Background to the Project
Between 1789 and 1815 the world changed dramatically. Events in France suddenly made the dreams of social reformers look like practical possibilities: society could exist without a monarchy, it could exist without organized religion; social hierarchies need not be determined by blood, or wealth; people could have a say in how they were governed. But the very same events also confirmed nightmares. Where some saw progress, others saw anarchy, the collapse of social order, and a turning away from God. Across Europe, indeed across the world, different groups of people from different cultures and different social categories tried to read the Revolution – frighteningly fast-paced and constantly mutating – in the light of their own beliefs.
The responses from Britain were many and various. Political and religious affiliations shaped people’s views, of course: but so too did local loyalties and inherited values. So too did language. Our project aims to show how Welsh people from many different walks of life absorbed and responded to the news in France, and how they were affected by the larger British state’s actions and reactions to the revolution.