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Essays in honour of Susan Reynolds

This book is dedicated to Susan Reynolds and celebrates the work of a scholar whose views have been central to reappraisals of the position of the laity in the Middle Ages. The themes and concerns include a medieval world in which the activity and attitudes of the laity are not obscured by ideas expressed more systematically in theoretical treatises by ecclesiastics; a world in which lay collective action and thought take centre stage. Reynolds has written her own Middle Ages, especially in her innovative book Kingdoms and Communities whose influence can be seen in so many of the essays. Collectivities, solidarities and collective action are everywhere in these essays, as Reynolds has shown us to expect them to be. Collective action was carried out often in pursuit of social peace, but it existed precisely because there was discord. Of the narratives and interpretative frameworks with which Reynolds's work has been concerned, the book has least to say directly on the debate over feudalism. The book engages many of the themes of Reynolds's work and pursues some of the issues which are prominent in re-examinations of the medieval world and in studies of the medieval laity. It discusses secular aristocratic attitudes towards judicial combat within the broader setting of fictional 'treason trials' of the later twelfth century. Although kinship did not start out as an explicit and overt theme of the book, it emerges as a leitmotiv, perhaps in part because when feudalism is removed, kinship is thrown into sharper relief.

The Eloquence of Incompletion
Cedric C. Brown

This article gives new information on the so-called Letter-book of John, Viscount Mordaunt (Rylands MS GB 133) beyond that in RHS Camden Series LXIX, identifies the likely scribe, and dates the transcription to late 1660. It shows how the large format book was created to record the heroic role played by Mordaunt and his wife Elizabeth (née Carey) in the achievement of Restoration, and how the unfinished state of the textual project adds to our knowledge of the social and political difficulties experienced by Mordaunt, a client of Clarendon. Beyond its historiographical value for understanding the activities of the plenipotentiary, the book helps to tell the story of Mordaunt’s headlong career from his treason trial in 1658 to his impeachment in 1667, the extraordinary supportive agency of Elizabeth, including managing secret correspondence in 1659, the complexities of the Mordaunts’ friendship with John Evelyn, and their loyalty to their fallen patron Clarendon extending to exile in Montpellier in 1668.

Bulletin of the John Rylands Library
The trial of Daire le Roux
Stephen D. White

During the twelfth and early thirteenth centuries, chansons de geste, romances, and other Old French narratives produced in France and England routinely included at least one episode in which a character, by accusing another character of treason, initiates a judicial plaid, that is a trial. The earliest imaginary treason trial in Old French is found in the Oxford version of La chanson de Roland from around 1100, in which Ganelon is tried for treason in Charlemagne’s court. 2 In c. 1150 the author of Le roman de Thèbes supplemented a retelling of

in Law, laity and solidarities
Gregory Vargo

3 The Trial of Robert Emmet (1841) Editor’s introduction The Chartists staged re-­enactments of Robert Emmet’s 1803 treason trial far more than any other work, creating a veritable cult of celebrity around the executed United Irishman. The young revolutionary’s defiance in the face of oppression struck a chord with members of a movement that repeatedly saw its ranks depleted by arrests, imprisonment, and penal transportation, and Emmet’s anti-­imperialism resonated with the Chartists’ own. Productions provoked strong reactions and audiences demanded repeat

in Chartist drama
Gregory Vargo

least twenty-­two casualties. Treason trials for three leaders­– ­Frost, Zephaniah Williams, and William Jones­– ­followed. The three escaped hanging when their death sentences were commuted, but they were transported for life to Van Diemen’s Land (modern-­ day Tasmania). Although the return from exile of the rising’s leaders remained a central demand of the movement, Newport’s failure prompted many Chartists to reconsider support for strategies involving political violence. In this context, Watkins’s play functioned as a polemical intervention in debates about

in Chartist drama
Abstract only

The first collection of its kind, Chartist Drama makes available four plays written or performed by members of the Chartist movement of the 1840s. Emerging from the lively counter-culture of this protest campaign for democratic rights, these plays challenged cultural as well as political hierarchies by adapting such recognisable genres as melodrama, history plays, and tragedy for performance in radically new settings. A communal, public, and embodied art form, drama was linked for the Chartists with other kinds of political performance: the oratory of the mass platform, festival-like outdoor meetings, and the elaborate street theatre of protest marches. Plays that Chartists wrote or staged advanced new interpretations of British history and criticised aspects of the contemporary world. And Chartist drama intervened in fierce strategic arguments within the movement. Most notably, poet-activist John Watkins’s John Frost, which dramatises the gripping events of the Newport rising of 1839, in which twenty-two Chartists lost their lives, defends the rebellion and the Chartist recourse to violence as a means for the movement to achieve its aims. The volume’s appendices document over one hundred Chartist dramatic performances, staged by activists in local Chartist associations or at professional benefits at some of London’s largest working-class theatres. Gregory Vargo’s introduction and notes elucidate the previously unexplored world of Chartist dramatic culture, a context that promises to reshape what we know about early Victorian popular politics and theatre.

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Liberty and press control in the 1640s
Randy Robertson

the presses but of the discourse surrounding censorship.45 Lilburne’s 1649 treason trial represents perhaps the most dramatic contest over censorship of the entire decade. Lilburne and his cohorts had long harried those in power, no matter what form that power took – king, 139 part ii: rethinking context Westminster Assembly, Parliament, and army – and Lilburne often found himself in prison. In 1649, amid rumours of his shifting into the Royalist camp, Lilburne, along with other Levellers, faced off against the Council of State. With the publication of the Second

in Texts and readers in the Age of Marvell
Martyn J. Powell

scrutinise the value of witness testimony; or, if it was scrutinised, a failure of juries to take note of significant deficiencies in the type of evidence offered. This was particularly problematic if the case was dependent on the evidence of one individual, as allowed in treason trials under Irish law. The quality and nature of evidence is therefore of key importance to any such study, but there is no attempt in this chapter to ascertain guilt; such an approach is largely redundant as most of the defendants discussed here were undoubtedly involved in plotting against the

in The Cato Street Conspiracy
Steve Poole

Else but it is the Powr that I do not like’. The Bedfordshire bench considered egalitarian language of this sort dangerous enough to charge him with treason. A county magistrate, who insisted Bull was ‘more knave than fool’, wrote to caution Grenville against indulging him as a poor madman and issued a warrant to have the man brought back to Bedford for a treason trial. But ministers had no intention of paying for one. Nepean ordered strict vigilance around the palaces but Wright’s officers managed to capture Bull before he went anywhere near them. They immediately

in The politics of regicide in England, 1760–1850
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Gregory Vargo

’s contemporaries when Wat Tyler was written – and the reformers of the post-­war period, who first published the text in pirated editions. Chartist stagings are also the only documented productions of Southey’s important Romantic text. John Watkins’s John Frost (1841) treats a crossroads in the history of Chartism, the Newport rising of 1839, which resulted in the last mass treason trial in British history. Written by a Chartist poet, the play illustrates the intense debates within the movement about the implications of Newport for the future of Chartism. The Trial of Robert

in Chartist drama