‘Those true sons of Mars’: chivalry, cowardice and the powerof satire
in Ballads and songs of Peterloo
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This is the longest section in the book and comprises seventeen poems, many of which use satire not only to delight a sympathetic readership but also as a way of demonstrating defiance and voicing outrage at the actions of the authorities both during and after Peterloo. The introduction explores how writers in the Romantic period, from the full range of the cultural spectrum, used satire as a form of cultural defiance and challenge to authority at a time when any form of opposition was deemed seditious. Another theme evident is that of chivalry, a contentious issue during the eighteenth century with its revival by conservatives such as Edmund Burke fuelling a radical counter-revival focussed on a new age of political chivalry. As a consequence, the language and symbolism of chivalry was adopted by both conservatives and radicals in support of their cause. The Manchester Yeomanry Cavalry is the target of many of thesatirical poems in this section, alongside the detested politicans, Lords Castlereagh and Sidmouth and the Manchester Magistrate, Reverend Ethelstone. It includes poems written by the radical writers, Robert Shorter and Allen Davenport.

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