napoleonic Wars – part 2 explores the explosive years of 1811-1813. Mythos suggests that a nation rallied around William Pitt and 'Mad King George' to defend 'hearth and home'. Yet such a statement is missleading. Britain was a broken and divided nation, beset by inflation, a cost of living crisis: famine and starvation were ever present. Since the 1768 stamp act protests, a new form of polticial awareness had emerged: oppositional politics, driven by the emerging middle-class who wanted a say in how their country was run: 'no taxation without the vote' became the cry. Largely driven by religious dissenters – who were 'second class citizens' along with Catholics through exclusionary legislation such as the Test and Corporation Acts, Blasphemy Act and 1753marriage act -a ground swell of anger against the polticial system built to a crescendo with a plot to assassinate the King and creatre a Jacobin republic. This book traces the conflict between the 'haves and the have notes' that rocked a nation.

Paul Lindsay Dawson

Brechtel198 Supporting Member of TMP18 Mar 2023 4:46 a.m. PST

Britain, along with the rest of the coalition, was defeated by France by the end of the Wars of the Revolution, culminating in the Treaty of Amiens which Great Britain then violated for French offenses real and imagined.

The British government evolved into being the paymaster of the allies, without which the allied coalition could not have taken the field in 1813-1814.

Interestingly, the French franc was the most stable currency in Europe by 1810.

The British also ruthlessly suppressed any dissent or support for France during the period and the British government was virulently anti-Catholic and oppressed the Irish to boot.

The British also engaged in the only 'terror bombing' during the period when they targeted Danish civilians in Copenhagen in 1807, burning a significant portion of the city.

There is excellent information by Owen Connelly on the subject in his dictionary of the period.

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