Monday, February 4, 2019

1810: The Regency Begins

From Catherine Kullman:
The country had been at war with France since 1803. Across the English Channel, the French Emperor Napoleon Bonaparte had consolidated his hold on the European Continent; his sphere of influence extending west across the Iberian Peninsula, north into Sweden where one of his generals, Jean-Baptiste Bernadotte, had been elected crown prince, and eastwards through modern Germany, Italy, Austria, Hungary and Poland to the borders of the Russian and Ottoman Empires. The only ray of light was provided by Lord Wellington whose Peninsular army was driving that of the French General Massena out of Portugal and into Spain.

Back at home, the bulk of wealth, power and influence lay in the hands of the aristocracy and landed gentry who also controlled the established Church of England, the universities and the military and legal professions. In a study carried out two years later, in 1812, these classes made up 7.8% of families in Great Britain and Ireland but received 40.19% of the total annual income generated therein. Unsurprisingly, they resisted any attempts to reform a system that worked well for them but not so well for the rest of the country. (Read more.)

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