The impact of the French Revolution in Britain
The given interpretation 'Between 1789 and 1815 supporters of the French Revolution posed no threat to the established order of Britain' suffers from a few problems . Firstly it suggests supporters posed ‘no serious threat’ however it does not elaborate on what a ‘serious’ threat actually is. Secondly it covers a 26 year period ‘1789-1815’ which is a long time and numerous things could change within this period, Britain goes to war with France and the ‘industrial revolution’ begins which would suggest things would not be as black and white as there never being a threat at all. While a few bits of evidence do support this interpretation, a better alternative would be ‘supporters of the French revolution while fairly small in number initially, grew over time, as did their threat posing a direct challenge to the government and monarchy during 1792-1815’. This interpretation fits the sources better for example source’s 1 and 3 both suggest numbers in radical groups were fairly small to begin with but would later grow and sources 1,2,4,6 and 7 seem to suggest there was a threat to the government and monarch across different time periods. Also it specifies the threat was in particular was aimed towards the government and monarchy, not just the established order. The dates are also slightly amended as the main threats seemed to build from the war with France in 1792 which many opposed, to Luddism in 1812. By analyzing the evidence in time periods we can see that the new interpretation is a better reflection of the evidence then the original. Sources 1,2,3,4 and 5 all come from the same year of 1792 when Britain began its war against France and by looking at them together we can see a typical feeling that there was a threat to the government and monarchy. Source 1 seems to overall suggest there was a threat; it says the London corresponding society “alarmed the government” and that while its support “varied sharply” it seemed to keep a strong base of around “three thousand” members. Also it suggests each member paid “1d a week” and for a group made of “working class” people this was a substantial amount and it showed their commitment to the aims of the society. However the source also says how members met in “taverns and coffee houses” showing it was not openly opposed to the government and that the numbers “varied sharply” could go against the idea that people were committed. The source agrees with source 3 on the numbers in the society but disagrees on the threat level; source 3 suggests there wasn’t any. Source 4 also implies the government was scared “frightened the government of William Pitt”. The source is written in a book named the “common people” which would suggest as they are the subject the authors may try and increase the importance of the working class, however the book covers a wide period of time 1746-1946 which means the London correspondence society must have had some importance or they would not have been mentioned at all. The source is quite typical of the time as other groups like the society of constitutional reform also existed, with similar membership numbers and aims such as opposing the war in France. However the group was very focused on representing the working class in particular which could be seen as quite atypical for the time. Overall the source agrees with the amended interpretation that support, while small, was beginning to show a challenge to the government. The source also agrees on some level with the first interpretation as currently there was not enough people to really change the established order but it disagrees as there was some threat however. Source 2 appears to disagree with the original interpretation but agrees with the amended one as it implies there was a threat to the government and monarchy. It says ‘we cannot see without indignation’ suggesting it takes the attempt to ‘weaken the minds of his majesties subjects’ very seriously...
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