Published online by Cambridge University Press: 06 April 2022
Britain’s miseries and inequalities after the 1815 Peace provoked popular unrest and upper-class anxiety on an uprecedented scale, but not a revolutionary situation. The centre held firm. Repressive laws, imprisonments, and executions counted as much as popular deference and loyalism in preserving order. These inflictions were backed by an efficient spy system and the multiplication of military barracks across London and the rest of the country. As one military commander wrote, ‘Fools! We have the physical force, not they.’ Plebeian radicals were akin to peasants armed with pitchforks, and were as innocent as peasants about the disciplinary forces that faced them.