Introduction
in Ballads and songs of Peterloo
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This chapter begins by outlining the events leading up to the Peterloo Massacre on 16th August 1819 and its immediate aftermath with a particular focus on the response in the radical and loyalist press. By combining eye-witness accounts with contemporaneous reporting, the significance of Peterloo at the time can clearly be recognised. This chapter then focuses on the radical press, both in the 1790s, including Thomas Spence’s Pigs’ Meat and the 1810s, including the Manchester Observer, Medusa, Wooler’s Black Dwarf, Hunt’s Examiner and Carlile’s Republican, The Cap of Liberty, The Theological and Political Comet and The Briton, in which many of the ballads and songs were printed. Finally, this introduction discusses the place of the broadside ballad in vernacular culture from the sixteenth to the early nineteenth century and the appropriation of it by antiquarians in the eighteenth century.

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