£7.36 – £12.06

London Historians Annual Lecture 2017

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Gresham College

Barnard's Inn Hall

Holborn

London

EC1N 2HH

United Kingdom

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‘Everybody seems quite wild’: Emperor-hunting in London in 1814

presented by Prof. Elaine Chalus

Finally, it seemed in spring 1814, Napoleon had been defeated. Peace could now return to Europe. The longest war in living memory was over and Londoners — noble, official and commercial — celebrated Napoleon’s abdication in April with grand illuminations. Somerset House was the most blatantly patriotic of all. Blazoned across the full length of the top of the building, in letters three-feet high, made from innumerable small bright lamps, were the words, ‘Europe Instaurata, Auspice Britannia, Tyrannide Subversa, Vindice Libertatis’. Europe established, under the protection of Britain....

This lecture explores Londoners’ fascination with the subsequent visit of the allied sovereigns, European princes, celebrated generals and diplomats, which took place between 7 and 22 June 1814. What was it about the presence of these great men in London (and the focus was decidedly male) that drew huge crowds and brought people of all classes out on to the streets at all hours in the hope of a sighting? For James Frampton, writing to his mother on 12 June, the atmosphere in London was feverish and the excitement was infectious: ‘Anything so entertaining as London at present, I never saw; and I do not think any one at this moment is quite sane!’

We will draw upon contemporary newspapers, prints, publications, correspondences and subsequent memoirs to suggest that the ‘Emperor-hunting’ that went on during these few hectic weeks, and the avidity with which Londoners participated in it, operated on various levels. At its most basic, it combined the population’s ardent, pent-up desire for peace with the burgeoning celebrity culture of the late eighteenth century; on another level, it reflected a political culture in transition and a populace that was more mobile, better informed and less deferential. As Londoners observed the foreign heroes, they both recalibrated their individual relationships to Europe and, inevitably, found their own Regent lacking.
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The talk will be preceded by a drinks reception.




Prof Elaine Chalus - originally from Canada - is Head of History at the University of Liverpool.
"My primary research interests lie in English social and political history in the long eighteenth century. I am particularly interested in the interplay of gender and politics. Eighteenth-century British electoral history fascinates me, particularly the intricacies of pre-Reform controverted elections. My research is wide-ranging and engages with questions of place and space, power and identity, patronage and corruption, and influence and interest. Electoral history, political ritual, the material culture of politics and the use of the social arena for political ends all feature extensively in my research and teaching. "

Elaine is a founding Member and longstanding supporter of London Historians.

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Gresham College

Barnard's Inn Hall

Holborn

London

EC1N 2HH

United Kingdom

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